DesignLab: Keiko Masumoto

As part of the V&A Schools DesignLab series, we invited Year 8 and 9 students from Elthorne Park High School to take part in an extended project with the Toshiba: Japan Ceramics ResidentKeiko Masumoto.

© Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Students were introduced to Keiko Masumoto’s professional practice through a studio visit and presentation of the artist’s work. Keiko is interested in blurring the lines between form and decoration in her pieces, she explains: ‘I try to subvert traditional ideas of the vessel, so that the motif is the form and the vessel the decoration’. Keiko is also inspired by historical decorative Asian ceramics. The group researched the collections together with Keiko, participating in a handling session devised and facilitated by curators from the Asia department.  To kick start the making process students then trialled basic making techniques using clay, Keiko explained to the students, ‘My work requires many traditional Japanese and Korean ceramic skills such as hand-building and throwing on the wheel.’

© Victoria and Albert Museum, London

© Victoria and Albert Museum, London

© Victoria and Albert Museum, London

The overall brief for the workshop was to design and make an individual piece of contemporary ceramics both inspired and informed by the stories found on the surface decoration of traditional Japanese ceramics in the V&A’s Toshiba and Ceramics Galleries.

© Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Students returned to school to further plan ideas for their own work, testing their ideas through small maquettes and using the research they had collated at the museum as a starting point. Keiko also encouraged them to draw on their own culture and heritage when designing the motifs for their final work. On the second day they returned with their designs and worked up their final pieces with Keiko’s help.  The students all used traditional Japanese stains to colour their work, either in a dark blue, brown or white.

© Victoria and Albert Museum, London

© Victoria and Albert Museum, London

After firing the students work, we sent it back to their school to feature in their Summer Exhibition.

“Thank you and everyone involved that organised such a brilliant project, the students really enjoyed it”. Helen Turner, Teacher at Elthorne Park High School

Elthorne Park High School is in the London borough of Ealing. Secondary schools in this borough, along with seven other London boroughs, are generously supported through the John Lyon’s Charity initiative.  To find out more about visit http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/j/john-lyons-charity-project/

For more information about DesignLab, please visit our Schools pages here.

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