Teabowls: Form, Function, Expression / Oxford Ceramics Gallery
October 24 – November 20, 2014
The teabowl, or chawan, is at the heart of the Japanese tea ceremony—an object of beauty, simplicity and contemplation. Taking this as its inspiration, this exhibition presents a remarkable variety of teabowls and small vessels, with some 300 pieces by more than 60 makers from all parts of the world. These range from traditional pieces by legendary Japanese and British potters to contemporary vessels—functional and conceptual—by leading international ceramists.
On show at Oxford Ceramics Gallery from 24 October to 16 November 2014, the exhibition is complemented by an exciting programme of events at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.
James Fordham, Director of Oxford Ceramics, says, “This is our most ambitious exhibition to date, with an amazing line-up of makers. We’ve invited established and emerging ceramists from all over the world, leaving the term ‘teabowl’ open to the individual artist’s interpretation, which should make for an exciting and unusual show.”
The earliest and most traditional teabowls in the exhibition are those of the great 20th-century Japanese potter Shoji Hamada and fellow potter Bernard Leach, in whose work form and function are perfectly balanced. Gradually the teabowl became more expressive, seen here in the fresh, dynamic work of Ryoji Koie, Shozo Michikawa and Ken Matsusaki. Japanese ceramics continue to inspire European potters, evident in the work of exhibitors Lisa Hammond, Hans Vangso and Jack Doherty.
The exhibition also presents a new generation of ceramists working in the vessel tradition: Carina Ciscato with her fluid, architectural pieces, Akiko Hirai with her tactile, richly glazed bowls, Kaori Taketabashi with her hand-built vessels in muted matt colours, and relative newcomer Elaine Bolt with her delicate, finely balanced pots.
Most unexpected, however, are the exciting ways in which ceramic artists not normally associated with the vessel tradition, and conceptual artists, have responded to the brief. Holland’s Wouter Dam has contributed a sculptural composition the colour of green tea, with two small bowls floating on a rippling ribbon of clay. Celebrated Belgian ceramist Piet Stockmans has responded with a nine-part composition comprising deconstructed tea cups and teapots playfully reorganised. Ikuko Iwamoto states that her teabowls are made for “a bizarre tea ceremony—suggesting the ordinary but in fact extraordinary”.
The Teabowls exhibition is complemented by a full programme of events at the Ashmolean Museum. This includes demonstrations by leading potters, and a recreation of the tea ceremony in the Museum’s Japanese tea house, followed by a private view of the exhibition. These events are part of the acclaimed ClayLive collaboration between the Ashmolean and Oxford Ceramics Gallery.
Gallery hours: Monday to Saturday, 10 am to 5.30 pm.
T: 01865 512320
Oxford Ceramics Gallery
29 Walton Street
Oxford OX2 6AA
Above: Shoji Hamada, Yunomi, c. 1960, Stoneware, 9 x 8 cm.