THE POTS OF SEIKAN SHIBAZAKI
Seikan Shibazaki creates miniature pots of the highest quality. His creations show character and extravagance in many variations, they have a wilful and strong nature. He varies them by using different types of clay, which gives them very different colours and effects together with the glazes. Shibazaki is an artist who is not easily categorized. On his creations you can find elaborate renderings of classical motives and others that are reminiscent of masterpieces by famous japanese engravers. Even in Japan, his works are not widely known. On this page you can see a small selection of his works.
The life of Seikan Shibazuki
His real name was Shingoro Shibazaki. He was born in the Asakusa district of Tokyo on the 18th of May 1912. Since his mother loved flowers he was used to the sight of plants in pots early in his childhood - they were even placed under the rotary clothes line. Still a child, he witnessed the “azalea fever” in Japan where the azaleas were lined up on the street in front of his house, and neighbours would compete for the most beautiful plants.
His childhood was also strongly influenced by his uncle who was very fond of bonsai. Shibazaki helped him to tend and water the plants. At that point he also started to understand the relevance of pots. He says: “At that time I was captivated by the beauty of Chinese pots made of red clay, and I started to learn about the interaction between plants and pots. On my free days I accompanied my uncle when he was looking for new plants. We went through the nurseries and would come home happily with a basket full of plants.”
Oval pot showing a catfish, size: 10,5 cm x 4 cm
Rectangular pot with blue glaze, size: 11 cm x 10 cm x 5,5 cm
Round pot, size: 5 cm x 4 cm.
Square pot with a glossy glaze, size: 5 cm x 5 cm x 4 cm
Square pot with a green glaze, size: 6,5 cm x 6,5 cm x 6,5 cm
Thus was his life until he was ten years old. Then his father died, and he stayed with his mother who had to struggle with the adversities of a widow's life. When he was 15 years old, he started an apprenticeship with an engraver, but he continued his occupation with pots. He continued to live with his mother until he was 23.
Oval pot with drawings, size: 9,5 cm x 5 cm
Rectangular pot with needle engraving, size: 8 cm x 4 cm x 4 cm
Rectangular pot with the engraving of a catfish, size: 6,5 cm x 6 cm x 3 cm
Rectangular pot with a landscape, size: 10,5 cm x 9 cm x 4 cm
Round pot, size: 4 cm x 4 cm
One evening in a tavern he met a tradesman who revived his old interest in pots. Soon Shibazaki started collecting pots, and during the war he started with attempts at making his own - rumor has it that he fired them at his home in a coal pan. He broadened his knowledge on ceramics by new contacts after the war, and the number of pots in his collection grew steadily.
In the last years of his life Shibazaki worked for a professinal bonsai garden. The craft of pottery which had given him joy as a child still meant a lot to him, but his main goal was to create pots for specific trees. In this respect, Seikan Shibazaki was not only a potter, but a true artist.
Round pot, size: 4 cm x 4 cm
Rectangular pot with engraving, size: 6 cm x 4,5 cm x 5 cm
Rectangular pot with drawing, size: 5 cm x 4 cm x 3,5 cm
Square pot, size: 7 cm x 7 cm x 3,5 cm
Article and photographs published with kind permission of BONSAI ART.
Translation: Stefan Ulrich