Shoji Hamada 濱田莊司


Widely recognized as one of the most influential potters of the 20th century, Shoji Hamada began his formal instruction in Japan and then spent three formative years working with Bernard Leach at his pottery in Cornwall. The friendship and professional relationship between the two men was to continue for the rest of their lives, and the revival of the traditional pottery of both England and Japan, and their resulting influence on each other, was a defining moment in the history of ceramic art. Hamada was instrumental in developing the Mingei movement, the return to the essentials of art which rely on local materials and inspiration flowing from within the potter to his hands. Along with the return to art essentials is the return to lifestyle essentials – producing those things you need and living simply with the earth. The pottery Hamada founded in Mashiko and his personal life were the embodiment of this philosophy. Those who witnessed the quiet, unassuming potter at work were as struck by his serenity and his oneness with his work as they were by the stunning pieces which he produced. Although Hamada did not seek fame, he was well-recognized in his lifetime, being named a “Living National Treasure” by the Japanese Government as well as receiving honorary doctorates and other awards, and the major museums count his pieces as important parts of their collections.