If we needed any encouragement to maintain our Makers Lunch Programme then Akiko Hirai's first visit to Bevere provided just that. The level of exchange and interaction between Akiko and our lunchtime guests was engaging and very informative and judging by the sales of her work there is no doubt that her work is widely admired.
By her own admission, she has no secrets; all aspects of her working practice were openly discussed. She gave frank and direct answers to the many questions she had over our two hours together. Her work is clearly influenced by the Japanese tradition but with a strong contemporary feel. Her recognisable ceramic voice developed over time rather than some overnight revelation and as with so many creative makers she continues to experiment with new glazes. The moon jar and sake bottles demonstrate the looseness of her making technique and what can best be described as a controlled randomness which leads to such well balanced yet quite eclectic pieces.
She enjoys the multicultural environs of London where she lives and works and based in the Chocolate Factory along with other artists and makers she welcomes the interaction between them. There is often a sharing of insights and experience which can inform ones own practice.
Her teaching experience is considerable and she has no doubt that this informs her own making as the need to understand process and the impact of specificactions underpins her own approach to making. She is always keen to understand the why as well as the what of her creativity. In many ways this is evident in her love of the written word and the emphasis she places on describing her environment and her remembered perspectives on the world.
Above all else there is a modesty about Akiko which is so appealing and not withstanding her own perspectives on her work she is very open to the views of others. She has a cerebral approach to her work and a clarity about what she wants to achieve and given that English is not her first language, we could only admire the articulate responses to questions and her facility to describe her ceramic life so perceptively.
Thank you to all those who spent lunchtime with us as it is their interaction that makes the event a memorable one.