Akiko Hirai was born in Japan in 1970. She moved to London in 1999, studying ceramics at the University of Westminster and Central St. Martins. Akiko’s work is both a blend of Japanese and British studio pottery traditions resulting in asymmetrical, ‘imperfect’ organic forms.
"My preference of choosing types of clay when making white ware is the dark and coarse clay most of the time. The whiteness acts as a membrane or a veil. The hints of the true nature of the material appear slightly on the surface. Dark clay which consists of many impurities induces strong chemical changes in heat and the trace of events remains under the veil when it cools down. White, on the other hand, is more stable because of its purity. It is already settled and has a feeling of “stillness”.
Superficially my work appears to be quiet in white. It does not show the rawness of Mother Nature directly. A symbolic figure always looks more perfect than the actual person he/she is. Imagination and fantasy always reinforce the imperfection and achieve the perfection with its own originality. Therefore the completion of my work is done by the viewers. My work is a creation on its own." - Akiko Hirai
"The work I have created for Under The Cherry Tree (exhibition 2019) was inspired by my memories of Spring in Japan. At home we celebrate the blossoming cherry trees as the pale pink petals float in the air. This period also heralds school graduation and farewells. I used to love this seasonal feeling of melancholy. Winter cherry trees in London are a lot smaller than the Japanese Somei-Yoshino. One night as I returned home from my London studio, I saw the winter cherry trees blossoming under the street light and behind it was the round, white moon. This inspired me to create a cherry tree ash glaze in a beautiful, light peppermint green." - Akiko Hirai, 2019
2002-2003 Central Saint Martins, School of Graphics and Industrial Design, London
2000- 2002 University of Westminster Harrow (transferred to St. Martins)
1989-1993 Aichi Gakuin University, Japan
Public Collections include:
Keramikmuseum Westerwald (Westerwald Ceramic Museum), Germany; Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Akiko Hirai has been shortlisted for the LOEWE craft prize 2019 and was the subject of a solo exhibition in The Gallery in March 2019. She will also be the subject of a solo exhibition in November 2021.