INSIGHT INTO BEAUTY: CHAWAN - Teabowls inspired by Japan, made in the UK

Until 20 December 2013

Open weekdays 09:30-17:30
Admission is free, but photo ID is necessary to gain entry to the Embassy

The Embassy of Japan
101-104 Piccadilly, London W1J 7JT

The chawan 茶碗, or Japanese teabowl, is an object weighted with the history of chado 茶道 or chanoyu 茶の湯, the Japanese tea ceremony, yet in recent years it has become an iconic form in contemporary ceramics across the world over. This exhibition presents the work of thirteen ceramicists working in the UK who have embraced the teabowl as a form of expression. Some have found resonance with the 'imperfect' wabi form, with emphasis on its simplicity and its humility, while others have used the beauty of the teabowl as the catalyst to create new forms.

Koji Shiraya

Richard St John Heeley
Sandy Brown decorates her teabowls with strong colourful brush strokes; Carina Ciscato’s teabowls are delicate and architectural; Robert Cooper uses scrap materials to create his works; Margaret Curtis employs vivid contrasts of textures between glaze and clay; Keiko Hasegawa’s teabowls are beautifully quiet and understated; Richard St John Heeley depicts freely drawn brush designs in blue on white; the stoneware of John Mahoney-Phillips employs ash glazes made from Pembrokeshire; an influence from Bernard Leach and the slight flare at the rim mark Jim Malone’s teabowls; Marcio Mattos’s teabowls emphasise strong surface textures; there is striking cream earthenware from Kevin Millward; Koji Shiraya uses clay from the River Thames; Ruthanne Tudball’s soda-glazes create warm colours and orange peel textures; Rachel Wood’s stoneware bowls are pinched and coiled.


In the 16th century CE, the Tea Master Sen no Rikyu 千利休 (1522 - 1591 CE) developed a style of chado known as wabi-cha 侘び茶, which is still practised today. He was known to have said,

“If you have one pot, and can make your tea in it, that will do quite well.
How much does he lack himself, who must have a lot of things?”


The chawan is that pot

Marcio Mattos
This is the third exhibition in the Insight into Beauty series to be held at the Embassy of Japan presenting various aspects of contemporary craft inspired by Japanese materials, techniques and design. It is a part of Asian Art in London.

The Embassy is extremely grateful to Dr Bonnie Kemske and to Sokei Kimura, Urasenke London, and Tankokai UK for offering demonstrations of chanoyu at times during the exhibition using the teabowls on display.