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
Articles are written by Alex Rudd unless otherwise stated.