17/11/2018

Fine Work

  This double page spread is particularly interesting for its use of bokashi—graded colour:  green in the foreground, blue for the sea and a reddish hue in the sky.The intense black is achieved by double printing the areas of black and then burnishing them.
A steady hand....
Recently I had occasion to go into a Charity Shop.  These days there are one or two in any big town and even in some smaller communities, too.  I was, however, not prepared for such a surprise.

There on a revolving bookstand were some Japanese books.  And old ones to boot.

A night scene at Miyajima’s Itsukushima.
The book that caught my eye first was a pre-war English language guidebook on woodblock prints.  I already have a number of these comprehensive volumes, some of which contain delicately coloured illustrations—the impression is of a well crafted book, not just a tourist publication.  The booklets published in the 1930s have a semi-transparent glassine wrapper, not unlike greaseproof paper or a medium grade of tracing paper.

The title of this unexpected find is Japanese Woodblock Prints, published in 1938.  It is number 24 in the “tourist library” collection and presents a number of black and white illustrations of woodblock prints as well as some in colour.  I am guessing they are lithographs.

In essence the booklet traces the history of this consummate Japanese art form.  One of the prints depicted is captioned “Ethereal Beauty of Itukusima Under the Starlight” based on an original print dating from 1928 by Hasui Kawase.  Many will recognise the Torii gate of the shrine at Miyajima, unusually depicted at night using blues and greys as well as an aptly identified ethereal pale green for the sky and the surface of the sea.  I just had to have this volume.

Text falls like rain on this double page spread, and becomes part of the overall composition.
Alongside the tourist guidebook was a storybook with the most exquisite illustrations and with text often completely filling the spaces around the images.  Dating from the 1870s, it appears to be a collection of tragic tales illustrated in black and white with occasional double page spreads in colour.

The tasteful colour palette is as interesting as the composition.  The pattern of the woman’s kimono is expressed by over printing.
At the collar there is an example of blind printing to produce an embossed effect.
Are the images printed from a wooden block?  I do not have the knowledge or skill to be able to answer that question.  However, Steve, a friend who dealt in woodblock prints for many years, feels certain that the illustrations are woodblock prints.  This includes the colour images.  The existence of what is known as gauffrage or blind printing on one of the colour spreads would at least confirm the use of a block of some kind.  But how much of the writing and black and white illustrations are from woodblock prints is unconfirmed at present.

Figures and pattern tumble across pages and foster a feeling of tension and drama, the like of which can be found in modern manga comics.
Steve also pointed out that although such illustrations were the work of an original artist—in this case Kunichika—it is the cutters of the blocks who are the unsung heroes of this art—the fineness of the lines even on a bigger print are perfect.  And, what would they have done without wild cherry wood from which to make the blocks.

Examples of fine lacquerware decoration from Wajima.  A steady hand and highly developed hand and eye skills needed.
What does all of this have to do with the Noto Peninsula and Wajima’s famous lacquerware.  Surely the connection is the delicacy of the illustrations in my purchases and a similar display of outstanding hand-and-eye skills that are employed in the decoration of pieces of lacquerware.  Both are fine work.

Example of bokashi effect on a piece of lacquerware.
Bill Tingey Photo © Copyright
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14/11/2018

Exhibition Notice



Lacquer Friends of the World

This exhibition will be held at The Museum of Lacquer Art Münster in honour of Dr. Monika Kopplin who will be retiring.

With contacts across the world, Dr. Kopplin has seen some of the best pieces of lacquer ware and art, and a number of piece will be on show, including some by Takashi Wakamiya and Hikoju Makie.

Private View by invitation only on November 25th.
Open to the public from November 26th 2018 to February 24th 2019


Hikoju Makie Photo © Copyright


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29/10/2018

Old or New?



A tea caddy with age
When I first saw this tea caddy I was confused.  “Is it old or is it new” I thought. Knowing that it was going to be exhibited at an antique fair in Hong Kong, I began to think it was old.  Nevertheless I decided that it was not ‘old’ as in antique but old enough to be called ‘vintage’.

It was the colouring, the design of the flowers and their rendering, which made me think it was a piece from the 1920s or there about.

This was a period in Japan when ideas from the West were still very fashionable but somehow had an awkwardness that traditional Japanese art and craft did not have, displaying instead a confidence and unshakable authenticity.

This eclectic and uneasy balance continued until the 1940s and 50s when Japan more readily embraced Western culture but this time with a confidence to display a homegrown vitality instead of something rather artificial.

On reading the notes Takashi Wakamiya had sent me, however, I soon realised that this caddy was new and of considerable interest.  It was made and decorated by Takashi’s workshop, Hikoju Makie in Wajima.

