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It seems reasonable to expect that beauty will emerge from a fusion of the individual character and culture of the potter with the nature of his materials.
I make functional pottery in an effort to preserve local culture in our modern throw-away society. My main goal is to inspire other people to make their own creative work.
Every artist knows that he is engaged in an encounter with infinity, and that work done with heart and hand is ultimately worship of life itself.
Bernard Leach (1887-1979) was a British potter and artist. He grew up in Asia and had close links to Japan. In his art he was strongly influenced by wabi-sabi, a Japanese concept of simplicity. He believed that function had overriding importance and he disapproved of art that was artistic for the sake of being artistic.
He established the Leach Pottery in St Ives in Cornwall in western England. He collaborated closely with a Japanese potter, Shoji Hamada. He was also involved with the Mingei functional folk art movement and its leading figure Soetsu Yanagi. He had a deep and lasting influence that went far beyond pottery and that has affected modern western concepts of design.
There are some interesting parallels with martial arts. At a basic level Bernard Leach studied with a master potter, Kenzan, and eventually developed his own style and even
Think of the storm roaming the sky uneasily
like a dog looking for a place to sleep in,
listen to it growling.
Elizabeth Bishop, Little Exercise
Thought and beauty, like a hurricane or waves, should not know conventional, delimited forms.
Anton Chekhov, The Letter
Let chaos storm!
Let cloud shapes swarm!
I wait for form.
Robert Frost, Pertinax
Why now, blow wind, swell billow, and swim bark!
The storm is up, and all is on the hazard.
William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar act 5 scene 1
This is where the typhoon starts
inside the fourth paragraph,
ten city blocks away
Nick Carbo, Typhoon Signal No. 1
An earthquake, a landslip, an avalanche, overtake a man incidentally, as it were - without passion. A furious gale attacks him like a personal enemy, tries to grasp his limbs, fastens upon his mind, seeks to rout his very spirit out of him.
Joseph Conrad, Typhoon
Late summer and September is the typhoon season in Japan. Typhoons are numbered each year starting again from number one. We have just had this season's Typhoon number 12. Its international name was Typhoon Talas but that name was never heard in Japan. The very heavy rain caused landslides and there have been many deaths in western Japan mainly in the area around Wakayama.
Japanese people sometimes ask me about the UK. No earthquakes? No. No typhoons? No. It must be nice to live in such a quiet place...
Over the gulfs of dream
Flew a tremendous bird
Further and further away
Into a moonless black
Theodore Roethke, Night Crow
Crow saw the herded mountains, steaming in the morning,
And he saw the sea
Dark-spined, with the whole earth in its coils.
Ted Hughes, Crow Alights
But the Raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing farther then he uttered - not a feather then he fluttered -
Till I scarcely more than muttered "Other friends have flown before -
On the morrow he will leave me, as my Hopes have flown before."
Then the bird said "Nevermore."
Edgar Allan Poe, The Raven
Edogawa Ranpo was an influential Japanese mystery writer. His name was an hommage to Edgar Allan Poe. The names sound roughly the same. Detective Conan is a very popular manga and animé about a boy detective. The main character is called Conan Edogawa after Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Edogawa Ranpo.
I mentioned crows in the blog post about the sounds of summer. I have heard them pause their cawing for a beat when children mimicked them. The crows in Japan are big and menacing. Perhaps they are ravens. They seem to know when to expect the burnable garbage so it has to be covered with nets. Crow in Japanese is karasu.
Some restaurants in Tokyo display their meals outside the entrance. These are usually wax models from Kappaba