Monday 28 February 2022

Akiko Hirai at the Bevere Gallery


Akiko Hirai at the Bevere Gallery, Worcester.

Akiko Hirai was born is Shizaoka, Japan in 1970. Though she studied ceramics in Britain, her work has a powerfully Japanese expressiveness, with the larger pieces, particularly her moon jars, full of the drama of broadside making and processes of firing. Inspired by a famous early 18th century Korean jar owned by Bernard Leach and Lucie Rie, and now in the British Museum, these onumental objects are fragmentary and thick with glazes, slips and fly-ash. The forms often appear to be on the verge of collapse, geological in aesthetic and almost volcanic in their surface energy. 

She also makes a range of smaller pieces including teapots, bowls, plates and bottles, all freely made and generously and richly glazed. She uses rough, dark clay that is then glazed in soft whites, greys, greens and other natural colours, which create delicate veils of colour between the body of the pot and its surface.

Her work is an exploration of contrast; the juxtaposition of coarse clay and translucent glaze. In accordance with the Japanese tradition of Shibui, Hirai allows her clay to inform the firing process and embraces every irregularity and imperfection.

Large moon jar

Sake bottle

Small bowls

Large bowl

Her work is extremely popular. The exhibition opened on Friday, we went on Saturday morning, and everything, with the exception of two bowls, had been sold.

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