Takaaki Yoshida

I try to make pottery always being heedful of what the clay and rocks teach me.

After studying at Arita, Shigaraki and Karatsu, I established my studio, “Kiki-gama” in Chikushino, Fukuoka. The Chinese characters I use for “Kiki” mean “vessels in joy.”

I adore ceramics from the Momoyama period, (about 400 years ago to early Edo period), Shino ware, Oribe ware, old Karatsu ware, old Iga ware, early Imari ware and Korean porcelain during Joseon Dynasty. Admiring paintings of free, fluid and resolute style and old pottery with powerful and natural shapes, I have always wanted to create vessels with an antique atmosphere.

The act of firing clay and turning it into vessels. From the Jomon Era of Japan, people have made fire, worked the clay and fired pottery. It seems very simple but, as time passes, I am made aware of its difficulties and profoundness. I try to make pottery always being heedful of what the clay and rocks teach me.

In a corner of the gallery next to my studio, I display fragments of old pottery which I bought at antique shops or were sent by someone as a gift. With it, I think I can express the view of the world that I want to create with my pottery. I used to try to create pieces indistinguishable from antiques, and had various experiments searching around mountains for the clay and rocks. I still go into mountains and dig up material rocks. I crush them by machine, getting dust all over my body.

My formative experience with pottery goes back to when I was an elementary school child. I dug up red clay in the mountain with my friend. He was very knowledgeable and suggested making Jomon ware (clay pottery). We made something sort of close to a vessel. He also knew that ashes could be used for the glaze, so I glazed it with ashes diluted with water and fired it over an open fire in the backyard. The result was a failure. It was not fired well and crumbled in the water. However, I feel that intense experience of creating something from scratch on my own determined my career automatically. When I am walking around in the mountains searching for rocks and clay, I think of myself as a kid doing the same thing and feel some nostalgia. I think I was destined to do this since then.

My motto in making pottery is “Better being rough and ready than slow and elaborate” which are words by Sun Tzu from “The Art of War.” It means that work that is a bit rough but takes less time to complete is better than elaborate perfection that takes time. I think the pottery and antiques that I adore bear the beauty of “rough and ready.” The Joseon ceramics, old Karatsu and early Imari pottery have the beauty of “rough and ready” in their shapes and paintings. Exquisite and elaborate vessels are beautiful, but I find them suffocating and am not interested in them.