Aaron Scythe


Aaron Scythe is both a painter and ceramist.

In 1995 Scythe went to Japan to study Shino and wood firing techniques in Mino and at the end of that year he returned to Japan to study under the avant-garde, contemporary ceramic artist Koie Ryōiji.

The sixteen years he spent living in Japan and Japanese traditions such as Mingei and Chadōgu (tea ceremony wares) greatly influenced the philosophical approach and techniques which can be seen in Scythe’s work today. He opts for the aesthetics and making techniques of the ‘tea world’ which have their beginnings in the Momoyama period in Japan.

Scythe’s current work reflects both his New Zealand and Māori heritage, his passion for Japanese ceramic traditions and the long time he spent living in Japan. It expresses the Oribe (after tea master Futura Oribe1544–1615) way of working: an aesthetic of flawed beauty and his own desire to “…bring Momoyama Mino ware into the 21st century…”.

The beautiful Hikidashi-Guro (which translates as “pulled out black”) Winter Tea Bowls with their landscape imagery pay homage to these humble Japanese traditions. So do his many other bowl forms (tea, winter tea, donburi, rice), plates, dishes, Sake bottles, Teapots and Seuss vases made with their varied clays (earthenware, stoneware, porcelain), glazes and firing techniques.

The text, symbolism and imagery Scythe uses on his work is a synthesis of both Japanese culture and Māori proverbs and the words of Māori prophets.

"Tui tui tuia- sew sew sew together, it’s a Rātana quote but I think it reflects on how I am trying to sew all my influences feeling inspiration and new home land together into my pieces".

He aims to produce work that is affordable, functional and aesthetically beautiful. “...something that is not made in a factory, but something that has feeling and soul, hopefully to be felt by the user of the work, a connection of maker and user and accessible to all…”

Scythe has had over 60 solo exhibitions in Japan.  His work has also been widely shown in both New Zealand and Australia and is held in private collections around the world. He returned to New Zealand in 2011 following the Fukushima disaster.


1971     Born Auckland New Zealand

1986     Worked as slip-caster, Halls Industries, Auckland

1988     Studied at Carrington polytech, craft and design course

1989     Moved to Sydney, studied at East Sydney Technical Ceramic School, discovered Momoyama


1993     Worked at Sturt Craft Center, Mittagong, NSW, Australia.

            Self-directed study; built and fired first Anagama kiln, experimented and developed Shino


1995     Visited Japan to further knowledge, visited two potters working in the Mino style, influenced by

            Kizeto and Oribe

1997     Rented studio in Mashiko. Began working in porcelain; Oribe-Kizeto techniques. Built and

            fired a second Anagama kiln

2006     Permanent Kiln and studio, Mashiko 

2011     Returned to New Zealand following the Fukushima meltdown

2012     Studio/workshop Te Aroha

2014     Studio/workshop Whanganui                                                                            

            Continuing to exhibit nationally and internationally