Saturday, September 17, 2016

Wordsworth and Basho: Walking Poets, Kakimori Bunko, Itami

A modified version of the 2014 exhibition 'Wordsworth and Basho: Walking Poets', which was held at the Wordsworth Museum in Grasmere, will be on display at Kakimori Bunko, Itami, Japan, from 17 September to 3 November 2016. I have made new work for this exhibition based on research undertaken during my ceramics residency in Seto, Japan. 

Again, my work responds to themes of memory and the ephemerality of the human condition in the work of both Basho and Wordsworth. While Basho often revisited ruins and other sites of communal memory, Wordsworth was concerned that human endeavour – including monuments and works of literature – was at risk of destruction through catastrophe and would be outlasted by nature. This work takes as inspiration Wordsworth’s The Ruined Cottage and the well-known ‘summer grass’ haiku from The Narrow Road to the Deep North composed by Basho when he visited the abandoned estate at Hiraizumi, in 1689.

In a haiku written in 1678, Basho refers to the annual procession made by Dutch traders from their enclave in Dejima, Nagasaki, to pay homage to the Shogun in distant Edo. During the Edo Period (1600–1868), it was only the Dutch and Chinese who were permitted to trade with Japan, providing a limited portal to the world. Pottery sherds recovered from Dejima show that the Dutch took British ceramics, including transfer-printed Sunderland pottery, to Japan in the nineteenth century. Through form and surface decoration, my work explores the idea of hybridity, blending east and west, and attempting to show commonalities in the work of both poets. My porcelain vessels feature imagery derived from research into ruined industrial sites in Seto, a traditional centre of Japanese pottery production. Setomonogatari is a portmanteau  word formed from Setomono – the traditional term for Seto pottery – and monogatari, meaning ‘story’. Blades of glass grass grow from the vessels, suggesting the endurance of nature over culture. 

Work made for the show: Setomonogatari 5 – Iga to Nagasaki (2016)
Porcelain, glaze, pink lustre, ceramic decals, glass, mixed media, 
Approx. 45 x 24 x 22 cm
Photo: Jo Howell, 2016

Setomonogatari 6 – The Ruined Cottage (2016)
Porcelain, glaze, pink lustre, ceramic decals, glass, mixed media, 
Approx. 43 x 24 x 22 cm
Photo: Jo Howell, 2016

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