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Monday, 30 September 2013

Clouds - my solo exhibition

Hello everyone. I have been unwell since yesterday. I must have caught virus or something. I started nodding off over lunch yesterday, and have mostly slept since then. A kind of sleep marathon!

Despite that, I am thrilled to share this news with you! My first solo exhibition!

Midori Takaki


Part 1:  Storm

Private View -  Wednesday, 9 October, 6-8pm

10 October – 9 November

Part 2: Calm

22 November – 21 December


The Side Room at the Sidney Cooper Gallery

St Peter's Street
Kent CT1 2BQ

Tel: 01227 453267
Tuesday - Friday: 10.30am - 5:00pm
Saturday: 11.30pm - 5:00pm (closed Sunday and Monday)

There will be two periods, and I will change the display in between. Lots of new works, especially masks, will be in the first part, Storm. Calm will have mostly new works, I hope! Please do come!

The main part of the gallery will run 'Naiza Khan' and 'Chain Reaction' exhibitions. I had privileged to peek 'Naiza Khan' in the making. It looks very good! Exciting!

Mike's commuting route to the campus of the University of Kent 23/9

A funny thing is that I somehow thought that opening is this weekend. That's why I was frantically making work! As soon as I realised my mistake yesterday, I suddenly got relaxed, and the fever took me over! Silly me! I had thought I was a bit behind, but now, not only caught up, but also ahead! What a relief! My fever seems stubborn, but I will be back to work tomorrow. Mike is coming down with similar thing, so I have to get up! We have a big animal family to look after. Especially particular one called Pearl. Today she kept coming to my bedside and touched my hand with, first, whiskers, and then wet nose over and over again. Was she worried about me? Nope! She wanted me to follow her to her bed so that she could be tucked in with a warm blanket! Did I do that? Of course!

Autumn colours on campus today
Take care, everyone!

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Another show is coming up!

Hello everyone. It has been hectic this week. Tuesday afternoon, I was told/realised that the Sidney Cooper Gallery wanted me to make a new show in the side room rather than simply moving my works from the previous MA show! Since then, I am working flat out from early morning to night. I have dropped everything else. Now I am waiting for the three kilns to cool down, so that I could open them. (It's a lunch time now)
10:45 this morning
In the studio, the last kiln didn't become cool enough, and at any moment the security would come and lock the building up. So we opened the door very slightly at quite a high temperature to quicken the process. We have never done this before. But extreme measures are required for extreme situations.

I unloaded three kilns and loaded four kilns today. We have just finished the last one now after eleven at night. Last three days have been more or less like today.

I will share some of the photos.

New masks - yesterday

In the studio.

I loaded this kiln yesterday for glaze firing.
They came out fine!  But a couple of them went back to re-firing.

In our kiln room, aka the garage, we have done bisque firing. We opened this kiln at six o'clock in the evening after we came back from the studio.

Top shelf

Lower shelf

At eleven at night, we finished glazing and started the last kiln of the day.  

'Oribe' green chameleons

New masks
While we waited for the kilns to cool down in the studio, we saw this. Someone has a sense of humour!

What a week! We will rest well tonight. Good night, everyone!

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Reduction firing and more masks

Hello everyone. Reduction firing went well. Mike dropped me in the studio at nine. The firing was over about five. Every 15 minutes, I record details of firing, and lots of fiddly thing to do. But Jane the superwoman has mainly done for me. So I was in safe hands!


Due to weather (very foggy) or something else, the flame kept stopping at about 176 C, but after that, it went very well. Thanks for that!

Nice pots!

Because we have been so busy, we haven't seen them closely yet, but most of them look very nice! I will take photos next week to share with you!

I have also done some finishing on my masks. 

The right was for a commission. 

The right chap has already found a home!

They went to a kiln last night. I can open it tomorrow morning, and do more touch-up and refire them. 

Today, I woke at 7:30, had a breakfast in bed, and went back to sleep soon after. Next time, I noticed it was already noon! I have finally caught up with lost sleep. I felt good! I spent time creating more masks in the afternoon.  They look a bit funny due to artificial light. I will take more photos tomorrow!

Looking for Father

He is a child in the war. I am thinking about children in Syria.

