…..Wabi Sabi is a distinctly Japanese ideal. It’s the world view or aesthetic centered on the acceptance of transcence and imperfection. Beauty that is imperfect, impermanent and incomplete. The characteristics of Wabi Sabi include asymmetry, roughness or irregularity, simplicity, economy, austerity, modesty & an appreciation of the ingenuous integrity of natural objects and processes. Please do read more on Wikipedia!
Brush painting may be said to contain Wabi Sabi as paintings should include; rough/smooth, dark/light, thick/thin and be done in a spontaneous manner enjoying the imperfections as a metaphor of life. When one paints flowers, it’s of great value to show all the stages of the subject. For example, when expressing Cherry or Plum, one would show all the ‘faces’;….the bud, a partially opened blossom, full view, side view and a blossom missing some petals. The ‘spent’ blossoms would be the Wabi Sabi element. If a Chrysanthemum is painted, a decayed leaf at the bottom of the stem adds great dignity or Wabi Sabi to the painting.
I became intrigued with this concept many years ago when a student gave me a precious little book on Wabi Sabi. It’s cover was hand made in a rough manner and it was tied with twine. Beautiful! I’ve also enjoyed a book on flowers (photographs) where all of the subjects were in various stages of decay.
We had the privilege of meeting Mr. Tani Toshitaka, Master Potter in Shigaraki which is also the name of the style of pottery he has mastered.
But first, Mr. Toshitaka prepared tea for us …….
Along with the tea, special sweets….little pastel colored pieces of rock candy!
We looked about at all of the amazing works (you can see a few behind Pam above) and also wandered into the area displaying Mr. Toshitaka’s collection of ‘Old Imari’ which we were delighted to find out were also for sale. Note: All shoes were left at the door!
After purchases were made, a hike to see the kiln was in order. My memory is that it’s quite old and that Mr. Toshitaka’s father also used it. It’s huge and I wish my photograph did it justice.
Here are some of the bags of clay waiting to be turned into sublime objects in the master’s hands!
There were several ‘sheds’ stacked with various types of wood. This ‘stack’ is right next to the kiln.
The various ‘pieces’ appear to have been glazed but were not. Through some strange alchemy, the heat combined with the various types of wood account for this effect. One never knows how the piece will come out of the kiln and that’s where the Wabi Sabi comes in. One must be prepared for divergence in the plan!
Mr. Toshitaka’s brother is a Bonsai expert and also a potter. He ‘threw’ a pot for the group and thanks to Pam here’s the photo of that.
Here he is working on his bonsai.
Just in case you’re wondering, I did get a charming, small vase. It’s perfect to hold brushes in the studio and I was drawn to it because it’s just so lopsided, not wanting to conform to our usual notion of a vase.
As always, Bonnie got with the program right away. She and Charlie are the most fun to be with as they are so interested in everything and have developed such refined eyes. Bonnie knew immediately the piece that was ‘hers’! She told me, "As we sipped our Green tea, I looked around at all of his works of art when my eyes fell upon a gorgeous flower vase with a long neck. When I picked it up, the base fit perfectly in my cupped hands and I felt the energy of the piece vibrate in my palms. It was a perfect melding of earth and art. Some of the ‘glazing’ had dripped down the neck creating a wonderful Wabi Sabi effect – the one and only vase for me!" Thank you Bonnie…..that was beautiful!!!
And it’s off to our next adventure!