The Mountain Plaza/山の広場®Ceramic Amphitheater Art Center
The Mountain Plaza (Yama No Hiroba, 山の広場 in Japanese) is a self-sponsored ceramic amphitheater project that is an experiment in social landscape design and an example of how a community works together over a period of time to construct a space for public use. The Mountain Plaza is located in the mountains of Mihama, Chita Peninsula, on the main island of Honshu, Japan.
What would a fired earthen space feel like?
In 2000 we posed ourselves this question. Since then The Mountain Plaza Amphitheater Project has evolved from one question to over 16 years of work. From 4 hands to over 4,000. From a sculpture into a community movement.
This site-specific installation consists of a stage area 4.4 m x 6 m. The focus of this project is the acoustic shell, or back wall for the amphitheater 3.6m x13m x 7m made, dried and fired in its entirety on site. The acoustic shell was made from 15 kg. blocks of raw clay pounded into one massive form resembling a giant shell or wave. Clay blocks were pounded from August 15th, 2002 to May 9th, 2004. Totaling 60 tons of clay in 633 days.
After the form was complete, we extended the surrounding scaffolding to make room for the construction of the kiln. For the first time the shape was viewable, however the raw clay was covered from the sun, winds and rain.
From 2004 to 2014 approximately two hundred tons of recycled refractory brick were built into a kiln surrounding the clay acoustic shell.
Eight years of construction and the kiln reached 3 meters in height.
Friend and kiln master Terada Yasuo and his son Teppei taught us the craft of arch building using local bamboo.
Finally, after ten years, the kiln is complete totaling 4.5 meters in height and is ready to fire.
Between July 22nd and August 30th, thanks to the support of 50 people, 12 hybrid gas/kerosene burners and 40 tons of recycled wood we were able to fire the kiln for forty days to temperatures reaching 1,200 Celsius (2,192 Fahrenheit).
Ten years to build, one year to take down.
As we continue our work, several revelations have become obvious. We are constructing the Mountain Plaza as artists, parents, and people of this community. As artists, this work has challenged our spirit. The bigger the artistic challenge, the greater the faith which is required to meet that calling. As parents, we watch how the clay embodies the seasons, the passing phases of our children’s maturation, and how time focused on one contiuous project has captured family finger prints and memories. As humans, we hope that we are contributing to a community by building a space for all members to experience; a space rooted in human labor and housed in the forest for future generations to discover and enjoy.
From sixty tons of clay pounded into one form, surrounded by a 200 ton kiln that took 10 years to complete, and finally fired for 40 days to over 1200 C (2200F). Now the acoustic fired earthen wall stands like a living extension of the ground upon which it has grown. The Mountain Plaza / 山の広場 ® Ceramic Amphitheater Art Center is an outdoor space for the consilience of art, science and human expression.
Since October 23rd, 2016 The Mountain Plaza / 山の広場 Ceramic Amphitheater Art Center is an international site in rural Japan devoted to art.
For more information: https://www.yamanohiroba.com/