As individuals and as communities, there are times when our resilience is tested. Sometimes, it is on a massive scale, as seen not only in Japan in 2011 with the massive tsunami, but also in those parts of Australia and New Zealand that suffered natural disasters in the same year. Resilience was the title of a group Exhibition held at Rosebed Street Gallery, Eudlo in 2011.
The artwork - humility
Exploring the impact of humans on landscape and the impact of landscape on humans, Kari and Stephen created a rice bowl landscape.
It has been noted that even after the demise of humans, both plastic and ceramic will survive to tell the tale of our inhabiting this world!
Exploring the impact of humans on landscape and the impact of landscape on humans, and the resilience of both in context of each other, the ceramic installation gave an impression of the Miyazawa poem, both literally and symbolically.
Kari and Stephen represented several forms in a tableau of contrasting forms; the tiny rice bowl, the Japanese ancient kiln design traditions and sculptural landscape.
Smooth and fine, juxtaposed with rough and rugged. Using the techniques of ceramic practice, that have withstood the tests of time, the ceramic elements drew on traditions from ancient Asian potters of Japan, and more recent Australian ceramic practice.
The background in a poem
The poem, written almost 80 years ago by Miyazawa Kenji, has long been one of Japan’s most loved and quoted poems. In the year of the Japanese Tsunami, its sentiments took on even greater significance and poignancy. In the tsunami and earthquake that devastated north-eastern Japan in March of 2011, tens of thousands of people lost their lives and whole towns were obliterated. For those who survived, their old lives most often lay beneath piles of rubble, and their new, hopefully temporary, homes were crowded community shelters with inadequate heating, food and water, where they were subjected to continuing aftershocks and the threat of an impending nuclear disaster.
However, in these extreme circumstances, what struck many non-Japanese observers was the ability of the Japanese people to maintain social harmony, to share resources and to support one another. In essence, they were embodying the human quality of which Miyazawa writes: the quiet awareness of an inner strength which is cultivated through unassuming service to others. Through self-awareness and service, we prevail against the isolating force of the ego, and connect with our own hearts and the hearts of others, ensuring that we and our communities our resilient in the face of suffering and sometimes devastating loss.
Ame ni mo makezu
Be not defeated by the rain
Unbeaten by rain
Unbeaten by wind
Unbowed by the snow and the summer heat
Strong in body
Free from greed
Without any anger
With a handful of brown rice a day
Miso and a small amount of vegetables suffice
Consider yourself last, always put others first
Understand from your observation and experience
Never lose sight of these things
In the shadows of the pine groves in the fields
Live modestly under a thatched roof
In the East, if there is a sick child
Go there and take care of him
In the West, if there is an exhausted mother
Go there and relieve her of her burden
In the South, if there is a man near death
Go there and comfort him, tell him “Don’t be afraid”
In the North, if there is an argument and a legal dispute
Go there and persuade them it’s not worth it
In a drought, shed tears
In a cold summer, carry on
Even with a sense of loss
Being called a fool
Being neither praised nor a burden
Such a person I want to be
Artists were invited to respond to the poem and the notion of resilience. In a collaboration with fellow muse, Stephen Roberts, Kari created a rice bowl landscape.
My other projects
In February 2016, Kari mounted an exhibition entitled Pieces of My Heart. An exploration of the content of one poem,…