Classical and Contemporary Japanese Pottery

Japanese PotteryI’ve been wanting to visit the Harlequin Gallery, which deals in classical and contemporary studio pottery and ceramics, for a long time as they have an interesting collection of Japanese pottery for sale, but they exhibit in Central London only rarely. However, last week they had a brief show in Shepherd’s Market, so Yannick and I rushed down to see what was on offer.

The bulk of the exhibition was work by contemporary British, and some Japanese, ceramicists, but there were some Japanese treasures mixed in amongst them. Like this boxed chawan (a chawan is a teacup) by Shoji Hamada, founder of the Mingei movement and of course of Mashiko pottery.

Japanese Pottery - Harlequin Gallery

There were a number of works by Hamada’s friend and collaborator Bernard Leach, like this lidded incense box and stoneware waisted vase.

Japanese Pottery - Harlequin Gallery

Or this tall stoneware vase with spotted decoration.

Japanese Pottery - Harlequin Gallery

We loved this boxed Shigaraki sake set by Rakusai Takahashi IV. Shigaraki, in Shiga Prefecture, is one of the ‘six old kilns’ of Japan, best known as the source of all those cheery tanuki figurines you see outside restaurants. (A tanuki is like a raccoon and has a reputation for enjoying a party).

Japanese Pottery - Harlequin Gallery

This stoneware tea bowl was made by Ryoji Koie at the Leach Pottery in 2010.

Japanese Pottery - Harlequin Gallery

This Karatsu style plate is by Kyosuke Fujiwara. Karatsu ware comes from Saga Prefecture and is known for its sturdiness and simple style.

Japanese Pottery - Harlequin Gallery

This wood-fired sake jar from Iga is by Kazuya Furutani.

Japanese Pottery - Harlequin Gallery

This large shine glazed charger is by Ken Matsuzaki, and had pride of place in the gallery window.

Japanese Pottery - Harlequin Gallery

Our absolute favourite was this subtle green bowl by Yui Tsujimura.

Japanese Pottery - Harlequin Gallery

Alongside the Harlequin Gallery exhibition, Aki Moriuchi was showing new paintings and mixed media. Her work is strongly influenced by her study of Native American history, culture and social issues. Originally a potter/ceramicists, Moriuchi has recently taken up painting. Her large wall pieces with their rough, primitive feel grabbed my attention – I took them for clay but in fact they’re mixed media with oil on canvas.

Japanese Pottery - Harlequin Gallery

Japanese Pottery - Harlequin Gallery

The Shepherd’s Market exhibition has now finished, but you can contact Harlequin Galleries via their website and arrange to visit and view their collections. Prices in the show we saw ranged from the low hundreds to over a thousand for the best pieces, but John Rastall, who runs the Harlequin Gallery, tells me that his prices if you visit him in SE18 start at £25.

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