SetoMonogatari Series 5, 6, 7 & 8

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The SetoMonogatari Series research project employs a range of qualitative and practice-led approaches to investigate and raise awareness of the ceramic novelty figurine industry in Seto, a traditional centre of pottery manufacturing in Japan. Seto’s figurine industry grew quickly after World War 2 until the mid-1980s, when the export market began to decline. Although this phenomenon has been subject to some limited domestic historical enquiry, a literature review suggests that, prior to this study, it has received no substantive academic attention outside of Japan. The material culture and intangible tacit knowledge associated with this industry constitute rich, yet threatened, heritage resources. In the UK, industrial pottery is identified as a critically endangered craft, and this study sought to promote similar recognition in Japan for Seto’s novelty industry.

Three fieldtrips to Seto (August 2018, January, July 2019) were undertaken. Combining the photographic cataloguing of 5 current and 5 former sites of production and the collection of interviews of 6 workers and 7 managers, this study increased knowledge of the material culture and practices particular to this industry, including the commissioning, designing, and making processes. Collected information, imagery and found objects (including found ceramic products and plaster moulds) were synthesised and remediated in order to produce a series of original research artefacts (ceramic sculptures) and exhibitions which explore notions of narrative and preservation. Resulting in a new body of material culture, this study makes an original contribution to knowledge by exploring how practice-led ceramics research might respond to, and assimilate, recent trends in creative archaeological approaches to the recent and contemporary past.

As such, this research employs creative art-archaeological methodologies to investigate and acknowledge marginal histories of human-material engagement. Here, ceramic practice is construed as a proactive materialising intervention to counter the material forgetfulness of the Anthropocene era.

Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationStoke-on-Trent/Glasgow
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 2016


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