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I am currently working on a project inspired by my visit to Kyoto, Okayama and Tokyo at the end of 2012. The month long-trip was generously funded by Wales Arts International. I reproduce my initial, preliminary report here. Subsequent updates will be appended as the results of ongoing collaborative projects are exhibited. The first of these will be at Tregwynt Mansion in Pembrokeshire; 18th -24th August 2013.

Fishguard Arts Society

Fishguard Arts Society: Art Exhibition; “Drawn to the East: the magnetic attraction of Japan

Arton Gallery, Kyoto 11th – 24th December 2012

Project report: Glenn Ibbitson

Fishguard Arts Society has built up a reputation for the excellence of its

exhibitions and events. Not all these members are professional artists but a good number

of them have formidable artistic credentials.A major objective of the societyis to provide opportunities and publicity for our artists. With this in mind, we sought funding from WAI to assist in the exhibiting of a second group show in Kyoto, Japan.

In 2009 WAI had generously supplied funding in order for two members of FAS to travel with an exhibition to Kyoto in 2009. This was the “Cosmos in a CD Case” show, which had met with such commercial and critical acclaim that at the end of the exhibition, Mr. Kumura, the director at the Arton Art Gallery, had invited us to propose a future show to him.

Arton Art Gallery  http://www.arton-kyoto.com/

is a prestigious private gallery space on the ground floor in the Museum of Kyoto.

The building is a former bank built in the Meiji era, and is now an annexe to the modern building  where permanent and special exhibitions are held across three floors.

The Arton Art Gallery has a purported mailing list of over 1000 names.

Natsuki Kurimoto http://www.kcua.ac.jp/professors/natsuki-kurimoto/ ,Head of the

Department of Urushi Arts at the University of Kyoto, is our first FAS member in Japan and had been the liaison officer for the CD case project there.

Since 2009 we have been maintaining and strengthening our professional partnerships. Last December, Natsuki visited West Wales in December 2011 to meet up with some of the FAS artists. At the time of his visit, the society was displaying a selection of fridge magnets in Fishguard Library Gallery, comprising all small original artworks. The idea had come from one of our members, Denys Short. A versatile artist with a national reputation,

he had devised a series of magnet-backed works, which could be easily arranged/rearranged, for Oriel Q, in Narberth. http://www.orielqueenshallgallery.org.uk/DenysShort2011.html

It occurred to our Committee that there was potential to experiment with this medium.

Natsuki had been most taken with this magnet concept and decided to pitch this to Mr. Kamura, who was pleased to offer us a show on the basis of ‘magnetized art’.

We discovered online what Mr. Mikuri had already suspected; that a Japanese audience would be receptive to the concept, as some artists there were already using magnetic panels as a base for their art and film.

http:// http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=476QytH5tRc

Preliminaries

This Exhibition was entitled  ‘Drawn to the East – the Magnetic Attraction of Japan’ and would be in the Arton Art Gallery, Kyoto from 11th – 25th December.

Arton supplied a pricing structure for us to work with, and location map and show information in Japanese to attach to any of our printed publicity.

This info was used on a Flyer designed by Gaynor McMorrin.

Gaynor also contacted the local press and was featured in the Western Telegraph.

The key to the show was the relative ease of international transportation

We encouraged our artists to push away from the traditional use of a magnet to hold notes on a fridge door, yet retain their small scale.

Magnetic material was supplied together with a secure authorized metal box, certifiable for shipping via international air transport.

The most important element to the project was that, unlike our previous show at the Arton, this exhibition would not only feature the work of artists from Wales, but would also show fridge magnets by sixteen Japanese artists associated with the gallery. All the Japanese artists have had, or are having, one person shows with the Arton. These artists are established in varying arts fields, working in the commercial or educational worlds and, for some, both. They would bring their own specific audiences and contacts to the exhibition with whom we could engage and connect.

We established Facebook connections with a number of the artists prior to departure, though face to face engagement would make preparations for collaboration easier.

