What are buddha monkies?
Taking inspiration from travels, different cultures, dreams and stories, Anji Ceramics creates playful pottery embodying both tranquillity and childish vibes. Each piece is one of a kind, carefully hand-crafted in Taipei.
Anji is a ceramics artist from Ukraine. Since a young age she has travelled around the world with her family, living in different countries. In 2014, when doing an exchange program in Japan, she discovered the world of ceramics and has been in love with it ever since.
We asked Anji a few questions about her work...
How long have you been making pottery? What made you want to start?
I’ve been making pottery for 5 years now. actually, I previously I had never thought about making pottery, it always intimidated me. I thought it’s one of those things that you either have to become a master at or not start at all. However, I had a chance to try it at my university in Japan, and I realised that it’s actually not that hard. Anyone can do it and it will look beautiful because it will have that person’s essence. I continued to make pottery because I became obsessed with making everything in my house out of pottery, and because I enjoy making pieces for other people.
What is it about monkeys and Buddha’s that inspires you?
I’ve loved monkeys ever since I can remember! They are cute and playful. I always thought it would be fun to be a monkey.
But as far as Buddhism goes, I became inspired by all the temples in Japan. The peaceful atmosphere and the smell of incense. I remember specifically when I was in Nara, Japan, I was really inspired by the big Buddha there. He had so much curly hair and it was very intriguing for me to draw, so I kept doodling it during class. Also Nara is known for all the deer that walk around it. They are seen as Buddha’s messengers and you can buy souvenirs of Buddha in deer form everywhere. Little cute Buddha’s with deer antlers. I think it was sometime after visiting this town that I subconsciously started doodling Buddha monkeys.
I am always inspired by philosophies of different cultures, it helps me stay grounded when playing around with clay.
You often paint on your ceramics, what is it about the colour blue that makes it keep appearing in your paint pallet?
Certain Japanese styles of pottery are not so colourful. In my school we only had black, blue, and brown to paint with. It was a type of mineral that we had to mix with green tea and then paint over the pottery. At some point I became particularly attracted to blue. The style of painting with blue over white porcelain is called “sometsuke” in Japanese. I think this style is very calming, yet sometimes the artwork can be quite bizarre and comical. The same goes for crazy monkeys and meditating Buddhas, it seems like I am attracted to this balance of looniness and tranquillity.
You’ve lived in Taiwan for two years now and previously lived in Japan, do you think your experience of living in these countries has influenced your work, how?
For sure! Japanese pottery has the concept of perfect imperfection which I love, but ironically enough it's not as easy to achieve. The pottery isn’t perfectly smooth and symmetrical, that’s what makes it special.
In Taiwan the style is pretty different. One of my biggest inspirations here is the delicious Taiwanese tea. I’ve been making more items to use for tea ceremonies and I am constantly inspired by the lush nature here. Studying under a Taiwanese pottery master is still one of my dreams.
You’ve started teaching ceramic classes, how is that going and what is it about your practise that you hope to share with others?
My biggest inspiration is to share with everyone relaxation through ceramics. I would always invite people to come to the studio with me, chatting and teaching them along the way. Hearing my friends express how they are able to relax through the clay makes me incredibly happy. It is truly a meditative experience. By teaching classes I hope more and more people can come and spend their afternoon in a chill way, making new friends, and taking something they made home with them.