yokai girl - mansion of the plates
Artist's notes on style, materials and inspiration:
There was once a young maid called Okiku who worked in a samurai household. The head of the house, Aoyama, was a cruel and brutal man, and once he caught sight of Okiku he began making advances towards her, wanting her to become his mistress, but she steadily refused.
One of Okiku's jobs was to care for a set of ten prized delftware plates owned by the family. Out of patience with her constant rebuffs, Aoyama hid one of the plates and accused Okiku of breaking it. As breaking one of the family treasures was punishable by death, Okiku began to count the plates in a panic, but couldn't find more than nine. Thinking it would change her attitude towards him, Aoyama offered to cover the lost plate for Okiku, but still she refused his advances. In a violent rage, he beat and tortured her, asking her one last time to be his mistress. At her final refusal, he killed her and threw her body down a well.
From that day, Okiku's voice could be heard from the well, counting from one to nine and then uttering a terrible shriek. The well is said to be the one in the grounds of Himeji castle, and that the sound of Okiku desperately counting can still be heard at night. Some stories say that a priest came to the well one night, and when the counting reached nine, he shouted "ten!", thus releasing Okiku from her pain.
When I painted this girl, I couldn't bear for Okiku-san to be suffering any longer, and so you will see that there are nine plates around her body, but the tenth can be found on her base. Rest in peace, dear Okiku-san.
I have begun to introduce some different shapes to my wood girl collections, this one being a larger, chunkier piece that gives a much greater painting surface than my other girls, allowing for more ambitious body patterns.
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 22cm 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.
My wood girls are made in the 'spirit of kokeshi', being originally inspired by the 'creative' kokeshi branch of the traditional Japanese folk craft of wooden limbless dolls which are turned on a lathe and hand painted. Dentō kokeshi are the traditional kokeshi, deeply rooted to their places of manufacture (often onsen towns) within Japan and made with very specific body shapes and pattern designs, often by generations of a same family. Dentō kokeshi can today be classified under eleven different types: Naruko, Tsuchiyu, Togatta, Yajiro, Sakunami, Yamagata, Kijiyama, Nanbu, Tsugaru, Zao-takayu, and Hijiori. By contrast, 'creative' or sosaku kokeshi are not associated with any particular region or style and often made by artists unconnected to craft families, and apart from the fact that they are still turned on a lathe, their styles and decoration are pretty much limitless.
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.