Not for citation without written permission from the author
Firstly, I would like to express my gratitude to Ambassador Nogami and his staff at the Embassy of Japan in the UK, and to ANA, Tim Clark of the British Museum and the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures for inviting me to present the keynote lecture in the Japanese Embassy, part of the workshop 'Craft in 20th-century Japan and the UK' which takes place on the 9th September at the British Museum. We are also celebrating the refurbishment of the Leach kilns in St Ives and Lady Holland��s important work on the project.
The Arts and Crafts Movement and Japan
It was as early as 1891 that William Morris was first mentioned in Shibue Tamotsu's Eibungaku-shi, which is Japan's earliest published history of English literature. Morris was included in the list (Chapter 4, Section 2) that dealt with contemporary writers. Morris was noted after Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Robert Buchanan, author of The Fleshly School of Poetry, and Other Phenomena of the Day, published in London in 1872.
Quite soon afterwards, in the early 1890's, Morris and his work were introduced in a few Japanese magazines principally as a poet and socialist. Lafcadio Hearn, Lecturer in English Literature at Tokyo Imperial University from 1896 to 1903, gave a rather extensive lecture on Morris. Having giving the young Bernard Leach a passion for Japan through his writings, Hearn is a hidden but indispensable figure in this story woven with both Japanese and British threads. Though Hearn introduced Morris not only as a poet and socialist but also as a decorative artist, it was Tomimoto Kenkichi, who some years later in 1912- the last year of the Meiji period, who first wrote a full-length article on Morris as an artist. He based his work on first-hand knowledge obtained during his stay (1908-10) in London where he studied at the Central School of Arts and Crafts and commuted to the Victoria and Albert Museum to practice his sketching. A few years after Tomimoto��s work, Iwamura Toru became the first to present an integrated image of Morris as a thinker and activist in his 1915 book Geijutsu to Shakai [Art and Society].
Iwamura was writing during the more democratic Taisho period (1912-26), and he reintroduced Morris as an activist not only in social issues but also in the field of art. Japanese intellectuals were however already aware of other contemporary European movements such as the German Werkbund, which was primarily influenced by the British Arts and Crafts Movement. The 'Art and Industry' rather than 'Arts and Crafts,' was a more appropriate term for Japanese specialists of theTaisho and early Showa periods when the 'Folk Crafts' or Mingei movement began.
It is well known that a few members of the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society in 1914 visited the German Werkbund exhibition held in Cologne and became determined to set up an English equivalent, subsequently named the 'Design and Industries Association.' The term 'Arts' in 'Arts and Crafts' was replaced by the word 'Design,' while the term 'Crafts' was exchanged for 'Industry.'
In the Shadow of Industrialisation and Modernisation
The Taisho period was the second wave of rapid industrialisation for modern Japan. The Japanese government created new national technological schools in major industrial cities, and the number of schools doubled during the decade from 1915 to 1925. Design education in Japan was, however, was at a delicate stage during these years. In September 1914, Tokyo Higher School of Technology decided to discontinue their Department of Industrial Design, established at the end of the 19th century as one of the first educational units of its kind in the world.
There were two interrelated reasons for this decision. In the push to achieve a 'university' status, the Department of Industrial Design was regarded as a possible obstacle in the realisation of Japan��s first university of technology, after the short-lived Kobudaigakko, the Imperial College of Engineering founded in the early Meiji period. At the beginning of theTaisho era, Japan was rapidly moving from light towards heavy industries. The Tokyo Higher School of Technology��s decision was the beginning of a national pattern.
A similar decision was made with the two higher schools of technology in Tokyo and Osaka. Again in September 1914, the Department of Ceramic was discontinued at the Osaka Higher School of Technology, and the 24 students studying the subject were transferred to Tokyo. Facing a build up to the war, the two departments related to arts and traditional crafts were reorganized in a rather unproductive way. The further education of design students at the Tokyo school was somehow continued at the Tokyo School of Fine Arts for a few more years before the final closing of the Department of Industrial Design.
