[Vol. 2] Masterclass: Tokyo Crafts, a Collaborative Art Event Held by Tokyo’s Edo Tokyo Kirari Project and Britain’s Victoria and Albert Museum
Masterclass: Tokyo Crafts Art Event - Lectures
My name is Noritaka Tatehana, and I am a contemporary artist and a member of the Edo Tokyo Kirari Project promotion committee.
On October 29, the City of Tokyo and Britain’s Victoria and Albert Museum (“V&A”) collaboratively held “Masterclass: Tokyo Crafts,” an art event in London that I produced. Through this three-issue series, I’d like to introduce the activities being conducted by the Victoria and Albert Museum, where this event was held, and by the Edo Tokyo Kirari Project.
The Masterclass: Tokyo Crafts art event consisted of two portions: lectures and workshops. Participants in the event experienced the allure of the “Tokyo treasures” of the Edo Tokyo Kirari Project and the traditional techniques of its model craftspeople over the course of the day.
In this second report, I’d like to focus on the event’s lectures.
Koshi Nemoto, Deputy Director-General of the Tokyo Bureau of Industrial and Labor Affairs, spoke about the Edo Tokyo Kirari Project, which polishes the “treasures of Tokyo” and shares their value and appeal with the world, led by the concept of “Old Meets New – Tradition and Innovation.” He introduced the 28 model craftspeople taking part in the project and urged attendees to visit Tokyo, a city with multifaceted appeal. He also expressed his gratitude to the Victoria and Albert Museum, which was hosting the event together with the City of Tokyo.
In my own lecture, I presented the activities being carried out as part of the Edo Tokyo Kirari Project, focusing on collaborations involving the techniques of craftsmen in Tokyo’s traditional industries.
I’d like to provide a brief overview of my lecture.
First, I explained that “kirari” means “to glitter or shine beautifully.” I talked about the concept of the project, “Old meets New,” and discussed how we are working with skilled craftsmen to apply new perspectives and further refine traditional Tokyo techniques and products.
Then I introduced the 28 people and companies that were selected for the project. So that participants could better enjoy the workshops, I explained how the techniques of the three craftsmen leading the workshops were used in my own collaborative pieces.
* Komachi-beni lip rouge from Isehan-Honten (used in the iridescent heel-less shoes and the red woodblock smallpox illustrations known as hoso-e prints)
* Braided kumihimo cord from Ryukobo (used in the heel-less shoes)
* Carving and printing techniques from Takahashi Kobo (used in hoso-e prints and woodblock prints with a thundercloud motif)
During the lecture, which was roughly one hour long, I emphasized that not only were Japanese craftsmanship techniques being carried on, but that ongoing innovation was also being applied to them.
During the Q&A session at the end of the lecture, I fielded numerous questions.
One that particularly stood out to me was the following: “How have the initiatives of the Edo Tokyo Kirari Project changed the mentality of the people of Tokyo regarding traditional industry?”
The essence of our Edo Tokyo Kirari Project activities is to draw out the allure of traditional industries from every angle. To do that, it is important that we take an approach of engaging in collaborations between these industries and contemporary arts and crafts, and creating works that match modern lifestyles. I think that by redefining the essential value and dignity of traditional crafts and traditional industries as new, modern appeal, and by continuously sharing and publicizing this, we can create a greater awareness of that appeal.
These collaborative works, which are now part of the Victoria and Albert Museum’s collection, drew a particularly great amount of attention during the art event. This new approach of collaboration with contemporary art contributed to one of the project’s main objectives, sharing the appeal of Tokyo’s traditional industries with the rest of the world.
Photo by GION
©︎Edo Tokyo Kirari Project and Victoria and Albert Museum, London