little seasons - citrus bathing
Artist's notes on style, materials and inspiration:
An ancient almanac originating in China and linked to agriculture divides the solar year into 24 segments known as ‘sekki’ in Japanese. Each sekki is further divided into three five-day segments called ‘kō’ (climates) – resulting in a set of 72 microseasons. Each kō has an observation noted for the five days – a change in insect or plant behaviour for example. In agrarian cultures like old China and Japan, the cycles of plants, insects, animals and the weather played a central role to the agricultural year and helped to mark and observe the passage of time. Breaking a year down into microseasons enabled a much more detailed study of natural phenomena and allowed farmers to establish patterns that could be adjusted to work around small differences in any one year. The observations were altered to more accurately reflect the transitions in central Honshu, the main island of Japan when the almanac arrived there.
I first began writing about the microseasons in 2014, and in 2018 collaborated with U.S. based potter Betsy Williams on a microseasons Instagram project that linked her tiny plates to my haiku, and which afterwards became a book (available in store). In 2019-20, I followed a year of microseasons again; paying attention to the tiny changes in my locality in the East of England as well as the Japanese ones I composed haiku on a portable blue typewriter and paired each poem with a photo, sketch or collage. For 2022-23 I have been following the microseasons once again, linking the observations to my making practice through designs for wood girls and ceramics over the course of a year and seeing where it takes me. The microseason year always begins on 4th February, following the fixed 'eve of spring' or Setsubun in Japan. It roughly begins at the same time as the Chinese Lunar New Year.
I'm calling the project 'little seasons' and some pieces will make it into the store over the year - this piece is for the 63rd microseason of the year, known in Japan as 'salmon swarm', as it is when salmon return to their spawning grounds. As the microseason also often has within it the winter solstice, where it is customary to take a bath with yuzu or other citrus to invite good health for the coming year, my little season note for the five days from 17th - 21st December is therefore 'looking forward to yuzu bath'.
This wood girl is just out of the bath, wearing her white fluffy towel and balancing a citrus fruit on her head - finished with a natural twig and a brass leaf.
Turned from American Tulipwood, a sustainable and interestingly grained timber, my pieces are turned on a lathe by a production wood turner in the UK to my designs, then painted by me, a British artist. She has been hand painted and finished in a semi-matt acrylic protective top coat.
This tall girl is approximately 27cm 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.
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.