Studied under the highly regarded ceramic artists Shigeyoshi and Yuriko Morioka. Now lives and works in Shiga Prefecture where Keiji specialises in producing contemporary-looking forms with a rustic, wabi-sabi edge. All pieces are made on a kick wheel at his studio a short walk from his home.
Tanaka’s ceramics are fired in a week long wood-firing, producing deep reds and oranges on the side of his pots that look natural and aesthetically pleasing on the eye.
On a sunny day in Spring I took a trip out to the rural town of Hino located in Shiga Prefecture. Here resides Japanese potter Keiji Tanaka originally from Kyoto Prefeture. Keiji’s professional career in ceramics started as an apprentice under Shigeyoshi and Yuriko Morioka who work from their studio in the middle of the mountains on the Kii Peninsula, south of Kyoto, Osaka, and Nara. Shigeyoshi uses the simple textures in the clay as the driving characteristic in his work. The shapes are natural with a sense of playfulness.
It makes sense then why Keiji would also take inspiration from this technique, but has been able to somehow craft his own style that edges on the side of being contemporary, which could partly come from Shigeyoshi’s wife, Yuriko, who makes fine celadon pieces as a juxtaposition to her husband’s pottery. Bright reds and oranges come from Keiji’s week long wood-firing adorn the the side of his pots. Some new works see the implementation of whites with spotting from the firing to add another element to his ever expanding range.
At his studio Keiji digs the soil by hand and mixes it himself to make the clay for his pots. All of the ceramics are crafted on a traditional kick wheel and are fired in a long process that requires concentration 24 hours a day and means his wife, Makiko, a talented bread maker and mother to Keiji’s son Toki, takes over throughout the day while Keiji tends to the kiln during the night. A process that takes a lot of time and care but leaves beautiful, natural markings on the exterior of the tableware.
Keiji is able to make rustic looking pots that are still modern, something rare to achieve considering the unpredictability of the processes that he goes through to make them. I was glad to spend a day with him so I could understand his work a little better. We hope you will also support his work that can now be found in our shop.