The Japanese artists included:

Makiko Berry

Makiko Berry http://www.artwanted.com/artist.cfm?ArtID=7799   painting

Hiroshi Ueta

Hiroshi Ueto     calligraphy

Fujiwara Masakazu  http://wara.hippy.jp   kinetic art and film

Chico Ando  http://andochika.blogspot.co.uk/  Illustration

Gaynor McMorrin [ceramicist and film-maker] Ian McMorrin [photographer] and Glenn Ibbitson [Painting and film-making] accompanied the show with the aims of:

1/ providing a direct interface with visitors during gallery stewarding times provide insight into current creative climate in West wales

2/ injecting a new cultural stimulus into our own practice by collaborating with

a Japanese exhibitor post- exhibition. The model for such a co-authoring would be an ongoing exchange of visual data through e-mail correspondence; one artist responding to and re-moulding visual imagery sent through from his or her partner artist. An ongoing exchange with only the  most vague of finishing points in mind. Possibilities, which immediately sprung to mind might incorporate calligraphy, dress/kimono design, screen and fan painting, film and anime works.

Having met with Hiroshi Ueto, exhibiting his fine art calligrapher with us, [elected as ‘state-of-the-art’ calligrapher by Kyoto City Art Association], we have already established a shared project. I am in the process of preparing preliminary pages of a graphic novel to which Hiroshi will add, and therefore influence, the course of subsequent pages and overall plotline. This we plan to publish using an online publishing suite, or if funding is available at a later date, printed by a Wales-based printing company.

3/ discuss other possible future partnered projects on behalf of other Fishguard Arts Society members who are exhibiting. The appetite is there on both sides to forge such remote cultural links

The tools available to lay foundations for these projects were portfolios of artists works [stills and film clips] on a 30 minutes long, looped DVD, and hard copy material of different kinds; promotional artists statements, books and catalogues, graphics, photographs, poetry and writings.

 

The Show; Arton Gallery

Arton gallery 1

arton2

arton gallery 2

ueta arton gallery

Small steel trays [roughly A4 size] were hung in random order across three walls of the gallery. Japanese works occupied one wall and this separation was illuminating: the Japanese artists display scored by way of finish; their wall comprised refined little treasures and keepsakes of quite exquisite detail -objects d’art if you will. Quality control was uniformly high and suggested a high degree of training at a purely technical level.

By contrast, the FAS contributions were of a more adventurous, enquiring nature; more experimental. Finish was a secondary consideration; immediacy and spontaneity more pre-eminent because our artists had created these works specifically for the show, often outside the comfort zone of their usual studio practice.

In consideration of the general economic downturn in the Japanese arts sector, the ten sales, which resulted from the show, were something of a bonus, especially as the real benefits lie ahead of us by way of creative links.

 

Calligraphy workshop with Hiroshi Ueta

An immediate result of the exhibition was an invitation from Hiroshi to spend an afternoon with him and perhaps try some calligraphy.

After a fortifying drink of sake, Hiroshi wrote out each of our Christian names in Kanji and Katakan. We were then tasked with reproducing these for ourselves. Having been informed that Gaynor meant ‘talented’ and Glenn [actually, Gren], stood for red or fire, we were filled with enthusiasm. There were two rules to follow;

I] hold the brush vertically and towards the end of the handle –not gripped near the ferrule at a Western angle.

2] don’t reload the brush during the drawing/writing of the word. The fading out of the line is an essential expression of individuality and lyricism.

Hiroshi Ueta studio

After that mission was accomplished, Hiroshi laid out a tabletop-sized sheet of paper and loaded up a large brush. He then swept across the sheet to write ‘waterfall’, the marks were a visual onomatopoeia and his movements reminded me of archive film of Pollock at work.

waterfall

Our respective efforts met with a sympathetic applause, which failed to disguise that our calligraphy lacked the relaxed arabesques required to elevate writing into an art form. Nevertheless, we did feel that our Japan trip had already begun to pay back.

