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These pots were made by either Estelle or Bruce Martin and are unique in New Zealand. They are fired in a large, modern day anagama kiln in the traditional manner of ancient times.
Anagama is a Japanese word, ‘ana’ meaning hole or cave and ‘gama’ meaning kiln. The original anagama were built directly into clay hill sides as an upward sloping tunnel. First developed in Korea about the 4th century A.D. they were used in Japan from about the 6th through to the 14th century. Traditionally fired with pine wood for an extended time (8-16 days) to produce a very high temperature. The resulting pots were marvellously coloured by the flame, ash from the wood, and the smoke from this long firing. Many fine examples from the 12th-16th century still exist in Japanese museums and collections despite having been through long burial in the ground – a testimony to the strength and durability of anagama pottery.
After seeing the pots from a modern day Japanese anagama at Sanyo Fujii’s pottery in 1978 we resolved to build such a kiln in New Zealand. Our attraction to anagama pots was immense so that all obstacles were overcome to build one. The Kamaka anagama is approximately 500 cubic feet and is fired only once each year for nine to ten days. We use approximately 25 tonnes of split pine wood during this time with two teams of stokers working 12 hour shifts. The fire is re-stoked every 5-7 minutes on average and each time another bundle of wood is put into the kiln it disturbs the ash which is carried through the large single chamber by the natural draft to be deposited time after time onto the pots. In this way the pots that were put into the kiln ‘raw’ or unglazed develop their colour and glaze-like coatings.
Following our first firing of the Kamaka anagama we returned to Japan in 1982. During 1983 Mr Sanyo Fujii, a master Japanese potter, stayed with us for seven months and participated in our second firing. The pots made for the 1983 firing were based on the traditional Japanese utensils used in the tea ceremony. A selection of these pieces were shown at a joint exhibition with Mr Fujii at the Mitsukoshi Gallery of Fine Art in Osaka in 1984.
Since 1984 we have continued to explore traditional forms and to develop our interest in ikebana containers. The natural colours of anagama pottery blend with and enhance the colours of nature in a way that cannot be achieved with any other type of firing. Kamaka anagama pottery is available from our workshop gallery and from some of the major NZ Craft Shows.
1986 Merit Award Bruce Martin – Fletcher Brownbuilt
1987 Merit Award Bruce Martin – Fletcher Brownbuilt
1988 Merit Award Estelle Martin – Norsewear Art Award
1990 Merit Award Estelle Martin – Norsewear Art Award
1990 Principal Award Bruce Martin – United Group/Suter Art Awards