09/07/2018

Exhibition Notice

FunaAsobi Gallery—Exhibition Notice
FunaAsobi Gallery Tenth Anniversary Show
13th July to 22nd July

This year marks the Tenth Anniversary of the opening of the gallery in Suzu.  We are hoping that this show will bring a great deal of pleasure to all those who visit through its exhibits by a number of artists who have kindly co-operated in the stagging of the show.

Contributing artists are:  Midori Tsukada, Kozue Tsukarara, Kazunori Hori, Reisia, PONNALET, Taiaki Yano, Mamiko Susuki, Yui Syakunaga, Kenji Nishida and others.

7/13~7/22 「あそびの美」~舟あそび10周年企画~ 今年珠洲でギャラリーを始めて10年になります。 作家の方々にご協力をいただき、お茶の楽しさ、しつらえることの楽しさを お伝えする企画になればと思っています。 
出展作家: 塚田美登里、塚原梢、堀仁憲、Reisia、PONNALET、矢野太昭、鈴木マミ子、釈永維、西田健二 etc 

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44 Years On



Haneda, Changes
My wife Lou and I made our first visit to Japan in July 1974.  The Aeroflot flight from London’s Heathrow was punctuated by a one hour stop-over in Moscow.  The strength of the disinfectant used by the airline made it difficult to forget what was a long and less than comfortable flight, especially as the smell lingered in our clothing for sometime.

The burly cabin crew did not help to make things any easier.  We were unceremoniously woken when a tray of food was thrust in front of us.  “Eat!” was the command.  Why Aeroflot?  It provided the cheapest fare at the time.

Having landed at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport it was the level of humidity confronting us as we left the plane that became a long lasting memory.  We were met by a wall of moist air, the likes of which we had never experienced before.

The “modern” airport buildings were a disappointment.  Was it due to the long flight or was I expecting too much.  I did not expect to see traditional Japanese wooden buildings but the run-of-the-mill structures there did nothing to announce that we had actually arrived in an Far East.  It was all a little unreal.

Leaving the confines of Haneda by taxi via a short tunnel, my perception of where I was changed immediately.  Emerging into strong sunlight I suddenly felt I was in Japan.  A small colony of cormorants at the edge of Tokyo Bay by the tunnel exit along with the clusters of somewhat rundown low-rise buildings were all, strangely enough, rather reassuring.  So this was our first glimpse of real Japan.

At the beginning of June this year I found myself repeating the journey we made 44 years ago, this time courtesy of an Air France flight at a price I simply could not turn down—£387!

The flight also arrived at Haneda, which has been greatly expanded by reclaiming land from the waters of Tokyo Bay.  There is now also talk of making Haneda a 24/7 airport, partly because Narita is so inconveniently far from the centre of Tokyo.

Haneda now has three terminal buildings, two of which are for domestic flights—one mainly for Japan Airlines flights and the other for All Nippon Airways.  The terminal buildings are all modern palaces of concrete, glass and metal and of a style repeated in part or whole heartedly throughout the world.  So, apart from the abundance of Japanese customers and ramen and sushi eateries, there is little to suggest that this is a gateway to Japan.

The cormorant colony has apparently gone.  And what has happened to the cityscape of 1974 is inevitable and astonishing in equal measures.  The highways out to Haneda slither over the ground between highrise structures or rise above the urban melee of buildings to alarming heights.  But this is how urban Japan has been developed.

Although the modern planning of amenities at Haneda’s terminal buildings is exceptional, they do not have the kind of heritage of such places as say the Burlington Arcade in London or on a grander scale the Les Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert in Brussels.  History is something money cannot buy.  Haneda’s terminals do, however, cater for more than just passengers.  It seems that the airport is considered to be a good place for a date by young and mobile Japanese couples.

An unusual tray of food with four lacquered bowls.
So, Haneda has changed enormously since Lou and I first landed there and will, no doubt, change more in the run up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.  But what has happened to Japan’s crafts since we were first there?

Many of the recognised traditional crafts still have a place in people’s homes but their presence is far less dominant.  This is particularly true of lacquerware and can be represented by the decline in the numbers of those making such products.

The Center for Cultural Resource Studies associated with the Institute of Human and Social Sciences at Kanazawa University has recently published a comprehensive report focusing on Wajima lacquerware.  The research was carried out to try to understand the challenges this craft faces and what the future may bring.

The document reports on how local producers emphasise the skills and techniques used in the production of Wajima lacquerware, which is know nationwide for its durability and robust construction.  While this is certainly an important factor, a number of others must also be considered, not least of which is how lacquerware can adapt to the changes in lifestyle of the Japanese.

In a lacquer workshop….
Both now and in the past much of the work has been done by highly skilled artisans who are specialists in their own field.  Some deal with making the wooden core of pieces, others are experts in the application of true lacquer.  And then there are still others who are masters of individual decorative techniques.  Very few of these highly accomplished craftsmen and women are every expected to be “designers”.

