Born in Kyoto, Japan, Masako Nakagami is an artist working in ceramics. She had aspired to do so since elementary school, studying the basics of the material at Kyoto Municipal Dohda Arts and Crafts High School, before working within the Kyoto University of Art and Design education department as an assistant teacher. Upon relocation to the UK in 2001, spurred by her interest in the thriving ceramic culture to be found here, Nakagami worked within North London’s The Chocolate Factory studios, producing her own tableware sets for prestigious Japanese restaurants in the city: Zuma and Roka. She also participated in Lucy Smith’s workshops, creating garden pottery, and joined the East London Hidden Art Open Studio. Following four years living and working in the UK, and a period of travels through Spain, Nakagami moved back to her birthplace.
Nakagami works in a range of techniques including hand building and wheel throwing. Her ceramics are largely crafted from clay dug from the mountains around her studio. Hand-thrown on the wheel, Nakagami’s sublime miniature nest vases are then hand-carved with soft lines, giving them a unique yet subtle character. Their surfaces are created by mixing glaze into porcelain and polishing, creating curved forms in expressive surface textures which are alternately smooth and rough. Inspired principally by the world around her and the movements within it, natural forms are explored heavily in the recurring flowing lines of Nakagami’s ceramics, which draw on patterns repeated and exemplified within the natural world. Her technique of fluting occurs when the clay is leather-hard with a loop tool. In this way, Nakagami’s fluted works exhibit grooves which intensify the tactile nature that their scale invites, highlighting their soft and curved forms. Mimicking the movements of nature that surround her studio, her preference for lines with fluidity and dynamism recalls the flow of rivers and streams that lie in the local area.