Wednesday, January 29, 2014

THE JOURNEY IS THE REWARD

The Shigaraki and Iga works of Furutani Michio are among the most classic, yet subtly modern pots that I have seen. His ability to instill a timeless quality in his work, speaks to his understanding and insight in to what is the essence of old Shigaraki and Iga pottery. This is the journey that Furutani embarked on when he built his first anagama in Shigaraki valley back in the late 1960's, early 1970's. I often speak of dedication to a tradition, style and ideal, but when you survey the body of work left by Furutani Michio, it is obvious that as he worked, he worked with a keen appreciation for material and flame which over time, he became master of. Few wood fire potters of the 20th century have left such a distinct testament to a vision regarding the combining of the old and the new, his mark is measured in each and every pot he made and kiln he built and fired.
Illustrated is a weathered Iga styled lugged vase that has the spirit and appearance of antiquity. Cloaked in a fine sheen of green ash, the posture of the vase is simple with a few errant marks made to accentuate the vertical quality of the body and reign in the viewer at the neck and mouth with a fence influenced design. The lugs anchor the neck to the body and added a strength to the piece that speaks of body, shoulder, neck and mouth in a rather profound way. Looking at vases by Furutani, his pieces rarely looked fussed with, they are appropriate in design and scale and are stripped of any extraneous features, creating perennial vessels that help set a standard for modern Iga and Shigaraki pottery.
"Little do ye know own blessedness; for to travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive, and the success is to labour."  Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894)

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