In the lead up to our East~West Tea Drinking Traditions exhibition in May, Paul Davis and Jacqueline Clayton presented a brilliant workshop for us, focusing on Japanese tea bowls and tea ceremony.
The day was beyond expectations and although we didn't get to the clay ourselves, we were absorbed by everything Paul and Jacquie had to offer. Not only did we come away with so much knowledge on the construction of Japanese tea bowls, but insight into the tea ceremony from Paul's personal experience and a wonderful presentation from Jacquie that brought the tea traditions of China, Korea and Japan into perspective, and gave us a taste of how Europe and England came to develop their own traditions and styles.
Here is an excerpt and a few images from an article in this month's Newsletter.
“Every tea bowl has a front.”
There are many types of tea bowls. Winter bowls are narrower and therefore keep the tea warm while Summer bowls are shallower and broader and the tea cools more quickly. The most common bowls include Natsuchawan, Ido, Wan, Tenmoku and Shino.
Additional ceramic items used in the Tea Ceremony include Mizusashi - water jar/container with a black lacquer lid, Chaire - tea container with a wooden lid, Futaoki – to rest the water ladel on, and plates for Kashi Bachi - sweets.
Paul used a mixture of Keane’s Special K and Ironstone clays plus his own Kogero clay. His bowls have an asymmetrical, yet balanced presence, which is a result of how he forms the pot rather than additional treatment. He threw off the hump and also demonstrated handbuilt tea bowl techniques.
For one handbuilt bowl technique Paul placed a round slab on a turntable, which he compressed using finger marks. He then textured another slab with stretched wire and roughly folded it around and put a coil inside the base to strengthen and define the inside curve – essential to accommodate the shape of the tea whisk (see images below).
“All calibrated around the body. Items are made to comfortably hold. Everything works together - the width of the bowls,
the size of the spoons, etc.”
Jacquie gave us an illuminating presentation on Tea Ceremonies. With our East West Exhibition in mind she was looking at differences and similarities. Both East and West have tea rituals and all consider aspects such as attire, environment, ceremony and serving. Jacquie also gave a brief history of the spread of porcelain from East to West in the 15th century.
It was fascinating to learn the influences that contributed to the development of the tea ceremony in Japan. There is some contention as to the origins of some of the now commonplace aspects of this tradition. Some believe elements of Catholic rituals, brought by the Jesuits to Japan, had a strong influence. Was Sen no Rikyu a Christian?
All elements of the Japanese Tea Ceremony are steeped in tradition and work together to consider the whole experience - from the planning and sending of invitations and the months-long preparation of the garden to the choice of tea bowl, vase and floral decoration. Paul urged us to consider the Central Coast environment and use it as inspiration when developing pieces for the East West exhibition.
Text prepared by Ingrid Tristram
Photography by Kylie Rose McLean
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