Akiko Hirai (b. 1970, Japan) trained in cognitive psychology at Aichi Gakuin University in Nisshin, Japan. Her motivation to study ceramics came soon after moving to London in 1999, where she was introduced to Korean moon jars in the British Museum. She trained at the University of Westminster and Central St. Martins and from 2004 acted as lecturer and ceramics technician at Kensington and Chelsea College of Arts.Akiko Hirai blends Japanese and British studio pottery traditions. Her versatility as an artist is displayed in the vast range of functional objects and artworks she has produced. Hirai works rhythmically and spontaneously with rough, dark clay using varying building techniques; from hand building, coiling, thro
wing on the potter’s wheel and slip casting. There is a distinct absence of mechanical regularity as Hirai fears the rhythm becoming too static. Multiple layers of glazes and slips in contrasting lighter tones to the raw, dark clay body are then applied. Akiko’s use of white glaze acts as a veil, simultaneously obscuring and revealing the true nature of the material underneath, of the chemical reactions that occur when dark clay is fired in the kiln. This results in complex and unrefined textures, fused to imperfect, organic forms.
Highly acclaimed and sought after by collectors worldwide, Akiko’s work is displayed in private and public collections internationally; including the V&A, The Fitzwilliam Museum, Westerwald Ceramic Museum, National Museum of Ireland and the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse, NY. In 2019 Akiko was shortlisted for the prestigious Loewe Craft Prize.