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URUSHI | Traditional Japanese Lacquerware

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URUSHI | Traditional Japanese Lacquerware

January 22-24, 2023

Traditional lacquerware from Japan is simple, graphic, almost stark. It is not just a luxury collectible, but demands use, inviting you to touch, to hold, to cup, to sip... The gleam of reflected light off a lacquered surface calls to the soul in search of stillness, and timelessness.

The word Urushi comes from the Asian tree from which sap is extracted and used to make lacquer. Each tree can only be harvested of its sap once in several years and the extracted Urushi liquid is matured for more than one year in a particular barrel. This is then filtered through layers of special paper, giving a clear lacquer that varies in colour from dark to very pale amber.

Handmade and genuine lacquerware is rare and takes time, effort, skill and that something extra which takes generations of knowledge and refinement. 

ARTISANS' is glad to present the Traditional Japanese Lacquerware of artists Yukiko Yagi and Gaku and Ayako Hirai.

About the Artists:

Yukiko Yagi

Born in Fukushima prefecture, Japan, Yukiko is inspired by tribal and traditional motifs and enjoys creating new patterns to express the elegance of nature through Makie-painting. 

In 2017, she visited the village of a Warli tribe to feel the atmosphere of the pace and know their culture for Makie-Warli painting.There she was introduced to and learned from Rajesh Mor.

Gaku and Ayako Hirai

Gaku Hirai extracts Urushi liquid from Urushi trees by the traditional method in the forests of Japan. He uses the clear Japanese Urushi on the topcoat for his work, and Ayako paints on it. They seek for unique form and pattern in their work which suits modern life. Gaku and Ayako sensitively choose the material and make combination under delicate conditions. 

They majored in Urushi study and practiced at Tohoku University of Art and Design. Besides making Urushi work, Gaku started Urushi extracting work in Ibaraki, 2011. In 2019, he joined the long-term training course conducted by the association for preservation of Urushi extracting technique in Iwate. 

Ayako Hirai started her career fixing antique furniture and is deeply knowledgeable about wood. She handles the shape design of their work.