Maya Bartlett - Please Be Gentle In Gunma Prefecture. 11 March - 1 April, 2021.

Exhibiting ceramics made in Onishi, Gunma Prefecture, Japan, Bartlett’s works were made over 6 weeks during the Autumn of 2019. Bartlett worked with local clays and fired the pieces in a traditional Anagama wood fired kiln in the Sakurayama mountains. The firing process was the most profound experience of the whole journey for Bartlett who spent four days packing and preparing the kiln, four days firing and seven days cooling. When wood firing ceramics, the burnt wood turns to ash and the ash glazes the vessels. 

"The ash essentially dances within the kiln chamber, depending on how the shelves are packed and where the air is flowing, the ash will only mark some vessels. Magic."

The vessels can be identified into two forms. The first, is Bartlett’s interpretation of the traditional Japanese tea ceremony bowl. Bartlett says, "I’ve always found the tea bowl to be the most beautiful and complete ceramic form in history, I’m sure I’ll be chasing its elusiveness all my life." The second, smaller vessels are more ceremonial. They are the more intuitive form that Bartlett works with, saying, "While creating them I don’t need to have my eyes open."

Through this exhibition, Bartlett desires to be vulnerable, to inspire feeling, and to honour her Japanese heritage. Having her mother, Naoko, play the Koto and the Singing Ring is the most beautiful offering that she can make. Bartlett hopes her mother’s performance will allow people the space to become present, within themselves and within the exhibition.