These tea ware in the pictures are made in Singapore. They are not only made in Singapore but the clay also comes from Singapore. The potter is Kim Whye Kee.
Kim was involved in bad company during his younger days and was incarcerated when he was 18 years old. He picked up pottery making while in prison and his passion for this craft intensified when he was released. He took up a full time course in pottery, graduated with a degree in fine arts in 2013, and now is a proprietor of Qi Pottery. He owns a small electric klin in his apartment to create his own works and hold small classes for the public to learn pottery.
The local newspaper, The Straits Times, on 10 Jan 2016 published an article about him. Written by Ng Hui Wen, I attached an excerpt from the article:
"One collaborative work on display was a mixed-media installation titled Family Dinner.
It was created by the exhibition's artist-in-residence and potter Kim Whye Kee and 10 inmates from the Visual Arts Hub at the Changi Prison Complex.
The piece was inspired by an inmate's experience behind bars, and depicts his longing for a simple family dinner.
"Every inmate hopes to go home to his family. It was usually the first thought I would have when the handcuffs were around my hands," said the 36-year-old Kim, who went in and out of jail for about a decade after getting involved in gangs and drugs from the age of 18.
"I dreamt of going home for a simple meal with my father. But six months before I was released, he passed away from cancer. It was too late," he said.
After his father's death in 2007, Mr Kim picked up pottery in prison, which gave him the peace and motivation he needed following his father's death.
In the installation, which he has dedicated to his parents and sister, he placed a lone chair facing three cracked rice bowls on a dining table. Each bowl was carved with messages that could be seen only through their reflections on the table.
"It's like a person sitting there, thinking about what to say to his family during dinner," he said.
"Sometimes, we feel pai seh (Hokkien for embarrassed) and the words just don't come out."
Also featured were 14 other ceramic bowls which were smashed and mended back together.
"I put the pieces back together using clay and gold paint. I wanted to show the inmates that even though they've made mistakes, their family and the community will always offer them a second chance," he said.
Three years ago, Mr Kim, who was released in 2008, graduated with a degree in fine arts from Lasalle College of the Arts with the support of his mother, who worked as a cleaner, as well as his sister and the Yellow Ribbon Project. Mr Kim now runs pottery workshops in his own studio."
I had visited Kim at his workshop/studio and I could tell that he was passionate about his craft. He took time to me to explain the various clays he had used and tested for his works. He had even bought clays from Australia and UK to experiment making tea ware with these clay. He had, a couple of months ago, wanted to used local clay to make tea ware and I had requested him to sell me one of these "Singapore teapots" when it was ready. Kim completed making the Singapore teapots in September. As you can see from the 2nd/3rd pix, Kim had created a series of gaiwans and kyusu-styled teapots. Kim explained that this clay was dug up in Tampines (an area in Singapore) 30 years ago and was stored away by his local pottery teacher. Kim managed to get a few clay packets. In Kim's own words:
"This clay is quite rough to work and instead of burnishing it, I decided to keep the characteristics of this clay, staying true to its look and feel. No glaze for this ware but if you look carefully, the body is slightly flushed and each pot will be unique"
I purchased one of the kyusu teapot and the 4th pix showed the teapot photographed under yellow lighting while the other 2 pix below were taken under natural lighting.
If any reader is interested to know more about Kim and and his works, you may visit his website (link) to get more details.
I wish Mr Kim the very best in his pottery business.