Shinichi YAMAMURA (Japan)
President of Cobo Design Co., Ltd.
This year the Ishikawa International Urushi Exhibition 2020 celebrates its twelfth event.
At the previous exhibition held in 2017, the eleventh event, 176 works were submitted.
This year the exhibition received 215 submissions including 70 works from abroad. The total number of submissions is 39 more than that of the exhibition in 2017. At the same time, the range of age groups of participating artists is wider than before. Considering the future of the Urushi industry, this is a wonderful trend. In both the Art and Design Categories, the types of submissions vary from pure art works, tableware and accessories, to musical instruments, Buddhist altar fittings, stationery and audio device parts.
This year in particular, I am amazed by the wide range of diversity in techniques, materials, and methods.
Urushi has more than 10,000 years of history since the Paleolithic Age, which shows the width and depth of the craft. This Assessment provided me with the opportunity to reflect on the world of “Urushi”.
The Grand Prize goes to “Four-Tiered Box” submitted to the Design Category. Like the sculptor-monk Enkū from the Edo period, the artist boldly hewed the Urushi tree from which he finished taking the sap. He hollowed out the tree core and set it on a base board. He finished the work beautifully with a traditional Urushi technique.
This artist plants Urushi trees, takes the sap, cuts down the trees and seasons the trees all by himself. From this lifestyle, he developed the idea of such techniques and methods. He gives the trees a new life as Urushi ware. This Urushi ware will continue to live for many more years, which is a fabulous concept. This is also an ecological concept which should be shared as a challenge with the whole world. This theme is particularly important in Japan where we obtain only a small amount of the Urushi sap.