Kasama Potters Collaboration
If you follow my Instagram, you may already be familiar with my latest collaboration – a partnership with Kasama Potters. We’ve had such lovely feedback already so I wanted to share a little more about the project.
Situated around 60 miles from Tokyo, in rural Ibaraki Prefecture, the city of Kasama is home to a community potters. Although everyday earthenware pots and ceramics have been produced in this area since the 18th century, demand declined in the middle of the 20th century due to depression and wartime. Through local efforts to preserve the pottery industry in the area, a training centre was founded in 1950 and an art village in 1966, with independent ceramicists invited to make Kasama their home.
The community now numbers around 250 ceramicists, both young and old. As a pottery region, Kasama has relatively few long-established traditions or techniques and, if anything, can be characterised by its eclecticism – the Kasama ceramicists are a new wave of individual ceramicists, free to express their own ideas and intentions.
The Kasama Potters project brings together 34 of the city of Kasama’s ceramicists, and its aim is to promote and showcase Kasama ware and its diverse mix of ceramic styles. It’s part of the Japan Brand scheme organised by Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry to support the country’s small and medium-sized enterprises, helping them to develop a presence overseas.
Kasama Collaborations is a new project connecting British designers with Japanese ceramicists from Kasama, and is part of the latest Kasama Potters Showcase. I was paired with two potters – Akiko Ozutsumi and Michitaka Fukuno.
Akiko Ozutsumi’s work, produced under the name Oz Factory, has the same sense of humour as mine and incorporates integrated forms (including polar bears and foxes) for a purpose. This inspired me to use the shapes and details of my creatures within the design, in a clever way. So the tails of the characters became the handles on cups and jugs, and Charlie’s arms became the handles of a plate. I was thrilled with the way my designs were brought to life through Akiko’s tremendous skill as a maker.
Michitaka Fukuno’s work is characterised by his use of colour, and his precise forms and embossed textures, which lent themselves to be used for more of an abstract pattern-based design. His talent for painting intricate detail was mesmerising, and he interpreted a couple of my knitted pattern designs to create two ceramic pieces, a green and blue cup and a pink-patterned vase.
Kasama Collaborations also features pieces by artist and designer Adam Nathaniel Furman, ceramicist Reiko Kaneko, chef James ‘Jocky’ Petrie and the London Flower School, who have each collaborated with an accomplished Kasama potter, merging British and Japanese art and design. As well as the new pieces making up the Kasama Collaborations exhibit, there will also be a showcase and pop-up shop of new ceramic work, including original pieces from 32 Kasama potters.
While my designs are not currently available to buy online, they are available on a made-to-order basis – email [email protected] for more information.
Kasama Collaborations is showing at South Arcade, Islington Square, 116 Upper Street, London N1 1AB. The exhibition is open Tuesday to Sunday, from 10am to 6pm, until 20th March 2022.
Photography by Mark Cocksedge.