Kei-Fu Gallery Kyoto

http://keifu.blog86.fc2.com/   director: Keiko Nomura

As a result of our participation at the Arton, we were invited to the preview of a group show of small works; both 2D and 3D. [upper gallery] There is of course no attempt in Japan to separate fine art from craft, This refreshingly uncondescending approach produces works with the finish and ergonometry of ‘craftwork’, without a commensurate functionality; substituted instead by a visual impact one would expect from a Western abstract painting.

Kei fu

Kei fu1

In the lower gallery, another student group were showing canvases, which revealed the dynamic collision of Eastern and Western styles. This is why Japanese artists are so enthusiastic about creative links; they seem more than willing to bring disparate elements together and investigate the fallout from the fusion.

Kei fu gallery

Kei fu gallery 2

Ms. Nomura reciprocated our visit by viewing the FAS show at the Arton and picked up a catalogue disc of FAS member’s work for future reference.

I Made contact with fellow guest, Sadaie Ayuko, http://www.sadaieayuko.com/index.html

a painter harnessing a Western style of rigorous close observation with an Eastern graphic sensibility.  A shared interest in insects –I keep bees; she includes them in her nature studies -suggested a possible collaboration of some kind in the future. We intend to link through Facebook as well as our websites as a preliminary to project discussion.

Since our 2009 visit, We have maintained contact with the St David’s Society [Kansai] http://cdsjapan.jimdo.com/ through Facebook. At this 2012 reunion with our friends, we supplied them with items from West Wales for a fundraising event they are planning. These included artist designed button badges, tea towels and of course, fridge magnets.

badges

We presented a slideshow of FAS artists works and a range of short films made by our artists. We also distributed information about one of our corporate members, Tregwynt Woollen Mill and promoted the new App. to make learning the Welsh National Anthem easier. This was developed by one of our members, Gwenno Davydd.’ Dragon Song’s is available on ITunes [educational]

Do you know what is traditionally brought into the Welsh farmhouse at Christmas? The traditional shape of a mince pie? Chikako Hirono did; she compiled the questions for a Welsh flavoured Christmas quiz. The winner was one of our Japanese friends, after a tie- break –far more well versed in Welsh tradition than we are!

Professional.Contacts outside Kyoto.

Okayama

In Okayama, we visited Yasuhiko Nozaki, President of the Nagai Engyo and his wife

Mikiko Nozaki, who have become interested in Wales and our artists through Gaynor and Ian’s visit with them in 2009. Mikiko proved a generous courier, organizing and driving us to the highlight venues in her region; as good place as any in Japan to analyse the fruitful artistic tension to be found at the intersection of the cultural tectonic plates of traditional Eastern art and Western modernism.

1/ The Nozaki house; Kurashiki City

http://okayama-japan.jp/en/facilitys/636/682.html

is the old Nozaki family home. Because it one of the last surviving Edo period merchant’s houses, it was designated an Okoyama Prefectural Historic Site in 1977.

Mikiko organised a special visit in which we were able to sketch in the grounds of the house and given access to some of the extensive collection of painted screens and ceremonial, handpainted, gold-leafed fans; graphic arts of the highest order.

Nozaki fan

Nozaki house

2/ Ohara Museum: Kurashiki City.

http://www.ohara.or.jp/200707/eng/menu.html

Houses Western art collected by Kojima Torajiro.

The quality of some of the paintings in the collection -Cezanne, Gauguin, Rodin, Matisse, Modigliani suggest he assimilated the Post-Impressionists and early Modernists well before other collectors in Europe who were much closer to the centres of production.

auguste rodin

giacometti

3/ Art House project; Naoshima

http://www.benesse-artsite.jp/en/arthouse/index.html

The Art House Project takes empty houses and turns the spaces over to installation projects; a model to which the Arts Council of Wales could give consideration at a time vacant shop units are proliferating in our own high streets. We visited two installations.

i/ Tatsuo Miyajima’s ‘Sea of Time ’98’ was created using the pulse rates of local residents. These are displayed on LED units submerged in a pool, in a darkened interior. The effect of gazing down and across this constellation is both cosmic, and marvellously life-affirming.

ii/ Yoshihiro Suda’s ‘Tree of Spring’ sculpture was inspired by the painting Falling Camellia by Hayami Gyoshu. On the floor of this ‘meeting house’ are scattered fallen camellia bossoms; it takes more than an initial cursory glance to realize that these are painted ceramics. In season, these must have provided a visual intrigue with the real camellia outside in the garden.

