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ASH, EMBER, FLAME: A Japanese Kiln in Oxford

Discover the idiosyncrasies of anagama kilns through ceramics produced in a special firing of the Oxford University Kilns' smallest anagama, in the Embassy of Japan's upcoming exhibition opening December 10.

An anagama kiln (lit. cave kiln) is a wood fired pottery kiln in which the firebox, which contains the fuel, is not separated from the loading chamber, where the pots are stacked. This shared spaced results in unique decorative effects on the pots loaded in the kiln, which emerge over the course of the firing period during which the kiln is stoked by a firing team 24 hours a day for at least three consecutive days.

In October and November 2021, a team of potters, academics and students came together for two special firings of the Oxford University Kilns' smallest anagama, and from December 10 at the Embassy of Japan, the resulting pots will be exhibited and the story behind the project will unfold. Included in the firing were pots from famous studio potters based in the UK, community groups, school children, and up and coming ceramicists in an egalitarian firing aimed at exposing a large group of people to the art of firing using wood in a Japanese anagama.

Discover these fascinating kilns, and the project itself, through remarkable objects that have been decorated by the interplay between ash, ember and flame in a Japanese anagama kiln.

The firing took place in collaboration with the Oxford University Kilns, and The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH) as part of the TORCH Japan 2021 Season. The Embassy of Japan would like to thank the large number of volunteers who gave up their time to take part in the firing of the kilns, and to all of the ceramic artists and educators who ran outreach programmes as part of the project.

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