This month at wagumi we have a new collection work by Marumi Kujirai. A ceramist based in Kasama, not far north of Tokyo, her work has a special individuality.
When the bubble economy collapsed in Japan in the 1990s, it was followed by a period in which craft and other less ostentatious aspects of life, experienced a revival. Part of this was an emerging ‘indie’ scene in ceramics.
Many individual or small producers working in their own style and selling through fairs, and a growing network of independent shops. In contrast to the garish materialism of the 1980s, owning hand made ceramics seemed a more sustainable goal for many, and one that fitted to the great legacy of ceramic creation in Japan. Works in pottery defined by their kiln effects, and their imperfections, held an appeal lodged in the aesthetic sub-conscious.
A key location in this independent scene of ceramics makers is Kasama. The suburban and near rural homes there often have kilns, and residents who work in clay. Together with the nearby town of Mashiko, its ceramics scene has been fuelled by emigres, often from elsewhere in the capital region, keen to begin their own explorations.
Also from elsewhere, Marumi Kujirai is representative of a new generation in Kasama, associated with the town’s ceramic university. Within this, her style is very much her own.
She lives in a single story house, with a kiln at one end, that is filled with artefacts from her mind in ceramics. The pottery she makes is designed to be used. They are items for the table, that aim to improve each moment spent there.
The forms are not necessarily Japanese, although there are strong hints to this tradition. In her kyusu (Japanese teapots) shapes for example, with their side handle attached to a plump central form. But there is an originality too, in the upward slopes of Kujirai’s milk jugs, or the loops of the handles she makes. Hours with books in the library, and clay in her hands, has influenced each shape.
The mountains of test pieces in her studio also attest to the effort put into Kujirai’s glazes. In greens, blues and beiges, while at first look the colours are matt in their finish, they hold drips and swirls and layers of natural pattern within.
While shaped in a distinctive way according to her imagination, this points to the humanity and nature within Kujirai’s work, which is always a pleasure to use.
One of our periodic restocks of her output, highlights this time at wagumi include for the first time coffee drippers, of steep angles and balanced cloud like drip point.
We also have work in her new layered white glaze colour, as well as Kujirai's popular milk jugs.
The items from Marumi Kujirai are available at wagumi Oxo Tower, and here on our website.