John Baymore at River Bend Pottery

River Bend Pottery   © 1995 - 2011 All Rights reserved

 

 

The Potters of Onda

 

When John took his first ceramics course in college the Ceramics I instructor, Brenda Minisci, showed a well

used, grainy black and white 16mm film called

"The Village Potters of Onda" which was shot in a

ural Japanese pottery village by Robert and Edith

Sperry. This wonderful film documented the lifestyle

of the people of Onda Sarayama and the Mingei (folk

craft) pottery they produced for daily life in Japan.

 

This film had a profound influence on John at that time. The work spoke of a deep tie between people and process, life and work, material and object, form and function, nature and beauty. The straightforward pots for living were striking in their simplicity and yet showed great sophistication. Strength and subtlety evident all at once.  The simplest of techniques these potters utilized produced the most stunning results.

 

That old film seemed to resonate with something lying

deep and unnoticed in John's being. In fact, it really

started a career and a search for an aesthetic

understanding that continues to this day.

 

Bernard Leach                                            

 

As a student of ceramics in the 60's, John soon encountered the "bible" of potters at that time..... "A Potter's Book" by the English potter Bernard Leach. There was not the plethora of books on ceramics which we tend to take for granted today, and technical information was somewhat limited. Leach's book contained all manner of useful, straightforward information needed by a new potter, and it was a treasured tool.

 

                                      In it, Leach opened with a chapter called "Towards a Standard" that                                      was inspirational in it's approach to living life and the making of                                       objects. Leach's standards and ideals were harsh and                                            demanding..... but broad and empowering at the same time.                                                 Bernard Leach himself was greatly influenced by Japanese                                                   pottery, art, religion, and culture, and his book was                                                     permeated with aesthetic standards and philosophy that                                                      came from Leach growing up as a child in China and then                                                        living many years in Japan as an adult.

 

                                                       In "A Potter's Book", Leach spoke highly of many                                                        Japanese potters with whom he had the opportunity to                                                        work. But one person stood out in his descriptions most                                                        particularly; Hamada Shoji, from the small town of Mashiko                                                       in Tochigi prefecture. There were a few small pictures of                                                      Hamada's work contained in Leach's book, and John was                                                      particularly taken with their casual looseness yet great                                                     strength.

 

                                                 In this way, John was first introduced to the work of Hamada                                                Shoji....... which actually started a long convoluted journey that                                                would eventually lead to John visiting Mashiko in 1996.

 

 

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