As a second-generation potter, Uichiro Oya was first exposed to ceramics by his father. He studied architecture at a university but felt his designs lacked originality and personal spirit. While sitting for the required Department of Architecture exams, he was distracted by childhood recollections of his father at the potter’s wheel. These memories left him with an overpowering desire to work by his father’s side again and enticed him to return to Echizen to become a potter.
Oya’s love of arts and crafts continually steered him to gallery and museum exhibitions. One exhibition focusing on Japan’s Jomon period was particularly influential. This exhibit featured an ancient female haniwa figurine that was made as a funerary object for ritual use. Oya was deeply impressed by the animated responses viewers had for this object. He made it his goal to create work that would spur similar intense reactions.
Oya produces two lines of work, one utilitarian, the other his sculptural figurines. These sculptural pieces are captivating. One is confronted by wide-eyed, smiling, animalistic creatures that have taken up residence in his studio and on the family grounds. These toy-like figurines are created to embody lighthearted warmth. Oya fires these in his anagama with hard wood for up to a week. He feels firing without glaze gives his work natural sequences of color and surfaces: “It gives my work the
look as if it was born in nature rather than made by hand.”