19/05/2017

Exhibition Notice—Funa Asobi Gallery



Funa Asobi Gallery—Cut Glass by Toshiyasu Nakamura

Friday 2nd June to Sunday 11th June 2017


After leaving the Toyama City Institute of Glass Art located on the northwestern coast of Japan, Toshiyasu further honed his skills in glass but now mainly works with cut glass.  The softness of the cut edges and surfaces draw us into a kaleidoscopic world.  In this exhibit, however, his work in clear glass creates a different see-through world to delight us.








05/05/2017

A Box of Trays



Pure Design—Wajima Kirimoto Woodcraft
The craft scene in Japan is multi-faceted.  There are heroic examples of studio craft.  There are folk crafts.  There are fine traditional crafts representing repeated and well tried formulas to create very beautiful pieces of tableware that not only grace people’s tables at home but also find their way into eateries both lowly and highly exclusive.  It is something special about Japan.

To have a venerable heritage of craftsmanship that is still thriving and accessible in the twenty-first century is exceptional. It is a valuable reference point for craft items made today.  It is the super-speed and interconnected electronic world we live in today that gives as access to all this.  A resource to be respected.

To have ancient skills available is certainly not to be scoffed at.  Add to this a design sense that has been years if not millennia in the making and what do we have?  A piece of modern design with a heritage.  A piece of design with an inherent sense of custom coupled with a ritual and ceremonial observance of practice.

An eminent example of such a piece of work is this box of stacking trays.  It was made in the workshop of Kirimoto Woodcraft.  The clarity of its lines and overall design has much to do with the fact that Taiichi Kirimoto is himself a grandee of this kind of craftwork—a trained designer with inherited woodworking skill.

Made of asunaro, a type of cypress native to Japan and adored on the Noto peninsula, the box houses trays of various depths on which to serve food.  Presented at a function in Paris earlier this year, the plain wood is finished with a material which enhances the qualities of the timber while preserving its natural aroma.  Just two of the trays are finished with vermillion true lacquer using the simplest of apply-and-wipe technique that has been handed down for centuries.

Taiichi Kirimoto second from the left.
This beautiful item is representative of what the Japanese do so well—a combination of the past with the present, while providing a highly functional solution of compact storage.  There is nothing self-conscious, nothing awkward.  It is just pure design.

Kirimoto Woodcraft Photo © Copyright

A video presentation in French and Japanese on the Kasane bako—A box of stacking trays:

Other posts on Taiichi Kirimoto can be found in from Noto at Wajima Kirimoto Woodcraft Workshop, posted 25/10/2016 and 2016 Snapshot 18 Learning from the Ancients, posted 13/10/2016.

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21/04/2017

A Japanese Garden?


Unintentional but beautiful
The western seaboard of the Noto Peninsula facing the Japan Sea is rugged.  The weather too can be rough and stormy.  In complete contrast, the eastern coastline of the peninsula faces water that resembles a lake.  This is especially true of those sections edging the rim of Nanao Bay.  But what of the interior of this long narrow peninsular.

Taking Route 37 from the east the road is flanked by deeply forested hills and mountains on either side and the only communities are rural hamlets.  Shallow stepped paddies and farmhouses fashion and accentuate the rural character of the route over which a pastoral calm has settled.

The road swings to the left and to the right like a flat rollercoaster but all is so tranquil the ride resembles a session of meditation more than any theme park thrill.  And then, completely unexpectedly, a quarry comes into view.  What’s this?  Of course it is not a “Japanese garden” but framed by the camera it could so easily be taken as one.

Small chipped stones form a perfect heap.  It is lower but easily as good as those at the Komowake Ikazuchi Shrine in Kyoto.  Are those misty profiles of mountains in the background?  A piece of borrowed landscape?  There was no intention for it to be so.  There was no will to create a “garden”.  Nevertheless, this dry stone landscape has the power to delight the eye and stimulate the mind.

Further along Route 37 a small hospitality station sports a shop and conveniences.  A cherished cat with a cute collar stands guard.  Welcome to Shunran no Sato, the Boat Orchid village.

All too soon the road is out of the forests.  Although having reached the western edge of the peninsula and the civilisation that is Wajima, remembered scenes of idilic beauty still float before the eyes with a dreamlike quality.  Was there really a Japanese garden in the mountains?  I must go back sometime just to make sure.  Fortunately such an excursion would never be the same.  It would be a new experience.




