“けしき 揺れるSights of the Everyday, Unseen sway”, the 第１期dai-ikki (first exhibit) of three featuring works by contemporary jewelry designer, 菊地ルイKikuchi Rui, took place from September 4-10 this year; I first heard of it when I met Ayumi who was involved in the event at 喫茶文化堂Kissa Bunkado…Iori-san who was working the night shift asked her to come since she was in town so that I could meet her. From what I could gather, Ayumi is a writer as well as a public relations consultant for many organizations and individuals, and she sure has the personable character to be good at it, not to mention a background in English! Iori-san expressed interest in attending the 第２部喫茶てんdai-ni-bu kissaten, (the second tea ceremony) at 9:00pm on September 5th and upon hearing them talk about it, I decided on the spur of the moment to attend as well.
The exhibit was held at Galerie Apotheke around 千本丸太町Senbon Marutamachi but I arrived half an hour early and since it looked like there were still guests there from the first tea ceremony, I walked around only to still arrive with plenty of time to spare.
I sent Ayumi a message from in front of the gallery and she replied immediately saying that I should go in which is where I found her. It was actually a good idea to get there early because it gave me more time to talk to the gentle yet passionate Rui-san, who spent as many years in Australia as I have in Japan before returning to Kyoto, and take pictures! We talked about our experiences as well as her works, especially from her PLAnta Series on display that evening. The PLAnta Series consist of exquisite jewelry, from necklaces to rings to hair accessories, made from ペットボトルpetto botoru (plastic bottles) based on the motif of 海藻seaweed; each accessory had a name that she completely made up but sounded pretty real to me! I learned that Rui-san wants to use materials that no one needs anymore and recycle them into valuables again, like plastic bottles and nails…I wish more artisans thought like this.☺
the accessories displayed between the two rows of seats for the guests closest to the entrance
the accessories displayed in front of the seats of the guests toward the back
necklaces on the screens of old 西陣織の紋紙 Nishijin-ori no mongami (Jacquard card for Nishijin textile) at Galerie Apotheke near the entrance
necklaces toward the back
a display of more accessories with postcards of Rui-san’s work on the shelf below in the back
簪kanzashi (traditional Japanese ornamental hair pins) in the back
Except for a bit of drama at the beginning when one of the guests called a friend who was supposed to attend but had forgotten completely about it☺, the event progressed smoothly; there were less than ten guests, so it was a cozy affair. First, 和菓子職人wagashi-shokunin (Japanese confectioner) 杉山早陽子Sayoko Sugiyama introduced the two sweets that she had conjured up in collaboration with the PLAnta Series…Sugiyama-san is one of the Kyoto-based talented duo, 日菓Nikka, who produces exquisite Japanese sweets known throughout the country; they even have books out about their creations (see http://www.nikkakyoto.com/ for more details…sorry, only in Japanese). I saw them on the program “LIFE～夢のカタチYume no Katachi～” over two years ago and have been interested since, so I was ecstatic about getting to experience her creations.
a rose-flavored 寒天kanten (agar jelly) topped with 木耳kikurage (cloud ear mushroom)
Sugiyama-san asked us to eat only half of it; when we were done with half, 煎茶sencha (green tea) was poured over the rest for a different taste experience…I found the flavor to be simple yet profound.
Before I could finish the jelly, Sugiyama-san introduced a sesame-powder confection called “人手Hitode (Starfish)”. It was rich, roasted flavor with a nice chewy texture that reminded me of げんこつ飴genkotsu ame.
I took longer to finish my sweets during which time Rui-san went more in-depth about her creations through a slide show of pictures of the accessories at the sea in the north part of Kyoto Prefecture (that’s what the cloths draped at the entrance were for☺).
I was amazed at how much her work looked like it had come right out of the water. The results of Rui-san’s work comes from letting each item take its natural course in forming during the creating process which means even she doesn’t know the outcome.
When there was a lull in the Q&A after the presentation, Rui-san asked me to talk about my thoughts as a foreign resident in Japan, comparing my experience to that in my home country if needed…I don’t even remember what I said since I get nervous speaking in Japanese in front of an unfamiliar audience but I talked for a while and people nodded to what I said, so I hope my speech was somewhat organized.☺
When the event ended, a few people stayed around to chat, including me and Iori-san; we were all offered イチョウ茶ichoh cha (gingko tea).
Ayumi left before I did and I took that as a hint to be on my way as well since the gallery probably wanted to close up…the people I were conversing with saw me to the door and I said my thanks and goodbye before trekking it to 二条駅Nijo Station to get home
Although for financial reasons I couldn’t invest in one of her accessories this time, I did purchase one of the postcards to decorate in my room.
I came away from the exhibit feeling richer with knowledge and energized with inspiration from the awesome people I met, especially Rui-san whose work I now want to support. For more information on Rui-san and her works: http://www.rubikus.net/