Isezaki Jun
Isezaki Jun visits the Oxford Anagama Project in Wytham Woods

'National Living Treasure' comes to Oxford

Matt Pickles

Oxford University's Wytham Woods were visited by a "National Living Treasure" last weekend.

No, Dame Judy Dench did not visit (as far as we know, anyway) but the University welcome famous Japanese potter Isezaki Jun, who has the title of the fifth National Living Treasure of Bizen, a place in Japan famous for its pottery.

Mr Jun launched the Oxford Anagama Project in the Woods on Saturday (24 October), when he began the loading of the Brick Anagama - one of two kilns that have been built over the past few months.

The first firing of the kiln will take place towards the end of November. But pots have already been produced from the first firing of the Willow Anagama.

Mr Jun also visited Keble College and gave a lecture at the University of Oxford Museum of Natural History.

At the lecture he said: 'I hope Oxford Anagama will give birth to a new conception of pottery and ceramics.

'The National Living Treasure is the preserver of important intangible crafts, in this case pottery. It preserves an ancient tradition.'

He said the Oxford Anagama project represents “another stage in Anglo-Japanese collaboration” and gives artists from both countries the chance to “learn from each other in a major international collaboration”.

'Where better to do it than Oxford?', he added.

The Oxford Anagama Project is co-directed by Dr Robin Wilson of the Wytham Studio at Wytham Woods and the School of Anthropology, and Jim Keeling of Whichford Pottery.