2016 marks the 35th Anniversary of having finished a three year apprenticeship in Mashiko at the Shimaoka Pottery.  It was a powerful three years in Japan and although I was working in the pottery everyday sometimes I think the least of what I absorbed was about pottery making.   I learned to speak  Japanese well enough to get by and that in turn allowed me to begin to see the world through the lens of another culture.  I was introduced, via many small lessons, to the power, beauty and confines of history.  I learned about the value of solitude, loneliness and patience.  I now understand more about the power of restraint, the value of homage as expressive artistic tools.  I learned sometimes humbling but valuable and interesting lessons in prejudice from a minorities point of view, very important to me to this day.

 

Perhaps most importantly my values and belief system were challenged everyday in small and large ways.  It was a three year examination of what it meant to navigate daily using western based values, in a culture that did not necessarily embrace the same. In fact a great deal of what informs a daily Japanese code of conduct seemed to run diametrically opposed to decsisions I would make out of mine. Those subtle frequent cultural collissions were very dynamic moments for me that forced self examination & growth.  The idea of culture had become larger and more complex that I had ever imagined and I am eternally grateful to Mr. Shimaoka and his family and all of the workers for their generosity in having me at the pottery for three years. 

 

Workers

Pottery

Grounds

Tools

Kilns & Firing

Me

 © 2016 Tony Marsh Ceramics

Stoking the kiln

Night shift on the noburigama