I didn't think I liked lacquer but a trip to the amazing workshop of Yuji and Yoshio Okada just around the corner from the house has changed my mind. Father and son are both international prize winners with work in major museums
The studio, on the right are old lacquer boxes waiting for repair, the bowls contain water with charcoal blocks for making stuff shiny
Last night at the gallery there was a Jizocarving class for students to 'carve the figure of the Truth'. It was a very calm class with the men dressed traditionally, no mallets or clamps all by hand with a lovely tutor who sharpened the knives for his students. I hope my students back in London don't expect the same ! The wood -ki-is cyprus-ho nok ki. This is a demonstration model by the tutor.
I am here with Raquel in Kyoto and she has the extraordinary knack of finding things out. There was an amazing ceremony in our local temple tonight and we were invited. It was stunningly beautiful, both the ceremony, gentle drumming and chanting as well as the building and it was a work out standing up and kneeling down a lot. No one minded that I seemed to get out of sync and that I wasn't entirely certain what was going on - so not really the inside story as mentioned in the blog title, but it was absolutely brilliant none the less. I have never met such lovely people, so smiley and the monks all asked if I was on Facebook.
I was invited up to a bamboo forest today, I have collected some small pieces of green bamboo which at the moment is soft and the small stuff is very pliable, not like the brown rods we get at home. While we were there I was handed a large mattock and dug up bamboo shoots for supper
Massive timbers, the tree must have been huge. Each one must be about 6' round. I spent the day wandering the temples, however as it is Sunday, it was heaving and I took my self off into the hills, past the less alluring sewerage plant and found a monk praying at each shrine and playing a gourd
A good evening at the opening last night, lots of very interesting artists and several of the Japanese exhibitors live in England so there are plans to meet up in Blighty when we get back. We met up with the press today at the gallery along with Takazumi Uemura from Islington, an amazing photographer. We then headed off to the art gallery but as it was showing Czech film posters I decided to see the Heinan Shrine next door
I am managing to get by in Japanese, more by luck than judgement, I did get the word 'great' round the wrong way so that I was swearing at someone. I think I have been forgiven....
Well this is all rather fab. Monks chanting in the street, geisha's emerging from the subway and heated toilet seats. The house is lovely, thankfully I have a quiet room at the back as the front door opens out straight onto the street market. The gallery is just round the corner from the house and the sculptures are up today.......and then kept on the floor overnight for fear of the earthquakes! My fellow artists are lovely and good fun. Raquel Carro Lopez is a photographer, Roger McNulty is a painter and the the creative director here, David Stetson is an other photographer who has had the privileged of being the first foreigner inside the emperors tomb. So, all rather surreal for the moment. As this page assumes I read Japanese, I am now unable to upload photos until I sort out either a translation or find a translator or learn to read. I suspect finding a translator will be the easiest, sorting out three alphabets is going to take some time
こんにちは日本 ……hello Japan! Please don't ask me to say this, I am really struggling with remembering anything. With 3 alphabets, and a counting system for flat things and another for rabbits, I suspect I shall be as fluent at the end as I am now. I shall try to get 'tea please' sorted before I land though I suspect it won't be a Yorkshire brew out there. Flight confirmed for Sunday evening when I fly off to Kyoto for a 3 week residency. The sculptures are already on their way if they haven't already got there. Below is 'Brennan' in progress-not my usual scale but now I have forgotten just how many hours I spent sanding, it was good making it. Installation shots when I get there