Tacit Material

// Thursday 21 February – Saturday 9 March 2013

// Opening 6pm, Wednesday 20 February

// Two Chawan pottery workshops, led by Kenju Yamada, will take place on Saturday 23 February. Click here for more information, or to book a place.  All the places have now been taken for the workshops.


The potter Bernard Leach has been acclaimed for his role in helping create a bridge between the Japanese craft and pottery traditions in the West. After growing up in Hong Kong and Singapore at the turn of the century, Leach studied at the Slade School of Art and the London School of Art before leaving England to travel to Japan, where he eventually began learning the craft of pottery in 1907, under the master Kenzan in Mashiko. During this period of apprenticeship Leech met the young potter Shoji Hamada, and a long-standing friendship was formed. Hamada accompanied Leach on his return to England in 1920, where he helped build a Japanese-style kiln at the pottery that Leach founded at St. Ives in Cornwall.

In pottery, just as it is in many craft-based practices, tacit knowledge is transferred through personal contact, interaction, and trust. This knowledge is often passed on through social networks such as workshops and guild networks.* Over the course of time this knowledge might also go on to be transed to distant places, adapting itself to the use of locally sourced materials and methods, whilst working to maintain much of the essential knowledge. In the case of Leach and Hamada, who visited New Zealand in 1962 and 1965 respectively, the knowledge and ideas that they helped pass on had an influence on studio pottery here in New Zealand that is still quite palpable.**

For the three artists that make up this exhibition, distance also plays a significant part in their relationship, as does the sense of locality and place imbued within their materials. Though they met while studying at Goldsmiths College in London, geographically they represent three quite different backgrounds: Japanese artist Hirofumi Isoya is based in Tokyo and London; Steven Morgana was born in Australia with French parents and now lives in London; and Kentaro Yamada was born in Fukuoka, Japan, had his education in New Zealand, and is currently based in London.

For this exhibition Kentaro Yamada presents an installation where he lays a number of ceramic rocks in a pool of dirty engine oil. These ceramic rocks are made from New Zealand clay and are cast from a rock that was originally from Pakistan. Another work is a sculpture entitled  π (240t./12hr flight), consisting of a moebius strip made up of engraved aluminium versions of flight tickets that he has used in the last few years. He also presents two tea bowls: One made by his father, and another by himself. Kentaro embraces these objects in terms of their bare material existence and the vast natural processes that come to shape them, whilst investigating in parallel how meaning and cultural value are created at the interface where natural materials and processes encounter human subjectivity.

Steven Morgana presents an obelisk which is made from reclaimed cardboard rolls, discarded by the Serpentine gallery after they had been used to create a labyrinth for The Mirror of Judgement, an exhibition by Michelangelo Pistoletto in 2011, originally intended to lead the viewer on a spiritual journey towards ‘knowledge and revelation’. The rolls of cardboard were relocated to Morgana’s London studio, in what was until recently a private college for international students—one of 500 forced to close down in the last eighteen months in line with new changes to international immigration laws in the United Kingdom. Morgana created two large ‘papercrete’ obelisks, one which will remain at the studio and will be destroyed with the building’s demolition, whilst the other will continue to exist, preserved and nomadic in the contingent networks of the art world.
* Richard Sennet, The Craftsman (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008)

** New Zealand Potter magazines from the 1960s recount the visits of Leach and Hamada, and a special edition calledBernard Leach: Essays in Appreciation was published by the editors of New Zealand Potter in 1960. Moyra Elliot and Damian Skinner’s book Cone Ten Down discusses the Anglo-Oriental influence on studio pottery in New Zealand from the 1945–1980.

Kentaro Yamada (b.1978 Fukuoka Japan)  is a Japanese New Zealand artist based in London and Auckland. He has recently exhibited at Van Horbourg in Zurich (2013), and the London Art Fair, Hoxton Art Gallery, and La Scatola Gallery in London (2012). He completed his mfa at Goldsmiths College, London with distinction in 2011, took part in the mfa programme at the School of Art at the Institute of Chicago in 2010, and completed his bfa at Elam School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland in 2006.

Hirofumi Isoya (b. 1978 Tokyo, Japan) is a Japanese artist based in Tokyo and London. Recent exhibitions include a solo exhibition at  Aoyama|Meguro in Tokyo (2012), and he has been  invited to exhibit as part of the Venice Biennale 2013 and the Frieze Art Fair in 2013. He completed an Associate Research degree at Goldsmiths College London in 2011, as well as an mfa (Intermedia, 2005) and bfa (Architecture 2003) at Tokyo University of The Arts.

Steven Morgana (b. 1982 Brisbane, Australia) is a French Australian artist based in London. Recent exhibitions include shows at the London Art Fair in 2013, COFA Space in Sydney, La Scatola Gallery (solo) and Charlie Smith in London 2012. He completed an mfa at Goldsmiths College in London in 2012, a bfa (Hons) from Curtin University, Western Australia in 2009, and in 2008 attended the École Nationale Supérieur des Beaux-Arts, Paris.

During the exhibition a series of pottery workshops will be conducted by Kentaro’s father, Kenju Yamada. Kenju learned pottery in Fukuoka, Japan, at the Takatori Kiln, where the traditions have been handed down over fifteen generations. Kenju is based in Auckland and teaches regularly to local communities. He will be teaching how to make Japanese tea bowls in the gallery space to local artists and works created here will be trimmed, glazed and fired by Kenju. Some of these processes will take place and exposed in the gallery space over the course of the exhibition.

A small number of spaces are still available for the workshop on Saturday morning, 23 February, 11am – 12:30pm: to reserve a place visit: http://rm103.org/?event=ceramics-workshop-2 All of the places on the workshops have now been taken.

Korean artist Ji Eun Bang who has recently graduated from Goldsmith College will also contribute a small painting for this exhibition and speak about her practices at the artist talk, on Saturday 23 February.


There will be a series of events at RM as part of Tacit Material:

Chawan pottery workshop, led by Kenju Yamada
// 11am – 12:30pm, Saturday 23 February

Artist talk by Hirofumi Isoya and Ji Eun Bang
// 1pm, Saturday 23 February

Artist talk by Kentaro Yamada
// date to be confirmed

This exhibition has been made possible with the support of Asia:NZ