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Meet the artisans behind SHM favorite pottery stall!

April 3, 2018 3:18 pmby

Meet the artisans behind Surry Hills Market favorite fired handcrafts – Em Pottery by Emi Mutch (and baby Maih), and Ichijoy Handmade Ceramics by Keiichi Aikawa and Richard Kaye-Smith.

Instagram: @empottery and @ichi_joy

What do you like most about Surry Hills Markets?

Emi: I love how it’s local – it’s really close to me – and I like the atmosphere. People are really nice here. I love how there’s kids’ play area and lots of families – the atmosphere is really nice.

Keiichi: Everyone is friendly, down to earth. I love the culture and there is a nice collection here; I get books and cds, it’s a nice collection.

Emi: Some months we have a “no leaving the stall” rule or we buy everything – if you don’t see anything, you can’t buy anything.

When did you start doing Surry Hills Markets?

E: Maybe three or four years ago. I started in winter and I remember it was so cold and dark when we got here at 6:45am.

You left for a little while to have Miah?

E: I was actually here till I was 30 something weeks – she was born in August and I did the August markets a few weeks before. A lot of my friends told me not to do that, but I did it anyway and it was fun.

And when did the guys join?

E: In September last year. We met in ceramics class.

Richard: We study together with a Japanese teacher once a week in Artarmon, Emi Tanaka – she’s a professional artisan who’s been doing this 20 years, and, of course, teaches in the Japanese style.

And how did you two meet? (Keiichi and Richard)

R: We’ve been together for 28 years. We met in Tokyo – I was living there, starting as one of the first Australians to be awarded a working holiday visa. We met at a gay bar, but I had to take him on three dates before he kissed me, he’s very conservative.

It must have been hard in Japan for a queer couple then?

R: You had to be careful – if his company found out, he’d lose his job. But the same was true in Australia. You just surrounded yourself with a group of friends and you protected each other.

Are you doing anything for Mardi Gras tonight?

K: I’m working at a Japanese restaurant

R: We’re not young anymore. We’ve lived in Surry Hills since we came to Australia 17 years ago, so we’ve seen our share.

What do you like most about creating these art pieces?

K: I’m studying the wheel, but I prefer painting – painting the plates or making Japanese style.

R: It’s just so much fun, satisfying, a stress release. If it were possible, I’d retire today and just do this.

What got you started in pottery?

R: We’re both artistically educated – design and painting.

K: Before we both loved painting and wanting something more, to try something new. It’s so nice – when you touch the clay – it’s so calming.

R: Keiichi’s been doing it for 3 years, I’ve been doing it almost two. I like the surprise of it – with handmade ceramics, once it goes in the kiln – it’s fingers crossed! – anything could happen. So everything is a one off piece.

SHNC thanks Alli Sebastian Wolf for interviewing Emi, Keiichi and Richard and taking their photos.