Bill Tingey Photo © Copyright


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14/04/2017

2017 Funa Asobi Spring Show

Funa Asobi Gallery Spring Show
Saturday 29th April to Sunday 7th May

Tastefully displayed in a traditional Japanese building, this show is a chance to experience craftwork so quintessentially Japanese in spirit and form.

Ceramics, glass, woodwork, textiles, small items of leatherwork, bentwood and basketry will be on show by a number of makers, some of whom are exhibiting at the gallery for the first time.


Spring is definitely in the air.


珠洲で今シーズン初企画になります。陶磁器・ガラス・木工・染織・革小物・まげわっぱ・籠etc 日本の美しいもの・こと・人に出会える場所となればと、日本家屋の中に作品をしつらえます。 今回は、新しい作家さんも加わり、春らしく作品を楽しめる空間をつくりたいと思います。






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07/04/2017

Back-story


A Kettle and a Teapot
I acquired this kettle when I was living in Japan and the teapot on a more recent visit.  Why did I want them?  I wanted them first and foremost for their appearance, workmanship and attention to detail.  I knew nothing of their back-stories and frankly that did not matter to me.  I was most interested in their forms, lines, high level of craftsmanship and materials—all aesthetic features.

I first saw one of the Nitto kettles sitting on top of a paraffin stove in a large canteen style restaurant.  This facility had very little “class” to report but was functional.  I don’t remember clearly now but I think it was either at a train station or a ferry port.  A bare freshly scrubbed and still moist concrete floor supported a collection of light weight metal chairs with either dull red or green plastic upholstery placed on either side of equally spartan tables with shinny metal bands around their tops.  Similarly, they were either covered with some kind of dull red manmade material that was heavily worn while others, equally shabby, were in the green—the signature colours of the establishment.

The large kettle on the stove was easily the best designed object in the whole place.  It was a beacon of quality.  The sight of it remained with me for some time until I spotted this 15 litre version in a builder’s merchant and was subsequently given it on my 50th birthday—my wife never understood why I wanted it.

Later I did see the same type of kettle in various sizes in a catalogue, ranging from the biggest down to one which almost looked like something from a doll’s tea set.  They were all exactly the same shape but lacked the spoon shaped lid to go over the spout and the bamboo whipping on the handle.  Actually I am not sure if it is bamboo.  It might be rattan.

It is made of aluminium, which is not the most exciting material.  Nevertheless, I found the kettle very appealing and have always seen it as a piece of design worthy of display, despite the fact that it has an obvious function and use.


An internet search has revealed very little except that Nitto, the maker, produces a number of kettles in various shapes and sizes.  Vintage examples of my 15 litre version are available on auction sites labelled “Showa vintage kettle” referring to the era of the previous Emperor, whose reign lasted from 1926 to 1989.

The teapot is newer.  It was purchased at the Ippodo tea store in Kyoto about six years ago.  Once again the urge to buy it was spontaneous.  It was love at first sight and that feeling was re-enforced the moment I picked it up.  Apart from its aesthetic features it seemed positively functional, too.

It was made in Tokoname, one of Japan’s six ancient kilns.  But is that important?  Does it really matter that it is a product with a very long heritage and was handmade by an extremely skill craftsperson?

Many Japanese have an accumulated knowledge of such things and some will purchase traditional items of repeatable craft in the same way they might buy branded goods like Burberry or Yves Saint Laurent.

It seems that the French and Germans place more value on knowing how something is made and its history.  The British on the whole are nonplussed.

I realise now that after I purchased the teapot my passively acquired knowledge of such unglazed pottery was enough to prompt me to wash it and to thoroughly dry it after use.  The teapot came with its own list of do’s and don’ts.  They actually specifically state meticulous care needs to be taken to dry every part of the teapot and especially the inside.  If not, mould may grow on the unglazed surfaces.  Great care was taken in the making of the strainer, a work of art in its own right.


I, however, was more than happy to buy the teapot while still being ignorant of the history of Tokoname ware and its delicate nature.  Yes, I may be an exception but I am ready to admit that knowing something of the background of this item adds colour and depth to its story.  It is an added value.

Such considerations are particularly important in the case of lacquerware.  Sadly, however, it often seems to me that the high price of a piece is being justified through the back-story—how many hours it took to make, the precious nature of true lacquer and other things besides.  Perhaps it is necessary.  Who knows.  I still maintain the notion that if a piece of craftwork is good enough and it appeals to the right buyer, it is the way it looks and functions that will sell it, not its back-story.

