Zen and Pottery: A Gentle Beauty
Lawrence Barrow is an English zen monk and started working as a ceramic artist this spring. After training as a zen monk in a temple in Fukui-ken for over ten years he threw himself into pottery. He set up a kiln and studio in Higashiyama-ku in Kyoto. He has a plan to have an exhibition in the U.K. this summer and one in Kyoto later.
He rents a 2 storied house built 40 years ago, near Sanjusangendo temple, at the foot of a mountain. He is living alone and he makes his work on potter's wheel in his studio in the backyard. He uses Shigaraki clay from Koga-shi, Shiga-ken. He makes chawans, plates, sake-tokkuri, and other pots. He also writes haiku in English. " While turning around a potter's wheel, my mind is still, and something sinks into my mind "
His father is an Englishman who worked for British trading company, his mother is Japanese from Kofu, Yamanashi prefecture. Connected with his father's work, he moved around various countries from one place to another. He was born Thailand, started living in Tokyo from 3 years old, went to school near London at 8 years old. He travelled to America at age 18 and studied film making and painting there. After that he became an artist in London.
His encounter with Zen books, such as Daisetsu Suzuki, Zen spirit, Calm, Wabi, Sabi, Zen philosophy was wonderful and made him wish to study for real, living in a Zen temple. So he entered a Soto-zen temple, Bukkoku-ji in Obama, Fukui prefecture at the age of 27 and was ordained as a monk. After 10 years of Zen training, he left the temple to see other worlds.
Having an interest in Japanese traditional arts and crafts, mainly pottery, he visited various pottery towns such as : Karatsu ( Saga-ken), Hagi (Yamaguchi-ken) , Bizen (Okayama-ken), Kiyomizu ( Kyoto). Two years ago he decided to become a ceramic artist and entered the only specialized college in Japan: The KyotoTraditional Arts and Crafts College ( Nantanshi, Kyoto) and studied there and graduated in March this year. He became independent and created a kiln and studio named Jiko- gama which comes from his Buddihist name Jiko.
Under the guidance of a Shigaraki master potter he makes ceramic art and every morning at home he sits 40 minutes for Zen meditation and once a week joins the meditation at Tofuku-ji temple in Kyoto. Also he is learning calligraphy and tea ceremony. "Since there is a special sense of beauty in Zen as well as ceramic art , I would like to continue learning from now on too. Japanese traditional art deserves the admiration of the whole world." He plans to sell his work at his studio or in a gallery in Kyoto in the future.
The studio address is : Jiko-gama, 4-4 Amidagamine-cho, Imagumano, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto 605-0924
------------------------------------------------------------------朝日新聞 文化欄 平成２６年 4月１５日