Friday, 1 June 2012

Ruthin Craft Centre: Japanese Style: Sustaining Design

I spent a rather sunny afternoon wandering around Ruthin Craft Centre the other day with fellow artist Susie Liddle, I'd heard lots of positive things about their current exhibition 'Japanese Style: Sustaining Design' and even met one of the contributing artists; Tono Mirai thanks to Nia Roberts who works at Mostyn with me and also project managed this exhibition.
Alarmed by the devastation caused by the earthquake and tsunami in his hometown of Sendai Tono began to develop shelters that could withstand such disasters and help to rebuild the area. Tono's architecture incorporates natural materials such as clay, earth, wood and straw due to its easy availability, sustainability and ability to cope under stresses caused by nature - its flexible and resilient. He has a special interest in building shelters for children and as part of a residency with the Craft Centre he's built a shelter for one of the local primary schools on site [with help from the children] I have to admit I was slightly jealous of the shelter and my friend was snapping away determined to build something similar to house her hot-tub in back home!

His shelter for the Primary School

I've always had a fascination with Japan - although more with modern Japan, so to see some of the more traditional crafts was refreshing and inspiring! The mixture of traditional sensibilities with modern design and thought was also wonderful to see - the textiles of Reiko Sudo where especially awesome, gowns and robes in various fabrics/weaves/media hung from the ceiling like ghosts creating an eerie environment to traverse - thankfully they had samples of each fabric to touch on the wall and a glimpse into the design and manufacturing process behind each piece.

The innovative ceramics in the shop were another highlight for me, Ikuko Iwamoto's quirky simple porcelain forms covered in clusters of spots and spikes looked both delicate but deadly, drawing inspiration from microscopic cells we can't see and incorporating them with objects we use everyday but take for granted such as cups and vases to create unusual objects you can't help but notice!

Koji Shiraya's simple containers looked alive and overflowing with oozing lids! reading up on the process involved in creating the containers was especially enlightening!

"Porcelain [body of the box] and the feldspar [lid, a kind of glaze material] are similar in their substance, however, only the feldspar can be melted in 1250 degrees. I fired the body and the lid at the same time. The lid melts down along the body in the kiln. The box shows contrasts, solid and fluid, organic and geometric, nature and art"

Mariko Sumioka's jewellery also caught my eye, heavily inspired by traditional Japanese architecture and peoples relationship with their location and surroundings, this translates into both the structures created in the jewellery and also the way in which the person chooses to wear the jewellery, here's a bit of insight into Mariko's process: 

"I am inspired by Japanese unique architectural characteristics:
natural materials and colours, dark and bright contrasts, linear forms, geometric shapes and spaces. 
Since human beings live in architecture, there are some reasons in each element. I have researched theoretically and visually into those handed down traditions and tried to bring them into my pieces of jewellery. 
My work explores a connection with human bodies and how the wearer and viewer interact with each other, themselves and the objects. Also, studying the principle of Zen and the essence of the Japanese love of nature helps me to understand peoples attitude behind their culture".

Here's a few more snaps of things that caught my eye in the exhibition:

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