Akiko Hirai was born in Japan in March 1970. There she obtained her degree in cognitive psychology before moving to England in the late 1990s. Inspired by Korean Moon Jars in the British Museum, she took a degree course in ceramics at the university of Westminster and went on to graduate from Central St. Martins. She now works from her studio in Hackney, London. Akiko’s ceramics allow viewers to explore the language of objects in their own way. The cultural blend of both Japanese and British Pottery traditions, resulting in unique organic forms that are refreshingly imperfect and light. Her Moon Jars are made from rough, dark clay and are often glazed with pale colours to soften the sharp forms beneath. The artist uses various building techniques to create her highly textured surfaces, including throwing, hand building, casting and coiling. She works with metal and mineral clays, inducing colour by chemical reaction to better emulate aged materials. The layered build-up of slips and glazes sink into grooves and veil reliefs, to form a highly atmospheric dimensionality that embraces irregularities and asymmetry. From the start, Akiko has been heralded as a unique talent and in 2019, was shortlisted for the prestigious international Loewe Craft Prize. After a string of sell-out shows her ceramics are now held in many private collections and displayed in museums worldwide, including the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, the National Museum of Ireland and the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse, New York.
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