Two anagama kilns in the heart of Oxford University’s Wytham Woods were visited by their patron, 80-year-old Isezaki Jun, the Japanese Government's Living National Treasure of Bizen.
by Richard Lofthouse
Oxford's Anagama project patron, 80-year old sensei Isezaki Jun, arrived from Japan to ceremonially open the new brick kiln. A 'Living National Treasure' in Japan, he demonstrated finishing a pot made of Bizen clay designed for tea ceremonies before a rapt audience. The inaugural pot was then placed carefully inside the second of two Japanese-style, anagama kilns built at Wytham Woods.
In his speech, Jun joked that as a young potter he had made numerous errors, including falling asleep while trying to fuel a kiln around the clock a traditional pitfall of a firing technique that requires at least ten tonnes of wood and non-stop high temperatures over a period that can last as long as ten days.
Anagama project patron Isezaki Jun came to Oxford from Japan, and finished a bowl before a rapt audience
This formal event included a public sale of items drawn from the firing of the first, willow kiln that was fired earlier this year collectors were in evidence. It was attended by senior members of the University and a presentation was made to Jun by Pro-Vice Chancellor for external affairs, Professor Nick Rawlins.
One of the sake flasks made at Wytham Woods last month
The aim of the project is to build and fire two traditional Japanese kilns in the heart of Oxford University's Wytham Woods. This practical research links both materials and processes and is an international forum with active participation from leading UK and Japanese master potters.
Wytham Woods, Oxford University's arboretum, in the autumn
The Oxford Anagama originates from Wytham Studio and is co-directed by Dr Robin Wilson (Wytham Studio/ Department of Anthropology) and Jim Keeling (Whichford Pottery). Oxford Today has been given a wonderful sake flask as a prize for a unique
More details of the project can be found at http://www.oxfordanagama.org
Images by Richard Lofthouse and Oxford University Images