Benjamin Ho, “PotterBen”
Picton, NSW, Australia

My bonsai pottery journey began back in 2006, when I started attending bonsai classes with the School of Bonsai in the northern suburbs of Sydney. Shortly after, I became inspired by seeing a bonsai pot market stall by Pat Kennedy at the Ideas Summit, a bonsai conference hosted by the school. I approached Pat and asked him to teach me how to make bonsai pots, and he responded by directing me to obtain a Certificate III in ceramics to get the basics, before coming back to him. I did just that, studying at Gymea TAFE part-time for 2 years, and my interest in pottery grew.

As I progressed, I started craving more specialised skills, particularly in production making. In 2014, I went to Japan for 6 weeks, where I lived and worked full-time in a traditional production pottery. There, I refined my skills and learnt how to achieve consistency in forms, by creating functional tableware under the guidance of a twelfth-generation pottery master, Kato Hiroshige.

I have most recently developed an interest in the chemistry of ceramics, developing my own clay bodies and glazes, due to dissatisfaction with the limitations of relying on commercial products. I have been working to create my own clay bodies, specifically sourced from 100% Australian raw materials. I believe keeping my materials and focus local allows me to consistently develop work that is best suited to Australian native bonsai trees. I am passionate about using local products and services in all aspects of life where possible.

My training has instilled in me a respect for traditional shapes and techniques. However, my work reflects my interest in unique textures, and combining these with more experimental organic, asymmetrical shapes to create naturalistic works with elements of the traditional.

I still haven’t had my first lesson from Pat Kennedy, having reconnected at the 2017 National Bonsai Week, 10 years after our first meeting.