03/09/2019

Exhibition Notice


Gallery FUMI
2 Hay Hill, Mayfair, London W1J 6AS
+44 (0) 20 7490 2366


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19/07/2019

Book/Catalogue Review



URUSHI: 1,200-Years History of People and Lacquer in Japan 
This is a tome of real quality.  And it is a fitting testament to the material we know as true lacquer.  It has been used in Japan for at least 1,200 years and there are so many fine skills associated with it, it is difficult to know really where to start—they range from its use as a simple application on wood to enhance its grain and to make a wooden core more durable.  But that really is just a beginning.  The decorative techniques are numerous, engaging and of unrivalled beauty.  True lacquer can also be used as an adhesive.

The book-cum-catologue is divided in to six sections, all very well illustrated.  There are some sections dealing with true lacquer on a scientific level too.

Only one drawback.  The book is in Japanese and the only English language section is toward the back of the volume.  Here the six main sections of the book are outlined under the heading The Wonders of URUSHI:  1,200-Years History of People and Lacquer in Japan.

An introduction precedes text summarising each section.  The book is the result of Collaborative Research (exhibit type) of the National Museum of Japanese History.  “The new establishment of Urushi Cultural History based on Interdisciplinary Research” that was conducted between 2013 and 2015.

Some people may be wondering why the material is termed URUSHI as apposed to true lacquer or simply lacquer.  It seems that many people working with this natural substance fear that is might be thought that “lacquer” is a synthetic material like a paint.  This is why the Japanese word for the material is so often used in the hope that it will not be mistaken for a synthetic concoction.

The six sections are headlined in the following way:
1. Urushi Trees and Lacquer Culture
2. Techniques of Lacquer
3. Life with Lacquer
4. Lacquer and Power
5. Lacquer on the Move
6. The Present and Future of Lacquer

Anyone who is even only vaguely interested in true lacquer, is properties, attributes, history and uses will find this book a-must-have volume.  Even without any knowledge of Japanese, a page by page examination of the book is thoroughly recommended.

1,200-Years History of People and Lacquer in Japan, published by the National Museum of Japanese History, 2017
ISBN978-4-86195-140-4 C0621 


URUSHI ふしぎ物語人と漆の1,200年史―

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22/06/2019

Exhibition Notice


Simon Starling work at lie-de-france

This exhibition spotlights the work of Simon Starling supported by the true lacquer artisans of the Shioyasu Studio in Wajima on the Noto Peninsula.  The impression is of Sakamoto Masahiko, a true lacquer artisan working at his table.  The mask is in the style of a Noh theatre mask.


Click on the link for more details.


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.

11/06/2019

Exhibition Notice



The Pleasures of Makie

An exhibition of lacquerwork by Hikoju Makie, the true lacquer workshop headed by Takashi Wakamiya.

Tokyo, Shinjuku Isetan 5th Floor, Center Park, Stage Five

Wednesday June 19th to Tuesday June 25th

Takashi Wakamiya will be at the gallery every day during the exhibition.
On Saturday 22nd June from 2 o’clock he will give a talk lasting about 30 minutes on The Pleasures of Makie.

Over the last thirty years we have sought to create likenesses in true lacquer of metal and ceramics, based on the skills we have learned and the design approaches we have employed.  But that is not all.  We have also developed conceptual abilities fostered by the folklore of the Noto Peninsula.  This has expanded our vocabulary within the art and craft of true lacquer.

It gives us great pleasure, therefore, to present some of the results of our work at this exhibition.

Over the last three decades we have produced pieces of lacquerware symbolic of the Heisei period, which has now come to an end.  With the coming of the Reiwa era, we will once again be pushing back the boundaries of lacquerware art as we move forward once more and trust that we may rely on your support and encouragement in our endeavours.

Takashi Wakamiya

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



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.

