Pages 116-117 in Bonnie Kemske’s Kintsugi, The Poetic Mend book.
Here is a short film documenting a major project I did in collaboration with archaeologist Mike Webber for the Totally Thames Festival 2017. You can see over four thousand clay casts submerged in the river Thames!
Back to the River is a project I have been working on for the past year with Thames archaeologist, Mike Webber. The projects grand finale is this one-day event as part of the Thames Festival.
Come and explore the archaeological and industrial heritage of Bankside and take part in one of the earliest Thames-side trades: ceramics manufacture. Get your hands on some clay and create your very own cast, made from a mould of a genuine artefact found on the Thames foreshore. You will be able to place your cast on the beach, adding to the artwork and helping to mark out the remains of Mason’s Stairs, a Tudor causeway that gave access to the River.
The installation will remain on the foreshore as the tide rises and falls over 24 hours. The artwork will reference the tens of thousands of artefacts that have been found on the foreshore and the ancient tradition of placing ritual offerings into the Thames.
Join us on the day and give your bit of treasure Back to the Thames.
On a recent trip to Japan, I was very lucky to have the opportunity of spending some time with Robert Yellin, an expert in Japanese ceramics. He took me to meet a number of potters in Shigaraki near Kyoto, an area famous for its ceramics and having one of the six oldest kilns in Japan.
Shigaraki ware is traditionally high fired in an Anagama kiln (tunnel kiln) built on a slope or into a hillside. The ceramics are unglazed but ash deposits are introduced that settle, melt and create a natural glaze that can’t be achieved by any other method of firing. The kilns can take many days to fire with the wood being constantly supplied to achieve high temperatures.
One of the potters I met who really impressed me with her work not only because she makes astonishingly beautiful pieces, but also with her life story. Kiyoko Koyama demonstrates an intrinsic need to work with clay even though she encountered much opposition and hardship. She struggled to such a degree that there has been a Japanese film made about her called ‘Hi Bi’.