Sunday, June 2, 2013

Meeting a master in Japan

One of the benefits of our recent art-culture exchange to Japan was that we got to spend time in the studious of some Tatebayashi artists including : a printmaker, an environmental artists; and a master metal worker.

I was particularly lucky in that I (and Fiona) got to spend the morning with Haryu san a metal worker recognised by the Japanese government as a national master copper artist. He has been working copper for 60 years.  Haryu san willing opened his workshop studio to us and with our friend Hiro's assistance as interpreter we were able to have a conversation about his work.

©2013 Fiona Dempster - Haryu san explains the technique he used in creating the pot in my hands and below and the role the forming tools in front of us played - many hours of work
©2013 Fiona Dempster - A very complex pot created from a single sheet of copper 
©2013 Fiona Dempster - Hiro interprets whilst Haryu san shows his collection of ancient hand beaten copper tea-saki pots and crayfish
I had tool envy big time - he just had so many stakes, hammers and other tools.

©2013 Fiona Dempster Haryu san's metal working station - the large domed stake on the left was handed down to Haryu san by his father
©2013 Fiona Dempster - A small part of the collection of stakes, forms and mallets 
©2013 Fiona Dempster - A small part of the collection of stakes, wedges, hammers and mallets 
One of his renowned works includes a suspended and balanced formed cup-bowl, ladle and water trough was based on Confucian philosophy about balance.

©2013 Fiona Dempster - Piece that is a practical demonstration of Confucian philosophy of balance
As I understand it Haryu san had created this piece from his understanding of Confucian philosophy and an ancient Chinese drawing of such a water feature even though this knowledge had all been lost in China. He has made a larger work that is now in the Chinese Confucian institute. He continues to replicate this work on various scales to promote Confucian philosophy regarding water and balance in life.

It was good to share information regarding hammering techniques including about our pieces below.

©2013 Fiona Dempster - Haryu san and Barry compare and discuss bowl making techniques
I was honoured that this master (mark of the master below) willingly gave so much time to me.

©2013 Fiona Dempster - Haryu san's maker's mark
If language and resources permitted I think it would be great to spend a few weeks with Haryu san and learn a little of the old and traditional Japanese skills of metal working.


  1. I'm amazed that you were able to take part in a culture/art exchange. A wonderful way to see a new country and connect with like minded people. Such a brilliant idea! I imagine the balanced formed cup and water trough has your mind ticking over time, Barry :-)

  2. oh wow.... i can see how you feel honoured... i was holding my breath just seeing the photographs... and the cup/water piece... !!

  3. i saw it on fiona's blog, but will say again how much i like the photo of you both, and your hands in you see that?!

  4. Being able to visit the studio of Haryu san ,and hold his work, and talk to him about his art, must have raised a few goose bumps. Such a wonderful experience. Your head must be swirling with inspiration.

  5. Such a rich experience! Love seeing his work - especially that extraordinarily detailed bowl. That would be amazing for you to spend time there with him and learn. Inspiring.

  6. You must've been in Heaven, Barry. Hope you brought a piece back with you.

  7. What an extraordinary experience. How thrilling that you and Fiona were able to share this inspiring adventure. How kind of you to let us peak into this special day. Thank you!

  8. R, SS, V, PnM, VA, JM & AA - hi folks - thanks for checking out photos of a master metal worker. R - what I really liked about Haryu-san's work was the precision of every stroke of the hammer on the metal - such patience. SS - honoured and inspired. V - you are so right about the conversation of hands and nods and grunts - amazing what we could say without words. PnM - as I said to SS - a great experience and encouraged me to go on. VA - would I not love to return and just learn from him.JM - I would have liked to purchase a piece but somehow I felt it would colour the experience. AA - glad to share the experience with a fellow metal worker. All - go well - peace. B

  9. Oh Barry, what a thrill to see Fiona's photos and read your words! A wonderful experience which you so deserve. I'll bet your mind is spinning after seeing those tools and that amazing work.

  10. start saving Barry - I imagine you would have a life enriching time working with Haryu san - and he from you. x
    As I said on Fiona's blog, I love the way that shared creativity transcends the need for verbal conversation. It is a conversation in it's own right.

  11. Hi C & SB - Thanks for your comments. C - more humbled than head spin - the precision of the work was what got me most. SB - you are so right - Fiona said we understood grunts and hand movements because we both had a shared understanding of the material, tools and process - even though my knowledge is embryonic. Go well. B

  12. i am so happy for you, such a sacred and inspiring sharing.


Comments are welcomed - it is good to connect with fellow travellers.