Bill Tingey Photo © Copyright


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31/03/2017

2017 April, Exhibition Notice—Haruko Yamashita

An Exhibition of Work by
Haruko Yamashita
“The Power of Sculpture— Artist’s Thoughts on Public Art”
Gallery A and B, Shiinoki Cultural Centre, Kanazawa


Friday 14th April to Sunday 23rd April 2017

Haruko Yamashita has worked on many pieces of public art for sites all over Ishikawa Prefecture as well as for locations overseas.  The exhibition includes information panels describing her thoughts and aspirations behind her work, some of which was made in Egypt for display at public facilities and elsewhere.  The show also provides and opportunity to see some of her work in metal—a new departure for Yamashita.

Some pieces related to her work in stone are available for purchase.
This exhibition was organised by the Funa Asobi Gallery.


山下晴子彫刻展 「彫刻の力」
金沢市のしいのき迎賓館ギャリーA・B


4月14日(金)― 4月23日(日)


舟あそびが企画し、彫刻展を金沢のしいのき迎賓館で開催いたします。 海外をはじめ、石川県に多くのパブリックアートの彫刻作品を手掛ける、山下晴子さんの展覧会です。 エジプトでの制作や公共施設などに設置された作品に、どんな思いを込めて取り組んだのか、作家の 思いをパネルでご紹介いたします。それと合わせて、これまでの石彫を関連作品ごとに分け展示、販売 いたします。また新たな試みとして制作された、鉄の彫刻作品もご覧頂けたらと思います。 

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2017 April, Exhibition Notice—Takashi Shinohara

Exhibition of Work by Noto Potter
Takashi Shinohara

Kintetsu Department Store, Abeno Harukas Tennoji, Osaka
11th Floor Art Gallery


Wednesday 12th April to Tuesday 18th April 2017
10 am to 8 pm.

This is a good opportunity to see examples of a pottery which originated in Oku Noto on the Noto Peninsula.  It was lost but its rediscovery was in no small part the result of work done by Takashi Shinohara and others dedicated to raising the profile of this distinctively black ware—elegant pieces of pottery with a dignity all their own displaying the “happy accidents” of a wood fired kiln.

珠洲焼 篠原敬 作陶展
4/12(水)4/18(火)
あべのハルカス近鉄本店タワー館 11階 アートギャラリー
午前10:002000

奥能登で生まれ現代によみがえった優美で気品あふれる自然釉・灰被り・火襷などの

焼しめ黒陶の数々をぜひこの機会にご覧くださいませ。





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20/03/2017

The Challenge

The shore near Wajima is rugged and the sea looks clean.  But is it?
The Challenge—Ocean Rescue
Mankind's current ignoble attitude toward the oceans, our scandalous waste of resources and poor efforts to recycle materials properly may well be our downfall.

Far too many product wrappers, for example, bear the tag “Not currently recyclable.”  So why is their use allowed?  

Coupled with such concerns, the horrifying increase in poaching and the rise in the number of animals and other creatures as well as plants on the endangered list is also very worrying.  The abuse of our plant and all that abide on it should not and cannot be tolerated any longer.

It is difficult not to get angry about such subjects.  What is really needed is a clear, focused holistic approach that is coordinated on a global scale.

What does this have to do with the Noto Peninsula?

During the day the fishing harbour is crowded with boats.
As the peninsula’s main city, Wajima is one of the many communities along the Japan Sea coast with a thriving fishing harbour.

There is no denying that the seas around Japan are bountiful.  And there can be few countries as dependant as Japan is on the harvesting of the riches of the oceans both deep and distant as well as shallow and near.  But the situation is probably changing much faster than we are aware.

No doubt very tasty but how much plastic have these beautiful fish inadvertently consumed?
Plastic is everywhere.  But one place it should not be is in the oceans and seas of the world.  Microbeads of plastic are finding their way into the marine life we eat and there are now a considerable number of beaches around the world that only consist of large and small pieces of plastic.  Even plastic fibres from clothing are now being cited as polluting the sea.

Expanded polystyrene trays—light and good for keeping a catch cool.  But it is difficult to recycle.  I wonder if the blue wrapper is recycled?
Plastic of course is not the only material endangering our oceans.  Chemicals and so much more is finding its way into the oceans of our Blue Planet.

We cannot and must not shrink from the challenge.

An attractive assemblage but what damage is it doing?
For more information on plastic in the oceans go to Sky Ocean Rescue:

And Greenpeace:

Bill Tingey Photo © Copyright


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