Wednesday, September 11, 2013


In relation to pottery, there are two distinct ways one can understand importance. The first is the most literal, the importance of a pot in relationship or context to the field of pottery; as in an important Ming jar. The other type of importance is the importance or influence a pot may have on an individual or in this case a potter. The best case scenario is when the two intersect at the same place at the same pot. Illustrated is a pot that qualifies for both, being an exceptionally fine example of the style and a monumental influence on me as a potter. I first encountered this Kawai Kanjiro chawan back in 1992 while living in Cleveland. I was immediately struck by the deceptively simple form of the bowl with the ever so undulating lip and broad and earthy foot. The manner in which it was so casually decorated with what seem to be off handed splashes speaks of the innate sensibilities of the potter and his confidence in his decades of "doing".  In every sense of the word, this is an important pot.

This particular image has been a guiding light for my work, first through dozens of photographs of the piece, later multiple jpegs and now even video (mpeg) footage of the pot. Through all of these images, I can study the varying nuances of posture, form, foot, glaze and decoration grasping the essentials of what became second nature to Kawai, who would have been in his 60's when this pot was made. I am sure that Kawai had little thought to the importance of this pot or the influence its shadow would cast, but that does not alter the fact that his works have found their place of importance in history and have influenced more potters, both knowingly and unknowingly, than could be counted.

"Every thought which genius and piety throw into the world alters the world." Ralph Waldo Emerson

(Used with the kind permission of Mr/Mrs Private Collector)

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