It was perhaps not a coincidence that a few graduates from the Tokyo Higher School of Technology in 1914-16 became leading exponents of the 'Folk Crafts' Mingei movement. Kawai Kanjirō studied ceramics and graduated from the school in 1914, followed by Hamada Shōji in 1916. Having studied industrial design, Serizawa Keisuke also graduated from the same school in 1916. Serizawa was one of the students admitted to the Industrial Design department of the Tokyo Higher School of Technology, but transferred to the Tokyo School of Fine Arts where Tomimoto had studied several years before.
The Ceramic department at the Tokyo Higher School of Technology was quickly becoming the place to study modern ceramic technology. Most of the students at the school wanted to become engineers, working with industrial ceramics, glass, enamel, or in cement factories. Two weeks per year were reserved for studio work using a potter��s wheel. Making pots at a 'Raku-yak'�� shop in the Hongo area of Tokyo during a weekend became a rare chance to experience practical training to be a potter.
Kawai, Hamada, as well as Serizawa were among the last, abandoned generation at the Tokyo Higher School of Technology, which ended up following the national road towards specialising in heavy and chemical industries. Kawai, Hamada and Serizawa chose another road, different from that of the Tokyo Higher School of Technology and also from the Tokyo Higher School of Art and Technology, which had opened in 1921 based on the previously closed Department of Industrial Design. World War I had paved a way to modern design in Japan, and it became possible to open this new school.
Bernard Leach in Japan
1n 1909, Bernard Leach sailed to Japan with letters of introduction from Takamura Kotaro to his father Takamura Koun and Iwamura Toru. Iwamura was the first to help Leach in Tokyo and, as mentioned earlier, was also the author of Art and Society, which devoted many pages to William Morris.
Tomimoto was the initial member of the Mingei group to meet Leach in Japan. Tomimoto had returned from London in June 1910 and met Leach in Tokyo the following month. Yanagi Muneyoshi, then a student at Tokyo Imperial University, translated Leach��s article on etching for the Bijutsu-shinpo in November 1911. It is from these connections that the future Mingei group began to develop. Hamada who already knew Leach��s work from his technical school days eventually met him in 1916. Three years later in May 1919, Yanagi met Hamada at Abiko when Hamada came to visit Leach. Hamada then sailed to Britain with Leach in 1920. Leach was the pivotal point in this group.
Leach also became an important to bridge for the Mingei movement linking it with activities at Dartington Hall, started in 1925 by Leonard and Dorothy Elmhirst in Devon as an experiment in rural reconstruction. Leach visited Dartington Hall in 1927 and five year later he began to teach pottery there and established the Dartington Pottery in 1936-37. Yanagi and Hamada visited the Elmhirsts at Dartington Hall in the summer of 1929. It was an early and surprisingly successful meeting of 'birds of a feather.' I hope that the saying 'birds of a feather flock together' is appropriate to describe these kindred spirits. Though their focus was different, both Yanagi and Elmhirst tried to reconstruct society. In gross terms, Yanagi��s approach was 'aesthetic', and the Elmhirst��s was 'scientific and/or social.'
The fact that both were born and raised in nations with colonies had a profound affect on their thinking and persona. This is perhaps the most important common denominator between Elmhirst and Yanagi. In 1925, the Elmhirsts established Dartington Hall inspired by Rabindranath Tagore��s rural reconstruction activities at Sriniketan and Santiniketan, today��s Visva Bharati, India. In 1924, Yanagi opened the Choson National Museum of Art (Korean Peoples' Art Museum) in Seoul enthralled by the beauty of Korean white porcelain and Korea��s harmonious landscapes. In 1926, with Tomimoto, Kawai and Hamada, they jointly issued a mission statement calling for the founding of a Japan Folk Crafts Museum. Within a few years, the kindred sprits of East and West came together at Dartington Hall.
To reassess the impact of Mingei, Bernard Leach and the concept of craft,' I would like to compare the Mingei 'Folk Crafts' of Yanagi Muneyoshi (1889-1961) with the Nomin-bijutsu 'Farmers' Art' of Yamamoto Kanae (1882-1946). Yamamoto was an artist who attempted a few innovative art projects in pre-war Japan.
