Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Some of my favourite Taiwanese potters

Taiwan is a potter's playground! Not only is handmade pottery used and appreciated in daily life, but you also see reminders of the historical importance of ceramic production everywhere. In certain parts of the country you may take a stroll and pass abandoned kilns scattered in the landscape. Some of the old snake kilns are still functioning, though with a new emphasis on tourism. The town of Yingge, of course, crowns it all with its extensive ceramic museum, it's resident potters, and the many fantastic little shops lining the cobblestoned streets. Here, shops specialise: oilspot, ru yao, shino - whatever you fancy, there will be a shop that carries it.

Sometimes I have to catch my breath to reflect on the great fortune I had to live in Taiwan from 2009-2013. In retrospect, it boils down to three P's:  Places, People and Pottery. When I was there, I felt that life just puttered along (no pun intended). If Taipei was a dynamic city, it did not really extend to my life. I often thought it compared unfavourably to Beijing, where I had lived earlier - where Beijing's great attraction was its dynamism, its subtexts and its forbidden secrets, Taipei's lure was its tranquility, its accessibility and the unbelievable - even eerie - friendliness of its inhabitants. Often did I miss the scathing sarcasm I was used to on the streets in Beijing, and when I tried to introduce it into my conversations with locals, it went totally unappreciated!! A lot of smoothing over was then needed.... Also, the subculture we enjoyed in Beijing was really nowhere to be found, even among artists. Well, this is my biased view after living there for 4 years. But like I said, in retrospect, I feel so fortunate to have experienced this island with its wild nature, mild people and great pottery tradition.

This morning as I write this post, I am carried back to Taiwan. It's the little things, the waves, the ferns in the forest behind our house, the geckos...

But what I really wanted to convey here is my admiration for three Taiwanese master potters: Celadon master Xu Dejia , Ruyao master He Bohui (of Bocai kiln) and oilspot master Luo Senhao.

Do yourself the favour to familiarise yourself with them via these links (I don't publish their photos here, but just click on the links). Their works are on sale online, albeit at very high prices.

Xu Dejia 徐德嘉

Bocai kiln 柏采窑

Luo Senhao 罗森豪 (and here) is a bit of a maverick, he likes to do things differently and with a lot of humour. Professor at Dept of Art and Design, National Taipei University of Education, author is several books on ceramics, you will find his works for sale on taobao (beware, many are copies!).

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