4/ Lee Ufan Museum

http://www.benesse-artsite.jp/en/lee-ufan/index.html

A semi-underground structure resulting from collaboration between the internationally acclaimed Korean artist Lee Ufan, and the architect Tadao Ando, it houses paintings and sculptures spanning a period from the 1970s to the present day. Ufan’s work ranges widely, from circular abstracts constructed with means as basic as a household brush on string, to an installation which projects film clips of meteorological phenomena on the lee shadow of a large piece of volcanic rock. What unites them is a fusion of Western exhuberance and the refined Eastern eye for surface quality and placement.

ufan gallery

5/ Chichu Art Museum

http://www.benesse-artsite.jp/en/chichu/index.html

Perhaps no other museum fully encapsulates the fusion of Eastern and Western visual traditions more than the Chichu. Architect Tadao Ando has created a subterranean complex with minimal surface footprint, yet which provides perfect overhead lighting for the galleries. Works by Monet, James Turrell and Walter de Maria here look perfectly assimilated into the Eastern visual syntax. Finish and presentation are at one with concept and imagery in each of the works. Perhaps this is effected by the space given to each exhibit. Monet’s Water Lilies occupy separate, otherwise empty walls so they can each be enjoyed in splendid isolation. Turrell’s actual shapes of light cannot be separated from the whole room required to stage his sleights of hand , while in the case of de Maria’s ‘Time/Timeless/No Time’, everything in the room is a component of one of the quietest, yet most disturbing installations I have experienced.

chichu inland sea

[Chichu overlooking the Inland Sea; surely one of the best restaurant views on the planet?]

Tokyo

We stayed with Emeritus professor from Ferris University, Kazuko Hisamori, http://www.jasna.org/persuasions/on-line/vol32no1/hisamori.html who has written extensively on European art and C19th century English literature, and her husband, Akira Satake  who is this year’s winner of the Imperial Prize and the Japan Academy Prize for his work on the book of Revelations.

Kasuko arranged appointments for us with:

1/ Ginza Yanagi Gallery

http://www.yanagi.com/    Director Yoko Noro

a white space private gallery on the lines of a London Cork Street establishment, it showed simultaneously traditional western art from 1920’s-50’s, while in the process of setting up a contemporary Japanese style show in the larger room.

The economic situation for commercial galleries in Japan is currently difficult; Ms. Noro was unable to offer us any opportunity; she is even reticent about taking on Japanese artists with an established local reputation which might help sell their work to a cautious art buying public. Representational painting in both traditional Eastern and Western Modernism are fairly safe grounds, but installation, sculpture and video are difficult commodities to sell.

2/Nikon Gallery:

http://www.nikon-image.com/activity/salon/  exhibition organizer: Nagamachi Fumikiyo.

A large gallery space, adjacent to the Nikon photographic showroom is available to fine art photographers [still]. With new technology to play with and a 28th floor vista across the Shinjuku area of Tokyo, this space attracts a high footfall of self-selected gallery visitors.

Nikon Pentre Ifan

International proposals are invited, but acceptance for a show is dependant upon the exhibitor stewarding; opportunities for critical and creative dialogue are there for those who are prepared to spend the time in the gallery. Submission forms are available on the Salon website. During our visit Yamato Hozumi was in residence, showing large photographs on an ecological theme. Seemingly Beautiful images of an abstract nature, they were in fact areas of earth and water, polluted by chemical waste or effluent; and a pebble shore contaminated by radioactivity leaked from the reactor at Fukushima after last year’s earthquake.