Because of the ears, Mike says he is rugby player! Not really!
Haven't found a name for him yet!

This is called Harriet's rabbit because she bought one of my rabbit masks after one of my presentations. It was an unusual rabbit, I am revisiting him.

Harriet's rabbit

That's it today. Tomorrow will be a busy day again. I am thinking to go to the studio before anybody! But not sure if I could wake up! : )

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Show is over

Hello everyone. Prism, our MA show is over. Yesterday evening, Mike and I went to the gallery for take down. I have also volunteered to help wrapping my work for customers, as some of them are tricky to handle. When we were about to enter the building, Hanna the receptionist came out, and told me that three more works were sold that afternoon. How wonderful!

Antelope mask had disappeared from the wall. The customers took it with them late in the afternoon as the show was closing.

Leather like texture

Wasted talent was also sold. I love the combination of the brown crackle glaze and bronze oxide.
She found a new home

And everyone's favourite on Etsy, the big whippet went to a new home.

Large marble whippet
It took me about three hours to pack every purchased work in total. They are ready to be collected from Tuesday.

Once back home we were exhausted. We had cups of tea and tea biscuits, then took a shower and slept. In the middle of night we woke up with thirst. This time it was our thirst. We found that it wasn't a good idea to have too many tea biscuits before sleep!

This week will be a busy once again. Tomorrow early morning before work, we will go to the gallery to collect some belongings. Tuesday I will do reduction firing, which means for about 9 hours I will kiln sit; taking a record of the firing every 15 minutes. On Wednesday, I will return to the gallery to touch up the paint. Thursday, I will unload the kiln. Also we want to do a firing at home. More glazing to be done!  I am not sure how we fit everything in! Another week of 7/7, I guess!

Friday, 20 September 2013


Hello everyone. My day is finally back to normal, but I don't know what is really normal now. The last couple of afternoons I went to the studio to do some glazing. I have booked a reduction firing on Tuesday. There are about 15 pots to be glazed. I always get very tired after glazing.

In the studio I was given lovely comments on my work in the MA show. How nice! Lots of people told me that they like my artist statement. Here is the original version of my artist statement:
When I was a child I thought I would become a writer. My head was a full of imagination, memories, feelings, thoughts and stories. Once a while, they overtook my daily life. It wasn’t always easy for a child to live in the real world and my own world at the same time.  Especially as all my imagination, memories etc. just float around in my head, like clouds in the sky. I didn’t know what to do with them.

Now I capture the floating thoughts in ceramics. Once they were given shapes, they become grounded. They don’t bother my daily life. By creating ceramic sculptures, I file the information, which is, otherwise, difficult to classify, in drawers in my brain. I could bring every nuance and detail of my memories, stories, emotion and thoughts, back to life vividly when I see each sculpture

I create something small almost daily at night. I call them my journal. I am writing in ceramics. In this way, other people can also read.

I am thrilled to share my world with you here at this show. If you would like to know stories about any of my sculptures, just let me know. I have plenty to tell you about them.

I have never read any artist statements except for one written by a friend. I thought they were boring and unnecessary. So I made mine intimate and personal, just like what I create.  I hope you had interesting read.

It is a part of art school.

On Wednesday, Mike and I went to Mascalls gallery to see Gary Rutushniak's prints.  It was very interesting. His works remind me of Japanese graphic design during the period after the war. Strong straight lines, spiral/swirls and nostalgic colours make me feel like that. We enjoyed watching a video, too. Mascalls gallery is in a rural town in west Kent.

Numerous daddy long legs!

As my driving is dangerous and unreliable (Once I was lost for seven hours at Heathrow after I picked up my mother visiting from Japan and ended up in Oxford at one o'clock in the morning, instead of coming back to Canterbury. Friends told me that Oxford is in the opposite direction. It didn't matter to me!), Mike sat in a driving seat. Lots of peculiar clouds were over us on that day.

Cloud look alive!

Mike said they are called cumulous clouds

After the exhibition, we asked the young lady at the reception for a nice place to have a lunch. She recommended a pub called the Poet in a next village. At lunch time on Wednesday it was fully booked. We had to wait for a quite long time (I hate waiting but there was nowhere else and we were hungry.) but it was worth waiting. I had salmon fishcake in a cucumber, gherkin and caper sauce, and cream brulee with mango sorbet desert. Mike had fish and chips and chocolate fondant desert.

