Toyota Celica Tea Ceremony

This project is the result of a comission for my ceramic work, by my friend the sculptor Sean Naftel and his collaborator on this project Calder Brannock. They asked me to create a series of porcelain vessels and forms for a tea ceremony inspired by the engine block of a Toyota Celica which they were converting into a table and stove for a contemporary interpretation of the Japanese tea ceremony. It was presented by Toyota in an installation based in Washinton, D.C.

Mrs. Ritterbush, 2008, Copyright Andrew Cornell Robinson

Ceramics commission by Andrew Cornell Robinson for the "Celica Tea Ceremony," collaborative sculpture with Calder Brannock, and Sean Naftel, Toyota America, Washington DC, 2015.

Studio notes. The unique aesthetics of Japanese culture developed in part because of its geographic isolation being an island nation one hundred miles from Korea. Japanese art forms and aesthetic ideas such as the rustic nature of Wabi Sabi developed over centuries. When interactions with other cultures occurred, they influenced the traditional forms and aesthetics of Japan and their culture has influenced ours. So when I was approached about this project by my friend Sean, I was fascinated with the ideas and forms that they were exploring and was happy to oblige their request for a set of porcelain ceramic forms for the Celica Tea Ceremony.

This collaboration / commission began with a conversation with Sean. The notes of which were jotted down onto a couple of sheets of water color paper. After the initial conversation, I was left in my studio, and was looking over the notes. I think visually more often then not, so it is only natural that these pages of notes quickly transformed into drawings and then ink and water colors. They sort of led me into the forms that came to life on the potters wheel.

Eyes for You, Ceramic, Stain, Enamel, Metal, Plastic

Sean asked me to create the tea bowls so that they would fit within the hollow of a Toyota Celica's piston shaft within the engine block. I spent many hours exploring different forms on my pottery wheel and came up with several options, and settled on this set inspired by contemporary Japanese tea sets and Scandinavian mid-century modern ceramics. The small ridges around the lip of the bowls and the lids of the tea container and tea pot were a nod to the threading of the piston engine part that I was given by Sean which had a threading around its edge. The clay was left unglazed on the exterior and a cone 10 milky white glaze coats the interior of each vessel, the exterior of the whisk handle and the tip of the scoop.

Below are some other forms from this project.

Below are images of the final installation. Thank you Sean and Calder, what a wonderful project.

"Celica Tea Ceremony," by Calder Brannock, and Sean Naftel, Toyota America, Washington DC, 2015. Photograph by Calder Brannock

Detail of "Celica Tea Ceremony," by Calder Brannock, and Sean Naftel, Toyota America, Washington DC, 2015. Photograph by Erin Treacy