Comments on the Gold Prize Winners (2/2)
OHNISHI ───── Next, we would like Ms. Setsuko YAMADA to comment on the Gold Prize winner ‘Nanako Lacquerware Large Dish “Sunlight.”’
YAMADA ───── Unlike the other members of the Final Assessment Panel, I looked at the works from the position of a liaison between the creators and the users of Urushi ware, and I focused on the roles that Urushi will play in society. I participated in the Final Assessment in order to select technically accomplished works, but other questions are important too: What kind of Urushi ware fits for our modern lifestyle compared to traditional Urushi culture? What should Urushi do for the future? This year we received a sharp rebuke from nature with the COVID-19 Crisis for neglecting nature. Since the Renaissance, people have believed that the culture of human life was the most important. We entered into industrialized society and rushed toward easy and convenient everyday lives. I’m afraid that we lost something important by valuing economic efficiency above all else.
Although I was not an employee, for 50 years I have connected customers with creators through my research at a department store located in Ginza. After an absence of two months, on June 1st it became apparent that the best-selling items had been furniture. Not many customers used to purchase furniture, most people have simply obeyed their bosses’ orders for a long time. I wonder whether this COVID-19 Crisis occurred as the period of time when we can take control of ourselves.
Now furniture sells well, and more men enjoy working in the kitchen. Many more customers have visited the department store to buy kitchen goods. In a sense, this is a positive tendency. The customers who care about the creators have reappeared to look at the exhibits after the department store reopened. This makes me happy, I think that people have been hungry for something certain.
I hope we will manage this difficult COVID-19 Crisis and we can live in a better way together. The time will come when we can move forward, and in order to do that, creators and users, as well as intermediaries like us will have to review the past, recognize that the situation up until today was abnormal, and decide to stand at the starting line together. With such a feeling, I joined the Final Assessment.
Regarding the submitted works, the artists created them before the COVID-19 Crisis.
Of course, everyone could sense that the earth was in danger by looking at the forest fires in Australia. In such circumstances, I feel that the submitted works hold a true gentleness and goodness to touch our hearts.
Now, I will comment on this large 50cm-diameter tray. It is both a tray and a platter. Honestly speaking, works using the Nanakonuri technique tend to look a little too serious in the natural features of the local area, Aomori, and they don’t fit for our modern lifestyle. In the past, a Nanakonuri table was durable and well-liked by the local people. I have thought that Nanakonuri is simply too much to present food to the guests because the food doesn’t stand out. I thought that by not coating the middle, the food presented on the platter may look better. Then I came across this work where the Nanakonuri appears like beautifully woven patterns.
The work was exhibited as it is today. I turned over the work to look at the other side. Before I turned it over, the work had only received one vote, my vote. When I turned it over, the other Panel members gave the work more and more votes, saying “It’s a good work.” I was so happy. The artist finished the other side of the work with great care, which is quite different from typical Nanakonuri. Usually in the case of a Nanakonuri finish, Kurodome finish is easily applied. Both sides can be attractively used. This piece can be a low table for sake cups. Another usage of this work is Karidoko, or a temporary alcove. These days, not many people decorate the alcove in their guest room in the house. You can set the tray there alone and set a flower vase and hang a scroll behind it. This work can be used in many ways and this gives great enjoyment. The seriousness of Nanakonuri is used to great effect. I’m happy to select this work as the Gold Prize winner. I hope the COVID-19 Crisis will be an opportunity for serious artists and artisans living and working in the severe nature of Tsugaru to review how much repetition of coating and polishing they should do.
You can set this tray with the surface side on the top and sit cross-legged around it. You can present food on the other side and enjoy the food. One piece of Urushi ware has numerous usages. This is Nanakonuri with a new life. A new light is shining on the local area, Aomori, and they are entering the next era. I would like you to hold this work. It’s light and you can set this anywhere. This is excellent Urushi ware.
I think a container or piece of ware has a soul. The form is important, of course, however, what is more important is the moment when creator’s soul touches the user’s soul. Once the two meet with each other, the ware can be used to its fullest potential. Urushi ware is not what you purchase as an asset or property, Urushi ware should be used. The more often you use Urushi ware, the more beautiful it will be. Among today’s audience, I’m sure many of you have worked with Urushi. I hope you will consider what you should do in the future as well as how you can value tradition. Once more, I would like to emphasize how happy I am that this work is selected as a Gold Prize winner.