Searching for his voice in clay
Kouta Tanaka opened his studio and kiln after spending 18 months studying in Korea, and another 18 months apprenticing with
Nakagawa Jinenbo. He is the last person to apprentice with Nakagawa san. Now a year after becoming an independent potter,
he says he is still struggling to find his own voice in clay. That said, he is very particular about his choice of clay and style of
firing. He makes his own clay, and enjoys making clay more than the pottery wheel. He ponders what each clay will look like
after it is fired. He has begun to feel that more than any other component in his work, the clay will perhaps best enable him to
express his personality. He is particularly good with Chosen Karatsu style work, and enjoys the adrenalin rush from firing at the
high temperatures required to achieve it. He feels that although Chosen Karatsu is difficult, it is worth the extra effort. He is just
starting his journey, but very soon the day will come when his energetic and cheerful personality shines through in his pottery
Mr. Tanaka opened his own kiln in 2012, near the border of Kitahata and Ouchi.
After graduating from Arita College of Ceramics, he went to Korea to learn more about ceramics. After returning home, he studied under Mr. Nakagawa Shizenbo of Shizenbo Kiln. It was then he got the turning point in life.
"I decided to work on my own as my master passed away in 2011. I have learned the traditional skills and techniques of Karatsu ware and also some important things that you need to know to be independent." says Mr. Tanaka. He makes full use of Karatsu ware skills and techniques such as hakeme, mishima and kohiki, to create his works, but something that he is mostly particular about, is Korean Karatsu.
"We use two types of glazes to create Korean Karatsu. One of the charms of Korean Karatsu is the variety of patterns created with different conditions of fire. It's important to burn it with high flame, but if it's too much, then the glaze will run down all over in a way that you wouldn't have expected.
When the fire is at high, it pumps my adrenaline just like the fire, but you need to stay calm at the same time. I am calm, but there is something hot inside of me bursts out."
Mr. Tanaka uses the kiln made by his own. There aren't many ceramic artists who can actually make them, are there?
"When I was in Korea and when I was training at Shizenbo kiln, I have learned how to make kilns. But to actually finish it on my own, I had to go through trial and error.
But through those mistakes I have learned the right way of doing it and I could finally realize the kiln I've always wanted to have. And it means a lot to me as a ceramic artist."
I have met the world of ceramics when I was searching for what I could do as a creator. I want the children to carry on the tradition of ceramics.
He makes his own clay for forming with the clay that he takes from the nearby mountains. The clay that you see at his workshop varies in colors, texture and touch. And he chooses the right kind of clay according to various techniques he would use to create his work.
Mr. Tanaka does every process of creating his vessels all by himself; from making the clay to unloading. He had always wanted to be a creator, and it led him to the world of ceramics. And there, he has finally found his place. "What I have gone through is just the beginning; it was to build a foundation as an artist.
It is based on the experience I had while I was on training," he says. He gets the feeling of excitement when he meets something unique and unexpected as a result of the coincidence made by clay and fire. And it has been the engine for him.
Mr. Tanaka is still learning by trial and error every day, to meet another sensation of excitement