Having arrived in France in August 1912, Yamamoto studied mainly wood-block printing and etching at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. In September 1914, he took refuge in England from the dangers of World War I, and lived in London before returning to Paris at the end of the year. After four years of study in Paris and Europe, Yamamoto traveled through Scandinavia and Moscow, and took the trans-Siberian Railroad back to Japan in December 1916. In November 1919, Yamamoto circulated the ��Nihon nomin bijutsu kengyo no shuisho (Declaration of Initiating Farmer��s Art in Japan)�� in a village in Nagano Prefecture. The Declaration can be seen to the left of the screen. ��Learning from the Handicraft Museum of Russia, we shall first open a Farmers' Art Training Centre, then, through gradual development, we will finally establish a Farmers' Art School.'
Though Yamamoto��s model was Russian, it is instructive to try to visualise what he saw in London during his stay in 1914. It is also perhaps useful to summarise the final phase of Britain��s Arts and Crafts Movement, occurring at the same moment when Tomimoto, Leach, Yanagi and Kawai were becoming acquainted in Japan twelve years before the start of the Mingei movement.
The Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society, developed as an extension of the activities of the Art Workers' Guild, began to hold annual exhibitions in 1888. They were held in 1889 and 1890. However, the quality had noticeably declined in 1890, and it was decided to limit exhibitions to tri-annual events. Thereafter the exhibition was held every three years until the outbreak of World War I.
In 1913, the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society organised an exhibition in Ghent, Belgium, and planned a larger version in Paris. However, the latter entitled ��British and Irish Decorative Art�� was cut short by the outbreak of war. In the same year, a monumental German Werkbund exhibition was held in Cologne. This well-known event symbolised in design history a rising Germany and a declining Britain. Yamamoto crossed the channel in this very year. Partly because of the period, partly because he started his career as an apprentice woodcutter, and particularly or probably because he stayed several weeks in Moscow at the beginning of the Russian revolution in the summer of 1916, Yamamoto was seen as a kind of art revolutionary in Japan. To revolutionise art education for children, he founded the Children's Free Painting Society Japan, and to revolutionise the proletarian lifeways through art, he started the Farmers' Art Japan in 1919.
Yamamoto is also related to the 'Akai Tori (Red Bird)' modern storybook or story journal for children published in 1918 by Suzuki Miekichi, which became the basis for a new type of children��s song, and children's 'jiyushi' free poem and 'jiyu-ga' free painting. The slide on the left depicts the January issue of the Akai-Tori Red Bird, while the one on your right shows a 1931 craft design pattern book from the Jiyu Gakuen, founded by Hani Motoko in Tokyo in 1921, where Yamamoto was the head of the department of art. In 1932, the Jiyu Gakuen Arts and Crafts Institute was founded. 1n 1923, the headquarters of Farmers' Art Institute was built near Oya train station and designed by Takizawa Mayumi, a member of Japanese Secession Architects. It was a relatively large wooden building with a big thatched roof. According to Takizawa: 'it was a building based on a style of farmhouse with a bit of Western flavor'�� After the Farmers' Art Institute, the Nagano Prefecture Farmers' Art Association was formed with 25 local societies in 1931.
Thereafter the movement developed throughout the nation, art pieces were reportedly produced in Tokyo, Gifu, Kyoto, Chiba, Kanagawa, Saitama, Fukuoka, Kumamoto, and Kagoshima Prefectures. The farmers�� Art Movement, however, began to experience difficulties. As early as 1933, Kanai Tadashi, an important member of the movement became self critical and made the following statement:
'It was this enterprise��s merit and at the same time demerit that the advocator of our movement was an artist. It was an artistic idea and sensitivity that the design improvement of everyday objects could be realized by a new farmers' industry. But, actual methods of its realization are beyond an artist��s talent.'
Yanagi on Yamamoto
Yanagi's Mingei and Yamamoto's Nomin-bijutsu are not often compared, mostly because of differences in timing, location, and personalities of these two movements. But Yanagi expressed interest in Nomin-bijutsu on several occasions. Yanagi wrote an article entitled ��Mingei to nomin-bijutsu (Folk Crafts and Farmers' Art)' for his journal Kogei in 1935. He starts:
'Mingei and Nomin-bijutsu are often confused. This is not strange, because there is a certain similarity.'
'Mingei and the so-called Nomin-bijutsu are, however, not identical. They arose from rather opposite attitudes. If they were the same, it would be unnecessary for the Mingei movement to rise against the already started Nomin-bijutsu, though it was not against the Nomin-bijutsu that the Mingei movement arose.'
