Japanese master potter impressed by HB work
… so he came to work with the Martins
Japanese master potter Mr Sanyo Fujii was so impressed with the work of Hastings potters Bruce and Estelle Martin that he packed his bags and came to Hawke’s Bay to work alongside them for six months.
The Martins met Mr Fujii in Japan about four years ago and their interest in his ancient Japanese style of pottery – using an anagama (wood-fuelled) kiln began.
A second visit by the Martins which included some samples of their own work led to Mr Fujii deciding to come to Hawke’s Bay to help the Martins learn to use their own newly-installed anagama kiln.
Mr Fujii has been at the Martins’ Bridge Pa home-cum-workshop for the last seven weeks and helped them with the first firing of their new kiln.
Using an anagama kiln involves putting in unglazed pots and letting the flame, ashes and length of the firing do the rest.
Learning to control the firing takes many years of experience.
Pottery in Japanese means the art of clay and flame and this aptly describes pottery using an anagama kiln.
Mr Fujii started out as an archaeologist. Digging up ancient Japanese pots began his interest in the art form.
At the comparatively late age of 30, he began his training working as a student under a master potter.
It was three years before he was allowed to use a wheel but after this period of observation he could make a pot on the wheel with his first effort.
Mr Fujii is so impressed by the Martins’ work that he hopes to take some of the work the trio have done together back to Japan for an exhibition.
His work is highly sought after in Japan, and he has had an exhibition in Paris.
Mr Fujii is “very surprised” to see how much interest there is in Japanese pottery in New Zealand.
Even in Japanese terms the Martins pottery was of a high standard, he said.
Mr Fujii does not speak English, but with the help of Mrs Hiromi Stewart, Hastings, he is making his thoughts known.
Another New Zealand potter, Mr Richard Harker, Northland, is also working with Mr Fujii at Bridge Pa.
Photo caption – Watching Mr Sanyo Fujii making a large ornamental dish are (from left) Estelle Martin, Bruce Martin and Richard Harker.