I will never forget the first time I went berry picking with my host family in British Columbia in the summer as a high school exchange student. Back then in the late 1980s, I was only familiar with strawberries, which to me was a winter fruit as they are grown in greenhouses in Japan. But that Canadian summer, there were so many different kinds of berries to pick and eat. There was plenty of time for these berry escapades as daylight stretched way past 9 o’clock in the evening. I remember that I was very happy then, and ever since, berries lift my spirits up.
As the weather warms and my favorite summer fruits and vegetables start appearing on the dining table, my eyes seek refuge from the heat in the cool of porcelain ceramics, woven bamboo, and hues of blue, green, and purple.
Tea master Sen no Rikyu’s Seven Precepts, which is basically a code on organizing lovely and memorable gatherings, includes this piece of advice: “In the summer, provide a sense of coolness.” For example, in summer tea preparations, a water jar may be covered in freshly washed leaf with dews remaining on top, or a tea bowl may be brought in filled with water to convey a feeling of coolness. Even in our currently stress-filled pandemic world, I have found that taking the time to select utensils and set a seasonal table for my husband and myself provided a sense of calm and place.
And because I love the combination of Shumpei Yamaki’s clean forms in white clay, gray, green, blue, and peach colors created by the fire and ash, I specifically asked him for some porcelain work this summer, in addition to his usual stoneware work. I’m delighted to share these glacial works by Shumpei with you, and hope that you’ll take the time to look at photos of them taken at different angles so that you can discover the subtle and amazing complexities that the wood-firing process can give to a porcelain’s surface.