Akiko Hirai was born in Japan, where she trained in cognitive psychology. Her motivation to study ceramics came soon after moving to England in 1999, where she was introduced to the Korean moon jars in the British Museum. Akiko studied ceramics at the University of Westminster and Central St. Martins. Her unique style combines British and Japanese pottery traditions.

Akiko’s versatility as a ceramicist is displayed in the huge range of beautiful practical and decorative objects that she has produced. She works rhythmically and spontaneously with rough dark clay in varying building techniques; from hand building, coiling, throwing on the potter’s wheel and slip casting. Multiple layers of glazes and slips in contrasting lighter tones are then applied. Akiko’s use of white glaze acts as a veil, obscuring and also 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 wonderfully complex and unrefined textures.

Akiko’s work is displayed worldwide, in private and public collections, including the V&A, The Fitzwillam 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.

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