Ganbare! Kamataki: がんばれ! 窯焚き: Wood-fire Potter Aid Appeal

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A few days after the Eastern Japan Earthquake, I had a phone call from my friend, the potter Nancy Elizabeth Fuller from Aberdeenshire. She said that she wanted to help Japanese potters who had been badly affected by the earthquake and the tsunami on 11th March. I had been thinking about it, but had not actually done anything concrete. Her phone call has prompted me to take action.
In an ideal world, we would like to help everyone in need, but we felt this was one way we could make an effective contribution to the relief effort in Japan.
There is no doubt that Japanese potters in the affected areas will face a long struggle to rebuild their kilns and to regain the confidence to stand on their own two feet. Our wish is to try and support them until they are ready to start work and wood-fire again.
Mashiko, thanks to the Hamada-Leach connection, has become a Mecca for western potters and has already attracted the pottery world’s attention. The Leach Pottery in St Ives quickly responded by setting up the Mashiko Earthquake Appeal whilst in Mashiko itself, Ken Matsuzaki has announced the creation of the Mashiko Potter Fund. I sincerely hope that Mashiko will resume normality within a few years.
For my part, I would like to help potters in lesser known pottery areas in the Tohoku and Kanto regions. I have been to Kasama in the Ibaraki Prefecture a few times with my late father. There, we came across some 120 potteries and showrooms. I also once travelled to northern Japan in search of old pots in Tohoku. Amongst my favourites were Aizu-Hongou, Souma and Tate-no-Shita from Fukushima Prefecture, Tsutsumi from Miyagi Prefecture and Kokuji from Iwate Prefecture. I do not want to see these potteries disappear. (see slideshow for beautiful old pots from Eastern Japan).
To help these potters, we have this blog for communication and a new website (www.kamataki-aid.com) under construction will be up and running very soon, where people will be able to exchange ideas about helping potters in Japan. The idea is to start the support process as soon as possible and to continue with it until we are reassured that the potters we are helping can fire their rebuilt kilns again. I would like to send messages to encourage them so that they regain the confidence to carry on their wood-firing tradition.
Please come and check the development on our blog.. (G.K.)

ナンシー・フラーから突然電話が掛かって来たのは、テレビとインターネットに映る東日本を襲った大地震と大津波の痛ましいニュースを観ていた時でした。日本に生まれ人生の大半を過ごし、大抵の地震には慣れている筈の私ですが、今迄に無い大震災の被害の膨大さと死者、行方不明者、被災者の数の多さに、只々衝撃的な驚きと漠然とした不安感を抱いて、気持ちが混乱している状態でした。
ナンシーはスコットランドの女性陶芸家です。私と同様に、彼女も日本の古陶の美しさに魅かれ、日本で陶芸を習い、近年、アバディーンシャーに穴窯を築き作陶活動をしています。
そのナンシーが日本の被災者を助ける活動を何かしたいと言っているのです。具体的に被災者の支援まで考えていなかった私の頭に浮かんだのは、穴窯や登り窯を使って作陶をしている陶芸作家達の事です。10日ほど前のこの時には、東北関東大震災の被害状況も良くは把握出来ていない状態でした。その後、益子からの情報が少し入って来て、沢山の窯が地震の衝撃で壊された事を知りました。
私は、益子の窯の被害状況の深刻さに驚くとともに、震源地にもっと近い宮城県の堤焼、福島県の相馬焼、岩手県の小久慈焼、茨城県の笠間焼とその他の地震の被害を受けた作陶家達の被害状況が一層気に掛かりました。彼等の安否そして窯や工房の被害は如何ばかりなのか。遥か離れた英国までは情報が入ってきません。
昔、今は亡き父に連れられて、笠間へ何度も訪れました。北関東と東北の古い陶器をもっと知りたくて、窯元への一人旅をした事もありました。堤焼と小久慈焼は特に私の好きな民陶でした。今、私の英国の住いでは、古い相馬焼と堤焼を、古伊万里の皿や鉢と共に普段使いにして楽しんでいます。
大地震と大津波から10日過ぎた現在、死者、行方不明者は2万人を超えました。余震が頻繁に続く被災地の避難した人々を想い、その上、日本各地で起きている中型の地震のニュースを観る度に英国に住みながら、望郷の念は日本へ飛びます。
これから被害に遭われた方達は勿論、日本中の皆様方全員で被災地の復興、日本経済の建直しと、大きな課題に立ち向かって行かねばなりません。それは長く苦しい毎日の努力を必要とすることでしょう。頑張れ日本。近い将来きっと立ち直ると信じております。
数日前から英国の陶芸家達と連絡を取り合い、日本の破壊された薪窯の再建と窯焚きの早期再開の為の一助に成ればと援助活動を始めました。今月末にはウェッブサイトを立ち上げて、日本の状況を紹介し理解して頂く事と、日本の作家さん側から日本語での問い合わせに答えられる体勢を作りたいと思います。 (G.K.)

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2 Responses to Ganbare! Kamataki: がんばれ! 窯焚き: Wood-fire Potter Aid Appeal

  1. Dear U.K. Potters,
    I received Email from Kimishima san.
    That a large earthquake is predicted to come in the future.
    Fukushima nuclear power plant is a serious condition.
    Thanks for your support of potters from the United Kingdom.
    I’d like to tell many potters living in the Tohoku, Kanto your support.

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