Wood-firers who visit our gallery are often drawn to this small vase tucked away on a top shelf in the workroom. It has been glazed in the Bizen style, a process named after the Japanese city of Bizen, produced by a long wood-firing, with resulting heavy ash deposits and other effects.
Australian potters interested in Bizen work include Jane Barrow, Len Cook, Heja Chong, Ian Currie, Stephen Fry, Ian Jones, Col Levy, Phillip McC0nnell and Simon Reece, but the incised mark on this vase is different from any of their recorded marks.
I was interested to read in Janet Mansfield’s article on “Wood-firing and the Australian identity” in The Journal of Australian Ceramics, April 2010, p. 64, that Heja Chong had fired her anagama Bizen-style kiln for nine days, “showing us the full possibilities that long-firing could yield”.
This vase could come from one of the possibly more than one hundred long-firing kilns to be found throughout Australia, according to Mansfield, or it may have been a pot made in Japan and bought to Australia by a potter or collector. In any case, our 0.99 cent investment in 2005 has given us much pleasure, enriching our knowledge and discernment of wood-fired ceramics.