Our table looking at a busy junction in a small village (and a spider?)

Mike's chocolate fondant

My mango sorbet. Creme brulee was unfocused!

Some of you know, recently I made a cloud. Because of the show, I couldn't quite finish it.

Cloud I made on 29/08
This is Cloud I made last night. She is going to have a wing. I am going to make more work inspired by clouds.  



Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Rainy afternoon in the Sidney Cooper Gallery

Hello everyone. I had a lovely day again. Lenka, a graduate in ceramics, came over to see our show from London. How wonderful! We met for a lunch, and had a catch-up. When we left a restaurant for the Sidney Cooper gallery, just as it started raining. We got in there just in time. She makes slip decorated earthenware tableware, and also studied politics for a BA degree.

Lenka in pretty spotty shirt

Lenka looking at Angela's paintings
I had a great chat with a sculptor. One of the fun parts of being in the gallery is to talk with visitors. Lots of visitors are artists themselves. She is going to do Artists Open House soon. Mike and I will visit her.

Then another lady from Belfast asked me to write a message to her neighbour who likes greyhound racing, on my little whippet sculpture that she bought. (my whippet sculptures are in the glass cabinet in the reception now.) It is the smallest whippet I have made. So I made it short, 'Jim, good luck!' I hope he will be pleased! She has visited her family in England, and doing sightseeing before going back to Belfast.

After that, we had a quiet patch. Tony with his trademark iPad. He told me that they put WiFi in the gallery now! I wish I had known that!

Tony sandwiched between Dariusz (left) and Yvonne's works. 
I did some wrapping job with Harriet. I would rather do something than nothing.

Harriet and Tony are having a great fun!
In fact, Harriet is very busy at the reception.

A view from the reception
She said that someone has to go to the post office. I declined. It's raining. And I am supposed to be in the gallery!

Raining. A view from the front door
Our show has a catalogue. A bargain for £3. Harriet and I are not in it, though.

Just before five, I had a great chat with a gentleman who participates in Zen. He noticed that I mentioned Zen and Shintoism on my artist statement.

Over the weekend, I have made several masks. Once I start, I can't stop. Here are a few of them. 

White slip on masks; Peter (right)

Interestingly, Peter appeared again. I am looking forward to finishing his mask. You can meet him here

This is tree spirit. I had to wait for a while before she appeared from the clay. I will see what she could tell me. 

 This chap is inspired by my experience in the MA show. He is a character. He has some opinion!

My business cards ran out, and they are in printing. It is taking longer than I thought. I am sorry about that. If you leave your email and name at the reception, I will contact you by email for future events etc..  Thank you!    


Monday, 16 September 2013

The story of Mochaccino, our miracle finch

Hello everyone. Mochaccino has recovered remarkably. Thank you so much for your thoughts on him. He became blind in his left eye. We think he either had a heart attack or another stroke when he went into a bath.

5th, May 2003 
Friday night, I couldn't sleep with worry. What else could I do but pray? When I finally fell into sleep it was after midnight. Then I woke up just before three. I felt slight thirst, then realised that it is not my thirst. It is his thirst. I went down to get a cotton bud, soaked it in water, and wet his beak. He licked it. I repeated three times. As I did, I was overwhelmed by emotion. First thing I gave him after he hatched about 10 years ago, was water soaked in a cotton bud. After I went back to bed, I wept, then sobbed and went downstairs. When Mike came down I cried out loud on his chest. I had cried one hour. I had lots of flash backs.

Hungry! 6th May 2003
It is unusual of me to get overwhelmed by such strong emotion. When his inexperienced parents abandoned the nest, there were three eggs. Only one was close to hatching. I put the tiny egg in an incubator designed for chicken eggs. Next day I cut egg shell with a knife, and helped him out of the egg. I think it was about 12 hours too early, but I thought then the chick would die otherwise.

His aunt on Mike's head
I fed him every 45 minutes through the nights. After several nights, I starting nodding off during day. Feeding finch chicks is the most difficult task I have ever done. They are too tiny to feed with anything else but a cocktail stick for a couple of days. This was 10 years ago.

