Gallery lands $40,000 for major exhibition of Japanese ceramics

19 Nov 2018

Newcastle Art Gallery has received a $40,000 grant to support a 2019 major exhibition of its extensive collection of Japanese Sodeisha ceramics.

SODEISHA: connected to Australia will be on display from 2 March to 19 May 2019, supported by the Dobell Exhibition Grant from Museums and Galleries (MGNSW).

The Gallery hosted its first Sodeisha exhibition in September 1979. SODEISHA: Avant-Garde Japanese Ceramics featured 32 members of the Sodeisha group of artists including founding members Kazuo Yagi, Osamu Suzuki and Hikaru Yamada.

"After the exhibition completed a tour of six capital cities, the Sodeisha group elected to gift 58 of the 62 works exhibited to Newcastle Art Gallery," said Gallery Director Lauretta Morton.

"This generous gift means that our Gallery holds one of the largest collections of Sodeisha ceramics by this important group of artists outside Japan.

"SODEISHA: connected to Australia, is one of the major highlights of our 2019 exhibition program and will enable us to create new dialogues between this significant movement and contemporary ceramic artists today.

"Sodeisha artists were ground breakers- revolutionaries if you will - and they have forever impacted on the contemporary landscape of ceramics and art."

The Sodeisha movement began in post WWII Japan - when young potters were rebelling against the constraints of tradition, seeking to use clay as an expressive medium in its own right without the need to conform to a functional aesthetic.

Although the influence of Japanese techniques on the development of Australian ceramics is well documented, this is the first major exhibition in Australia to celebrate the legacy and influence of the pioneering Sodeisha group on contemporary ceramics.

The work of 10 contemporary Australian and Japanese ceramic artists will be exhibited alongside the Gallery's Sodeisha collection, including originating member of the Sodeisha movement Satoru Hoshino. Hoshino will also present exclusive workshops for Australian ceramicists to gather insight into his techniques and practice.

The Australian artists involved are: Alterfact Studio, Penny Byrne, Juz Kitson, Julie Bartholomew, and Kenji Uranishi, while artists Takashi Hinoda, Satoru Hoshino, Yusaku Ishida, Rokube Kiyimizu, and Hideo Matsumoto will represent Japan in the exhibition.

SODEISHA: Connected to Australia
Exhibition and public programs

SODEISHA: Connected to Australia aims to form a dialogue between the post war avant-garde Sodeisha movement and contemporary Australian and Japanese ceramic arts practice today.

Sodeisha literally translates from Japanese to English as ‘crawling through mud' and with the support of the MGNSW funding, an extraordinary performance has been commissioned by the Gallery inspired by the original performance Challenging Mud by Kazuo Shiraga (1924-2008). Hong Kong born Australian dancer and choreographer Kristina Chan will develop a work incorporating mud in the same manner as the original performance.

Kazuo's seminal and physically demanding 1955 performance has long been recognised as having a close association with the Sodeisha movement.

A comprehensive suite of public programs will support the exhibition, including masterclasses, artist-led workshops and forums, and regional clay community activities, drawing in new audiences for this ancient and contemporary art form.

Dobell Exhibition Grant (DEG)

The Dobell Exhibition Grant, supported by the Sir William Dobell Art Foundation, offers $40,000 in funding to one regional NSW gallery per annum. The program aims to support high-quality exhibitions that speak to a broad audience across NSW. To assist in expanding appreciation for the visual arts, these exhibitions should be supported by innovative public and education programs that creatively engage both artists and the community.

The Dobell Exhibition Grant is supported by the Sir William Dobell Art Foundation and managed by Museums & Galleries of NSW.

Image caption:
Kazuo YAGI
Applause space 1974
black fired earthenware
22.0 x 16.5 x 14.0cm
Gift of members of the Sodeisha Group 1981
Newcastle Art Gallery collection