Saturday, November 26, 2016

Weekend Pottery Bazaar

For all ceramics lovers, the weekend creative bazaar organized by The Pottery Workshop (樂天陶社) Jingdezhen should be on their must-do list if they happened to be in town. The organization Pottery Workshop is relatively well-known in Hong Kong, having set up their old workshop facilities at The Fringe Club in Central in 1980s before moving to their new site on Hollywood Road just last year.

Their Jingdezhen facility was established more recently, providing a platform for collaboration between local and overseas artists, through workshops and seminars, tours and residence programs, and since then developed into a self-contained community in the old factory site of Diaozu Cichang (雕塑瓷廠), surrounded by independent studios and workshops, galleries and supply shops. Then every Saturday morning, a market bazaar was held on the ground with small stalls selling all kinds of goods and art pieces.

We arrived early just in time as people finished setting up their stalls under the canopy area. I was amazed at the variety of goods on offer, ranging from simple cups and bowls and plates made and fired with various techniques. And it's not limited to just ceramics - there were artists and designers working with wood, cloth, or metals, as well as stalls selling ceramics-related supplies and accessories. I must have picked up over a dozen pieces, some for my own collection in the kitchen and some as souvenirs for friends and family. The Pottery Workshop also operates a small café next to their gallery, a perfect spot for quick breakfast or for meeting up - it was particularly popular on Saturday when scores of visitors flocked to the site for the bazaar. Well we even ran into Jesse and Julie from Hong Kong who owned a ceramics studio which I followed on Instagram - what a small world!

At the bazaar we ran into Du Yuan again, the young, local-based painter/ceramicist whose workshop we dropped by just the day before to look at his impressive collection of Shino-ware (志野焼), the Japanese style ceramics with the unique glaze in an brown-orange tone. Here he's running a booth showcasing more of his work, including cups and bowls and pots which were elegant and perfect for traditional tea ceremony. I didn't pick up more stuff this time, but the matcha tea bowl and katakuchi (sprouted vessel) I got from him were still one of my favorite items I bought from the trip.

I walked around the stalls and the nearby shops, and a bit further away I started to see other specialty shops selling clay, or mold, or glaze, or even a public kiln where artist can bring their work to fire. Then I stumbled across a small shop called "Mutianxiao" (which literally meant Wood Field Kiln 木田燒) on the side street, and loved the fine collection of ceramics ware at the shop with such distinct colors and forms, including many done by wood firing. During this week in Jingdezhen I was particularly drawn to the beauty of wood-fired crockery, earthenware made using an labor-intensive, time-consuming firing techniques by burning natural wood that almost went back to the beginning of civilization and from an aesthetic standpoint, characterized by the rustic style glaze with earthy, wooden tone and ash mark in random pattern imprinted by the smoke. Needless to say, I left the store with a few more bags in hand and items well wrapped for the long trip home.

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