Akiko Hirai left Japan in the mid 1990s to come to England after working at an advertising agency in Tokyo.  Having initially worked for a UK charity organisation, she decided to enrol in an adult learning class to give her the space from the demands of the work that saw her working with disadvantaged people in need of help.  The class she chose was ceramics, and after becoming overwhelmingly intrigued by the possibilities of expression within clay, ended up being accepted for the Ceramics Degree course at Central St Martins.  

Akiko is now very much part of the leading UK studio ceramics community and has exhibited her work internationally,  Her work has a freedom and confidence that allows her to produce fluid and beautiful faceted work alongside robust, glassy, raw, complex yet simple creations.  Her life in Japan is evident in her work, but also too, a sense of broadened borizons and experience gained since her time living in the UK.  This is the third exhibition of her work at the Stratford Gallery.