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Sodeisha Connected to Australia


Kenji Uranishi,  Pleated bowl  2009, porcelain with inlaid slip and celadon glaze, 11.8 x 20.0cm, Les Renfrew Bequest 2009, Newcastle Art Gallery collection

Kenji Uranishi, Pleated bowl 2009, porcelain with inlaid slip and celadon glaze, 11.8 x 20.0cm, Les Renfrew Bequest 2009, Newcastle Art Gallery collection

Earlier in 2019 I was part of a special exhibition at Newcastle Art Gallery, ‘Sodeisha: Connected to Australia’. The Gallery holds one of the largest collections of Sodeisha ceramics by this important group of artists outside of Japan.

SODEISHA: connected to Australia celebrates this significant collection with the inclusion of ten contemporary ceramic artists from Australia and Japan featuring alongside the Gallery's Sodeisha collection to form a dialogue between this important post war avant-garde movement and contemporary ceramic arts practice today.

I was honoured to represent the Australian selection of artists, while of course also feeling so closely connected to the Japanese artists. When I visited Newcastle Art Gallery for the exhibition opening, I was reunited with the work of many artists I have admired and whose work has inspired me throughout my career, both Australian and Japanese.

I was lucky to have an excellent teacher at Nara College of Fine Arts—a place where I became hooked on clay after first experiencing the wonder of its transformation in the kiln. My teacher, Kawano sensei’s wife, Katsuyo Maeda was part of the Sodeisha movement, and her work also featured in the ‘Connected to Australia’ exhibition.

It was during my College days that I was introduced to the Sodeisha movement and discovered contemporary ceramics. I particularly loved the work of Kazuo Yagi and others. After graduating, I directed energy into my own idea of contemporary slab and coil-built sculptures.

So I think the Sodeisha movement had a big influence on my practice and my connection with clay – both functional and non-functional. The artists behind this sculptural clay movement, which was established in 1946, often had a traditional ceramics background but were also trying to push the boundaries of the Japanese ceramic scene. The attitudes that drove this movement have stayed with me throughout my career – and even now keep me going and inspire me to try something new.

It was great to meet original Sodeisha group member Satoru Hoshino and to chat about his incredible installation.

It was great to meet original Sodeisha group member Satoru Hoshino and to chat about his incredible installation.