Wabi-sabi

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Post by 22 Crawford St. on March 22nd 2019, 8:22 pm

I saw SP was active on the forum today and he posted this pot by Poh Chap Yeap that I liked and I though I would ask SP for his opinion on Wabi-sabi

Definitionhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wabi-sabi

https://www.20thcenturyforum.com/t12067-poh-chap-yeap#176996

Is Wabi-sabi something we would all recognise in a good Lisa Hammond or is it something I've not understood?
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Post by 22 Crawford St. on March 22nd 2019, 8:27 pm

I should explain. We have all be taught to look for perfection. If yo pick berries you want the shiny perfect ones. Symmetrical ones. The ones which are lopsided and blemished are more likely to have works in them or be bad are they not?

We all like perfect new things of symmetry. Babies have been shown to spend more time looking at pretty faces than ugly ones.

So have we been trained to appreciate the lop sided, the odd and see the beauty in this where in general member of the public can't see it?
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Post by studio-pots on March 22nd 2019, 9:33 pm

When I was replying to the "telling people about their pots" thread something that happened to me on Facebook occurred to me and you asking me this has allowed me to write it down.

Yeap's pots seek perfection and I like them for that but most of the pots that I like don't and so I appreciate the beauty of some things not being perfect or that happened by chance.


However, I joined Facebook maybe 3 years ago for advertising things that I am involved in locally after resisting for years. I also started a page for the Harlequin Gallery and joined some studio pottery groups. I no longer belong to any studio pottery groups on Facebook because most of the members are "difficult" in a number of ways.

One such group had a member, who was a "friend" of mine although I knew nothing about him. He clearly liked Japanese pottery and used to upload images of Japanese pots by well known artists and say wonderful things about the pots. One day he put up a cracked vase by a well known potter that the potter had exhibited and the thrust was that the beauty of the vase had been enhanced by the damage in the kiln and that is why the potter had included it is a specific exhibition.


Having exhibited a number of Japanese potters and dealt with them personally I was aware that sometimes they might not be entirely happy with the pots they had produced for a given exhibition and do explain some of the work they included by "wabi - sabi". Basically, bullshitting.


Going back to the Facebook post, I suggested in a comment that maybe another explanation as to why the potter included the cracked vase in the exhibition might have been that he was short of things to put in and so invented the bit about the crack enhancing the beauty of the pot. I did not suggest in was the case but that it was an alternative view.


The poster got really annoyed with me and "unfriended" me shortly afterwards but not before saying that I was talking nonsense and that my option could not possibly be the case. He even brought into the conversation one of his "friends" the potter, who had made the cracked vase. The potter never denied what I said or commented at all.

So wabi-sabi is just an opinion and, although it is used by artists about their work it could well just be bullshit and it is down to you and anyone else to have their own opinion.


That's my view.

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Post by 22 Crawford St. on March 22nd 2019, 10:37 pm

Sooo, you don't take it seriously? It's not a real thing for you. It's a bit of a joke.

Has any other potter from Japan mentioned it in your experience?
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Post by NaomiM on March 22nd 2019, 11:36 pm

I wasn’t planning to comment because I don’t like the wiki definition.
It’s based on the Japanese tradition of wasi sabi which has now been taken up and redefined by Western studio potters influenced by Japanese Pottery. These days it is seen as deliberately seeking the beauty in imperfection, rather than finding beauty in natural forms, which would include imperfections produced during firing or over time due to use.
Some influential Japanese potters deliberately introduced imperfections such as the wavey chawan rim as it echoed nature which is not perfect, and these became incorporated into their traditional forms; the Japanese are quite hidebound in their forms to the point where what were once imperfections now become uniform.
I describe it poorly in words because in reality it is a feeling that comes from holding and looking at the object. Part of the tea ceremony involves simply holding and turning the teabowl in one’s hands and admiring its inner beauty while noting any imperfections and making them part of the narrative .
In US studio pottery, woodfired pots may be called wabi sabi because one can never predict what will come out of the kiln. A classic example would be the cracked teabowl by Charles Bound that SP shared on that thread. It could not be called a ‘second’ even though it’s unusable. I would consider it the pinnacle of Bound’s work and the definition of Western wabi sabi

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Post by 22 Crawford St. on March 22nd 2019, 11:59 pm

? cant find a cracked tea bowl on the thread? ...help???

https://www.20thcenturyforum.com/t11692-charles-bound?highlight=Charles+Bound
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Post by NaomiM on March 23rd 2019, 12:48 am

Sorry, I though it was there but it’s on this one -

https://www.20thcenturyforum.com/t12366p75-teabowls#134072

The teabowl above it is a US version of wabi sabi

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Post by studio-pots on March 23rd 2019, 1:58 pm

22 Crawford St. wrote:Sooo, you don't take it seriously? It's not a real thing for you. It's a bit of a joke.

Has any other potter from Japan mentioned it in your experience?


I do take it seriously and the Charles Bound teabowl probably proves that but I think it is a personal thing just like what you believe is a good or bad pot.


However, my point is that I know it to be used by some Japanese potters and because of that non Japanese potters for not always the best reasons and so you should be cautious and make your own decisions.


The Charles Bound teabowl was bought by me from a barn at his pottery along with others with the intention of selling from a selection of maybe a couple of hundred. None were priced and so on the face of it Charles hadn't chosen what he liked the best and it was me who chose the ones that appealed to me. When it came to paying he said that if I took all I had chosen then they could be £X each. That is what I did and then subsequently decided that I wanted to keep the cracked one.

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Post by 22 Crawford St. on March 23rd 2019, 2:35 pm

Interesting - TY both
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Post by philpot on March 24th 2019, 5:06 pm

I have had a number of Poh Chap Yeap pieces. There was nothing of imperfection about them.
The very conception of 'Wabu-Sabi' sounds like a deep and subtle expression of Japanese philosophy which we westerners can never comprehend.
On t'other hand. it might be a Smoke and Mirrors conception for Japanese potters-or style of- to get rid of their ' seconds' at a more substantial price.
Being of a more cynical frame of mind..... I know which explanation I am inclined to! Human nature is human nature Laughter Laughter
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Post by studio-pots on March 24th 2019, 5:23 pm

philpot wrote:I have had a number of Poh Chap Yeap pieces. There was nothing of imperfection about them.
The very conception of 'Wabu-Sabi' sounds like a deep and subtle expression of Japanese philosophy which we westerners can never comprehend.
             On t'other hand. it might be a Smoke and Mirrors conception for Japanese potters-or style of- to get rid of their ' seconds' at  a more substantial price.
               Being of a more cynical frame of mind..... I know which explanation I am inclined to! Human nature is human nature Laughter Laughter


That's the point I was trying to make "philpot" and having dealt face to face with a number of Japanese potters I know that your cynical suggestion is the case, at least on some occasions.

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Post by NaomiM on March 24th 2019, 6:28 pm

Very possibly an excuse to sell their seconds; potters report a failure rate of 50% with woodfiring.
But there is also the fact that Japanese kilns had to give their best pieces to the Emporer for free so they started introducing ‘faults’ like the notched foot so they could be sold to the peasent classes.

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Post by studio-pots on March 24th 2019, 8:29 pm

Maybe in the past but my comments are on my experience during the 21st century.

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