Hare with the Amber Eyes

North Art Summer Show Exhibition

Thanks to my wonderful friend Patrick who helped me hang my woodblock prints for the North Art Gallery Summer Show. Thanks also to Adrian for curating the event. The preview was fab and the show will be up for 4 week so do pop in and say hello! 

Hanging the Woodblock prints

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Netsuke Miniature Prints

Save The Elephants

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£5 from the sale of each print will be donated to Save The Elephants

Through my interest in Japanese antique netsuke, I have become more aware of the ivory trade that is still in operation today. 

Save The Elephants are a founding partner of the Wildlife Conservation Network in the US which transmits 100% of donated funds to the field. 

"Our mission: to secure a future for elephants and to sustain the beauty and ecological integrity of the places they live; to promote man’s delight in their intelligence and the diversity of their world, and to develop a tolerant relationship between the two species."

Save The Elephants continue their research to find solutions to reduce conflict, end poaching, trafficking and the demand for ivory. They raise awareness and provide internships and scholarships in conservation education. 

Inspiration for the Project

The Hare with the Amber Eyes by Edmund De Waal

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This book was the inspiration for my journey into the wood. Each woodblock is hand printed with a baren using Japanese carbon ink on white hosho paper. The description 'NETSUKE’ is debossed with 10pt New Clarendon metal type printed on the adana 8 x 5 printing press.

The space invites you to take a quiet moment and sit on the cushion provided and read from the book if you wish. There are also hand printed bookmarks for you to take away.  

Other Artists exhibiting at North Summer Show 2018 include:

Show Miche Watkins, Tina Altwegg, Gareth Pitt, Sarah V Penrose, Ian Pillidge, Jane Warring, Jess Stevenson, David Brown, Tony Eastman, Victoria Fox, Ian Usher, Caroline McGlone, Lenny, Andrew Wilson and Luz Gallardo-Franco.

North Art

Gallery Opening Hours

Thursday 2pm - 6pm

Friday 2pm - 6pm

Saturday 10am - 4pm

Sunday 10am - 2pm

...and by appointment; please email contact@northart135.com

Netsuke - Hare With Loquats by Okatomo + Kit & Eleyne Williams

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Kit Williams

Yesterday I was invited by friends to visit Kit and Eleyne Williams' gallery.

We step into the garden and cross a paving stone carved with fish and water lilies to meet a one eyed glare and snarling teeth. This woman's profile is intricately carved into the flesh of a pumpkin. We open the door to Kit's studio. Five beautiful oil paintings in lucid colour stretch along the gallery wall. A wonderland of delicately painted women – billowing tulip petal skirts – clasping high heels in windswept motion. Animals appear in oil on canvas metamorphosing into the wooden frame. Oranges ripe by a peach bottomed nude as the artist slumps over his desk. Teacups strung from golden silk hair. A mouse balances on a thread. The thread disappears for a moment beyond the frame – the gap between frames – returning tight between the fingers of the woman in the neighbouring canvas. Seductive and sensual, mysterious and surreal – Mystereal.

Masquerade + Jack the Hare

Kit Williams is well known for his book of paintings, Masquerade, published in 1979, and story of a hare called Jack who loses treasure on his way from the moon to the sun. It is up to the reader to find this treasure by deciphering the clues in the paintings.

“What I must do is to find a way to make people look and look and look again. And if I said, this is art, you know, you must really look at it because it's art, that turns people off. But if I said, there's some sort of puzzle here that you must work out, they would be looking at art through the back door. Kit Williams” - The Man Behind the Masquerade

Eleyne Williams + Narrative Jewellery

We walk down the steps across the patio into Eleyne's studio. Jewels adorn the space. An arrangement of timeless riches. And what is even more alluring for me is the hand written narratives that sit beside each work of art. Poetic words revive the origins and history behind these beads – time travelling through these ancient beads and found objects in glass, silver, brass, bronze, ceramic, wood and stone in all shades and densities. Hares nuzzle, the tail of a whale, a silver bicycle and a Japanese garden with cherry trees become fine necklaces earrings and head-dresses "to enhance the spirit of beauty." Eleyne Williams

“To hold a bead in your hand is to touch hands back through a history warm with humanity's intimate past.” Eleyne Williams

I'm reminded of 'The Hare with the Amber Eyes', when Edmund De Waal talks about his own collection of antique netsuke.

What they collect are objects to discover in your hands, ‘so light, so soft to touch’ – your fingers move along a surface of uncoiling rope, or spilt water. Others have small congested movements that knot your touch: a girl in a wooden bath, a vortex of clam shells. – I realise how much I care about how this hard-and-soft, losable object has survived. I need to find a way of unravelling its story. Owning this netsuke – inheriting them all – means I have been handed a responsibility to them and to the people who have owned them.
— Edmund De Waal - The Hare with the Amber Eyes

Hare with Loquats

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I sketched the Hare with Loquats at the Royal Festival Hall from a flat photograph in 'Netsuke 100 miniature masterpieces from Japan' by Noriko Tsuchiya. I didn't initially have the same connection with this netsuke as I did recently with the Rat with Brass Eyes, the Rabbit with Red Eyes and the Monkey Wearing a Short Gown at the Bristol Museum. I was able to hold those netsuke and view them from all sides which enabled a closer connection to their history and to them. By carving the hare into the wood and re-carving to simplify the marks, by making an impression into the paper and a visit to Kit and Eleyne's enchanting studios, I make a new and deeper connection with this Hare with Loquats.

“Ever present in Japanese folklore, and one of the twelve animals of the zodiac, it comes as no surprise that hares are a common theme in Japanese paintings and decorative arts - Okatomo mainly created birds and animals in ivory, demonstrating a comprehensive understanding of the anatomy of his subject.” Netsuke 100 miniature masterpieces from Japan' by Noriko Tsuchiya.

The loquat, (Eriobotrya japonica) also known as Japanese plum and Chinese plum, and sometimes as the Japanese medlar, is a small evergreen tree, native to China and Japan. It is cultivated for its yellow, plumlike fruit and as an ornamental plant.


Resources

Kit and Eleyne Williams' gallery.

Eleyne Williams

Edmund De Waal - The Hare with the Amber Eyes

Netsuke 100 miniature masterpieces from Japan' by Noriko Tsuchiya

Netsuke - The Hare with the Amber Eyes

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My first encounter with Japanese netsuke is Edmund De Waal's book 'The Hare with the Amber Eyes.' A photograph of the white hare sits with its head turned and one amber eye stares out from the cover of the book. It is an intriguing story of Edmund's family, the collection of 246 netsuke being passed down through the generations from Charles Ephrussi in Paris during the impressionists, to Emmy von Ephrussi in Vienna during the second world war, Edmund's Great Uncle Iggie in Japan and finally to Edmund in England where Edmund currently lives with his family.

I am fascinated with these little objects and Edmund's story. I sketch a light bulb in my notebook. Next to the lightbulb I write 'Japanese woodblock prints in miniature - mini prints on Hosho paper.' I search for Edmund's website and discover a gallery of 29 beautifully carved netsuke.