23/05/2019

Interdependence

Interdependence by Bill Tingey
To me there is a strong sense of interdependency between Japanese gardens and the houses or other buildings they serve, especially if they are traditional in style. But that is not all. There is an equally strong sense of mutual dependency between the elements of a Japanese garden too. A sense of stillness, harmony and balance prevail, amongst all elements - this is a sign of interdependency.
Although many gardens in the UK are adjacent to the buildings they serve, they do not necessarily depend on them in any physical or aesthetic sense. Of course such a statement can be challenged. Nevertheless, in the context of a comparison with Japanese gardens, it is safe to say that buildings and gardens in the UK depending on each other for their credibility, atmosphere and aesthetic qualities are uncommon.
The gardens at Bryan’s Ground are just one of the exceptions. There is a strong sense of mutual dependency between the planning, planting and the house. All are charged with a real sense of balanced interdependence.
With traditional Japanese dwellings in particular, the interplay between interior and exterior spaces is a much more common feature and in some cases a necessity - simply speaking there is a need to see and enjoy the gardens from within the house. 
Controlling exactly what can be seen from inside a building makes it possible to compose vignettes of a particular part of a garden.
Figure 1: A “soft” view of the garden from the Bosen Tea Room, Koho-an, Daitoku-ji, Kyoto.
Such control over the views outside can either be “soft” or “hard”. The Bosen Tea Room at Koho-an in Kyoto is a fitting example. Our dialogue with the garden is manipulated. The interior performs like a camera. We only see what the designer wants us to see. (Figures 1 and 2)
Figure 2: A “hard” view of the garden from the Bosen Tea Room, Koho-an, Daitoku-ji, Kyoto.
Built structures such as walls and other features also sometimes provide a “canvas” on which shadows are cast. This can strengthen the sense of oneness between what is built and what is planted. Such effects can also enhance the sense of seasonality and time.
Figure 3: Shadows dance on a wall in the temple complex of Daitoku-ji, Kyoto.
Among the temples in Kyoto there are ample opportunities for light to cast shadows on walls. The question is were pruned pines placed in front of these walls in the grounds of the Daitoku-ji temple complex on purpose? The original idea may simply have been to show off the clusters of pine needles and twisted branches. Even if it was at first unintended, once the play of light and shadows was recognised as a fleeting performance, there was no reason not to plan for it in the future. (Figure 3)
Figure 4: A juxtaposition of age and youth at Sojiji Temple, Noto Peninsula, Ishikawa Prefecture.
The decoratively framed openings of a covered walkway at the Sojiji temple on the Noto peninsula, formed a backdrop to a newly leafed acer. I found the juxtaposition of weathered wood and fresh foliage particularly inspiring. This combination had special qualities. It was as if I were seeing the hand of a very elderly person reaching out to take the hand of an infant. (Figure 4)
This was my first impression. Then I began to turn over in my mind just how beautiful the leaves would look in their autumn palette in front of this timeless and seemingly unchanging backdrop.
We have to imagine just how important each of the main elements are to one another. The weathered wood on its own is just that - old wood. The foliage on its own is nothing more than foliage. But the two together are a statement or a “picture” with a message.
I doubt that many Japanese designers of gardens would use the term interdependency as I have. I am sure, however, they would recognise the importance of the way garden features - planting, water, trees, shrubs, rocks, gravel et cetera - work in unison while alone their ability to engage us is perhaps minimal.
In Japanese the term yugen is quite often used with reference to gardens. The two characters together refer to a desired sense of beauty inherent in objects like fine thread on bobbins. In the case of yu, the ideogram is of threads seen in dim light, as might be found in the mountains. 
Figure 5: The ideogram for yugen epitomised at the International House, Kyoto.
The meaning of the second character, gen, is similar. One end of a thread passing through a hole is the only indication that there are more bobbins of thread on the other side of the board.
Thus yugen can describe the way that a rock partly hidden by some foliage is so much more appealing than if the rock was seen in isolation. One element seen without the other has only half or even less expressive energy to that when they are seen together. It’s a matter of interdependency. (Figure 5)

A designer, photographer and writer, Bill Tingey lived, studied and worked in Japan for 24 years.  His work has appeared in a number of publications in Japan and the UK.
Bill Tingey Photo © Copyright

