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Akio Takamori Dies aged 66.

Mr. Takamori, who taught at the University of Washington for 21 years, had a career that spanned traditional industrial pottery, ceramic slab vessels and ultimately larger-than-life, sometimes cartoonish figures. His work drew heavily from his Japanese heritage, and from images from art history and culture.

“His work always had a sense of beauty,” Harris said. “And I think that came from a real love of people in the world. He really had a very gentle soul.”

Mr. Takamori was born in 1950 in Nobeoka on Japan’s Kyushu Island, the youngest of three children. His father was a doctor and his mother helped run a clinic attached to their house.

He studied ceramics and industrial design in Tokyo, and apprenticed as a production potter on Kyushu.

“I had to make 250 cups every day for two years,” he told The Seattle Times in a 2002 interview. “It’s very exhausting.”

He found a way out when American ceramist Ken Ferguson visited and encouraged him to study in the U.S.

Mr. Takamori enrolled at Ferguson’s Kansas City Art Institute, where he would meet his wife, the former Vicky Lidman. Later, he attended graduate school at the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University.

He drew early recognition in the 1980s for a series of vessels made up of slabs in human forms, often with sexual themes.

Mr. Takamori joined the UW faculty in 1993 and was a cornerstone of a ceramics program that would be recognized as among the best in the country.

By then, his work had moved from vessels to distinct human figures. He mixed villagers drawn from his childhood in Japan with people in modern settings, as well as political and cultural figures, like depictions of U.S. Gen. Douglas MacArthur and Japanese Emperor Hirohito with their height difference exaggerated.

“It was extraordinary that he was willing to take these kind of risks,” said Jamie Walker, a UW art professor who helped recruit Takamori to the school. “Here was this guy who was doing funny, highly suggestive sexualized work, suddenly talking about these incredibly powerful emotional, psychological relationships.”

Mr. Takamori’s stoneware, part of an abstract-leaning break from industrial pottery, often had a matte, watercolor look. His subjects stretched from mothers carrying children on their backs to laughing monks and babies with oversized heads.

As a celebrity in the ceramics world, Mr. Takamori could probably have gotten out of teaching introductory courses at the UW. But he never asked, and Walker said Mr. Takamori particularly enjoyed the opportunity to help guide students new to the art.

“He did a really good job juggling working as an artist, and a teacher,” said Ayumi Horie, a graduate student of Mr. Takamori’s in the late 1990s. “He was always evolving and growing; it never seemed like he was stuck.”

Mr. Takamori retired from the UW in 2014. That same year, he was diagnosed with cancer.

Recently, he had been creating figures that drew on images of men apologizing, from humbled chief executives to political leaders.

“My interest is humanity,” he told the The News Tribune of Tacoma in 2006. “That doesn’t change, even over a thousand years. Everyone from a 2-year-old to an old man still has love, compassion, appreciates beauty.”

In addition to his wife, Vicki, and son, Peter, of Chicago, Mr. Takamori is survived by a daughter, Lena, of New York.

Portage Ceramic Awards 2016

The Portage Ceramic Awards for 2016 have been announced.

Premier Award: Caroline Earley - "Clinch VI"

Peters Valley Scholarship: Greg Barron - " Woodfired Jug"

Emily Siddell & Mark Goody Merit Award
Susannah Bridges
Merit Award
Jim Cooper
Merit Award

Honourable Mentions: 

  • Maak Bow - Diversity within Conformity,
  • Kirsty Gardiner - @newnormal
  • Susannah Bridges - Seven Brides for Seven Brothers,
  • Janna van Hasselt - Underbelly,
  • Chuck Joseph - Paradise Lost, John Milton Redux,
  • Paul Winspear - Gold Bowl,
  • Madeleine Child - Stupid Cups & Plates Sets,
  • Mel Ford - White Trash #25,
  • Yi-Ming Lin - Flowery Teapot Set, and
  • Helen Yau - Lace Code

Congratulations to all winners and special congratulations to our members - Greg Barron, Kirsty Gardiner, Paul Winspear, Yi-Ming Lin and Hellen Yau.

Click here for more information about where you can see the exhibition

What's On
James Greig: Defying Gravity
Saturday December 10, 2016 - Sunday March 12, 2017
The Dowse Art Museum, Lower Hutt
Claybenders: Conversations in Clay
Saturday January 28, 2017 - Saturday March 4, 2017
Franklin Arts Centre, Pukekohe
Maria Brockhill and Laurel Davies
Friday February 17, 2017 - Thursday March 30, 2017
Mokau Museum and Gallery, Taranaki
Show & Tell - Milford Galleries
Saturday February 25, 2017 - Wednesday March 22, 2017
Dowling St, Dunedin
Elements 2017
Friday March 3, 2017 - Sunday April 2, 2017
Bottle Creek gallery, Pataka Art & Museum, Norrie St, Porirua

Did you know?
You can look through our collection of potters' marks online
Click here to go to the "Potters' Marks page.

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The mosaic page click here

Canterbury Potters Association Annual Exhibition

New Zealand Potters (Inc.)

Registered as an incorporated society in 1965 by an enthusiastic group of potters in Wellington, New Zealand, NZ Potters (Inc.) has grown to become a significant international voice in New Zealand ceramics. The affiliation of about three dozen independent pottery clubs throughout New Zealand together with a number of corporate businesses greatly increases its effective membership. We are a national, not-for-profit organisation representing the interests of practising potters and ceramicists, students of ceramics and all those interested in New Zealand ceramics. We actively support and promote quality, and we encourage and support specialist ceramics education nationally.
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