11 May 2016
Located in the southwest of Zhejiang Province, the city of Longquan is one of the most important centres of Chinese ceramics. It is also the cradle of celadon. According to recent archeological research, which has uncovered more than five hundred ancient kilns, it’s history goes back to the fifth century. His locally developed glazing technique makes it possible to create objects in tones of jade, the sacred stone so highly prized in Asia. Popular today for their light and pleasing hues, celadon bowls are ideal for tea drinking.
AN INTERVIEW WITH MR. YEN WEI EN, A POTTER FROM LONGQUAN
In his workshop, which is surrounded by a magnificent garden decorated with artwork, we met Mr. Yen, a potter and calligrapher. During this encounter, we found out a great deal about this artist and his mindset and were able to discover the place that brings him inspiration and tranquility.
Mr. Yen, how did you become a potter?
I came from a family of potters and was therefore born into this milieu. From 1988 to 1992, I was a student in the fine arts department of the Celadon Institute in Jingdezheng. I have worked as a potter ever since.
In your opinion, what are the qualities of a good potter?
A good potter must have good technical skills. He must also know philosophy, aesthetics, history, culture, and traditional ceramics. The Chinese greatly respect artisans that possess knowledge and virtue, for benevolence is the soul of art. In my view, morality and know-how are important qualities for a potter.
Do you do research and experimentation?
I am always researching and experimenting because I am curious and I like to learn new techniques. My ambition is to create pottery that suits today’s tastes while still including ele- ments of traditional culture. I hope one day to have my own store and my own line of pottery so that my works may be appreciated throughout the world.
Do you think there are elements or conditions that escape the potter?
No matter how skilled or experienced a potter is, several elements influence the completion of a work: the materials, temperature, and water quality. These uncontrollable factors are part of the pleasure of creating.
What is your view of the art of ceramics in contemporary China?
In China, the skill level amongst potters is uneven. There aren’t many impressive works. Far too many potters are more concerned with short-term profit. For several years, I wavered on this point. I now create my works with the heart of an artisan.