Kojimachi Loves Arts!

The Art Byte Critique group has been busy as usual! Several members exhibited at the same place but divided the time to form two shows in Kojimachi. Arthur Huang continued to explore memories of walks with his eggs and photos in the first show with Yuka Tani and Josephine Vejrich. I was still suffering from jet lag then so I forgot to take photos. Sorry! Huang and his work were, however, featured in a blog post by Mariko Ueno (Japanese).

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I had thankfully recovered some of my energy in time for the second part of the group show that featured Ruri Clarkson‘s embroidery and Miki Saito‘s paintings and sculpture. I have been a fan of Clarkson’s work before I even met her. Soon after I moved to Saitama, I saw some jackets that she had embroidered in a shop window on Cat Street near Omotesando. I later met her through the Art Byte group. I had heard of Miki Saito but never had a chance to meet her until now.

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The gallery is small but conveniently located near Kojimachi station. If you take the Yurakucho line, it is only a minute or two from the nearest exit.

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You have to love a gallery that offers free wine and in goblets made of glass, not plastic.

I apologise for the poor quality of the photos, but I did not want to take any pictures that might infringe upon the artists’ copyright in any way. She also has some nicer photos on her blog and her website. Her titles and embroidered illustrations have a lot of humour. I think this one was called, Safety First, but I might be mistaken.

This blanket was unusual for her, because she mixed painting with embroidery.

Here she mixed embroidery with paper collage. Are those butterflies collaged patches?

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DSC03870She is always trying new things. This time she made designs for jewellery boxes and commissioned a business to make the boxes for her. A box includes a stuffed cylinder on which you can place your rings so they do not float around and get scratched or lost. She decided to try a more commercial project for this show and also takes commissions if you are interested.

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I think this might have been a commissioned piece for a marriage proposal or to commemorate the acceptance of the proposal. A ring, such as the sparkly one shown here, fits into a slot on the black velvet board.

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DSC03873As you can see, she often turns to books for inspiration for embroidery or soft sculpture. I am not sure how that hand fits in with everything. Thos plastic joints are a bit upsetting. Perhaps it simply shows off the rings usually sold at the gallery so people can imagine how they fit into the jewellery boxes? All we do is wonder, “Why, why, why?” If it is the first volume, does that mean Clarkson is printing a series of books or journals? Is she making covers for private journals? Why, oh why did she refer to volume 1 only?

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These smaller pieces in the front window show some of the humour that she uses. The bottom one is a particular favourite of mine. The statue’s face is typical of one drawn by children or for them using hiragana characters as the facial features. The skipping ropes of the playground are being used to topple the statue, and, of course, the leader is wearing a safety helmet. I am sure there is a social commentary going on here but I do not know the details.

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If you ever have a chance to go to one of her exhibits, please do. She is a pleasure to talk to and always interesting. If you would like one or more of her jewellery boxes as presents for yourself or others, contact her through her blog or ask me to introduce you to her.

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No, I did not forget the other artist there that night! Miki Saito, like Ruri Clarkson, is fluent in English and Japanese. Both are skilled artists and willing to meet others to discuss art.

This new series of hers looks abstract at first but you can see animals and other creatures if you look more closely. They were also recently on display at the ANA Intercontinental hotel in Tokyo.

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Saito also has another show called, Celestial Crossing, at the Wada Gallery in Tokyo September 15 to October 3. A reception will be held on Saturday, September 19. (I unfortunately cannot go to the party because I will be in Kyushu. Sorry!) If you can, please check out her work.

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