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Nishiki market this morning for a quick glimpse and then wander around the streets where I found Heian Jingu Shrine, it’s a place where the tourists can be temporary evacuated in the event of an earthquake.
 
I met with Sachie at the Reikanji Temple, just off the Philosophers path, and we walked around the temple area admiring gardens and different types of camellias. The temple is special to the Japanese people and only open for a short period of time (2weeks) in spring and autumn. I was absorbed with the screen paintings of seasons, flowers and birds in the inside rooms and Sachie explained that they were painted by the famous Japanese artists Kano Eitoku and Kano Motonobu. Last room contains a framed painting in reach vibrant colours by Maruyama Oukyo and servers as a centrepiece. It was an honour to see the paintings of old masters in a temple setting rather then in a museum. Certainly could not miss here numerous objects related to the imperial family plus the Kyoto dolls. Photography inside is not permitted. 
 
On way back popped in to a couple of small commercial galleries that promotes upcoming artists.
 
Coffee time at the underground Café  Independents with mosaic floor tiles and distressed walls. Great space for relaxing after busy day.

March 30 (Thursday)

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One of the pleasures of our time in Kyoto has been experiencing all the many styles of eating, beginning with yakatori & beer with Yuki. The presentation on beautiful handmade ceramics, sometimes carved spoons, always being part of the delight.. Thanks also due to Yuki for giving us such nice party food at the Artist’s welcome party, where we had the opportunity to meet with the gallery owners and some local artists. The gallery, set in a traditional Kyoto townhouse, has a very special atmosphere and we look forward to exhibiting or work and
meeting with all the artists and guests.

Day 3

Our visit to Nara was memorable for the speed and dynamic energy of our guide who led us on a rapid footmarch around the remarkable shrine and temple complex. Here one also encounters very curious and attentive (for food) deer.

The structural timber columns some 15metres of tree trunk form the entrance to the worlds largest timber-framed building: Todi-Ji which is the shrine housing the colossal bronze Buddha, which is itself the largest bronze found anywhere in the world.

Day 5

Today, having risen with the sun I walked to the ‘Imperial Palace’ , joining with the other ‘early risers’ cycling, jogging and gently exercising in the extensive grounds which form the perimeter to the palace. The warmer weather is beginning to encourage the appearance of more blossom. I am happy to discover a friendly family baker where I can get supplies for breakfast and exchange some words in Japanese.

A short distance from our accommodation is the Raku Family Museum, a great recommendation by Sakarie. The presentation of the raku tea bowls is a profound experience within these hushed rooms. A calm and reverential atmosphere pervades. Here the notion of ‘En’, the binding of one thing to another, is articulated and felt with tea bowls displayed from successive generations. The poetic titles such as “Dawn in Snow” “Blossom on snow” together with beautifully woven or stitched cricula golden silk cocoon draw string pouches elevates and enhances these simply beautiful raku pots.

Having had one almost Zen- like experience, the ‘Curazon’ coffee shop nearby provides another. The close-bar top becomes part of this charming barrista’s performance ably assisted by his colleagues presenting special sweets and cakes. Coffee doesn’t get any better!

In the afternoon we had the opportunity to make two multiple wood block prints on ‘washi, paper at the Kyoto handicrafts centre. At the centre there can be found a fine assortment of prints, fabrics, lacquerware and ceramics. This craft centre, nearby the ‘Heian –Jingu’ shrine, is located in the same quarter as The Museum of Modern Art .

Following the setting sun along the canal and by the hydro-electric turbines we made or way back to our accommodation after another very full day. The concept of ‘En’ could be said to epitomise the life and culture here in Kyoto

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We began Thursday by having a go at lacquer painting at the Kyoto
Artisan Workshop, it was rather tricky to find, but after asking a succession of helpful passers by for direction, we finally tracked it down! It was a very enjoyable experience, and not too far away from my normal artistic practice with the finely detailed work, it was great to explore new methods whilst at the same time having some familiarity with my usual work.

After our class, we had a bite to eat and then mum and I strolled down to
Sanjo market, where we got thoroughly over excited in a 100 yen shop. We then stumbled upon an even more exciting find, a shop selling vintage Kimonos. I found the exquisite patterning and structure utterly irresistible, and ridiculously, I bought four. I may have to wear all of my other clothes on the plane home to fit them all in my luggage, but it’s absolutely worth it.

