⟨ Slow Stitch ⟩

MINGEI

Words / Toby Crispy

Group Show “The Mingei” curated by Nicolas Trembley, Oct 9 – Nov 15, 2020.

在香港最早亮起電燈的光明街上,坐在盛載著​65​年歷史的德如茶餐廳外,悠閑地喝著港式奶茶,在陽光普照的下午,面前看見「民藝」二字,穿過玻璃看見懸掛著的古舊和服以及​BORO​(襤褸) 布藝,彷彿回到日本東京的​Amuse Museum​,擦了擦眼睛,原來是對面的​SHOP Taka Ishii Gallery 正在舉辦名為「民藝」的展覽​。

It was a balmy afternoon on Kwong Ming Street, where it marks the first lit of electric lights of the city. I was enjoying the signature Hong Kong milk tea at the outdoor seating of the 65-year-old Tak Yu Restaurant. Across the road, the title of “folk art” caught my eyes. The antique kimonos and BORO textiles behind the vitrines recalled my memories as if I had traveled back to the Amuse Museum in Tokyo…Then I found myself arriving at the “The Mingei” exhibition at SHOP Taka Ishii Gallery.

自從兩年前在Amuse Museum被「用之美」The Beauty of Practicality的概念所感動,就更加著迷於日本哲學家柳宗悦先生所提倡的「美之法門」。

他在1920年代末發起日本民藝運動,著眼於民間手工藝,這場運動源於從無名工匠創作的日常物品中尋找美感。柳宗悦先生非常關注物件的功能性,並描述為一種「忠於用途的真誠」,造就了在日本廣為人知的「YOnoBI」或稱為功能美的表達。透過直覺感知,人人都能欣賞到民藝品的內在美。

Since encounting the concept of “The Beauty of Practicality” at the Amuse Museum two years ago, I have been getting fascinated by “The Dharma Gate of Beauty” introduced by Japanese philosopher Soetsu Yanagi.

Yanagi advocated the Mingei Movement in the late 1920s. Based on handcrafted art, the movement originally finds beauty in everyday ordinary and utilitarian objects created by nameless and unknown craftsmen. Yanagi has a core concern for the functional qualities of objects, which he described as an “honesty with regards to their intended use”, leading to the well-known expression of “YOnoBI” or functional beauty. Perceived through intuition, the inherent beauty of Mingei arts can be enjoyed by all walks of life.

Nicolas Trembley,來自瑞士,策劃群展 「民藝」,他著迷於設計與當代藝術的互動。

Nicolas Trembley from Switzerland, curator of the Group Show “The Mingei”, interested in the interaction between design and contemporary art as well as the exhibition displays.

T: Toby Crispy
N: Nicolas Trembley

N: 這是關於以不同的角度來看待事物,也是關於回顧過去並意識到它也充滿著當代價值。今天我們對慢活感興趣 —— 願意花上時間、減少污染,關注生態、循環再造,這些話題也是「民藝」哲學的一部分。

尊重環境,花上時間與物件保持聯繫,這真的是在於其實到處也能找到美。我對運動非常感興趣,因為它也是關於尊重別人、尊重差異,學習以不只一種方式來看待、收集和評估事物。 我從事當代藝術工作,而Taka Ishii是一個當代藝術空間,我們從過去和今天中找到的橋樑,真的是一件啟發靈感的東西。

T: 知道這次展覽已是你第四個與民藝運動相關的項目,為什麼你對「民藝」如此著迷?

N: 我認為民藝運動在今時今日是非常正確無誤的!它增加了工藝技術在當代藝術中重新評估的價值,例如是陶瓷或編織。我很喜歡這賦予日常物品以不同角度來看待的想法。這是一種非常正向的哲學,實際上是很能啟發生活的!

N: This exhibition is about looking in different ways. It’s also about looking at the past and realizing that Mingei is also full of contemporary values. Today we are interested in slowing down our lives, taking time out, being less polluting…Topics like ecology and recycling are part of the Mingei philosophy.

Mingei is about respecting the environment, as well as taking time to establish relationships with objects. It’s really about finding beauty everywhere. I’m interested in the movement because it’s about respecting the others and our differences. Learning that there is more than one way of seeing, collecting or evaluating. I am working in the contemporary art field and Taka Ishii is a contemporary art gallery. The bridges found between the past and today in this project is somehow inspiring.

T: Knowing that this is the 4th curation about the Mingei movement, why are you so keen on Mingei?

N: I think the Mingei movement is very accurate today! It enhances craft techniques that have been re-evaluated in the current contemporary art such as ceramic and weaving. 

I like the idea to give everyday objects the possibility to be looked at differently – It’s a very positive philosophy that enlightens life!

N: 這些背塾被稱為「Bandori」,當時在日本東北部流行;它們像是咕𠱸,當時的農夫會背在背部來作保護,也會作為特別慶典的禮物。它們像雕塑一樣,是經典的民藝詞彙的一部分。

N: The back pads are called “Bandori” and were popular in north-eastern Japan. Like cushions, farmers would put them on their backs for protection. Sometimes, they were made as presents for special ceremonies. Perceived like sculptures, they are part of the classic Mingei vocabulary.

 

N: 這些雨衣被稱為「Mino」,通常用禾稈草織成;有趣的是它們看起來帶有非洲的文化色彩,意味著工藝技術存在融合,你可以在國際上找到,它們也可以被視作一件時尚品。

N: The rain capes are called “Mino” and are often made of straw. They are interesting because they somehow look African, pointing to syncretism in craft techniques that you can find internationally! Mino can also be received as a fashion item.

