Tsukimi, the Japanese moon viewing festival, takes place on the 15th day of the eighth month according to the Lunar calendar when the moon is at its brightest and fullest. The moon has fascinated and captured artistic imagination across cultures and time. Celebrating the Japanese moon festival, Maud & Mabel presents ‘Tsukimi : Moon Viewing 月見’, an exhibition showcasing ceramic vessels inspired by the moon. The exhibition brings together a group of artists each with their own interpretation of the moon through their own cultural lenses and training, testifying to the longstanding significance of the moon even today.
'Lunar' vessels by Louise Egedal
Stoneware moons by Jane Yang-D'Haene
Varying in their textures, techniques, colour, and stories, the ceramic pieces in the gallery reminiscent of the moon collectively embody an ethereal quality. The works in the exhibition align the serene contemplations of the moon with the practice of ceramic-making — an acute reminder of our innate attraction to the moon and beauty of ceramics.
“Complete symmetry is a static state… But if it's asymmetrical, people have something to do with it. If they see something imperfect, or something a bit broken, people try to complete it in their imagination to make it more balanced.” — Akiko Hirai
Akiko Hirai’s energetic and versatile textured pieces bursting with rhythmic spontaneity are immediately visible upon entering the gallery. The rough dark clay of Junk DNA reveals itself through the layers of slips and glazes, the contrasting textures skillfully display the endless possibilities of the ceramic medium. The more subtle tactile surface of Suzu draws viewers in, inviting close observation. With a background in cognitive psychology, Hirai’s introduction to ceramics began with the artist’s encounter with Korean moon jars in the British museum. Her combination of British and Japanese pottery traditions, incorporation of wabi-sabi aesthetics and method of coiling to form the top to create an uplifting effect demonstrate the innovative contemporisation of a persistent artform.
Yuta Segawa’s mini moons showcase an endearing and intimate interpretation of moon jars. Elevated and lining the upper display shelves, the mini moons with alluring colour palettes range from glossy vivid finishes to pastel matte surfaces. The balanced form of the vessels fitting perfectly in the palm of one’s hand explain the irresistible appeal of the mini moons which have cultivated a large following over time.
Yuta Segawa miniature moons
“In the hearts of Korean potters, they all have their own images of moon jars and now I think I have one.” — Jaejun Lee
Jaejun Lee Porcelain Moon
The pieces in the exhibition harken back to the moon jar. The traditional moon jar 달항아리 (dalhang-ali) is recognised for its elegant form and colour echoing that of the moon; the milky jar has a mouth wider than its base, appearing levitated with its destabilised structure. Originating from Korea during the late Joseon dynasty in the 17th and 18th centuries, the moon jar was made with white porcelain used in Joseon imperial ware. Large moon jars were formed with two halves which created asymmetry in these pieces. Its imperfection was appreciated for its embodiment of Confucian values, encapsulating the contemplation of duality and flaws in natural beauty to provide a sense of serenity. These poetic evocations are intertwined with the cultural significance of the moon in Korean literary culture and identity.
Ivory Dalhangari and Dalhangari 2 by Marco Minetti
Jaejun Lee reinterprets this iconic form with an awareness of his position as a contemporary Korean artist making pottery in the UK. Juxtaposed against Akiko Hirai’s texturous works, Jaejun Lee’s luminescent moon jars reflect a soft shimmer on its smooth surface. The polished surfaces glide over the fingertips, an effect achieved through the use of 60 to 3000 grade diamond polishing paper. Lee admitted to his initial hesitation in making moon jars because of its complex connotations of Korean tradition, but in the process of making his own moon jars, he found infinite possibilities.