Introducing Second Generation Holvila. 熊谷
As many have been following through his fascinating blog, EBPC potters Thor Holvila and Carina Jern have just spent a month in Japan working alongside one of Japan’s most famous and well respected bonsai potters; ‘Shuhu’ - Hidemi Kataoka of Tokoname, amongst others. This article is an announcement and celebration of the ‘second generation’ of Thor Holvila’s works. Don’t miss this article (available soon...) on the experiences of Carina Jern on this momentous journey.
The invitation came as quite a surprise, as this has not really been done between the west and Japan since the great friendship between Bernard Leech and Shoji Hamada in the early part of the 20th century. Thor and Carina hastily accepted this great honour and started packing for a journey into the unknown.
Having been a dedicated fan of Holvila’s work for 3 years now, it has been enthralling watching his artwork evolve and getting to know the fascinating man behind the pots. Thor’s passion for nature and art are quite inspiring, as is his humble nature and work ethic. Perhaps it was these qualities as well as his talent in pottery that appealed to the Japanese psyche.
Holvila pots reflect the rugged, yet extremely beautiful surroundings around Sweden’s valleys and mountains. Works are influenced by the sense of immense power and peace felt gazing at a glacier, or the serenity of a waterfall scene.
Thor’s work is now very popular in America and Australia, in addition to here in Europe, and twice this year Holvila pots have been recognised and praised in Japanese bonsai magazines; ‘Bonsai Shunju’ and ‘Bonsai World’. Which in itself, is quite an accolade!
Thor and Kataoka san shared knowledge and techniques, which the enthusiastic Thor soaked up like a sponge. Needless to say, friendships were born and some wonderful pots were made in the process.
The pots shown are quite obviously Holvila pots, but with a definite and complimentary Japanese influence. The first has smooth lines, a beautiful shiro glaze and superb Holvila ‘skull feet’. The second is an evolution of the ‘Gotham’ design (a pot EBPC spotted and released in the EBPC webstore!), in a deep ruri glaze.
In addition to working alongside Kataoka san, Thor also spent time with other legendary potters, such as: the great Koyo (Aiba Koichiro), his son Juko (Kuniaki Aiba), Ikkou (Kazuhiro Watanabi), Bigei (Hirata Atsumi) and Eimie, (Hideaki Shimizu) son of Youzan.
Towards the end of the month’s visit, as a further mark of respect, Thor was honoured by the gift of a new potter’s stamp and name. As he stands between the mountains of east and west, he has been given the name ‘熊谷 （くまたに）, or in English - kuma tani – Bear of the valley.
Dalbjörnen in Swedish :)
This new hanko / mark will be used for all future Valley Bear (Thor Holvila) pots and represents a new era of works, distinct from the ‘pre-Japan’ era. In Japan, ‘generation’ can also mean ‘era’ in this way and some Japanese potters will call themselves second generation as their work evolves markedly in this manner.
Bear retires to the valley ...
The effect of these four weeks in Valley Bear’s work will be exciting to witness. Now back home however, and before even attempting to catch up on sleep, Thor has already been busy creating more inspired pieces! ... The EBPC are very proud to welcome ‘Valley Bear’; second generation Holvila.
Thor Holvila pots are available from the EBPC web store at www.bonsai4me.com/shop
Once every year Tom Benda, Andrew Pearson and Thor Holvila meet up to make an edition of just 6 pots together which will be named and stamped after the country they choose to work in. In 2017 it was hosted by Thor in Sweden and the collection was named after the nordic rune Skräckhjälmen that symbolises the highest protection of all runes.
They are all made individually but glazed by the host. This edition of totally unique and collectible pots are all stamped with each potters chop, the Triskele stamp and the rune Skräckhjälmen.
All pots will be released and available for sale at the EBPC. Please message up here for further information and to register your interest.
A little about the pots and the potter's inspirations for them...
Thor Holvila - 'Temple'.
... After a few days we journeyed up into the mountains and the log cabin. The inspiration for this pot with its primitive carvings is inspired by the old buildings standing on the slopes of the Älvdalen valley.
Tom Benda - 'Gul'
The atmosphere in Thor's studio in Goteborg was full of inspiration from the very beginning. My muse made me remember that I've made a few simple pots from one single piece of clay, but still having everything that a bonsai pot needs - walls, bottom with drainage/and wire holes and feet. This time I just had to aim a bit higher again 😉
"One piece of clay" was a redline bounding most of the pots I made during the wonderful Triskele meeting vol.1 - Sweden 😀
Andrew Pearson - 'Waterfall'.
... This trip with my two good friends was such a brilliant time and I was out of my comfort zone on more than one occasion. Being away from all my usual tools like pottery wheel and slab roller meant that I had to make pots not in my usual way. This pot was one of those ways as this pot was carved from one single block of clay, something that I have never done before but very much enjoyed the process. Working with Thor and Tom opened up to learning new techniques which perhaps I would never have normally chosen resulting in a unique set of pots from three clay mad brothers
Thor Holvila - 'Källa'.
When we sat down and asked ourselves where to start we came up with the idea to have a waterfall as a theme. This was one of the pots that sprung out of this idea.
Tom Benda - 'Purple Bridge'
This time I began with the idea of a bridge pot, or let's say "hill forest" pot, although it's a shohin or kifu size for that forest.
While working on the body, being focused and relaxed in the same time, a possibility of making the whole thing just from the single starting piece of clay slab whispered in to my ears 😀
I love the glaze Thor applied on this prototype pot. I'm looking forward to seeing this elegant but cheeky 😁pot in use, in near future, I hope...
Andrew Pearson - 'Skräckhjälmen'
This was the first pot I made on my pilgrimage to Sweden. On the first Saturday Thor, Tom, Carina and I all sat round the table in a Saturday afternoon to make pots. I was at a total loss of what to make and with only a handful of tools I brought with me I set to work. Those of you that know my work know that I make a lot of slab built and thrown pots. So for the first one I decided to slab build and stick to what I knew. Whilst we were round the table we discussed that we should stamp each pot we make with a common mark that united the Swedish Edition and eventually with Thor’s expert guidance and knowledge of his Nordic history and his deep love of his ancient ancestry the Skräckjälmen rune was chosen. There was a theme of water waterfall that appears on some of the pots made. This derived from a simple map that Thor had drawn to show Tom and I the local area when he collected us from the airport. Thus at the table on that Saturday afternoon it was decided that we should incorporate the waterfall theme somehow in a pot we made. On this particular pot, not that you can see in the posted picture, on the rear side is my interpretation of a waterfall cascading out of the pot. The wonderful memories of this amazing trip will be around for as long as I am alive and will continue in these pots long after I am gone from this earth.
These unique pieces are for sale, please contact EBPC
The launch of the sale will be at Bonsai Europa on 7th October, however they will also be available online on that day also. If you are interested in purchasing one of these unique pieces of history, please email Alex at the EBPC to be added to the list. We will contact you again before the pots are sold.
To read about the first set produced last year, please click here.
Articles are written by Alex Rudd unless otherwise stated.