Vital Clay

2 December 2023 – 18 February 2024

Wednesday – Sunday

Make, Somerset

10 am – 4 pm

‘Working with clay involves all the senses to some degree: the smell of the earth; the sound made by the ring of a high fired piece; and the sense perhaps forgotten by the majority today, and conspicuous from its absence from our culture—the tactile response.’—Dan Kelly


‘Vital Clay’ celebrates the work of acclaimed ceramicists, Akiko Hirai and Dan Kelly, whose practice reveals a physicality of form and fluidity of surface texture, with the intervention of the maker’s hand tempered by the wilfulness of the clay and the alchemy of the kiln. For both artists, vessels act as containers for historical reference and conceptual enquiry. Through the language of clay, they embrace the elements of shape and form with a vigor and originality of vision.

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About the Makers

Akiko Hirai
Akiko Hirai’s vessel forms focus on the interconnectedness between maker, the object and the viewer. Hirai’s moon jars push her material to its limits, with the originality of her process evidence of the unstable and unpredictable nature of clay and fire itself. Inspired by the moon jars of Korea, which embrace cracks, stains and chips from years of use, Hirai intentionally references the human condition through the making of her vessels with the shifting outcome of color, the scarred and disrupted surface, and the scale and generosity of form as unpredictable as the vagaries of life experience. Her poppy pod vessels are thrown on a wheel using a unique blend of Raku clay. Once dried, the subtle intervention of the maker’s hand achieves the final finish, the dust of ash on porcelain the last trace of earth and fire.

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