Artist's notes on style, materials and inspiration:
Kodama are the spirits of trees and come in a wide variety of incarnations (they are for example the little jittery head creatures in the forests of the Ghibli film Princess Mononoke, symbolising a healthy ecosystem). Kodama are also the first entry in Toriyama Sekien's series of night parade books, the Gazu Hyakki Yagyō, released in 1776. His annotation reads simply: "It is said that ancient trees have kami that reveal themselves". His illustration features a pair of intertwined pines, under which an elderly couple carry a rake and a broom. This references the traditional Noh play Takasago (高砂), written by Zeami Motokiyo in the early 15th century. The play was formerly known as Aioi (相生) or Twin Pines (相生松/ Aioi Matsu) and considered an auspicious story.
In the play, a Shinto priest arrives at Takasago on a beautiful spring day. Under the shade of the pine trees, an elderly man and woman are sweeping. The old man recites a poem which describes the Takasago and Sumioe wedded pines (相生の松, aioi no matsu), paired pine trees that, according to legend, will remain together for eternity. He explains that these wedded pines are a symbol of the marital relationship. The priest remarks that all relationships, indeed all of life, falls short of the ideal expressed in the poem. At this point, the old couple reveal that they are the spirits of the Takasago and Sumioe pines, and they set sail across the bay in a small boat.
Figures known as Takasago dolls in Japan symbolize the longevity and harmony of a marital relationship.
I have begun to introduce some different shapes to my wood girl collections, this size being a larger, more impressive size 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. They have been added to, hand painted and finished in a semi-matt acrylic protective top coat.
These dolls are 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.