Interview / Meet The Artists

Seizing the connection between the traditional and the modern – An Interview with Teppei Yamashita

Teppei Yamashita was born and raised in Imari, Japan, world-renowned for its ceramics and porcelains. In 2006, he graduated from Arita College of Ceramics, an outstanding traditional Japanese porcelain and ceramic education institution. In his work, Yamashita seizes the connection between the traditional and the modern. He interprets the traditional motifs of both his home country of Japan and his residence country of Turkey, with original figures and contemporary, innovative forms. Yamashita lives and works in Bodrum.

How did you discover the medium of ceramics?

I was born in Imari, the world famous porcelain city of Japan. My Mother and Father both loved ceramics and they used to collect handmade tableware which we used everyday at home. I grew up surrounded by beautiful ceramic works ever since I was a boy.

Nevertheless, being something so present in my life, it was also something I overlooked. I didn’t actually used to be all that interested in ceramics…

When I was young I travelled and lived in many other countries. This allowed me both to look outside of my own country, and to rediscover my own culture again. While living in Australia, I stumbled upon a small ceramic workshop and it was there that my interest was born. Then of course it occurred to me that there was hardly anywhere better to learn this craft than my own birth city. So I returned home and started to learn to make ceramics. 

How would you describe the philosophical basis of your ceramic practice? Where does your inspiration come from?

It is difficult to pinpoint exactly where the inspiration comes from. It can come from things I’ve seen, from things I’ve read. Maybe it comes from things I hear, maybe from things I touch and from things I feel. It is something like the output of my own life and my own history.

What do you hope to achieve in your work?

Ceramics look like an easy craft from the outside, but in reality the practice is far from straightforward. It requires mastery, knowledge, and creativity. I am forever excited by the process of making new works. The conception of a new idea, shaping it, and especially when the firing is done and you open the door to see the final product… In seeking this artistic excitement it is imperative to keep learning, keep working to improve and to keep forming new ideas. I want to be able to continue making works that get the heart pounding for the rest of my life.

How is your practice connected to our history, culture and geography?

My work has developed and changed greatly during this 15 year journey in Turkey. I studied ceramics in Japan and this undoubtedly gave me the foundation and basis of my practice, but my time in this country has also inspired and influenced so much in my work. 

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