blue bear girls - a & un
Artist's notes on style, materials and inspiration:
The term a-un あ うん is the Japanese transliteration of the two syllables "a" and "hūṃ" and is often conflated with the Sanskrit syllable Om. Originating in Hinduism, the sound as it is written and spoken in Japanese represents the first and last sounds of the alphabet, comparable to Alpha and Omega, the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. Together, the sounds symbolise the beginning and end of all things.
On a visit to many a shrine or temple in Japan you will be greeted by pairs of statues who often represent this symbolism - komainu (狛犬), or guardian dogs. Originating in India, China, or Egypt these statues travelled via Korea into Japan and were largely made of wood until they were more commonly made of stone from the Edo period onwards. In most cases, one, usually on the right, will have an open mouth ("a-gyo") and the other, usually on the left, a closed mouth ("un-gyo"). As well as representing all of life from beginning to end, it is said that the open mouth wards off evil, whilst the closed mouth keeps good fortune in.
The concept of a-un can be seen not only in these guardian dogs but also sometimes in folk toys and other designs. There is also a Japanese expression: "a-un relationship" (阿吽の仲, a-un no naka), which means an inherently harmonious relationship or nonverbal communication.
I love that the concept represents not only the beginning and ending but the push and pull between the two - the never ending swing of balance, rarely achieved but constantly in play, until the end comes, and the cycle begins all over again.
Turned from American Tulipwood, a sustainable and interestingly grained timber, my wood girls are turned by a production wood turner in the UK to my designs, then painted by me, a British artist.
These girls are approximately 14cm in height.
My pieces are painted in a naïve and simple style, with visible brush strokes and differing paint consistencies. It is important to note that these dolls are made from real wood which will have naturally occurring markings and grain, and sometimes there will be small amount of bleeding along the grain, or knots, which is to be expected when using untreated wood - please make sure you consult the pictures carefully before purchasing. Finished in a top coat of matt acrylic.
PLEASE NOTE: Wood girls should be kept away from water which can damage the wood and painted surface, and also away from direct heat/ sunlight which also can affect the surface colour and the timber itself.