The way the lacquer was applied also seemed to be saying ‘vintage’.  And then there was the ‘glitter’.  And the combination of colours, too, I thought gave it a very particular character—ever so slightly dusty but gleaming nevertheless.  The blue was certainly a surprise.

It is not unusual for a very old piece of Japanese lacquerware to look ‘new’, simply because the finish is so perfect and the motifs are timeless.  But this caddy has a very particular presence.  It was not a surprise to hear that it was snapped up by a hungry collector on the first day of the fair in Hong Kong.

Although the glitter was reminiscent of the kind of gold or silver makie work that is often seen on traditional true lacquerware emerging from Japanese workshops, this was different.

Samples of finish using Kyocera gemstone grains.Photo Copyright © Bill Tingey

Takashi made use of Kyocera’s artificial gemstone technology to obtain the look he wanted.  Fine grains of opal were used and then, a number of samples were made culminating in this tea ceremony tea caddy—looks vintage but is consummately new, expressing more than just the present.

Do feel free to pass on the address of this blog to anyone you think will be interested.  Or share it on a social media site.  Should you wish to leave a comment, please do so by clicking on the comment mark at the bottom left of this or any of the other posts.   If you have found this blog interesting, why not become a follower.  Thank you.

10/10/2018

Exhibition Notice


The Artistry and Craft of True Lacquer  Exhibition at Takashimaya in Osaka

Hikoju Makie, Takashi Wakamiya:  The Artistry and Craft of True Lacquer
For the past 12,600 years the art and craft of true lacquer has developed along with the people of Japan.  But what of the future?  Our aim is to create works symbolic of the present while linking the past, present and future of this truly remarkable material.  Please take this opportunity of seeing some of our work at this exhibition, which is being staged at Takashimaya in Osaka.

This incense clock is a devise for measuring time with incense.  As the incense smoulders and turns to ash part of one’s like is gone.  This “fragrance time piece” helps us to become more aware of how long we are alive and how time is passing.

Takashi Wakamiya, Hikoju Makie

The incense clock measures 24x24cm and stands 29cm high.  The panels represent the four seasons with appropriate landscapes rendered in a traditional makie technique.

The Artistry and Craft of True Lacquer
6F Gallery, Osaka Takashimaya
5-1-5 Nanba, Chuo Ward, Osaka 542-8510

The exhibition runs from 17th to 23rd October
On Friday 19th and Saturday 20th the gallery will be open until 20:30 but will close at 16:00 on 23rd.
From 14:00 on Wednesday 17th, Saturday 20th and Sunday 21st some of the work on display will be explained.

彦十蒔絵(Hikoju Makie)
企画・広報・海外窓口(Planning, public relations and overseas window
高禎蓮(Wawa / Kao, Chen-Lien)
Mobile:+81-90-2375-9093
Address: 1-188, Kekachidaira-machi, Wajima City, Ishikawa, Japan

彦十蒔絵 若宮隆志展 ~漆芸の可能性~

漆は12,600年もの昔から日本人とともに今日まで発展してきました。
その漆を未来へ繋げるために平成の時代を象徴するような作品を目標に取り組んでおります。
大阪での初の個展となります。どうぞこの機会に御高覧賜りますようお願い申しあげます。

香時計は香りで時間を計る道具ですが、お香が燃えて灰になる事で自分の生きる時間が消えて無くなると感じました。今生きている時間を再認識する為に制作いたしました。
「香時計」/四季山水図 布目象嵌蒔絵 24 ×24 ×H29.5cm

会期:20181017日(水)~23日(火)
場所:髙島屋大阪店6階美術画廊
542-8510 大阪市中央区難波5-1-5
営業時間:10:00am~20:00
1019日(金)、20日(土)は20:30まで
*最終日は16:00まで

*列品説明:1017日(水)、20日(土)、21日(日)各日14:00~

18/09/2018

Masterpiece Collection 2018 Exhibition Notice


A display of both traditional and contemporary true lacquerware products and a great opportunity to see a demonstration of traditional makie techniques during the show.

Recognised as “the world’s leading cross-collection fair”, The Masterpiece Collection 2018 will be held in Vienna at the Grand Hotel Wein from the 21st September.  Details below.

Representing some of the very best examples of true lacquerware from Japan will be the Shioyasu Urushi Kobo, a family run business established in 1851 and now lead by Shin’ichi Shioyasu, the Managing Director.

We produce a great variety of tableware and other decorative items using true lacquer, known in Japan as urushi.

Our workshop and showroom are in Wajima, which is situated on the Japan Sea coast of the Noto Peninsula, almost due north of Tokyo.

The city is well-known as a centre for the production of Wajima lacquerware, which is renowned for its quality, decorative techniques and durability.

