To coincide with the opening of the Olympic Games in Tokyo this month, we are celebrating Japanese excellence across art, design, technology and culture. Japanese craftsmanship is woven into the fabric of everyday life, and during London Craft Week there will be opportunities to discover the master artisans who are keeping ancient techniques alive – and reinventing them too. Read on to explore our selection of highlights from this year’s programme of events…
Image credit: Will Barker, The London Blacksmith
The ancient Japanese concept of ‘Takumi’, meaning ‘artisan’, embodies a blend of skill and spirit. A Takumi master craftsman has a remarkable depth and breadth of knowledge, testament to years of dedicated learning. London Craft Week’s Takumi Townhouse, in association with Lexus, will bring together masters artisans working across the disciplines of leather, glass, metal, wood and paper. Taking inspiration from Lexus’s In Search of Takumi, a series of films focussing on highly skilled artisans in the UK, including Peter Layton, Sally Burnett, Otis Ingrams and Will Barker the exhibition will showcase their work, with pieces commissioned by Lexus as well as new work from other distinguished makers.
Sixty miles from Tokyo, the town of Kasama exists at the point where the urban sprawl gives way to mountains and rice fields. A key supplier of ceramics to Tokyo for centuries, the town has become an established creative retreat and is a vital location for a new wave of emerging Japanese ceramicists. During London Craft Week, a collective of 34 of the region’s Potters will showcase a myriad of different ceramic techniques and styles that embody a spirit of freedom and individual expression.
Image: Mishio Suzuki/ Wagumi
For artist and jewellery designer Saori Kunihiro, calligraphy involves rubbing the ink, calming the mind, and then concentrating on each stroke to write the characters. Unlike a pen, calligraphy with a brush means you can control the thickness of the letters by the strength of the push, the speed of the movement and the inclination of the brush. Saori will be leading an online calligraphy masterclass during the festival from her home in Kyoto, guiding participants through the tools and techniques of this ancient art form.
Image: Saori Kunihiro
From their beginnings in Tokyo in 1932, the artisans at sghr have applied traditional Japanese design techniques to create handmade glassware that expresses the natural beauty of the medium. With a reputation as one of Japan’s finest craft glass studios, during London Craft Week there’ll be an opportunity to experience sghr’s glassware first hand at a sake tasting and cocktail making workshop at Pantechnicon in Belgravia, a space that brings together food, drink, design and craftsmanship from Japan and the Nordics.
Japan’s Sakai City is famed for its hand-forged knives which boast around 600 years of history and are favoured by many chefs. For London Craft Week, Japan House presents a virtual trip to Sakai City. Meet the master craftspeople making Sakai forged knives, and discover the centuries-old craftsmanship that gives the knives the exceptional sharpness and durability for which they are renowned. During the festival, there will also be a chance to explore another ancient Japanese craft with jewellery designer Okamoto Naho. Raden is a technique involving the inlaying of precious mother-of-pearl into lacquer or wood, and has been used in Japan since the Nara period (710-794 CE).
Image: Japan House
The London Craft Week 2021 programme launches on Wednesday 25 August. Follow us @londoncraftweek to receive the latest updates.
Featured Image: Lexus
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