Returning to Raku: sculptural innovations at a Britto-organized workshop
Britto Arts Trust, an artists-led nonprofit organization located in Dhaka, in collaboration with the Department of Sculpture, Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Dhaka, organized a workshop to introduce Raku, an age-old ceramic process. A total of 42 students, teachers, as well as some practicing artists joined in to turn this workshop on Japanese traditional method into a celebration of new forms and concepts.
For many, the workshop that took place in the Faculty of Fine Arts during the first week of June provided the ground for a new beginning– a way forward by skirting round the aesthetic rut that often afflicts most ceramic ventures in this region. That the final work was done following either the principles of collage or the Fluxus method of melding high art with the low to make the most of the materials and concepts bore down on most of the works that the artists produced. The seven days of energetic sessions of clay preparation, and firing, in the end, resulted in some excellent aesthetic moments. Later the works were showcased in an exhibition at Zainul Gallery-1 of the faculty from 19 to 23 June 2009.
For the students, it was not only an opportunity to learn a new method, but also a chance to give free reign to their emotion and intuition in absence of the strong gravitational pull of the academic rules and regulations that are often responsible for all those stifled expressions that the academies are brimming with. The history of Raku goes back to 16th century Kyoto. Raku Ware or Raku Yaki saw its beginning in Kyoto, Japan. It is a type of low-temperature ceramic ware that is traditionally used in the Japanese Tea Ceremony, and comes mostly in the form of tea bowls. The process takes its name from the family that is behind this innovation. Sasaki Chojiro (1516-1592) was the first generation ceramicist who introduced this special kind of bowl for tea ceremony.
Interestingly, the kanji character for the term Raku initially means “enjoyment” or “ease”.
Photos: Britto Art Trust