St Ives and Mashiko sign declaration of friendship
ON Thursday 20th September 2012 the Mayor of St Ives, Mr Ron Tulley and his counterpart in the Japanese town of Mashiko, Mr Tomoyuki Otsuka signed a declaration of friendship and cultural collaboration in a ceremony at the St Ives Guildhall. The event was attended by more than 50 people from both towns, representing local businesses, the arts community, education and the local authority.
The ceremony opened at 11am with a bagpiper heralding the arrival of the two mayors who entered the council chamber to the tune of St Ives Well Procession. Lady Carol Holland, former chairman of the Leach Pottery, opened with a speech which outlined the long history of the friendship between the two towns, starting with the founding of the Leach Pottery in St Ives by Bernard Leach and Shoji Hamada and continuing through to the restoration of the Leach Pottery in 2008, when Mashiko’s population raised more than £7.5k towards the rebuild. In March 2011, following the devastating earthquake in Japan, the Leach Pottery and St Ives reciprocated by launching an appeal to raise funds to rebuild Mashiko’s beleaguered pottery industry. In total £34k was collected from around the world, with much support from the pottery community in particular, and sent to the Mashiko Potters’ Foundation. In the winter of 2011, following a unanimous decision by St Ives Town Council, a letter of support was sent by the Mayor of St Ives to the Mayor of Mashiko extending the hand of friendship and suggesting that the friendship should be formalised. Bringing the towns of St Ives and Mashiko together in this way is not a new idea and has been discussed within the two communities for more than a decade.
Following the ceremony the Mashiko delegation and representatives from St Ives and the Leach Pottery, including the Mayor, headed to London where the Japanese Ambassador to Great Britain hosted a reception at the Japanese Embassy to mark the union of the two towns. The evening was attended by over 100 people with speeches from the ambassador and from both Mayor Ron Tulley and Mayor Otsuka. The highlight was when the two mayors and the ambassador, dressed in traditional Japanese hapi jackets, ceremonially broke open a sake keg with wooden mallets. (Click here for more details)
The cultural collaboration has got off to a flying start with a visit to St Ives last week from 12 Mashiko school children, aged 13 to 14 years, who spent two days with St Ives school children, taking lessons and sharing stories about their respective countries. That same week the Leach Pottery welcomed its first apprentice from Mashiko. Yumi Seko, who has for four years assisted Shoji Hamada’s grandson, Tomoo at his pottery studio in Mashiko, joins the St Ives team for a 12 month stay. Next June, Tomoo Hamada himself returns to the Leach Pottery for a week long residency and solo exhibition. Plans are now afoot to for return visits to Mashiko and for ways in which to extend the collaboration further into the two communities. Anyone who is interested in becoming involved with the collaboration should contact Julia Twomlow at the Leach Pottery on firstname.lastname@example.org .