Tsukimi: Honouring the Moon By Erin Niimi Longhurst
Tsukimi: Honouring the Moon
By Erin Niimi Longhurst
As we face another period of lockdown, over the coming months, we will be highlighting Japanese inspired activities, philosophies and pastimes to bring the works we exhibit to life. Ikebana, the art of flower arranging, is one. The other might involve daily park walks, or the practice of forest bathing. Our latest exhibition, Luna Llena: Full Moon features beautiful stoneware vessels that are reminiscent of some of the natural phenomena you might encounter whilst practicing shinrinyoku (forest bathing). When everything is so uncertain, immersing oneself in the beauty of nature is one practice that we can (safely) find comfort in, and soothe ourselves.
It will be colder, this time, but there is a beauty in that as well. We recently experienced kogarashi, the first leaf-wilting wind that lets us know that winter is upon us. It’s also been just under a month since Tsukimi, or ‘moon-viewing’, an Japanese festival honouring the autumn moon. It’s a cause for celebration and contemplation, and traditions include eating specific foods, which are also displayed as offerings. As we once again distance ourselves from each other, it might provide some comfort that, in a sense, we are all looking at the same moon.
Forest bathing, or shinrinyoku, is a form of nature therapy. By taking in the atmosphere of a park or forest, it encourages us to notice the beauty of what is around us. It relates to the concept of kachou fuugetsu – to discover yourself while experiencing nature. The moon jars and beautifully handcrafted ceramic pieces in our latest exhibition evoke a similar sensation.
Maud & Mabel's latest exhibition, Luna Llena, is inspired by the moon, the three artists (Grace, Mariana and Dora) shaped by their environment in Majorca, where they live and work. The three members of the Alzamora and Good family have been influenced by the ancient pottery techniques of Greece and Asia, which comes through in their ceramic works. The matriarchal trio draw from their South American heritage in their ceramics, with pieces that echo nature and are reminiscent of wabi sabi – an appreciation for transience and imperfection.
The changing of the seasons prompts us to appreciate the subtle changes in our environment. It is about listening to the world around us. The moon often appears brighter and bolder in winter, so while we might not have the warmth we had during the first lockdown, it reminds us that there are other ways to seek comfort and gratitude.
There is a proverb – 鑑水花月, or Kyōka Suigetsu, the characters meaning “Mirror, Water, Flower, Moon”. It references an idiom, meaning a flower seen in a mirror, and the moon on the water’s surface. It alludes to something that can be seen, but not touched, like a flower seen in a mirror, or the moon’s reflection – something beautiful, but unattainable. It seems like a fitting one to share during this tumultuous period.
Luna Llena: Full Moon exhibition 5 – 14 November