⟨ Craft ⟩

The Depth of Pottery

Kouichi Uchida

Text and Photography / Ron Lam
Translation / Iris Heung



除了造陶外,內田鋼一也是一位收藏家,他於四日市營運的Banko Archive Design Museum,每年會舉辦兩次企劃展,每次展覽中,都可以看到他珍貴而有趣的藏品,像沖繩一種叫Panari的陶器、各種各樣的開瓶器,最近以黃色的主題的展覽中,由鐵皮車子至江戶時代的玻璃瓶子都能找到。



I made a trip from Nagoya to the Museum of Ceramic Art in Hyogo during the weekend, only to see the exhibition of the potter Kouichi Uchida. I also had a chance to see Uchida demonstrating his shaping technique with a potter’s wheel. Unlike most of the potters who would use various tools to work on the initial shape, Uchida tends to do it in a wild way with his bare hands. To shape the bottom of the pottery, he would press a thin piece of bamboo against the clay to shave away the redundant parts. After the demonstration, some students asked why didn’t he use any tools. He just shrugged it off and said it was too troublesome. I was slightly worried that his casual reply would mislead students into really believing tools were troublesome to use. His swift and unconscious actions are actually the results of experience he gained along with the many years of practice. His eyes and senses are so well trained by the repeating shaping process. The abundance of pottery he made all these years are witnesses to how he has developed his technique with these beautiful gestures that he can now demonstrate to the public.

Kouichi Uchida traveled around Asia, Europe, and Africa when he was young to visit various regions of pottery production. He would work there to learn and try the local pottery production techniques. More importantly, the experience allowed him to understand how the locals saw pottery; such knowledge has helped him build his own philosophy of pottery.

When Uchida is not making pottery, he is a professional collector. Twice per year, he would curate exhibitions in the Yokkaichi Banko Archive Design Museum to showcase his own collections. He has collected a wide variety of precious and interesting things including the Panari-yaki earthenware from Okinawa, corkscrews in different shapes, etc. In the most recent exhibition themed around the yellow color, he displayed objects like tin model cars and glass bottles from the Edo period.

Uchida jokingly said he used to be an underperformed student at school. Although history and science were his weakest subjects, he is now an expert on the history of pottery; he is as well keen on all the scientific experiments related to glazing and the firing process. Finding a way to spark interest is perhaps the critical point when one begins to grasp knowledge. Many are impressed by the appearance of his pottery works, but he said, they are, in fact, shapes he has learned from ancient pottery. One example would be his clay jars that are currently being exhibited in the Museum of Ceramic Art, Hyogo. In the old days, the ancient people also produced jars in similar shape. They used to have a pointed bottom, so people can bury them into the soil to collect rainwater. However, since he did not intend to place the jars in the soil, he made them a flat base instead. To retain the unsteady look of the ancient jars, Uchida tried to make the base as narrow as possible even if it is no longer pointy.

Uchida’s attitude towards creativity is distinctive from other artisans in general. With his passion for craftsmanship and his focus on attaining sophistication, Uchida is able to create pottery that touches one’s heart.