30th May 2003, With his friend (left)
His family and friends passed away one by one. He was the youngest, but also has lived longest. The finch book I have said their life span is between 4 and 6 years. He is 10 years and 4 months old.

30th May 2003
When each animal family gets old, I make sure that they are comfortable till the end. I feel it is like a hospice. I want them to feel warm and comfortable until the end. I can't bear them to feel cold, wet, lonely and miserable. When Mochaccino finally chirped late Saturday afternoon, we felt a great relief. I chirp back at him. We call each other to know that we are not alone.

31st May 2003
Now he lives in a box. Mike got a propagator heat pad for him yesterday, so that he could sleep on it over night. The sound he makes when he moves in the box lightens our hearts. He is a miracle bird. He has survived twice, and has lived longest among all owl finches. We are really lucky to have been with him.

31st May 2003 on Mike's hand
11th June 2003. Learning to feed by himself
Family and friends

Take care of yourself and your animal family as it is suddenly getting colder. I hope everyone is warm and comfy.

This post is written with my warmest thoughts for my dear friend whom I have not met yet.


Friday, 13 September 2013

Another amazing day

Hello everyone. It has been another amazing day for me. Yesterday a wonderful customer in Australia reviewed my shop. He said,
This amazing artwork is on our wall now - taking pride of place. It's cheeky, funny, witty and has so many people commenting on it, when they come into our house. Thanks for all your inspiration and hard work. May people rush to buy your artworks ...
Needless to say, I was most delighted. But I didn't quite realize that it would come true. This afternoon, I had a message from the Sidney Cooper gallery that a little rabbit and a large chameleon were sold. How nice! Then within one hour, another message came. The large rabbit and the small chameleon were also sold. Now there was only one rabbit left; they wanted me to bring more work to them! How wonderful! I soon thought of the customer's review. Wow, it became true! I took several works to the gallery after they closed. Now the glass cabinet is full again. Some works have never been for sale. One is the Minotaur which you see in my banner. I love his face and colours. The glazes look mysterious and beautiful. He looks great in the cabinet. Also the third chameleon is in the cabinet. I have promised ladies on twitter that if current chameleons are sold, I will make more, so I will start on them next week. I started working on a commissioned mask. That is going well, too. 

Today I share some of my other works with you. I have two rabbit sculptures. White rabbits are symbolic animals in Japan. You would see them everywhere on almost everything in Japan. These two are, however, a bit different. Topaz, our nervous dog, is very scared of fireworks and thunders. Once either starts, she shakes like a leaf. She become restless, and has tried to hide inside the laundry machine. She is too big for that! Even after it stops, she pricks her ears up, and listens. Nothing. But she still listens. She is waiting for next bang.That was the idea came from.

Waiting for Next bang I

Waiting for next bang II

Together on a shelf

Then some of you remember this cat. Another cat was broken on the way to assessment, so he is a sole survivor. I assembled in four layers. The brown sections are reduction fired stoneware grey clay.  

Close-up of Equilibrium - cat 

This is how they are set up.

The cat is in the middle. 

Last, let me share this incredible story with you. Late this afternoon, Mochaccino, our very old owl finch drowned. He is my office mascot. I turned back from the chair and saw a soaked and motionless Mochaccino in the water. His head was half under the water. I don't know how long he was in his water dish, but about one hour before, I saw him preening. He had a stroke some months ago. He lost the power of flight then. After that his one side of the body became paralysed. At the arrival of autumn, he became weaker. We thought he would not make Christmas. He is about 100 years old if he were a human. 

I wrapped him in soft Kleenex, and warmed him up in the hand, and used a hair dryer gently to dry him a bit. Then I prepared a hot water bottle, and placed a towel and him on top of it on our bed. He showed slight movement. I kept him warm, and changed the water bottle before it gets cold. After five hours, when I went to check the water bottle, he shot out from the towel from fear, I think. I was shocked and overjoyed at the same time. I shouted that he came back to life to Mike and the world via twitter. It's a miracle.

He is still very weak. He is now sleeping on the warm bottle in a polystyrene box, which has very good insulation. I will swap the water bottle with a heat pad when I go to sleep. May Mochaccino survive tonight.