Hand made, unique sculptures made by Yu Kobayashi in her studio in Japan.
Using various clays and firing techniques to create an ancient, prehistoric appearance.
Dimensions: 8.5 x 16 x 10.5 cm
Materials: Clay, raku firing and glazes.
We first collaborated with the renowned Japanese ceramic artist, Yu Kobayashi in 2013, when we invited her to visit us to talk about her work. Since then we have launched several online collections, hosted an exhibition, worked with The World of Interiors magazine to feature her home and studio in Makinohara and made a short film of her work.
"With the playfulness of an outsider artist, yet with the skill and understanding of a highly crafted ceramicist - her work is surprising and unique, referencing ancient cultures from Japan to Africa"
Last year an object arrived at The Shop Floor Project from across the other side of the world from the studio of Yu Kobayashi. Wrapped in a Japanese newspaper was a letter that said “For you, a child of the last giant” and the most extraordinary small sculpture inside.
We are very lucky to often receive small gifts from Yu Kobayashi; ceramics, drawings, letters (see below), books, photographs of her travels to Africa and beyond. But there was something so utterly captivating about this piece, and co-founder Samantha Allan decided to look after it.
“It lived on my desk for several months and I held it and examined it daily, such a strange and special thing. I contacted Yu of course, to say thank you, but it wasn’t until a while later that I asked what The Child of the Last Giant was.
A few days later a book arrived at The Shop Floor Project called “The Last Giants” and Yu explained that she had purchased this magical, heart-breaking children’s book whilst on a trip to Paris over twenty years ago, and had always wanted to make a collection inspired by it.
It is a haunting fable set in the 19th century, which follows English explorer Archibald Ruthmore from the moment he purchases a giant's tooth, carved with intertwined markings that resemble a map. Recognising the area as the legendary Land of the Giants, he sets out to find this lost world.
This book and the small sculpture Yu sent began a discussion about scale and how something enormous can be contained within a small object. It led to us commissioning a collection based on the title “The Magic of Small Things”.
“A big world comes out from a small one. Children have an almost microscopic eye, kneeling down and seeing huge landscapes in tiny rocks, a small crack in the pavement becomes a mighty river and a tiny insect becomes a gigantic monster. Look closely and you will see something, meditate on the object and perhaps a magical inner world will appear in your imagination”.
With titles such as It’s the best time to Fly to I’m going to become a Fish Yu Kobayashi has given these small, ancient looking sculptures descriptions which burst with tantalising glimpses into her own mighty imagination.
Five years ago Yu Kobayashi visited us here in Cumbria and the following year we worked with The World of Interiors on a visit to her home and studio in Makinohara on Japan’s Pacific coast. There is something about Yu Kobayashi (much celebrated in Japan with several books and documentaries chronicling her way of life) that makes us certain her work will be collected and treasured for decades to come.
“We have an urge, an instinct even, to keep hold of all her work, which is really not the point of a gallery, but as collectors ourselves it is quite difficult to let some collections go, and this is one of those. But luckily we’ll always have the Child of the Last Giant to keep us company, wrapped up in crumpled paper with the title handwritten in the blue crayon that Yu Kobayashi always writes with.”