Nikon Gallery

SourceURL:file:///Users/caroleking/Desktop/definitive%20WAI%20report.doc

3/Space Zero

http://www.spacezero.co.jp/gallery  [translation available]

Two versatile spaces available to rent, but prohibitive rates; beyond the means of the individual without substantial funding/sponsorship.

4/ Hara Kiyoshi:

http://www.joshibi.ac.jp/english/university/#pagelink01

Director of the Joshibi University of Art and Design

President of the Celtic Society, Hara is interested in developing links through the medium of Welsh language and the written word. This link may prove useful to the writers and poets in our society who use the medium of Welsh.

Television interview:

We were approached in Ginza by a two-woman TV crew who wished to conduct an interview for a Fuji TV vox-pop programme, to be aired the following day at 3pm on National Channel Nine. They were interested in our views, as Western visitors, of the previous day’s National election results, which had pushed the nation to the right. We expressed our concerns about current foreign policy and when the questioning moved to the Western public’s perception of Japan, we suggested that they develop a more positive image and greater understanding through scientific, educational and cultural links between countries, using the same central funding model as the WAI, which had enabled us to present our project to the Japanese public. After a good quarter of an hour, they left for further interviews laden with FAS info, Arton Gallery flyers and artist-created button badges depicting aspects of West Wales!

 

 

Before flying out to Japan, I had arranged to meet with Journalist Julian Ryall. As East Asian correspondent for the Daily Telegraph, Julian was responsible for airing a most curious story from Japan several years ago.

Daily Telegraph Monday 23rd January, 2008 By Julian Ryall in Tokyo:

Tokyo homeless woman lived in stranger’s cupboard for a year

A homeless woman has been arrested after living undetected for almost a year in a tiny cupboard in a man’s house in Japan.

The woman, identified as 58-year-old Tatsuko Horikawa, was found by police searching the home of the man, who believed he lived alone in Fukuoka.

The resident of the house, who has not been named, became suspicious that he was the victim of repeat burglaries after he noticed food was going missing from his refrigerator.

The man decided to install security cameras linked to his mobile phone and on Wednesday caught images of a woman walking around the house while he was out.

Believing he had detected the burglar, the man contacted police and, after an exhaustive search of the property, officers found the woman hiding in the top of a built-in cupboard designed to store bedding and mattresses.

Behind the sliding door, she had laid out a thin futon and had several plastic drinks bottles, police said. There was just enough room for her to lay down, they added.

“We searched the house, checking everywhere that someone could possibly hide,” said Hiroki Itakura, a police spokesman. “When we slid open the closet door, there she was, curled up nervously on her side.”

Horikawa told police that she had nowhere to live and had first taken up residence in the cupboard, in a room that the man rarely used, about one year previously when the owner of the house had gone out and not locked the door.

Police believe she may have moved between different addresses in the neighbourhood during her stowaway year.

The woman did not apparently steal any money or other items from the house, but did make use of the shower and toilet.

The police described Horikawa as looking neat and clean. She was charged with trespassing.

This article had provided the springboard for a film project, which became ‘Tatsuko’, a 44 minute, silent, B&W feature

TATSUKO movie

http://tatsukomovie.blogspot.co.uk/

 

I had contacted Julian while writing my screenplay, and when the opportunity for a journey to Japan arose, we arranged a meeting. Before my departure, Julian had mentioned the film to his editor at Acumen, the magazine for the British Chamber of Commerce in Japan,  https://www.bccjapan.com/  who suggested an interview with me about the project. We met at the Foreign Correspondents Club on the 20th Floor of the Yurakucho-Denkai building, located near the Imperial Palace grounds in the Marunouchi area of Tokyo, between Tokyo Central Station and Ginza.

