Illustration above: Camille Ronceray
As I get to gather more and more information about Japanese craftsmanship and local culture, I also get interested into foreigners-not-so-foreigners who live in Japan for years and create a very interesting kind of crafts. Christopher Clark is one of them! He lives and works nearby Tokyo and feels that his “pottery is now neither solely Japanese nor English, it has aspects from both cultures”. He was kind enough to share his feeling and stories with me – so let’s found out more about cultural blend, passion and love.
Why did you decided to become a potter?
Every since I was a child in England I have been attracted to pottery. I am not sure why but maybe it was the combination of creativity and physically making something something useful. I very interested in buildings and their construction and have always thought there is a relationship between architecture and ceramics.
Why did you decide to settle in Japan?
My wife is Japanese. We were first married in England then decided to come to Japan for a spell. I just stayed.
What does feel appealing to you in Japan, Japanese culture and Japanese people ?
This is a huge question and cannot be answered briefly. However I do very much like the Japanese sensitivity towards other people, their feelings and their comfort.
How important is the teaching side of your activity? To what extent do you value transmission? To what extent do you value collaboration?
I love teaching. Not only do I enjoy helping others but I also find that the actual exercise of trying to explain how to make pottery enables me understand the process deeper myself. For my own work I am not very involved with collaboration.
To what extent does the location and the people inspire your work and enable you to do something that could not happen anywhere else?
I have lived in Japan for more that forty years. During that period I have of course absorbed a lot from my surroundings. My life or lifestyle is now very much a blend of England and Japan. I feel very relaxed with this situation. In making pottery I have always felt that it is of paramount importance to let the work flow naturally from within you, not to be forced preconceived ideas. My pottery is now neither solely Japanese nor English, it has aspects from both cultures. There is a blend. If I had not lived in Japan my work would look very different.
How close are you to the local community ?
I am part of the community and have many local friends and acquaintances yet I am also a little apart. To some extent I live in my own bubble.
Many thanks Chris!
Check out Christopher Clark’s work at:
Chris Clark (@chrisclarkpotter) • Instagram photos and videos