After this introductory statement, Yanagi goes on to describe an incident from the mid-1920s:
'When I was a student, I came to know about Nomin-bijutsu. This means that the endeavors of Yamamoto Kanae have a long history of, perhaps, more than twenty years. It was probably several years after its foundation when I traveled with my friends to Shinshu, Nagano Prefecture. I noticed a roof of strange shape from a train window. It was a steep, Western, and fashionable roof, not matched by the surrounding farmhouses at all. I thought it was a villa. But, I heard it was the atelier of Yamamoto's Nomin-bijutsu.
I was puzzled, because I had been thinking that Nomin-bijutsu was rural art made by the hands of local farmers. Afterwards, this puzzle was gradually solved as I visited some of Farmers' Art exhibitions, which have often been held since then. Exhibits were often semi-copies of foreign items such as Russian or Scandinavian handicraft. Pure Japanese or vernacular farmers�� works were rarely found.'
Though the image on the screen is not a farmhouse but traditional townhouses near Oya today, we can easily see that Yamamoto's atelier, actually the Farmers' Art Institute ��Nomin-bijutsu kenkyujo��, was indeed very foreign to this local community. This was the early training centre of the Farmers' Art Japan movement in 1919. Here is a box made by a member of the movement, and the next image shows the design for the top of a stick. Both objects are indeed very Western. Yanagi concluded:
��Most of Nomin-bijutsu is not what I consider farmers�� art. It is the result of a forced replica of what was found from farmers�� art in foreign countries by a Western style painter with foreign or Western taste.��
Yamamoto eventually resigned from the Farmers�� Art Institute office in 1930 because of financial debt. Kanai Tadashi who criticised the artist��s amateur management of Farmers�� Art in 1933 was in fact not an outside critic, but succeeded Yamamoto and continued with Farmers�� Art movement. It is said that he gave most of his family��s property to his wife, divorced her, and devoted himself entirely to the movement garnering only further financial difficulty. Though criticised by Yanagi, Yamamoto was in a sense his precursor. More than six years separates Yamamoto��s 'Declaration of starting Farmer��s Art Japan' and Yanagi's 'Declaration for the Founding the Japan Folk Crafts Museum.' But, if we compare the former with Yanagi's 'About Founding the Choson National Museum,' only one year separates their publication (published in November 1919 and January 1921 respectively). As two art specialists living in Tokyo, Yamamoto and Yanagi both created ��reconstruction through art' projects in mountainous Nagano Prefecture and far-off Seoul.
The Children's Free Painting Society Japan and Farmers' Art Japan exhausted Yamamoto to such an extent that he hardly made any prints after 1920 and created only a few paintings. After the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry stopped financial aid to the farmers' side of the Farmers�� Art Institute in 1935, the Institute was closed for liquidation. Though it is only chance, it was in the very next year that Yanagi��s Japan Folk Crafts Museum opened in Tokyo. The Farmers�� Art Institute building has since been used as a village meeting hall and eventually demolished in the late 1950's.
In 1962, however, Ueda City in Nagano Prefecture, where Yamamoto had lived until 1935 and for few years before his death, opened the Yamamoto Kanae Museum. In the Municipal Museum many of his paintings, printings, and personal belongings, as well as products of the Farmers�� Art movement are currently on display.
New Liaison of Japan, UK, US and Beyond
In this 'Computer Age' rather than 'Machine Age,' we are faced with various problems. The generations that grew up during the last Machine and the first Computer Age have neither direct experience with machines nor enough familiarity with up-to-date computer technology. Crafts became popular in Japanese art schools during the late 20th century when Japan experienced rapid economic growth. Crafts remain popular, but not to the extent as they had been during that period. I would like to touch briefly on post World War II contexts and widening our scope from Japan-Britain resonances to the Japan/UK/USA relationship triangle. Finally I touch upon the 21st century as a time when we need to move beyond this eternal triangle.
