Fundraising effort for Japanese potters expands

Noborigama (Climbing) kilns in Mashiko before the earthquake.

The Mudflat Studio and the Pucker Gallery, both in Boston, Massachusetts, are fundraising for the Mashiko Potters Fund. This much-needed initiative benefits the potters from Mashiko, Japan, who were so affected by the March 11 earthquake. Donations will be used to help potters rebuild their kilns and potteries which were destroyed. Your donations can be made by secure transactions through Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover or PayPal. (Mudflat is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, which means your donation is tax-deductible in the U.S.) Soon after the earthquake, Mashiko potter, Ken Matsuzaki, created the foundation. Noborigama kilns in Mashiko, as shown in the photo above, were destroyed by the 9-point earthquake and  subsequent aftershocks. A variation on a wood-burning anagama kiln, nabori kilns are built on a slope and are chambered. Such kilns were used by Shōji Hamada, a Japanese National Living Treasure, who died in Mashiko in 1978. Influential world-wide, he and his and colleagues, Bernard Leach and Sōetsu Yanagi , spread the Mingei philosophy, art by the people for the people. Hamada Museum in Mashiko has been badly affected by the earthquake. Hamada’s apprentice, Tatsuzō Shimaoka, a Japanese National Living Treasure, died in 2007. He created the Jōmon zogan style, a form of rope inlay. There is word that his daughter, glass artist Yoshiko Fudeya, is organizing a relief drive, but I have yet to learn the nature of it or contact information. The natural disaster so affected this potter’s heartland, I believe it is our duty and responsibility to help. The longer time elapses, the greater the likelihood that people will feel the earthquake and tsunami are a thing of the past. Out of sight out of mind. However, we are talking about catastrophic proportions, living history and current life and art. It is laudable to donate to Red Cross, so families throughout Japan can be issued jerry cans and buckets. But, most people have never heard of Mashiko and might not be interested in broken down kilns. Will those associated with ceramics help support Mashiko, its potters, and this living history and art? I know we have all experienced economic downturns which may have affected us directly, but good will and compassion must win the day. The Japanese government has enough on its hands; the Arts Community outside the disaster area steps in to help fellow artists. Please donate today. “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.” — Bernard Leach


About Jan

I have a background in ceramics, graphic design and journalism.
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