Foreign correspondents club

Tokyo Imperial Gardens

SourceURL:file:///Users/caroleking/Desktop/definitive%20WAI%20report.doc

Julian had already viewed the film, so his enquiries dwelt upon the logistics of the film making process. He was particularly interested in the contingencies of the film’s funding. The film’s running time of 44 minutes 22 seconds had proved too long for the Wales Arts Council; too short for Film Agency for Wales. [Why does central funding impose these arbitrary restrictions? It effectively excludes work with a length of 10 –60 minutes. This is just the kind of length, which would appeal to TV companies with ten minute, half-hour and hour-long slots to fill. I feel that with some central support, fine art film could reach a mass audience through the medium of television and thereby inform a public which would never think of entering a white space gallery showing art video.]  This represented a missed opportunity for a Wales funding agency to fly its logo in a Japan-based publication. Julian was interested in the mechanics of crowd-funding, through which I had raised £1000, to cover the costs of:

1/ Trailer production: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7NwVwNk0NuA&list=HL1349643224&feature=mh_lolz

2/composition and recording studio hire for a soundtrack by musician Wyn Lewis Jones  www.fflach.co.uk/

3/ marketing and distribution: showings in London and beyond

4/ production of a project book: http://www.blurb.co.uk/b/3243168-tatsuko?redirect=true

Rather than simply being asked to contribute money, a sponsor was offered a range of rewards in exchange for pledges. This became an opportunity to not only acquire some unique, tangible art product [postcards, screenprints, original drawings and paintings], but to have their name added to both film credit roll and the project book, as a patron of the arts.

While the article dealt mainly with the film, I mentioned the WAI –funded FAS show at the Arton gallery and our plans for artistic partnerships linking West Wales and Japan.

In my turn, I was interested in gaining some insights from a Brit who has been living in Tokyo for almost 30 years and who knows the lie of the socio-political land there. Two threads particularly interested me:

1/ The nature of Homelessness in Japan.

Japanese homeless were more publicly visible than on my previous visit.  Honour and welfare criteria are inextricably linked here, with families able to claim state assistance only when the head of the household has absented himself. I have plans in mind to address this issue through my visual art.

Kyoto homeless

2/ The Japanese military tradition.

Our conversation naturally ran to the contradiction between the apparently peaceable reverence for nature and life, and the behaviour of the Japanese military during the 1930’s and 40’s. Julian Suggested a visit to the Yasukuni Shrine might be illuminating.

In Britain, we are virtually blind to the memorials to the war dead which were erected in almost every village and town. There are no equivalents in Japan. The one focus for the commemoration of war dead is the controversial Yasukuni Shrine  and Yushukan war museum, North of the imperial Palace grounds.

tokyo yasukuni

Why controversial? All war dead are enshrined here; this includes convicted ‘Class A war criminals’ and as such occasionally becomes a site for demonstrations by nationalistic and far right groups. Western reaction to this is generally one of knee-jerk revulsion, but one must consider both the historical record from a Japanese viewpoint, and the ethics and validity of war trials where only the vanquished face justice.

A/ Following the enforced opening up of the country to trade exploitation by means of American gunboat diplomacy in 1854, a catalogue of unequal economic and military treaties was imposed on Japan thereafter. Denied the fruits of military victory after the Great War by its Western allies, and frustrated by them in attempts to develop an empire, Japan excused itself from obligations to the League of Nations to invade the Asian mainland, colliding with US trade interests in the process and eventually leading to World War.

Something I had not been made aware of while studying the history of the League of Nations, was that the Japanese delegation to the Paris peace conference had proposed a “racial equality clause” in the Covenant of the League of Nations. The first draft was presented to the League of Nations Commission on 13 February as an amendment to Article 21:

“The equality of nations being a basic principle of the League of Nations, the High Contracting Parties agree to accord as soon as possible to all alien nationals of states, members of the League, equal and just treatment in every respect making no distinction, either in law or in fact, on account of their race or nationality.”

