kami-no-chaya

wonderboxes | nomad collection
Kyoto, Japan

 

Miriam Louisa Simons, wonderbox series - kaminochaya

 

painting on textured card and watercolor paper, assemblage

cardboard box, Arches watercolor paper, shade cloth, threads, twig, watercolor and acrylic paints, canvas board

460 x 460


This piece began as a watercolor study in the upper garden (kami-no-chaya) of the Shugaku-in Rikyu Imperial Villa in Kyoto.

I loved the pond with its border of perfectly rounded stones, and the way their forms were echoed in the carefully clipped azalea bushes.


wonderboxes


offering to aizen-myoo

 

Wonderingmind Studio: Miriam Louisa Simons - wonderbox series: offering to Aizen-Myoo

offering to aizen-myoo
460 x 460
dip-dyeing, braiding, painting, stitching, assemblage
Japanese washi, indigo dye, cotton threads, bamboo stick, cardboard box

 

Hiroyuki Shindo’s indigo vats are set into the ground in groups of four in the traditional manner, with a small hibachi at the center of each group to keep the earth warm in the freezing winter months. [See song for Shindo-sensei]

The organic vats are fed with saki, rice bran and honey.  Indigo dye-baths are similar to a yoghurt culture – they are alive and they must be fed.  They are sensitive; kept happy they will produce a range of blues from soft turquoise to the deepest tones of a moonless night.  Eventually they will become exhausted, the quality of hue they produce will deteriorate and they will die.  Then the residue will go on the garden.

High up on the studio wall sits a little altar with a dip-dyed washi kimono and other offerings.  I ask Shindo-sensei about this small shrine.

“The first dip in the fresh vats at New Year is always offered to Aizen-Myoo, the protector of the vats,” he explains. The small dip-dyed kimono was Shindo-sensei’s first dip for that year, and the other offerings of riceballs and saki are replaced daily.  This very contemporary Japanese artisan takes no chances …

This is my small offering to Aizen-Myoo, tucked up in a wonderbox*.  The washi was dyed in Shindo-sensei’s vat, and the background cloth is a fragment from a Kyoto market.  The cotton threads braided to make the ‘rope’ were also dyed with organic indigo.


* My wonderboxes are little altars where the small and often overlooked miracles of life get to find a home. I’ve been making them for as long as I remember – the earliest ones were hidden inside shoe boxes and you had to peek through a tiny hole to view them.