Based on the experience mentioned above, he, now living
in his hometown, Niigata, Japan, aims at the earthenware fired
and hardened that is in a directly opposite position to what
they call the earthenware organically made.
In his hometown, county Kita-Kanbara, Niigata Prefecture
there has been neither a good quality of clay worthy of special
mention nor historic workshops for earthenware production. Still,
it is in this place where he has taken up his residence and started
to produce earthenware fired and hardened.
He, Mr. Katsuyuki Sakazume, seized an opportunity to develop
an interest in firing and hardening when he was serving his ceramics
art apprenticeship at various kilns here and there in Kyushu,
one of the main four islands of Japan, in his youthful days after
graduating from a university.
By this time he had improved his skill in handling of
potter's wheels and so he looked, in those days, like a conceited
young fellow with a bit of confidence in the skill.
Then he got wind of a hollow-type of kiln structured on
Tanegashima Island by Mr. Takashi Nakazato, famous for his Karatsu
The rumor said that he was firing Namban ceramic ware
(the earthenware coming from Southeast Asia, fired and hardened
without decorative coating baked on).
"I visited there and found that he was putting into
the kiln things that would become anybody's guess after being
fired. However, to my astonishment they were completely altered
I couldn't believe the transformation.
It was really terrific. It struck me with great surprise
and emotional disturbance."
The earthenware, as if it came back to life after being
fired in the kiln, gave him a great shock.
Then he made a dash for the goal to produce his own earthenware
fired and hardened with all his energies devoted to it.
Some time later he was dispatched to the U.S.A. through
the sponsorship of Japan Foundation as a guest professor at New
Jersey State-run Art and Education Center where he restored a
hollow-type of kiln used in Kamakura Period (1192-1333).
This opened the way for a boom in wood-firing kiln in
He got closely associated with ceramics artists like Mr.
Peter H.Voulkos, a great master in the ceramics community of
He was then called a Picasso of the State of California.
They worked together to give impetus to each other.
His life in America extending over a period of seven years
contributed to the development of his attitude and sensibility
as a ceramic artist toward ware-making craftsmanship.
Based on this he has mainly offered his earthenware fired
and hardened, into the field of such tea-things as flower bases,
pitchers, and teacups.
He does not aim at the ware with a vitreous or decorative
coating baked on it. What he aims at is the ware with its surface
of dark-red color, like the surface of red iron, united with
the source material before being fired.
You would see this is a distinctive trait of his style
when looking at a variety of his earthenware.
His work takes the form of rather upright and decorous
structure without excessive deformation intentionally added.
His ware stands in grand pose without disarray, with its
surface of red iron produced after being fired, and with its
body feeling as if it were metallically hardened.
All these combined make his work enhanced to such earthenware
fired and hardened as shows great self-possession and well-developed
personalities of his own.
This is what I feel.
"According to ceramic artists in the U.S.A.,"
said he, "it is better to form the ceramic ware organically.
But I don't want to put an emphasis on clay as close as
possible to nature.
I want to form clay into my pieces of earthenware without
any trace of skills manually given.
And then I would like to make them look like organic after
through the process of firing to finally put the finishing touches
In the case of the Namban ceramic ware he saw long time
ago they extracted the essence of what clay was all about by
firing in a hollow-type of kiln to make the clay look like alive.
In his case now, just like this instance, he has selected
a hollow-type of kiln as the right choice.
In addition to tea-related earthenware he has been firing
angularly sharp-formed pieces of geometric structure so as they
could be installations in public places.
In production of these items he is well aware of the effect
brought about by firing of clay in a cavity-like kiln.
These pieces of work, placed within the same amplitude
of his mental oscillation in parallel with the
tea-related items, are to be called another self-dependent ceramic
"If any ceramic items I produce are tolerable to
you as a spirit of the times," said he, "any form of
them will be the same in spirit whatever shape they may take."
A spirit of the times?
It is no other than the artist himself who determined
to produce "his own" earthenware through the process
of firing and hardening in a deeply indented kiln here in the
land of Niigata, using Iga-produced clay.
I feel he must be well conscious of his work in a manner
that he has been projecting his sense of mental oscillation,
fluctuation, peace of mind, and a throb of joy onto his own earthenware
in his own performance.
If so, "a spirit of the times" herein referred
to by him ought to be Mr.SAKAZUME Katsuyuki, himself.
(by MORISHITA, an editorial staff