Project Overview

The aim of this project is to build and fire two traditional Japanese kilns in the heart of Oxford University’s Wytham Woods.

Anagama kilns are a traditional single-chambered, wood-fired kiln constructed on a slope from clay or firebricks, and characteristic of the Japanese ceramics town of Bizen – the home of unglazed tea ceremony ware. 

This practical research links both  materials and proceses

It is an international forum with active participation from leading UK and Japanese master potters

There will be two kilns, a smaller one with brick base, willow hoop covered in hessian then clay and a much larger brick-built kiln. Once built the kilns will be fired using wood from Wytham Woods. The fire will last for a week for the smaller kiln so this will need volunteers to feed the kiln 24/7. The date for firing is weather dependent but should be last week in July/August.

Ishida Kazuya a Japanese expert potter is artist in residence (Linacre  College/Whichford Pottery) is advising on the project and throwing pots for the first firing. Kaz was apprentice to Isezaki Jun, 5th National Living Treasure of Japan, and one of the country's most respected potters.

Co-director Jim Keeling (Whichford Pottery) has been involved in the project from the start and has visited many Japanese potteries. Matthew Blakely has been experimenting with making pots using local clays.

We are doing this because:

  • This University of Oxford project is located in Wytham (university woodland) with a  unique and robust research context (The Wytham Studio and the Department  of Anthropology).
  • For Anthropologists
    • It will help our understanding of what making  ceramics means
    • Illustrate the complex and changing relationships between the making process and the commodification and use of objects within a social and aesthetic context
  • For Potters
    • It provides opportunities for potters to understand and develop their own craft process
    • It will provide novel conditions for to explore technical development, for example exploring the use of local clays to build pots

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