A friend recently gave me this Yixing-style teapot with tea bowls, glass water pot and bamboo tray. What a thing of beauty it is. So tiny you can hold the teapot in the palm of your hand.It reminds me of a print I loved from Bristol Museum’s Master of Japanese Prints ‘Life in The City’ (Okita of the Naniwaya teahouse, by Kitagawa Utamaro I) and a reminder that the third exhibition in the series ‘Masters of Japanese Prints: Nature & Seasons’ is only on for a few more weeks. I pack my notepad and camera and set off for the museum.
The gallery welcomes me with Spring in full bloom. The walls are abundant with blossoming cherry trees and a fine sprinkle of yellow mountain roses and wisteria. Under the cherry trees people in boats are gazing up at the blossom as petals float down the river. There’s an exchange of poetry and a game of hide and seek. A courtesan is reading a letter. In the grounds of a temple, people are gathered for the annual Cherry Blossom Viewing.
In Summer people are celebrating the festivals. Kites and lanterns. Carp streamers for Children’s Day. The meeting of a heavenly weaver and a herdsman. Peonies, Irises and Morning Glory. Summer rain, boats and fishermen on the choppy deep sea.
Autumn brings full moons and red maple leaves. Orange persimmons and chrysanthemums. Wild geese, sweetfish and bush clover.
As I arrive at winter, one of the prints (Parody of the Ukifune Chapter: Ferry on the Sumida River by Utagawa Hiroshige) reminds me of a song I am working on for my Winter EP. The original poem Falling Snow is by the imagist poet Amy Lowell who was inspired by Japanese prints.
The snow whispers around me
And my wooden clogs
Leave holes behind me in the snow.
But no one will pass this way
Seeking my footsteps,
And when the temple bell rings again
They will be covered
By Amy Lowell
A couple of years ago I produced a limited edition of letter-pressed EP covers for my other creative project Red Deer Sleeping. The music from ‘Autumn’ was set to old poems by imagist, victorian and romantic poets. The Winter songs are finally coming together so I will soon be working on another limited edition of letterpress covers for the Winter EP. In the meantime there are plenty of summer festivities to enjoy and as we move closer to September and the nights begin draw in you can listen to ‘Autumn’ songs inspired from poems of Amy Lowell, Adelaide Crapsey, Christina Rossetti and R.L Stevenson.