In many cases in the past it seems that the design of items was also carried out by skilled artisans—designs developed over time and by continuous refinement.  Or pieces may have been designed by somebody with an opinion about how a piece might look—the work of a “designer”.

In reality the number of artisans engaged in making Wajima lacquerware has fallen as has the number of firms employing them.  As suggested the production process can be broken down into four main areas—woodwork for a product core, application of lacquer, decoration and packaging.

In the 37 years between 1980 and 2017 the total number of individuals involved in production in Wajima has fallen from 2,550 to 1,349 (down by 1,201) but peaked at 2,893 in1990 due to a buoyant economy.  Likewise, over the same period the number of firms making lacquerware has decreased from 769 to 503 (down by 266) with a peak of 878 in 1991, also due to economic factors.

Skilled artisans are national treasures in their own right.  And they are essentially different from those who make pieces of studio craft.  The division of labour in Wajima is a well established culture.

….pieces of work are rubbed down.


Most of the traditional crafts in Japan rely on a number of highly skilled individuals to produce items of repeatable craft, not one-off artefacts.  Should things be left as they are?  Is there any merit in having “artisans” who design and “designers” who can make?  Who knows?

Meanwhile, Japan will go on changing in its own indomitable way.

Bill Tingey Photo © Copyright

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Reference:  Kanazawa Cultural Resources Studies No. 18 Wajima Collaboration Project—Taking on the challenges of the future of Wajima nuri, Edited by Eri Matsumura
Center for Cultural Resource Studies, Institute of Human and Social Sciences, Kanazawa University

文化資源学研究、第18号、輪島連携プロジェクト―輪島塗の未来に向けた取り組み、松村恵里 編
金沢大学人間社会研究域附属、国際文化資源学研究センター
ISSN 21-86053X

29/05/2018

Exhibition Notice




Isetan Department Store, Shinjuku, Fifth Floor Center Park, Stage 5
Hikoju Makie/Takashi Wakamiya:  A chance to speak
Wednesday 6th June till Tuesday 12th June 2018 10:00—20:00

30 Years with True Lacquer: Past, Present and Future
Takashi Wakamiya will be giving a talk in the gallery on
Saturday 9th June, 14:00—14:30

Takashi Wakamiya was born and brought up on the Noto Peninsula surrounded by the rich countryside, which reached out to him almost without him knowing, and resulted in makie work full of rural roots.  He has been actively involved in projects to foster the regeneration of  Wajima lacquerware, with a view to being able to produce items fashioned from locally grown wood and finished with locally tapped lacquer.  The is a rare opportunity which should not be missed.



   輪島の田舎「南志見」に生まれ育ち、目に見えない故郷の自然や環境の力に育まれ生かされている感覚を蒔絵の意匠に活かした作品、輪島漆再生プロジェクト実行委員会の活動、輪島産木材に輪島産漆で制作した漆器などを発表します。どうぞこの機会にご高覧賜りますれば幸いでございます。


展示会名彦十蒔絵 若宮隆志展 ~若宮隆志が伝えたいこと~

会期201866日(水)~12日(火)10:30~20:00

場所「伊勢丹新宿店本館5階=センターパーク/ザ・ステージ#5」

ギャラリートーク
  日時:69日(土) 14:00~14:30

  トーク内容:うるしと30年「平成から未来へ」~若宮隆志の取り組み~

Hikoju Photo © Copyright

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17/05/2018

Exhibition Notice



FunaAsobi Gallery—Exhibition Notice
1st June to 10th June
Black is Beautiful—New pieces of Suzu ware by Takashi Shinohara
This exhibition of work by Takashi focuses on unglazed pieces of dark Suzu ware.  Black is the overall impression but each piece habours a sparkling universe of specks of colour.  The forms, too, bring out the colours and whether vases or bowls each has a distingtive Shinohara line.
6/1~6/10 「美しき黒のフォルム」~珠洲焼 篠原敬(Takashi Shinohara)~
珠洲焼 篠原敬の個展です。 釉薬を掛けず焼成によって出る黒は、宇宙のように様々な色合いを見せてくれます。 また、フォルムが現れる色です。花器や器を中心に篠原の美しいラインをご覧いただきたいです。 


Photo Copyright FunaAsobi Gallery

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08/05/2018

Exhibition Notice

Chrysanthemum Arabesque Pattern Nashi-ji inside  Cloisonne-Lacquering Maki-e Tea Caddy
International Antiques Fair 2018 Hong Kong

May 26th~28th    11:00am~7:00pm and May 29th   11:00am~5:00pm
Hong Kong Convention Exhibition Centre   5BC Booth: F5

Under the leadership of Takashi Wakamiya, the Hikoju Makie collective of true lacquerware artisans has taken on a new challenge—to create a piece of lacquerware with a strong “antiqued” appearance and character for the International Antiques Fair 2018 to be held in Hong Kong.  The effect is stunning and the tea caddy itself could easily have been made in the very early part of the 20th century.  A piece of high quality antiqued work.

One member of the Hikoju Makie team will be at our booth during the exhibition to demonstrate some of the time honoured skills and techniques without which Japanese craft culture would be lost.

