TERUYOSHI YOSHIDA & CLARE BARBER
Teruyoshi Yoshida draws directly from his deeply embedded commitment and understanding of his native culture. His practice is informed by his observations on the power of Japanese ritual, such as the Damonji bonfires in Kyoto, and his concerns about how these social and religious experiences have become diminished and commercialised in recent years. His use of traditional stenciling and dyeing techniques, to create highly contemporary work, demonstrate this deeply felt link with his heritage.
In Japan, there is an understanding that the slow burnishing of gold, brought about over time, carries the narrative of experience. Surface of the Lake, is over 20 years old and has been installed many times, mainly in sacred spaces. The surface of the work now has the look of what Yoshida describes as ‘kire’ – fabric which has taken on the patina of time and experience.
Gold leaf in Japanese craft and architecture is used to draw light into the shadow. Writing in In praise of shadows Jun’ichiro Tanizaki speaks of Japanese lacquerware decorated in gold as not something to be seen in brilliant light….it should be left in the dark, a part here and a part there picked up by a faint light…collecting little pools here and there….a pattern on the surface of the night itself 1.
Though trained in textiles, Claire Barber has never produced conventional fabrics. She is excited by and responds to site, often borrowing from textile technique, or using it as a metaphor to make her ephemeral installations.
In the years preceding Through The Surface, the time-based element of her work became more prevalent. Her early interest in the passage of time and decay, (The Last of the Apples, 1996) slowly evolved into performed pieces such as The Red Gown, 1998 and A Day for Treading Lightly, 2003.
The majority of Claire Barber’s work has been produced whilst working as an artist-in-residence, in response to a specific, usually remote, location. Her portfolio largely exists in photographic format, although she is essentially a maker and describes herself as such.
Claire Barber’s work for this exhibition indicated a threshold in her practice and personal life. After years as an itinerant artist, she found herself with a studio and a stable life in Hampshire. Her tent, her home for many years was now a redundant, though powerfully sentimental object.
Her residency at Bardsey Island, Wales and a research trip to Japan precipitated separation and home as relevant subjects for her work. Her piece was an assemblage of scented talcum powder, saucers, china cups and textile fragments. These strange, yet faintly familiar fabrics: an old tent, net curtains, are mementoes of English life at home, a reminder, whilst away.
Though autobiographical in style and content, this work alluded to a general phenomenon – our human desire to invest everyday domestic objects with an emotional content or association and to find points of connection, between people, cultures, time and distance.