The friendship established between British and Japanese craft specialists has endured. From 17-27 July 1952, the International Conference of Craftsmen in Pottery & Textiles was held at Dartington Hall in Devon to discuss the future role of craft in an increasingly industrialised world. The key point of the conference was the union of East and West expressed through a dialogue between Yanagi Muneyoshi and Bernard Leach. Many subjects were covered. Peter Cox, the principal founder of the Dartington College of Arts summed it up as follows:
'The relationships of art to craft and craft to modern industry; the need for the contemporary craftsmen to be both artists and respected members of society; the world-wide influences now open to craftsmen today and the danger of poorly conceived and executed craft driving out good work from of the market; the importance of art and craft in the education of children, etc... In addition to formal discussions, various reunions and new friendships were made.'
On 17 July 2002, exactly 50 years after the International Conference of Craftsmen, a Craft Day was held at Dartington Hall to commemorate the 1952 Conference of Craftsmen. This Craft Day was proposed by a Japanese group from a��younger generation and realised through Dartington Hall Trust. Among the participants was Peter Cox and the late David Leach, who had both been also among the members of the original 1952 conference. For this occasion, we published the Report of the 1952 International Conference of Craftsmen at Dartington Hall for the first time in a Japanese translation with the original English text with financial support from the Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation.
When I first visited Dartington Hall in 2002, I felt that I was seeing another Bauhaus. In 1925, the German Bauhaus moved from Weimar to the industrial city of Dessau. It was around this time that Leonard and Dorothy Elmhirst purchased Dartington Hall. While Walter Gropius, the Director of the Bauhaus, built a new building, which was soon to become an icon of modern architecture; the Elmhirsts began to restore the medieval buildings dating from the late 14th century around their centre.
The experiment at Dartington Hall contrasts strongly with that of the Bauhaus in many aspects. Even after the zenith of the Arts and Crafts Movement, Britain did not withdraw from the forefront of the modern movement in the 20th century. Instead, they moved on to the next stage. Above all, unlike the Bauhaus and other experimental schools or art communities of Europe and North America, which disappeared one after another, Dartington Hall is still active in the 21st century. Founded under the influence of Tagor��s Santiniketan, Dartington Hall has since, in turn, influenced India. This is an image of a working women��s hostel in Santiniketan, and here is a shop next to it where handicraft products are made chiefly by widows or single working women.
Another similar retrospective event was held in Chicago around the same time as the Dartington Hall conference. It was an international conference to celebrate the centennial of a famous lecture by Frank Lloyd Wright, an American who later achieved fame as a pioneer of 20th-century architecture. The lecture was entitled 'The Art and Craft of the Machine,' and given to the Chicago Arts and Crafts Society. In his lecture he declared that ��in the machine lies the only future of art and craft,' and 'now let us learn from the machine' in front of admirers of William Morris and John Ruskin, the leading antagonists of the machine and of modern industry.
This revolutionary address later became known as Frank Lloyd Wright's 'Hull House Lecture,' as it was held in the headquarters of the Chicago Arts and Crafts Society's Hull House, an influential settlement house founded by Jane Addams. It was also meaningful that the ��Hull House Lecture' was delivered in 1901, the first year of the 20th century, or perhaps more pertinently, the first year of the 'Machine Age.' Positively responding to a proposal from Japan, professors at the University of Illinois at Chicago, the current owner of the Hull House, now known as the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum, held an international conference on 1 March 2001, exactly one hundred years after the original Hull House Lecture.
Our mutual question/challenge was: 'If the only future of arts and crafts existed with the machine as Frank Lloyd Wright pointed out in 1901, where should we find the future of arts and crafts in 2001?' 'In the Computer' is an easy answer. We are in the Computer Age, as people in 1901 were in the Machine Age. The real problem is not only craftsmen and women but also most people except for, or perhaps including, many computer specialists are not very happy with the Computer Age. We, of course, did not reach a definitive conclusion at the 2001 Chicago conference. But there was one piece of good news.
The Director of Toynbee Hall, who was invited to the Chicago conference, proposed another similar conference in London in 2002. Entitled 'The Arts and Crafts Movement and Social Reform in Victorian and Edwardian England,' the conference was held at Toynbee Hall, the world's first settlement house, as well as being the focus of the Arts and Crafts movement.