This article was originally published in the spring edition of Shakkei, the journal of the UK Japanese Garden Society

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16/05/2019

Exhibition Notice



International Antiques Fair 2019,
Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre
25th to 28th May (VIP day 24th May)
Booth F5 Hikoju Makie

This latest piece of fine true lacquerware from the Hikoju Makie Studio will be on show at the exhibition.  With its red ground, grains of man-made opal and the kind of motifs that might be found at a temple, the design and decoration of this tea caddy has the jewel-like quality of a piece of finely worked cloisonné ware.  The core was made from Japanese cypress from Kiso and decorated under the watchful eye of Takashi Wakamiya in Wajima, one of Japan’s foremost true lacquerware making centres. The overall effect is one of auspicious style and technique—a fine example of lacquerware art, singular in its finish and resplendent in its craft. (See contact detail below.)



寶紅色珐瑯彩 瓔珞紋樣 棗 
φ7.1cm×H7.3cm

本作品は天然木曽ヒノキで木地を制作、輪島で塗りを施し、
人工オパールで七宝焼のような輝きを再現した新しい装飾技法です。
さらに蒔絵の技法で吉祥文様の「瓔珞紋様」を描きました。
七宝焼に見えるような漆芸、これも見立漆器の一つとなります。

國際古玩展2019香港
Date2019/May/25~28
彦十蒔絵Booth: F5

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

24/04/2019

Nakatani Residence

People of status enter to the right, family and others to the left.
With Stone
The Noto peninsula is lucky enough to have several examples of very good traditional Japanese folk houses.  The elegant design and interesting layout of the Kuromaru Residence (covered in two posts—22/03/2019 and 28/02/2019) is really special.  The same is true of the Tokikuni Residences (See post dated 16/03/2016).  But there is another:  the Nakatani Residence.

This large Village Headman’s house is located about a 15 minute drive from Noto-Satoyama Airport and is open to the public.  The building is surrounded by forests and paddy fields and is standing on raised ground.

The main part of the building.
It has large reception spaces to accommodate quite large gatherings but also has smaller rooms with real character.  One is a tea room, which looks out on to  a small pond and manicured garden.

In contrast to the elegant tea ceremony room is the spacious space with an earthen floor.  It is here that various agriculture jobs were done, although now it is possible to partake of some artistically arranged treats.

A feast for the eyes and palate.
A large storeroom with walls coated with true lacquered is of particular note.  It is said that the master of the house was the only person allowed in the store where treasured pieces of true lacquerware were kept.  Esteemed guests and friends would, it seems, also be allowed in the hallowed space but only with the head of the family—now not open to the public.

A wonderful example of how good a lacquered table can look.
Another interesting feature is the stonework holding up an embankment from where the house can be entered.  Stone has seldom been used for building in Japan.  Stone paths and larger boulders feature in Japanese gardens but traditionally it was timber that was the main choice of material for the construction of buildings and bridges.



A wonderful jigsaw of stone.
The ramparts of a number of traditional castles in Japan are exceptional for their use of cut and dressed stone.

In April 2016 Kumamoto Castle in Kyushu was badly damaged by a strong earthquake, which in particular wrecked the stonework supporting the main tower and turrets.  Undeterred by the enormity of the task, local and national government bodies set to to rebuild and restored the castle, which is mostly original and not as some are a concrete effigy.

The stones making up the ramparts are being reused and computer technology is being employed as a means of matching stones to fit the original pattern in which they were laid.  All of the work is expected to be completed in 2036!

The Nakatani Residence, however, might be smaller than a castle but it provides a wonderful opportunity to experience what can be achieved with timber—and a little stone.

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.


Japanese: Nakatani Residence  https://www.noto-nakatanike.com

Nakatani Residence, 28-13 Noto-cho, Hosu-gun, Ishikawa Prefecture
Tel:  +81 0768 76 1551 (Japanese)
Open 10:00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. Closed Tuesdays and December to March.