[Clayart] Hamada Myth, part 1

robert hackert ndiaman at hotmail.com
Fri Apr 28 15:09:04 UTC 2023

Really fine observations from the source. Thank you Mel.
Rob Hackert
North Port, Fl

Sent from my iPhone

> On Apr 28, 2023, at 10:37 AM, mel jacobson <melpots at mail.com> wrote:
> There are many new clayart members that have never
> heard about Hamada, Zen, farmer pots etc.
> The names of the older Japanese Masters are starting
> to fade from the narrative. Most graduating from college
> clay programs do not have a clue who they are.
> When doing my apprenticeship in Kyoto we often went to Tokyo
> to do shows, or look at shows of pots. Mr. Uchida was very famous
> in Japan, His fame was from Kyoto, and that was important..
> He was considered a top flight "Ke U mez U" potter. Often thought
> of as the "Yankees of Japan pots". He sold his pots all over Japan.
> He had an agent that did the organizing. He was very wealthy.
> There are regions of certain styles of pottery in Japan. If you showed
> and sold pots in England or America you were sort of out of the loop.
> If you had to leave Japan to support yourself, the big boys looked down
> at you. The arts, esp Ceramics was the top of the social scale. Doctors
> were treated like people plumbers. If you did well as a potter, their was a
> great deal of money to be made. The famous potters all had agents to sell
> their work.
> Hamada and Leech started a new school of pottery. It was based on Korean Farmer
> or, simple pots.(mid to late 30's) It gained a lot of traction in Europe and America. Koreans are looked
> at as second class citizens in Japan. As Mr. Uchida would say..."why look to Korea
> when you have the "Ming pots from China???"
> Hamada had a Ph.D. in ceramic engineering. He was a total science guy. He was not
> a potter. Same for Leech, upper crust brit, snob and total left wing radical.
> Yes, making pots for the common man, to share simple forms. easy to make.
> They had no history in Japan. Most famous potters would trace their heritage
> back 15 or more generations. The pottery name was passed down from father to son.
> No, kids? adopt your best worker.
> Hamada and Leech were basically adopted by a very old potter with a heritage. Kenzan.
> It had nothing to do with "Zen". It was a business. Hamada made millions of Yen in his
> life. Leech never turned a pound prophet in his pottery. He had a very wealthy woman that sponsored
> his "pots for the common man theme."
> It is very difficult to understand a two thousand year old culture, in a country that is totally
> one person, all Japanese. A mono-culture.  We often base what is happening from our own native
> culture view, what you see, is not what is.
> A number of people got very angry with me when I told the world that Mr. Hamada was not a potter
> but, but a ceramic engineer. Bubbles are hard to burst. But, I was there, looking from the inside
> out. Mr. Uchida took me places, told me stories, I met his agent, and his millionaire sponsor.
> He taught me the "Pyramid Scheme".
> Kyoto potters get their clay, all of their clay from one big commercial mining company north of Kyoto. It is perfection.
> it is delivered every week. Scrap is taken away. The Kyoto ceramic Institute designs all the glazes and then
> makes the glaze to 100% perfect specs. We got 25 gallon barrels of mixed glaze.
> Hamada's studio had 15 employees the day I was there. It included a woman that did all the painting on his
> pots. That famous "swash" was her.
> Mr. Uchida and Mr. Hamada did not make pots. They hired the best throwers in Japan. they both did glazing for
> special pieces. They were like CEO's of a corporation.
> A great myth started in America when Hamada visted. The Zen thing was big in California, The idea of almost
> "meditation made art" and "feeling art" was rampant. Susan Peterson wrote about Japanese potters and Zen.
> Susan was a wonderful potter, teacher and lived a great life. But like often happens we miss the real culture
> and add our own "feeling about it". Hamada was a great "Salesman". And the price of his work soared into the
> atmosphere. It is not about bad or good, it is what it is, and it was different than expected
> (part 2 later, spending time with Hamada.)
> mel
> website: http://www.melpots.com/
> http://www.melpots.com/CLAYART.HTML

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