Inside the Collection

A piece by potter Shigekazu Nagae comes to life

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1fZTPn3i6mc&hl=en_US&version=3&rel=0]

This beautiful porcelain sculpture, Forms in Succession #5 created by Japanese potter Shigekazu Nagae, dances beautifully in this video. The paper look-alike form somehow evokes the aesthetics of origami, Japanese paper folding. Made by using slip-cast techniques, the porcelain speaks of its origin yet shyly introduces itself to international audiences.

Photograph of Sculpture by Shigekazu Nagae ‘Forms in Succession #5’
2012/29/1 Sculpture, ‘Forms in Succession #5,’ slip-cast and glazed porcelain designed and made by Shigekazu Nagae, Seto, Japan, 2011. Collection: Powerhouse Museum

This piece was recently acquired into the Museums collection, supported by The Ceramic Collectors Society in Australia. It was made in the pottery town of Seto, known for centuries as the cradle of Japanese utilitarian ceramics. The family of the artist Shigekazu Nagae (born in 1953) produced thousands of cheap slip-cast porcelain bowls and plates. As a youth, this made the artist feel inferior to individual potters who hand-crafted their ceramics. After graduating from the Seto Ceramics Training Institute, Nagae saw unique artistic possibilities in slip-casting, which he thought other techniques such as wheel turning or hand-coiling could not achieve.

Photograph of detail Sculpture ‘Forms in Succession #5’
Detail from 2012/29/1 Sculpture, ‘Forms in Succession #5,’ slip-cast and glazed porcelain designed and made by Shigekazu Nagae, Seto, Japan, 2011. Collection: Powerhouse Museum

He thus created his distinctive sculptural series ‘Forms of Succession’ of which this work is an excellent example. The Museum acquired the object as a good example of how an innovative idea enables an artist to adapt conventional production techniques, in this case slip-casting, to create new art forms. In addition, the beauty of the piece would no doubt be highly admired and enjoyed by Museum visitors.

This video suggests a new way of Museum presentation that differs from conventional methods of display and interpretation. Museums research, collect, document, conserve and display objects. But in this contemporary society, we are not only able to display objects in glass showcases but also in the digital world in a creative manner. In order to enhance the understanding of the piece, we decided to film the beauty of the object and to allow it to speak for itself. Thanks to the photographer, Geoff Friend and film producer Leone Jones for sharing this small experiment!!

Min-Jung Kim, Curator, Asian Arts and Design, Powerhouse Museum, Sydney

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