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A10628 Sphere, stoneware, Shiga Shigeo, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. c. 1975. Click to enlarge.

'Sphere' made by Shiga Shigeo

Made
Shiga Shigeo (1928-2011) was an influential ceramic artist and teacher who spent thirteen years in Australia from 1966 to 1979. Towards the end of his time in Australia, Shigeo made this serenely beautiful vessel in 1975 (A10628). It was during a time of great sadness in which he was grieving over the death of his younger brother. Of the vessels made in that period he said in 1979: 'I was creating various pieces with no colour other than white, I was actually going through a very sad part of …

Summary

Object No.

A10628

Object Statement

Sphere, stoneware, Shiga Shigeo, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. c. 1975

Physical Description

Sphere, stoneware, Shiga Shigeo, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. c. 1975

Spherical grey-white body with slightly raised narrow mouth, some crackling in glaze, marks to base.

Dimensions

Height

190 mm

Width

190 mm

Production

Notes

Shiga Shigeo (1928-2011) was an influential ceramic artist and teacher who spent thirteen years in Australia from 1966 to 1979. In the 1960s studio potters in Australia started to forge their own direct links with Japan after a period of practising in an indirectly influenced Anglo-Oriental tradition. Les Blakebrough, for example, invited Takeichi Kawai (1964) and Shiga Shigeo (1966) to Australia after he had himself spent an inspiring and productive year in Japan in 1963.

Upon arrival in Australia Shigeo envisaged staying a couple of years but instead remained in Australia for thirteen. Shigeo taught at Sturt, Mittagong until 1968, and he then moved to Sydney where to set up a studio in Terrey Hills. He went back to Japan in 1979 only to return to live in Australia again in 2009. During his time in Australia many students and potters including influential people such as Les Blakebrough, Peter Rushforth, Bernard Sahm and Janet Mansfield benefitted from his extraordinary quality and variety of output which was underpinned by an insightful synthesis of Japanese tradition and philosophical response to his new Australian environment. The following personal statement from 1982 shows how acutely aware he was of the impact melding a new environment with Japanese tradition had on his work,
'It is inevitable that in different parts of the world potters should produce different kinds of art because they are influenced by the environment and the weather. But there are other influences that account for the differences in pottery between one country and another. In Japan, people have a strong affinity with nature that is reflected in the artistic tradition, whereas in the West, the philosophic tradition emphasises the self. This means that the objective is to express one's self but to bring out what is best in the clay. The aim is not to learn technique, but to transcend technique, and the effort is not so much to improve your work, as your total self. This is why in Japan so many people practise arts such as brush painting or archery: they are means of self-development. It is important to realise that this development is a continuous process in which nothing lasts; each act and each moment is important in itself. The moment has gone; the development goes on.'
(1982: 10)

There were other less-joyful stimuli too. In 1975 when Shigeo made this serenely beautiful white spherical vessel now in the Powerhouse collection (A10628) he had suffered the death of a close relative. Of the vessels he made at that time he said in 1979:
'I was creating various pieces with no colour other than white, I was actually going through a very sad part of my life . . . and those sad days made me search, even deeper, for the meaning of what human life is all about. And it was with that feeling of searching that the colour white emerged. That was my expression of the state of life I was experiencing at that time.'

From 1979 Shigeo went back to his earlier influences of tea ceremony and Zen Buddhism, spending the rest of his career making pottery in a Zen temple in Machida city, near Tokyo. However, his experience in Australia and continued contact with his Australian friends enabled him to return to live in Sydney in 2009. Examples of Shiga Shigeo's work are in the collections of the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney, The Art Gallery of NSW, and the Newcastle Gallery.

Paul Donnelly, Curator design & society

References
1982. Jutta Malnic, 'Shiga the potter', Sydney, John Ferguson P/L
1992. Grace Cochrane, 'The crafts movement in Australian: a history', Sydney, NSW Press
1979. Pottery in Australia, Oct/Nov 1979, Vol 18 No. 2, pp 3-5
Freeland Gallery website http://www.freelandgallery.com.au/shiga-shigeo.html

History

Notes

Shiga Shigeo was born in Tokyo, the eldest son of a sake merchant and, after the end of WWII he commenced university but, knowing he was not interested in a business career, dropped out after two years. He started studying the art of tea and, on the advice of his teacher, began a long apprenticeship under potter Saito Saburo in 1947. He assisted Saito build a workshop in the grounds of a Zen Temple in Niigata. He lived, studied and worked at the Temple and this period of study and reflection provided Shiga with a Zen Buddhist philosophical and aesthetic foundation for life and for his pottery. Shiga undertook further study in 1953 at the Kyoto Craft Institute and, in 1954, under Kiyoshi Nakajima and National Living Treasure Tomimoto Kenkichi, before establishing his first workshop at Yamashima, Kyoto, in 1957. In 1961 and 1962 Shiga supplemented his studio work with lecturing in institutes in Kyoto and Osaka.

Extract from Freeland Gallery biography. For the full entry see:
http://www.freelandgallery.com.au/shiga-shigeo.html

Source

Credit Line

Purchased 1984

Acquisition Date

16 August 1984

Cite this Object

Harvard

'Sphere' made by Shiga Shigeo 2021, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 24 June 2021, <https://ma.as/170413>

Wikipedia

{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/170413 |title='Sphere' made by Shiga Shigeo |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=24 June 2021 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}
This object is currently on display in Art & Design at the Museums Discovery Centre.