In the evening we visited a show of light and projected animation at Nijo
castle. The beautiful animation, soft compelling music and gently lit grounds, dotted with blossoming sakura and reflective waterways was astonishingly perfect. Mum and I are hoping to make a return visit to its stunning serenity on our last evening in Kyoto before we head for the hustle and bustle of Tokyo.

The weather has completely changed today and it has rained consistently so I have taken the opportunity to stay at the house and catch up on mail.

At lunchtime two of the Japanese artists , Taka and Megu , who will be exhibiting at the BE Kyoto Gallery with us, came to our house to run a calligraphy workshop. We removed all the furniture from the living room and put a huge tarpaulin down, covering the whole floor. Megu then set out our tools and brushes for us, it reminded me of the preparation for the tea ceremony, very precise.

The workshop was fun but actually very hard, there are so many subtle nuances within each individual letter. I had to write the word Kimono, as my job is within textiles, copying from the word Megu had written for me. I had lots of attempts but none of them were very elegant. At the end of the session Megu gave us a gift of our own names written very beautifully in Japanese, along with the meaning of each letter of our name. It will be good to meet up with Taka and Megu again at the exhibition.

We are now going out to a  local  food bar up the road . Yesterday we went to one at the other end of the road. The beef noodles were good and a very reasonable price. We got our first induction to crazy, crazy Japanese television in this bar! Will report back on tonight’s experience when we get home.

Just got home from a really gorgeous Italian meal at a Japanese restaurant, the cook spent a year in Italy. The young people serving were absolutely lovely. Going to bed very happy.

March 31 (Friday)

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Day 6

Today we focused on the many traditional crafts practiced around the city centre. In the morning we had the opportunity to try lacquer-ware, which requires a high level of decorative skill, patience and experience, which Lauren has in abundance- the phrase ‘duck to water’ comes to mind!

En-route to Sanjo market we met with some great clothes designers, including producers using ‘Shibori cloth’, the delightful owners of ceramic gallery Wakabaya; Mikiko and Naoki made us very welcome too.
The Gallery of Kyoto Traditional Arts & Crafts is a splendid place to see the best contemporary exponents in lacquer-ware, exquisitely pierced silverware and the finest wood-carving. Here you can sit, watch and talk with the artisans.

This evening was spent enchanted by the ‘Son et Lumiere’ show around the grounds of Nijo Castle.

Day 7

“Taking Water from an Ancient Well” literally and metaphorically.
The many shrines, temples and wells at some level are like an oasis providing sanctuary and refreshment for our souls. Inviting us to consider something outside ourselves- beyond our daily routine and endeavor. Light in darkness/darkness in light.
I am also reminded of something a Buddhist friend once said “give tone to form and form to tone” possibly an apposite mantra for life and art.

This morning I walked to the Museum of modern Art to see some of the
permanent collection. The Heian-Jingu shrine is in preparation for an event and this is juxtaposed by a lively game of baseball. A fine retrospective of the paintings of Yamada Masaki is currently showing. From his early European inspired works there is a strong flowering in the later works. These have a a monumental and architectural presence which evokes the power of stain glass. Also found within the museum are two very powerful large scale works by Richard Long using locally sourced clay slip.

Our afternoon has been spent in the company of Taka and Megu, who put on an excellent calligraphy workshop which we thoroughly enjoyed. I’m looking forward to framing ‘Sculptor’ in Japanese pictogram to put above my studio entrance!

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April 1 (Saturday)

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!

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After breakfast we strolled outside to be greeted by lovely blue sky and a warm sun. Ion district was our plan for this morning activity so we walked the whole distance which was very enjoyable as many all the woman were dressed in kimonos and the whole area had a buz to it. 
 
Within the area we found the Kennin–ji Temple which was another interesting find. This is the oldest Zen temple in Kyoto and home to the The Wind and Thunder Gods, which were depicted on the walls of the temple with gold background. In the main part of the temple on the ceiling The Twin Dragons were drawn by ink. Throughout the temple most panels had been decorated with drawings and paintings. 
As we walked through the gardens we saw a small building and we were unsure if, it was open to the public but we made our way to the entrance and were invited to the exhition of Power of Culture which was and exhibition of calligraphy and Japanese traditional paintings. An artist came over to explain about the exhibition and then went on to show her and her fathers work. All of the artworks were on material scrolls hanging with wooden poles at the bottom.
We also had to sign our name with a calligraphy brush.
 
