Today proved to be yet another amazing day. All the artists involved in the exhibition dropped off their work at the gallery this morning. We then headed off with two of our fellow Japanese artists, Keisuke and Mari. Firstly we had coffee, then moved onto another place for lunch, the food was excellent.
At our welcome party on Sunday, Lauren and Keisuke had been talking about using gold leaf in work. Today Keisuke bought a flyer to the gallery about the work of a gold leaf artist Hakuya Noguchi. He proceeded to ring him and make an appointment for us to go and visit him. We had absolutely no idea of what to expect,the experience proved to be beyond our wildest dreams. On arrival we were invited into a traditional Japanese tatami room. We sat at a low table and were served tea and cakes. Around us were countless treasures, Japanese dolls, pottery and wonderful paintings, my favourites turned out to be by Hakuya’s son.
On finishing tea, we were invited up a very narrow staircase to his workshop. It was a wonderful traditional room, an Aladin’s cave of artist materials and treasures. He proceeded to deliver a Master Class on how he created ‘hirahaku’ by applying gold and other leaf metals to ‘washi’ paper that has been painted with lacquer. The ‘hirahaku’ is then cut into fine threads ready to be woven into cloth. He showed us the most beautiful series of three woven scrolls which were largely woven using weft threads of ‘hirahaku’. Hakuya was very clear and thorough in instructing us in the processes involved. It was almost hypnotic, I consider it an amazing privilege to have been involved in this class.
We left the home and studio of Hakuya in awe and in a daze, it felt more like a dream than reality, a dream you did not want to evaporate! Our next stop was the Nishijin Textile Centre. We watched a kimono fashion show, they were exquisite garments. This was followed by looking at some archive silk fabrics and watching complex designs for silk oboes being hand woven on small jacquard looms. The oboe is the fabric worn around the middle waist area of the kimono.
By this stage, we were quite over whelmed by everything we had seen.
Keisuke invited us back to house for Japanese Tea Ceremony. We were taught the etiquette of the ceremony and how to make the tea. I was not good at making the tea, you have to whisk the tea with your right hand in a particular motion, being left handed I found this very hard and ended up using my left hand, I was also too noisy during the process, whoops!
Keisuke’s flat was a small but amazing apartment. He had built the interior himself in traditional style, but has made maximum use of every inch of the small space. He had a stage area, with his cello on, a music area with a built- in piano and acoustic wall lining, a theatre screen for puppet shows and projection screen and lots of film and sound equipment, plus his kitchen, living room and bedroom all in the one room! The cat had a high -rise bed but apparently preferred to sleep with Keisuke on his bed which looked like a desk in his office area, again in the one room. You open a slim door in the living area to find all his tools hanging on the wall, quite incredible! The whole place was also full of incredible objects that all told a story. We were made to feel so welcome and had an incredible time, but we did come away feeling a little surreal!
We sauntered back home along a stream running by the main road, trying to assimilate some of the mountain of information and experiences we had been exposed to in just one day! Truly amazing!