"Ikuko Maeda" - The potter from Shiraoi.
"Like Japanese pottery of old, crafted by someone with a calm mind, free of evil thoughts..."
In her own gentle voice Ms. Ikuko Maeda describes her pottery work. Though born in Shiraoi, Ms. Maeda spent time studying abroad in Spain. She eventually returned to her home-town to continue her work while surrounded by the deep green of nature.
She created works using a time consuming technique, and released them under the name "Sou" (a Japanese word meaning "layer"). While these items gained popularity she also became well known for her work designing an "eco-bag," winning first place in Hokkaido Shinbun's (Newspaper) Second Eco-Award in March of this year. With this accomplishment under her belt it's safe to say she's a multi-talented creator.
While kneading two different clays together is uncommon, it is the technique she uses to create these beautiful works. She has stuck closely to this creative venture and the simple design, created with careful attention to detail at every step, has led to an impressive lineup which can be seen in her workshop.
When talking with Ms. Maeda, she explained how happy she was to be able to return to her hometown and start her own workshop. After spending time away from Japan, she was overjoyed to return to the place where she spent so much of her childhood.
I'm sure some of the Hokkaido Likers readers are currently living away from home as well. Personally I can't help but feel a small stab of envy whenever I hear about someone who gets to move back to their hometown to work.
Lately Ms. Maeda has been trying to create "vessels that make a pleasant combination with vegetables." After bringing in some edamame (green beans) and placing them on the work, I was shocked by how well the light green of the vessel and the green of the edamame went together.
Here is the "eco-bag" which won the award in March, as well as a coin purse with the same design.
Ms. Maeda has also participated in group and solo exhibitions annually since 2001. She was most recently featured in Sapporo from November 7th through the 15th at "Charou Houyu" in the Ikuko Maeda Black Pottery Exhibition.
I was able to spend time personally with Ms. Maeda and the atmosphere was one I'll not forget, but you can get the same feeling just by viewing her work. It truly feels as though it was made by a calm mind without a single negative, so keep you eyes peeled for her next exhibit and you can experience the feeling for yourself!
(Hokkaido Likers Photo Writer Tetsuya Iwasaki)