“Firing takes the idea of ‘serendipity’ to a higher level. I don’t know of any other art form where chance plays such a pivotal role.”
John Dix has spent the last 20 of his 30 years with clay primarily in Japan. This has led to works that show a strong Japanese influence but still retain elements of his early training in the West.
“The word that best describes my approach to clay is ‘Serendipity’. I’ll have a starting point without a clear destination, a familiar path (constructing a teapot, a sake bottle, etc), which I always give myself permission to diverge from. This freedom brings freshness to the work and has sustained me over the years.”
For the last 16 years John has been based in the area of Japan called Tamba, an ancient pottery region. There he has built a studio and a 2-chamber anagama hybrid, which he fires two or three times a year for up to 7 days a firing.
Loading the kiln with glazed and unglazed pots takes 5 days. Over the course of the one-week firing copious amounts of ash are produced, giving each piece its own unique character.
“It is physically and mentally draining. Years and years went by before I even started to understand what was happening in the kiln.”
John still defers to the gods of chance, but in fact at this point he has succeeded in wresting control of the process and mastering all aspects of his firing.