In July 2002, a number of specialists and graduate students from the UK, USA and Japan read papers on various aspects of the developments of the Arts and Crafts movement as well as the Settlement Movement at Toynbee Hall where both of these movements started or in fact re-started. Participants also visited various places related to the two movements. Robert Ashbee, who started as a resident of Toynbee Hall, founded his Guild and School of Handicraft in London's East End in 1888. It was in the same year as the first Arts and Crafts Exhibition was held at the New Gallery on Regent Street. What Ashbee did at Toynbee Hall was in a sense not original. He started a Ruskin reading class. Ruskin was read by many people including Morris and his friends more than 30 years earlier, and would be read by many Japanese college students in the following few decades.
With the Ruskin reading class he created wall decorations for the dining room at Toynbee Hall, which evolved into the Guild of Handicraft. However, it was nearly 30 years after Morris and his friends had completed the interior decoration of Red House, which helped to create Morris, Marshall, Faulkner and Co. While using the term ��company��, this was in fact the first modern craft guild, and was followed by many similar guilds and workshops created throughout Britain in the last quarter of the 19th century, and in some other European and North American countries at the turn of the century, and even in such remote places as Japan in the early 20th century. There was, however, a significant difference between what Morris had created around the 1860s and what Ashbee did in the late 1880��s. While Morris worked only with his middle-class colleagues in his private house, Ashbee worked with young people from poor areas around the Settlement House. The British Arts and Crafts Movement was on a greater public stage in the late 1880��s. Morris himself became more active not only in his socialist movement but also in environmental preservation with the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings.
It is widely believed that most members of the British Arts and Crafts Movement, including Ashbee, were against the Machine and saw only failure in the Machine Age, while Frank Lloyd Wright was positive about the Machine Age and viewed it as a success. However, we know that Ashbee and Wright met each other at Hull House when Ashbee visited North America for his fund-raising lecture tour of 1900-1901 sponsored by the National Trust. Objectively observed from Japan, the USA was more advanced in the Machine Age��s sense, while the UK was at the forefront of a newly emerging environmental and heritage protection movement.
What is the Real ��International��?
It is also widely believed that the Hull House Lecture 'The Art and Craft of the Machine' was an early manifesto for machine created architecture in which Wright denied the role of handicraft. But, I should like to show you an interesting section of 'The Art and Craft of the Machine,' coupled with the fact that Wright first visited Japan in 1905, four years after the Hull House lecture, and left a few fascinating notes on craft and design education in Japan. He wrote in 1901 as follows:
'The machine has emancipated these beauties of nature in wood; made it possible to wipe out the mass of meaningless torture to which wood has been subjected since the world began, for it has been universally abused and maltreated by all people but the Japanese.'
Frank Lloyd Wright made a few of interesting observations in his 1905 Japan tour. One regards the Kyoto Higher School of Art and Technology, the third governmental school of its kind, after Tokyo and Osaka, the other on the Kagawa Prefecture School of Craft, a local middle school in Takamatsu. Wright described the governmental Kyoto school:
'As to the Director of the foreignised Kyoto school said to me, with an apologetic smile, 'We must now be quick, Old Japanese method become too slow, we can no longer afford, European method cheaper, I think?'
Wright's response to this opinion is shown in his comment on the school��s collection. 'The 'collection' of this school consists of the worst of French, German and Italian Renaissance, rows of foreign horrors.'
In Takamatsu, Wright found a 'small but true Japanese�� collection instead. He also found that, under the Director's leadership, they still inculcated 'Pure Japanese' objects. Notomi Kaijiro, a pioneer of design education in Japan, founded Kagawa Prefecture School of Craft. He established middle school level craft schools in various parts of Japan. Notomi was a Japanese style painter, designer and craft specialist. His successor Kuroki Yasuo did not paint, but he was a master calligrapher and an authority on the Chinese classics. 'Pure Japanese' teaching was perhaps what Kuroki inherited from Notomi.
Although Notomi introduced various Western ideas, he was conservative in terms of drawing methods and design aesthetics. Frank Lloyd Wright, one of the most progressive architects of the time, who asserted 'in the Machine lies the only future of art and craft' in 1901, was also conservative in this respect. He wrote in 1905:
'There seems to be but one hope for the artistic future of the Empire. It lies with the conservative party in Japan.'
'The Director, Kuroki, was proud of the fact that the arts have never been separated from the crafts in Japan, and suggested that it might be a good subject for thought on the part of his arch enemy, the western art school. And can we say that a truly great art is possible when the arts and crafts are not united?'