The proposal received a majority vote on the day. 11 of the 17 delegates present voted in favour of its amendment to the charter, and no negative vote was taken. The votes for the amendment tallied thus:

Japan (2) Yes

France (2) Yes

Italy (2) Yes

    Brazil (1) Yes

Republic of China (1) Yes

Greece (1) Yes

Serbia (1) Yes

Czechoslovakia (1) Yes

Total: 11 Yes

British Empire (2) – Not Registered

United States (2) – Not Registered

Portugal (1) – Not Registered

Romania (1) – Not Registered

Belgium (2) – Absent

The chairman, President Wilson, overturned the result. ‘Strong opposition’ had manifested itself, and so on this issue a unanimous vote would now be required. This amendment challenged the established norms of the Western dominated international system of the day, which involved the colonial subjugation of non-white peoples. Britain presided over an empire in which Australian and South African whites pursued racist policies against indigenous populations, while U.S. president Woodrow Wilson required the support of Southern senators representing segregationist interests. [By 1945, the mood of the international system changed dramatically, so that this contentious point of racial equality was incorporated into the United Nations Charter in 1945 as the fundamental principle of international justice.]  In the face of this triumph of politics over principle by the West, a resentful Japan in its turn failed to invest political collateral in the League.

B/ War trials are an instrument of international law invariably wielded by the victors over the vanquished. The Japanese military machine did commit atrocities against humanity. Nanjing, Manilla, the Burma Railway and the appalling operations of Unit 731 take their place beside Auschwitz, Katyn and the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. Against these, one may position the decision to release the nuclear firestorms, which engulfed Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Forgive my scepticism, but might these equally be regarded as ‘Class-A war crimes’?

Perhaps this is why Justice Radha Binod Pal is something of a hero to the Japanese people. A lone dissenting voice against criminal convictions at the Tokyo Trials in 1946, he held the view that the legitimacy of the tribunal was suspect and questionable, because the spirit of retribution, and not impartial justice, was the underlying criterion for passing judgment. Indeed, the whole process was morally bankrupted by the decision of  Allied Supreme Commander General MacArthur to exempt all members of the Japanese Imperial family from facing responsibility for war crimes for reasons of contingency rather than justice, and his secret granting of immunity to the physicians of Unit 731 in exchange for providing America with the fruits of their research on biological warfare, human vivisection and un-anaesthetised surgery. Injustice piled upon injustice.

*              *             *            *

It is hoped that this trip will form the strong base for an ongoing cultural exchange between Japan and West Wales

1/  Natsuki Kurimoto has agreed to give a demonstration and lecture on Urushi to FAS on his next visit.

2/  Kazuko Hisamori would also be very happy to talk and discuss her new project on the Shibaraki and Bernard Leach’s influence on the history of Japanese ceramics.

We would hope that when dates are finalised we can arrange for both of them to speak in further venues in Wales.

3/  In anticipation of some collaborative projects bearing fruit, we have provisionally arranged Gallery space in Tregwynt  Mansion in the Autumn 2013. In the event of any of the Japanese artists travelling to Wales, We can arrange a programme of art tours and workshops for them. Some of our artists have said they would be willing to share their studio workspace for the duration of their visit, while others are more than willing to provide accommodation.

A pleasant aside to the venture was the response it elicited at home in our absence. On our return, Gaynor, as FAS Chair, had received a letter from Stephen Crabb, MP. [dated12th December]

“I was very pleased to read in the Western Telegraph this week that Fishguard Arts Society is taking an exhibition of their magnetic work to Kyoto in Japan. This is a brilliant opportunity to showcase, on an international level, the skill and expertise of artists based here in Fishguard.

I would like to congratulate you as a society on this fantastic achievement and I wish you all the best with your future endeavours.”

 

Because we are only at the beginning of what we hope will be a series of collaborative projects, this is by definition, a preliminary report. I hope to append further notes on developments and outcomes in the coming months.

FAS generally, and Gaynor McMorrin, Ian McMorrin and Glenn Ibbitson in particular, would like to thank the personnel at WAI for their vital support with this venture.

Glenn Ibbitson, FAS    January, 2013

WAI

Wales Arts International facilitate international work in the arts through collaborations, projects, networks and communication and provide advice and support to artists and arts organisations from Wales who work on an international level.