Who is 老橋 Lao Qiao ?
Lao Qiao is the Chinese name given to Joël van Cranenbroeck by the Director of the Surveying and Mapping Institute in Hangzhou, PR China early 2004. It means 'Honourable (old) Bridge' but has also been used to describe immigrants to America from rural China. There are several stories associated with my Chinese name and I will be happy to tell you them when we meet in my studio.
I am a Belgian Land Surveyor (Géomètre-Expert) and a humble beginner potter. I have long been fascinated by the clay material and when I was young, like many others I was playing with mud. My ancestors were farmers and so becoming a surveyor and geodesist, made sense since it's about measuring the earth while being a potter is about shaping the clay.
From my frequent travels to Asia I got addicted to tea and the next 'logical' step was to get into tea ware and ceramics. I feel like I am re-born in China for many reasons, so the shapes I do like are very much inspired by the Chinese tradition.
A first tribute I have is for Huang Zaiyun , potter in Jingdezhen who lead me on the legacy of the Chinese ceramics and how much a potter must be devoted to his work , for Shiho Kanzaki in Shigaraki - Japan who kindly welcomed and answered all my questions about the if and how and why I should pursue my passion for clay work. At the same time I visited an exhibition on Hans Copper, and was truly fascinated also not only his artworks but about the artist himself. Later I met with Jin-Hyun KIM, 2nd generation potter of Simcheon Family in South Korea who become my Master. Edna Liu from Hong Kong kindly welcomed me to my first attempt of Raku firing and keep mentoring me on design.
I am so grateful for all of them and all potters and artists I am meeting.