It was not simply a Japanese idea, but also Wright��s opinion, something we might find from William Morris and his followers. Wright��s close observation continues:
'In this wonderful little school, an all around training includes painting, lacquer, and carving. Their results are astonishing. In none of these things is the process of manufacture allowed to be lost in the finished result; as in a small wooden saucer where the strokes of the carving tool in cutting away the wood had been given a rhythm, which so serves as a finished decoration that the mere record of trimming off superfluous wood at the back of the saucer is an artistic feature, the only one attempted in the result.'
What Wright observed was possibly a course in the Mechanical Woodwork division rather than one in Wooden Sculpture. Although they had announced at the opening of 1898 that 'various processes are carried out by using machines' in the Mechanical Woodwork division what they actually used in the early days was a manual-turning apparatus, because 'a steam-operated big machine, which might be used in larger cities, are not yet necessary in local areas.'
Frank Lloyd Wright wrote, 'I was glad to know that such integrity existed, fighting though it is for its existence against fearful odds, and I was ashamed to realize we of the West in the arts stand for its fatal enemy.' Wright, who had revolutionised the Arts and Crafts Movement in America by asserting 'in the Machine lies the only future of art and craft, a glorious future' in 1901, came to realise in 1905 at a small local school of Japan that the arts and crafts still exist. He must have also understood that completely different arts and crafts from British-American examples existed in Japan, and perhaps also in other areas in the world.
Returning to the series of the 21st century international conferences started in Chicago and followed by London, a third conference was held in Yokohama and Osaka in 2003. For the mid-congress tours, the Japan Folk Crafts Museum and the Jiyu-Gakuen were chosen, the original building of the latter was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. It was a good occasion to show that, though influenced by British-American models, there are unique and different movements in art and social welfare in Japan.
The 2004 conference, held again in London, was divided into two sections, the ICHACM (International Conference on the History of the Arts and Crafts Movement) and ICHSM (International Conference on the History of the Settlement Movement). The 2004 conference consisted of the fourth ICHACM for arts and crafts history and the first ICHSM for the history of social/regional welfare. The latter is actually an integral part of the former since 2001. In July 2005, the 5th ICHACM and the 2nd ICHSM was held as Kurashiki 2005 Art and Welfare in Okayama Prefecture, Japan.
Next month, on 16 October 2006, we are planning to hold the 6th International Conference on the History of the Arts and Crafts Movement at the Gongju National Museum of Korea, followed by the 3rd International Conference on the History of Settlement Movement and related art, craft, and regional welfare tours on 17, 18, and 19th October. It is called The Gongju 2006 Art and Welfare International Conference. Gongju 2006 will be an epoch-making event as it is held for the first time outside the UK/US/Japan triangle. Organised by the executive committee of Gongju 2006 and Design History Forum, it is supported by various Korean organisations including Buddhist temples and foundations. Participants will stay at Korean temples during the conferences. I show you a newly made poster for Gongju 2006 and on the right one from Kurashiki 2005. I hope you notice the different characters and letters that are used in this pair of posters for the 2005 and 2006 Art and Welfare posters.
It is very hard for different people using different languages and letters to work together and hold a series of conferences. The preparation for Gongju 2006, the first meeting of this series outside the UK/US/Japan, is a continual process of trial and error. As the work progresses, however, we are gradually finding joy and even hope, witnessed through small aspects, such the design of poster using a similar format for both Korea and Japan.
We are now living on a small planet, living in similar buildings, using almost same communication systems. But, if we take a careful look, we realise that we are different, and that the world is interesting and even beautiful because we are different.
In conclusion, I would like to briefly tell you about the discovery of an avant-garde group of architects named the International Architectural Association of Japan, formed in Kyoto and Osaka in 1927, a year after Yanagi's declaration for the founding of the Japan Folk Crafts Museum. Though they were modernists, they declared: 'We should not insist on nationality with a narrow meaning, but base on True Locality.'
To be truly local is to be really international. This may sound paradoxical, but very true. This is perhaps what the people involved in the Mingei movement were also searching for, and what we living in the 21st century but still interested in the concept of 'Craft' are also searching for, not only for ourselves but also for our neighbours, and, above all, for those who come after us.
Thank you very much for your kind attention.
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