Square-shaped vase c.1979, Shigeo Shiga



Shigeo Shiga (1928 - 2011) | Square-shaped vase (c.1979) | stoneware with shino glaze | Purchased 1979.

Shigeo Shiga (1928 - 2011) was an influential ceramic artist who studied in Japan before moving to Australia in 1965, where he worked in regional New South Wales ceramic workshops. He remained in Australia until 1979, in this time establishing his own workshop, Asuka Pottery, and teaching at East Sydney Technical College (now the National Art School). Shiga is said to have had a strong influence on Australian ceramics, having taught many potters who have since come to prominence.

His work was underpinned by an insightful synthesis of Japanese tradition and a philosophical response to new environments. When this vessel, Square-shaped vase (c. 1979) was created, Shiga had recently experienced the loss of a close relative and was emerging from a prolonged period of grief. From 1979, Shiga returned to earlier influences of tea ceremony and Zen Buddhism, spending the remainder of his career making pottery at a Zen temple in Machida city, near Tokyo. 

Early Years Interpretation 

Shigeo Shiga was a ceramicist who lived and worked in Japan before moving to Australia where he taught and influenced many Australian potters. Shigeo worked to bring together Japanese beliefs and his new environment in Australia through his artwork, he explained “99 per cent of my life is pottery”.

This artwork is called Square-shaped vase (c.1979) and was made after Shigeo had a long break from making pottery after a close relative died. Shiga referred to the pots that he had made as ‘his children’. We can see some motifs or symbols on this vase, do you think they are just for decoration or do they have a deeper meaning?