Janet Mansfield, a close friend of mine and also a dear friend of Fuping Pottery Art Village passed away in April, 2013. I was planned to go to Gulgong, her Clay Push activity, to see her the last time but it was still too late. This is my life time regret.
I first met Janet in Taipei in 1997. In a children’s work room where many young children are learning to do clay work. I also met Mr. Tony Ye who was the editor of the Taiwan ceramic magazine “The Fire” invited her to Taiwan. We agreed to visit the Snake Kiln next day in southern Taiwan, where there was a woodfire workshop. The next day we drove all the way to Nantou, the Shuili town in the mountains and met a bit rain. Janet stayed there but I returned to Taipei for some other business.
The second time I met Janet in China is in Hangshou in 1998. We both were invited to attend the first Biennial of China Youth Ceramic Exhibition. We had a long talk about the ceramics in China and my magazine, the Chinese Potters Newsletter. She invited me to join the IAC as a member in the category of magazine publisher. I also invited her to visit Fuping Pottery Art Village.
In 2000, during the grand opening of the Taiwan Yinge Museum, we met again in Yinge, Taiwan. At that year I also joined the IAC as a member, so I met her more often in many international ceramic events. It includes the NCECA meeting in the U.S. which is once a year. But our close relationship started in 2004 when I first propose the International Ceramic magazine editors symposium in Fuping. Janet shown great interest and pushed us to form The Fuping Declaration in which 8 editors signed and formed the ICMEA (International Ceramic Magazine Editors Association). Fuping is ICMEA’s permanent location. The Fuping Pottery Art Village generous decide to let ICMEA to use the Dome Hall for all ICMEA exhibitions. It has the permanent location in Fuping and hold meeting once every three years in Fuping. An emerging artist exhibition (changed to competition in 2007) will be held during the convention. All editors of the ceramic magazine are members. It elected terms president once in three years. And the first term president (2004-2007) will be held during the convention. All editors of the ceramic magazine are members. It elected term president once in three years. And the first term president (2004-2007) was Janet Mansfield. 2004 also is the year Fuping Pottery Art Village established the FuLe International Ceramic Art Museums (FLICAM) and first few ceramic art museums such as the French Museum, the Scandinavia Museum and the Australasia Museum (Australia and New Zealand) were continuously been build. Janet came to the Australian Residency program and made art work for the Museum.
In 2007, ICMEA was in good shape. We not only held 2nd ICMEA Conference but we started to have Emerging Artists Competition with good price award. Janet’s term presidentship smoothly handed to the German editor Bernd Pfannjuche but Janet was still busy in Fuping because of the 44th IAC General Assembly meeting would be held in Xian, China and it was prepared by Fuping Pottery Art Village and Janet was the one directed and helped a lot to have this event successfully done.
So by 2010, we had enough experience and the 3rd ICMEA Conference was progressed smoothly. Janet was just finished the IAC 45th General Assembly meeting in September in Paris and came to Fuping in November for the last check of the 3rd ICMEA conference. At that time we run into a problem when Jingdezhen Ceramic School suddenly pull out as a partner to conduct the 3rd ICMEA meeting. Janet asked us to keep cool and do as much as we can. For the after meeting tour, we have to move a big group, about 70 delegates, to visit Jingdezhen and Longquan. Longquan helped us by sending a tour bus to pick us up from Jingdezhen to Longquan and few days later sent us back to Shanghai. We did it successfully and everyone liked the trip. Janet’s leadership played an important role. During this Fuping trip, she asked me whether I want go to her Australia Gulgong meeting. She was debating whether she should have that activity again. We hope someone can take it over but it is difficult. I mentioned that year we will also have our 4th ICMEA meeting and we will have it for sure. Janet mentioned that we should think about what we could do more to the ceramic world.
In 2005 I know Janet quite well and I see her travelling world timelessly so when I first joined her Gulgong activity, I visited her Morning View compound. I suggested her to find helper but she told me it is very difficult to find one to fit her place and her. I suggest her to find one from China but the problem with that is the language not even to talk about the suitability of personality. But I still tell her I will keep this in mind. In Beijing I knew a lady, Ms. Fan, very well and she owns a gallery in Beijing in the 798 Art District. She is also a poet. I mentioned it to her that I am looking for some lady to go to Australia to take care Janet. She has met Janet because one time I had a ceramic show at Fan’s place Janet went there to view the show. Ms. Fan immediately told me she could find one. Just the next day she told me that her elder sister would be a good candidate. She said that English could be learned from crash course and then gradually learned from working but the important thing is whether Janet like her sister and family or not. To Ms. Fan personality is more important than anything else. Janet also agree her thinking. So, she asked Ms. Fan was there any way she could meet her and talk with her. Ms. Fan said her sister was still in their home town in Hielongjiang province near Russian border. It will take 2 hours flight or almost one day train ride. Ms. Fan told her that there was a national resort area called Jlngpei Lake and national forest. It happen to be that Janet did have some time and she decided to go. So I accompanied her with Ms. Fan flew to Mudanjiang and car to Shitouzhan in Ning An. We had a boat ride on Jingpei Lake first next to beautiful pine forest. We met Fan’s elder sister and her family. Fan’s sister has a daughter could speak few English. Immediately we know that she can learn English very quick. We had about one hour visit. Afterward, Janet told me that she is prepared that if she want Fan’s sister she has to take their whole family and she did not mind that at all because her husband can do work in Janet’s big estate. Janet told me that she liked Fan’s sister and the daughter but did not feel comfortable about her husband. I told her that she had to like them 100%. There was no chance to take. So, that trip was in vain and Janet went back to Australia and did not say anything but thought it was a good try.
About half year later, Ms. Fan told me that she had another candidate for Janet. This time she was her younger sister Weijun and her husband Dapeng Want they both worked at Fan’s gallery and were important to the gallery because Wang was doing frame for the gallery and Weijun watched the gallery when Ms. Fan was busy or needed to go out. During the next trip Janet came to China, I told her the news and she met the young couple and like them both and decided to have them both to go to Australia. But immediately she ran into immigration problem. She had to find a way to let them into Australia. We thought of many ways and finally we both agree the best way was still apply as a ceramic person to help Janet. And his wife will come along. So I had her husband Dapeng came to my studio for training for a period of time and then I wrote a recommendation letter to Janet. That application was approved about a year later they both started working at Morning View. Mr. Wang helped Janet working in her studio and also took care of the big compound. Weijun helped with the house work and also the cooking. In less than two years their English basically could communicate with Janet and her family. Last year Weijun had a baby but Janet started sick and passed away this year. So when I first heard about Janet’s death, I called Ms. Fan and asked her to write a poem to memorialize Janet. She told me that her sister told him already and that night she already wrote a poem. So I asked her to email me and I would like to translate it into English. I also asked my daughter Darien Hsu Gee to improve my translation. She is a writer and did a good job.
Dr I Chi Hsu is Permanent Secretary of the International Ceramic Magazines Editors Assn. ICMEA
The wind still blows from the sea
The clouds still pass by in the sky
Grass grows and sleeps through each season
Where did you go?
Death does not announce your departure
Nor do we suffer in sorrow
For you always
Encounter challenges with heartfelt laughter
Life takes on its own temperature
It warms you
And offers light to the world too
Your story will pass between fire and earth
Your faith a shining star
For those walking the night road.
Whenever the fire of the earth kiln burn
You will be together with us.