N: 在我第一次的「民藝」展中,我決定加入BORO(襤褸)。它們是經過多年修補和縫合的棉紡織品因為當時的棉花太貴了農民沒有錢買棉花。那次展覽我把部分裱裝起來,那時公衆們還以為是來自年輕當代藝術家的作品。大眾對襤褸的評價隨著時間改變,然而起初它們亦不被視為「民藝」的物品。

N: In my first Mingei show I decided to include Boros. They are cotton textiles patched and stitched years after years, as in those days, farmers could not afford to buy cotton. In my first project, the public thought the framed Boros were artworks by contemporary young artists. The reception of Boros has changed over time. In fact, they were not considered as Mingei objects originally.

N: Basho-fu是一種來自野生芭蕉的手造紡織品,就如島上的指南所説:「纖維是很單薄和精細的,所以相比起其他類似的紡織品製作basho-fu是需要一段較長的時間。在琉球王國的日子,當沖繩還是一個獨立的國家時,basho-fu是用來製作皇室服裝的,還會用來進貢給日本和中國政府。因為它即使在沖繩又熱又濕的天氣下仍然涼快不黏身,所以basho-fu在當地常用作製造便服。」他們都很簡約,生產已經持續了幾個世代,並已被日本文化廳指定為重要的非物質文化遺產。

N: Basho-fu is a type of hand-woven textile from Okinawa made from a type of wild banana. As they say on the Island guide, “The fibers are extremely thin and delicate, which is why the production of basho-fu requires a longer period of time compared to other similar textiles. During the days of the Ryukyu Kingdom, when Okinawa was an independent nation, basho-fu was used for royal attire and was often offered as tributes to the Japanese and Chinese governments. Because it does not stick to the skin even in the hot, humid weather of Okinawa, basho-fu was also a popular material for clothes worn by commoners.” It is very simple and minimal. Its production has continued to survive over generations and is now designated an Important Intangible Cultural Asset by the Japanese Agency of Cultural Affairs.

N: 在各樣展品當中,我真的很喜歡阿伊努族的外套上的幾何圖案,阿伊努族是最早住在北海道的人,他們從生活中原創了很多的圖形和圖案,都是和大自然以及他們的宗教信仰有密切關係的。

目前在東京民俗博物館正在舉辦一個展覽,重點展示阿伊努人的創作和外套。而柳宗悦就在1941年舉辦了「阿伊努人手工藝文化展」,成為這民族史上首次登上美術館的展覽。一直以來,他們的工藝都是「民藝」重要的一部分。

SHOP Taka Ishii Gallery創辦人石井孝之先生説:「我們希望創造一個實驗性的藝術商業空間,超越「畫廊」和「商店」的界線,每隔約兩個月,便找來藝術家或設計師,讓他們自由地發揮空間設計、規劃展出的作品以及陳列商品。我以SHOP(商店)命名,便可以為內容打開更廣泛的可能性,例如時裝、室內裝飾品、古董。」

N: Among the works exhibited, I really love the Ainu coats with their geometric patterns. The Ainu people who have lived in and around Hokkaido produced original motifs or patterns in their lives, which are deeply related to nature and their religious belief. 

At the moment there is an exhibition at the Folk Art Museum in Tokyo focusing on the Ainu people’s creation and coats. Soetsu Yanagi’s “Ainu Crafts and Culture Exhibition” in 1941 was the first exhibition of Ainu crafts at an art museum. Their craftworks have been a significant part of Mingei.

“SHOP Taka Ishii Gallery aims to create an experimental retail space that transcends the boundary between “gallery” and “shop” by having different artists and designers freely explore the spatial design and exhibit selected works and other products in approximately two-month cycles.  

By naming the space SHOP, it opens possibilities to exhibit broader contents like fashion, interior goods, antiques among others.” Takayuki Ishii, founder of SHOP Taka Ishii Gallery, said.

T: 例如這些數百港元的bashôfu布片套裝很平易近人,你會期望人們買回家後怎樣處理?

N: 我希望人們會視它們為藝術品。於我而言,它們使我想起畫中不同的抽象概念。他們可以裝裱起來或放在漂亮的盒子中。

T: For example, I found that these bashôfu fabric sets are so affordable which take a few hundred Hong Kong dollars, what do you expect people to handle them when they bring them home?

N: I hope that people can consider them as artworks. To me, they remind me of different abstractions in paintings. They can be framed or stored in a nice box.

COSMIC WONDER “Harmonic Meditation”, SHOP Taka Ishii Gallery, Sep 21 – Nov 10, 2019.

SHOP TIG致力探索和展示多種媒介,而12月的展覽「勅使河原 蒼風 x 野口勇」將展出花道作品和設計師家具。回想起我第一次走進這空間是2019年,當時正在展覽由COSMIC WONDER策展的Harmonic Meditation,一直印象深刻,一年後再來到這地方,今次要把握機會,相約訪問,談談有關衣物修復的The Awakening Universe企劃,大家會和我一樣期待嗎?

SHOP TIG has continued to explore and present diverse mediums, including Ikebana art and designer furniture in the upcoming December program – “Sofu Teshigahara x Isamu Noguchi”. Looking back, my first visit to this art space was in 2019. My impression towards the “Harmonic Meditation” exhibition curated by COSMIC WONDER is vivid. It would be my pleasure to discuss “The Awakening Universeproject with their designers. Would you be equally excited for the interview?

SHOP Taka Ishii Gallery
Address: Shops 4A & 4B, UG/F, Bo Fung Mansion, No.1 St. Francis Yard, Wan Chai, Hong Kong
Tel: +852 3619 0011 
Gallery hours: 11:00 – 19:00 / Closed on Monday