Takashi will also be on hand during the exhibition to explain the team’s work.


彦十蒔絵が今月末香港で開催される「國際古玩展2018」
のご連絡を申し上げます。

会期:526~28 11:00am~7:00pm , 29 11:00am~5:00pm
場所:香港會議展覽中心展覽廳5BC Booth: F5

今年の出店に伴い、日本の漆芸文化をもっと身近に感じていただく為、
輪島から職人一人を連れて会場内で不定期の実演を実施する事を考えております、新しい作品の発表も予定しております。
添付資料に新作 「菊花唐草模様 内梨子地 漆塗琺瑯彩蒔絵のお棗」写真を付けました。
どうぞご覧くださいませ。

Hikoju Makie Photo © Copyright


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01/05/2018

Inspiration?



Wales and Japan
Ceibwr Bay—one of the many bays and inlets along the Pembrokeshire Coast Path in Wales is rather special.  Reached along a narrow road from the hamlet of Moylegrove the bay is flanked by high cliffs.  Formed over millions of years the cliff folds are evidence of how layers of rock have been bent and folded by powerful movements of the Earth’s crust.

This exposed face of Ordoviian rocks is, of course, unusual.  It is the kind of example that might find its way into a geography or geology text book.  And, for that matter, it surely has been sketched and painted for its raw beauty and photographed as a seldom-seen phenomena.  It is nothing short of inspirational.

Near Moylegrove is the town of Newport Pembrokeshire.  Although it shares its name with the large conurbation of Newport on the southern coast of Wales, that is where comparisons end.

This small town lies on the coast road and is much favoured as a summer retreat for families from all over the United Kingdom.  The mountains rising up behind the town are thought to have provided some of the monoliths for Stonehenge and there are many burial mounds as well as archeological remains of settlements.


Close to the centre of this attractive town is this stone-faced road-side house.  Perhaps my comparison of its facade with the cliff face at Ceibwr Bay is fanciable but there are certainly similarities.

Clearly there are some structural benefits to the way the stones have been laid but was this done by a mason based on years of experience or could the folded strata at Ceibwr Bay have been an inspiration.  Who knows.

Many traditional buildings in Wales are built of stone and do not have any decorative features on their exteriors.  They simple resist the elements.

The same can be said of traditional Japanese buildings.  Their character is of a structure to fend off the elements—rain, snow and wind while providing shade from the sun and enough ventilation to make the hot humid summer months more bearable.  Such buildings are empirical as well as expressions of pure logic shaped by the laws of nature.

It is the interiors of some traditional Japanese buildings occupied by the wealthy and nobel that display patterns and objects inspired by nature and the elements.

Tokikuni House, Noto Peninsula—Typical of how some traditional buildings in Japan are all roof.

Bill Tingey Photo © Copyright


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17/04/2018

FunaAsobi Gallery—Exhibition Notice


28th April to 6th May
Made to Last—Recent Work by Hanpu Suda
Hanpu has a workshop in Tsukuba City where he makes these beautiful bags, which are asking to be used everyday.  They are robust, functional and really good looking, too.

4/28~5/6 「いつも持ちたいかばん」展 ~須田帆布~ つくば市に工房を構える、須田帆布の個展です。 毎日ガンガン使いたくなるかばん。 丈夫で機能性あるデザインが素敵です。

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20/03/2018

The Way In


Eaves and Gables
Both of these buildings stand close to the eastern shore of the Noto Peninsula.  Although they are not of any great age, they are both traditional in style and thoroughly Japanese in construction and layout.  There is nothing eclectic about them.  While they both follow regional patterns of vernacular architecture they have individual characters.  Their individuality is partly determined by where the main entrance is located relative to the roof.


Although both entrances are off centre, the building standing by a river sports a well defined and decorated entrance to the left of the facade.  The entrance of the other house is located to the right of the facade and is inconspicuous.  It is, however, recessed.  Doing so provides some shelter from rain and snow for those entering and leaving the building.

Despite having a rather characterless entrance, the wall under the gable end of the roof is full of character—the horizontal and vertical elements stand out against the areas of white wall between them and the lean-to at ground level is capped with a tiled roof as are the windows on the upper floor.  All of these features contribute greatly to the character of the building.

The ground floor lean-to is, in fact, a covered veranda, where washing can be hung to dry.  The generous eave of this roof helps to protect the veranda when the glass screens are drawn back to let in some air during the hot humid summer months.  The ground glass in the sliding screens provides some privacy and is augments by more shoji screens covered with paper flanking the rooms behind.

The building by the river, however, relies on the small hip-and-gable roof over the entrance, thus strengthen the character of the whole facade.

There is in fact another entrance to the left of the projecting, grand main entrance.  I can only suppose this side entrance functions as a backdoor, somewhere for the family to come and go as they please.

Both of these houses have shared features as well as exclusive characteristics.  But it is the positioning of their entrances—either under the eaves or under a gable—that is the key to how the plan develops internally.

Bill Tingey Photo © Copyright


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