Nixi Pottery from Yunnan Provence
My recent trip to Jingdezhen coincided with an exhibition of Nixi pottery from the Yunnan Provence (Tibet). There were 10 Tibetan artists who accompanied NYC based ceramicist Kathy Erteman (Click Here for Kathy's site) to Jingdezhen for a three week residency. She has been working with the group to enrich the production and marketing of the indigenous pottery of Nixi.
While in Jindezhen they used an electric wheel and modern metal trim tools for the first time. I went to visit them in the PWS Two Chimneys education center while they were working. It was funny to see them crowded around the wheels watching each other work. I take for granted that electric wheels are not universal for production potters. They were as excited as children at Christmas as they took turns practicing.
Right now they handbuild their forms and carve the details by hand.
The work on display was a rich black terracotta that was shaped into teapots, jars, and vases. The color comes from the open pit firing they use to finish their work. The forms and surfaces are reminiscent of the Maria Martinez lineage of potters that work in New Mexico. Its amazing that two cultures that had no connection share similar aesthetic preferences.
My favorite pots were the elevated side handle pitcher and lidded teapot. These two-part pieces include a container for holding hot coals and a suspended pouring vessel used to serve butter tea. The pouring vessels rest on three arms that rise above the rim of the larger pot. They are a nice mix of negative and positive space. Some of the pots had pieces of white ceramics inlaid into their surfaces. These patterns of inlay created a sharp contrast to the pitch black clay body. The first two pictures above are these forms.
A quick internet search finds more information on this style of pottery. Click here to see a slide show.