Moving Forms – Ceramic Sculpture by Japanese Artist Shigekazu Nagae


Sometimes there are limitations on forms that one can make in a certain material. I’ve been researching a few different variations on how to manipulate clay. Obviously you have to the basic ones, pinching, on the wheel, slab building, but you can also experiment with Nerikomi, as an example, which is stitching coloured clay together to make different patterns. One area that I haven’t looked in to in much detail is slip casting, as it’s something you usually associate with the industrial side of ceramics. But here Japanese Artist Shigekazu Nagae has used this method to good effect, creating sculpture that’s both thin and structured.

He makes them by creating moulds from plaster, he then uses liquid porcelain which is mixed with sodium silicate to create a thin slip that pours easily in to the moulds. Interestingly, this technique was imported from Europe during the Meiji period, so it’s a fairly new process of experimentation in Japan and has become a speciality of the craftsmen in Seto City, Aichi Prefecture. Shigekazu then connects the different elements together and joins then to create flowing forms which curve slightly in the kiln, thanks to the melting properties of porcelain.

In a lot of ways these remind me of architectural forms, especially where Shigekazu has been able to overlap the layers. This is almost like two boundaries or outer shells of a building that are coming together. Aside from that you have the translucency of the porcelain which is also very attractive, creating a ghost like silhouette with sharp angles. Here’s a selection of sculpture from his series titled ‘Moving Forms’ in 2015, as well as some others from previous years. I can’t get wait to see what else he has in store for us in the near future. Enjoy.