UnBroken – Contemporary Kintsugi

I have written before about my love of the Japan craft of repair called kintsugi, if anyone is interested I have a page dedicated to it here.

For me it is the perfect combination of skill and endeavour, the search for perfection and the acceptance of imperfection.

It has a beauty that is dependent on the very faults it seeks to repair, not by hiding those cracks but by celebrating them as part of the life of the bowl.

The question was how to make such an ancient craft my own.

It has been such an influence in the whole of my practice it seemed important to include it in my final exhibition, the question was how. I had been experimenting with throwing bowls that I then scarred myself but they lacked the history of a repaired object.

I wanted an object that everyone could identify with and inspired by British artist Lubaina Himid’s  use of  blue and white china I decided to use it. I am sure we have all eaten off of a blue and white plate, if not at home then at our grandparents or in a quaint tea room. They may not be to our taste but they are part of our lives so I hoped we could all identify with them. Also we all have had experience of breaking a cup or a plate and throwing it away without a second thought.

My plates are not joined perfectly, the cracks have been widened, placing them under stress before repair.

They are healed but altered.

Finally rather than gold I gilded them with graphite pencil after all it has been pencil rather than gold that has healed me.

I placed them alongside my self portrait at scar level to draw your eye along towards the book where the plates echo the round ink dots, each of which represent a broken and altered life.

The title, Unbroken, draws from the definition of maintaining spirit and resilience, of surviving, and a more playful, and grammatically incorrect!, un broken as in repaired.

“Nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect”         

                                                                                                                              Richard Powell                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

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