Japanese born, London based ceramicist, Akiko Hirai, is influenced by Buddhist and Shinto philosophies of aesthetics and balance, marrying tactile surface with elegant forms. Her diverse practice spans both functional ware, large-scale moon jars, and ‘still life’ installations of monotone vessels.
Buddhist and Shinto philosophies suggest that we try to balance nature and human, and that if we try to control nature too much, we will disturb that balance. It is this philosophy of balance between her human control and the inherent nature of the clay that is at the centre of Akiko’s Jars. The walls of the pots when they are ‘born’ must be just the right thickness – too thin and the weight of the surface decoration makes them collapse. Even if the walls are thick, the moisture of the decoration (she uses combinations of thick slips and wet clay) can soak in too quickly, also resulting in collapse. In this way, she sees the pots as humans; if too much pressure is applied, the body or mind will crumble.