This year we are very proud to be able to take part in the Masterpiece Collection 2018 in Vienna.

We will be exhibiting a wide range of items—some used in a Japanese tea ceremony while others are contemporary pieces of tableware.

There will also be a demonstration of the makie technique on our stand.  Simply speaking this involves the use of gold and silver chips and powders, which are sprinkled onto true lacquer before it hardens.


Demonstrating some of the individual makie techniques will be Junnosuke Kawayachi, who was born in Wajima in 1981.  He is the fifth generation of a very long line of makie artist/craftsmen in his family.

Junnosuke became an apprentice under a Wajima makie master when he was 18 years old and then struck out on his own at the age of 25.  He therefore represents the future of makie work in Wajima.

The Masterpiece Collection 2018 will be a great opportunity to see authentic pieces of Wajima lacquerware and to meet some of the craft’s experts.

We have some invitations to the exhibition for 22nd and 23rd September, so if you would like one, please let me know by 15th September.

We are very much looking forward to meeting you at Masterpiece Collection 2018.  Our stand will be located to the left of the exhibition venue.

Shin’ichi Shioyasu
Director, Shioyasu Urushi Ware

Masterpiece Collection 22nd and 23rd September 2018

Grand Hotel Wien
Kärntner Ring 9
A-1010 Wein

Receptionby invitation only from 19:00 21st September.
22nd & 23rd September 10:30 - 19:00

Masterpiece Collection (German)
http://masterpiece-collection.com/ausstellung/

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10/09/2018

Exhibition Notice—Wako, Ginza, Tokyo



Collaboration—Exhibition Notice
This exhibition of collaborative work is being held at Wako Department Store in Tokyo.
The rabbits are the work of three individuals:  Takashi Wakamiya was in charge of the true lacquer work giving the red and black rabbits their distinctive high-gloss lacquer finish.  The original forms in wood were carved by Arisa Oguro.  And the ceramic form to which the true lacquer was applied was made by Seiko Wakasugi.

If nothing else, collaborative work such as this is perhaps a new “tradition”.  But of course this work is so much more as it creates what perhaps one individual could not easily make.  It is perhaps part of the future.

This exhibition is on from Friday 14th September until Monday 24th September (Only open until 17:00 on 24th)

More information in Japanese is available at the site below.  Some information is also available in English (machine translation) from the same site.



This is a joint piece of work by Haruo Mitsuda (metalwork for the butterfly), Chikuunsai Tanabe (bamboo work) and Takashi Wakamiya (lacquerwork) for Hikoju Makie Workshop. 


Do feel free to pass on the address of this blog to anyone you think will be interested.  Or share it on a social media site.  Should you wish to leave a comment, please do so by clicking on the comment mark at the bottom left of this or any of the other posts.   If you have found this blog interesting, why not become a follower.  Thank you.

06/09/2018

On Route 249


By the Road
Driving around the Noto Peninsula is a delight.  First of all, there is very little traffic.  The roads are well maintained and the signage is good.  Besides being in Japanese, place names are also displayed in Roman letters.  Anyway, these days a SatNav will keep you on the right road to your desired destination.

North along Route 249 is where the Sea of Japan battles the craggy edge of the Noto Peninsula.
Then there is the scenery.  Route 249 north from Wajima, for instance, follows the coast and provides a variety of views of the Sea of Japan, which tends to be rough or at least has a swell with breaking waves.  In the winter it can be very rough though.

Buoy-o-buoy—family fun beside Route 249.
Buoy-o-buoy—an installation worthy of a second look beside Route 249.
Without reaching the northern tip of the peninsula, Route 249 turns east and negotiates a steeply rising loop in the road.  It is a surprise to suddenly find yourself high above the coast and traversing a bridge across a deep valley, which runs down to the sea.

The Kuromaru House is a tribute to the ageless skills of the carpenter.
After passing through a tunnel the road gradually descends and passes close to where the Kuromaru House stands.  This folk house deserves a post to itself.  And will get one in due course.

A little further down Route 249 we come into Suzu.  It is here that the FunaAsobi Gallery occupies and old farmhouse, which is definitely worth a visit. (Search FunaAsobi Gallery on from Noto.  Closed November to April Tel: +81 (0)768-82-3960)

But quite soon this major route turns south and begins to skirt the eastern coast of the peninsula.  More views of the sea ensue but this time it is the calmer waters of the sea proper and the almost enclosed, often mirror-like expanse of Nanao Bay.  Much further on, Route 249 becomes Route 159 and continues southward to Kanazawa.  Before that it is possible to join Route 1 and to wend your way back north to Wajima where you can reflect on all that you have seen.  And to even have a bit of a chuckle perhaps.

“I am sorry for any inconvenience caused”.
Bill Tingey Photo © Copyright

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