The Private Viewing tonight was really a building of friendships and a great hospitality from all the people involved. We were asked to do a speech on our time in Kyoto and present our work. The whole environment was very friendly with lots of photographs been taken and some fantastic food and drinks.  
  
 
 
At the end I would like to thank EWAAC for giving me this opportunity to experience eastern culture and to have exhibition at the end is a real treat. 
 
I was inspired by Zen philosophy and will continue my work Drawing Time.
My residency may have ended in Kyoto but my journey into eastern culture will continue before it will end back in Tokyo. It starts with visit to Hiroshima to see the Atomic Bomb Dome, Peace Memorial Museum with the history of destruction occurred and general rebuilding of the city from the ruins of the blast.  
 
Also wanted to thank organiser Ken Morita, along with Yuki Nakahara and everyone who helped us to find our way around Kyoto and show us most beautiful places: shrines, temples, and surrounding gardens. Many thanks once again to everybody, this has been an experience of a lifetime and I have made some really good new friends who I hope I will meet when they come to England.

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This morning we dropped our works off at the gallery, meeting some
more of the Japanese artists who we will be exhibiting with, as well as having a chance to catch up with some of the fantastic people who have shared in our Kyoto journey so far. Leaving our work at the gallery with Yuki and Sachie, (who had rather a job of hanging it all), artists Keisuke and Mari took us under their wing for a day of astonishing cultural and artistic insights. Foremost among them was a visit to the gallery and studio of master gold leaf craftsman, Hakuya Noguchi.

On entering the gallery space, we were presented with tea and cake and a chance to view the impressive artworks and lovely garden space. Following this, we were led up a narrow staircase to the room where Noguchi shares his craft. It was as though the sun had been tamed by Noguchi’s profound skill and delicate hands, as though he had harnessed its beauty and golden light and could now freely bend it to his will. The wealth of information and knowledge he shared with us was over aweing. Gold leaf is something I have always been fascinated by and something I use heavily in my own work, so to be face to face with a master, learning from him in such a personal way was a truly emotive experience; It felt
almost a kin to a religious pilgrimage. We learnt about the traditional methods of creating gold leaf work, as well as how to weave it into stunning Obi’s using the most astonishingly delicate threads of what looked like distilled sunlight.

Afterward, Mari led us to the Nishijin textile center to see the Kimono
show which was great fun, and we spent a little while looking over the looms and woven work, seeing parallels and differences between the Japanese craft and the equipment used by Mum in her studio. We then headed over the house of Keisuke, where he had invited us to take part in a traditional tea ceremony. It was absolutely fascinating, we each had a go at making the macha tea and drinking and presenting it in the traditional way. K’s home, (like the man himself) was fascinating. His interests and skills are so diverse and all of this was perfectly represented in his living space. It was a really wonderful experience, so
much so that we got rather noisy and over excited and were told off for ‘ruining the zen!’

All in all, today was the gilded icing on the cake of a profoundly inspiring
and wholly enjoyable time in Kyoto, and a day that I think I will remember for the rest of my life.

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April 1 (Saturday)

We are ready for our exhibition from tomorrow. Thanks to all.

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These works shown are only a part of exhibits.

April 2 (Sunday)

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We awoke early on Sunday to visit Konchi-in in the peace of a beautiful
blue-skied morning, one of the most stunning places I’ve ever visited and a really meditative experience. The early house meant that we beat all of the tourists to it so were the only people there, which made it feel particularly special.

Afterward we headed on to another temple, intending to find the philosophers path and make the 2k stroll from there. However, we got rather lost and instead ended up climbing all the way to the top of Mount Daimongi! It was rather a challenge, but the meandering forest pathways were lovely and the views from the top spectacular. As we had climbed up rather unintentionally, we didn’t have any water or food with us, but a group of incredibly kind Japanese locals gave us water, cakes and sweets at the top, which supplied us with the energy to clamber back down! Another example of the seemingly inexhaustible kindness and generosity of the people we have met here.

In the evening we headed over to be-kyoto for the opening of our
exhibition, it was an absolutely wonderful evening and we had so much fun talking to all of the Japanese artists. I feel very privileged to have the opportunity to show with such interesting people and alongside so many great works.

Tomorrow is our last full day in Kyoto and I’m so reluctant to leave this amazing place, and equally determined to come back again soon!

EWAEE / APDA Opening : Artists Exchange Party

April 2 (Sunday)

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Photos by Masato Ugumori, Yoichiro Sakai and others

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