work, reflection & wabi-sabi


my almost three-month stay in japan is now, sadly, over..

however, i have had a very special and memorable time, and got an unique chance to experiment and develop new work during my time as visiting scholar at toyama city institute of glass art, japan.

I applied for this residency with the aim of creating new work, inspired by the japanese term wabi-sabi. my interest and appreciation of wabi-sabi goes back many years, and I was thrilled to get the opportunity to go (back) to japan, and thoroughly study this in the spirit and land of its origin.

wabi-sabi is more a term of feeling and philosophy as it is a thing in itself. It can be quite difficult to define, even for japanese. It roots back to zen buddhism and the aesthetics of japanese tea ceremony, yet over the years it has evolved into an appreciation of a certain beauty of the imperfect, irregular, modest and unpretentious. this is put very shortly as wabi-sabi is greatly fragmented, and for me, is endlessly interesting and inspiring. Also because it in theory, is quite irreconcilable with glass - as glass tends to represent shiny, ornamented and lasting perfect shapes…        

my approach has therefore been, not to create wabi-sabi directly, but to explore elements and feeling of wabi-sabi throughout my work with glass. the work - line of thought - is a result of this, appreciating a non-representational, intimate, murky and quiet expression.  

the glass is made with iron powder, which defines the shapes with a rough and irregular texture. in its structure, change of intensity, direction and the creation of spaces, depths and traces - it has a reminiscence of “shodo” - japanese calligraphy and “suibokuga” - ink wash paintings - which I, along with wabi-sabi, have been appreciating and studying further during my stay.

i want to thank everybody at tiga for a wonderful time and experience, and especially jin hongo for his support, challenge and helpfulness.

under here, a few (ok. quite a few) glimpses from my stay of “true” wabi-sabi (or at least my understanding of it) is to be found…

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