CAN Japanese Festival

Join us to celebrate!

Date: May 3 – May 28Space: All CAN galleries

Creative Arts Napier is delighted to announce the upcoming CAN Japanese Festival. Join us to celebrate during the whole month of May, as we highlight the rich variety of traditional and contemporary arts and culture of Japan. There will be exhibitions for the public to visit, plus events and workshops to experience during the whole month.

In the Main Gallery, ‘City Treasures from Japan’ is an exhibition that showcases the many gifts that Napier City Council has received over the years from Napier’s twin city Tomokomai in Northern Japan. These items are usually stored in the archives, wrapped carefully in boxes. Generously, they have agreed to loan several items to CAN so that they can be placed on public display to coincide with the CAN Japanese Festival.
This exhibition follows on from the 2018 popular ‘City Treasures’ exhibition, which offered a rare opportunity for the Napier public to view all the items gifted from Napier’s three twin cities. Taking centre stage was the stunning kimono or ‘uchikake’ which was donated to Napier City on the 13 November 2010 as the commemorative gift of the 30thanniversary of the sister city relationship with Tomakomai. Uchikake is a kind of Kimono which is often dressed as a bridal gown.

Seeing this kimono on display inspired visitor Chieko Hayashi to book the Small Gallery to display her own collection of hand embroidered silk kimono, which she has brought over from Japan especially for the exhibition. Kimono is a traditional Japanese garment. Traditionally they were woven in silk, and cotton for summer. To create kimono required a long process of skilled artisan work. Everyday use kimono were usually woven with patterns (like Inkatha in Indonesia). For the wealthy they could be hand painted, and for special occasions they were silk embroidered. The quality of the fabric was very high so they could be worn for three generations.

Nowadays they are worn for special occasions such as weddings, funerals and some important events.

Chieko was born in 1933 in northern Japan, when and where western style garments were not available for most people. She grew up wearing kimono, probably handed down from other families.

Kimono became more than part of life for her when her training to become a stage performer started in her early teens. She learnt to dance Nichi-bu, (Japanese dance), play musical instruments (three strings, and percussion) and sing. While working as a performer she met her husband to be, and this ended her career as a performer.

It was some years after her husband’s death when she started to learn to embroider on silk.

She just wanted to wear original pieces of kimono and obi (sash). Embroidering with silk thread on silk needs patience and skill. It took her several years to learn the techniques, designing, and compositions. She uses modern geometrical designs combined with traditional motifs, such as mystical creatures and flowers. Some of the work took her two years to complete.

This exhibition, Chieko thinks, is a great gift for her and we believe a gift for all who appreciate traditional artisan work from far away land. See Chieko’s exquisite work on display during the CAN Japanese Festival from Friday 10 May.

Other events during the month have been generously funded by the Napier City Council’s Creative Communities Scheme. The first is an Artist’s Talk and Interactive Demo by Japanese ‘Mokuhanga’ woodcut artist Sybille Schumbom on Saturday 4 May. Sybille is an expert in the area of Japanese Woodcut Printmaking, called simply Mokuhanga.

Japanese woodcut differs from European woodcut in three particular ways:

  • the application of the water based inks by brush
  • the use of a hand held baren for printing (not a press)
  • the use of ‘kento’ registration marks, carved directly into the block

She will conduct an interesting talk on her residency in Tokyo, demonstrate the technique of Mokuhanga and instruct the participants wishing to take part how to create their own Mokuhanga print to take home.

This workshop is aimed at adult beginners as well as artists, printmakers, book lovers and teachers. It will encourage learning and group participation, while learning about a technique presented directly from a residency in Japan.

Following this there is also a Japanese Stab Book Binding workshop on 11 May, a Sushi Making Workshop on 25 May and two Origami Family Drop-in Days on Sundays 12 and 19 May. In addition, Rob Arrell the president of the Hawke’s Bay Japanese Society and Calligraphy teacher will be tutoring an in-depth Japanese Calligraphy Workshop on 18 May.

On Friday 17 May, 9.30-12pm the CAN workshop will be full of Napier High School Students competing in the Japanese Speech Competition, which can be viewed from above on the Mezzanine level. In the Foyer space, Sybille Schlumbom’s woodcut prints will be on display for the month of May and a beautiful Japanese Haiku display by the Napier Poets that meet at the CAN regularly.

The cost to attend these events ranges from just a gold coin donation to $45 for the Calligraphy class. More information can be found on the CAN website in the May listings, or simply call 06 835 9448. Bookings are essential for all events, apart from the Origami Drop-in Days or visiting the exhibitions, which as always, is free.

The Napier Deputy Mayor, Faye White opened the ‘City Treasures from Japan’ exhibition, and the CAN Japanese Festival at the official opening event on Friday 10 May.

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