Enjoy a Japanese experience at new YAVA exhibit

Alistair Whyte and Junko Azukawa have collaborated for YAVA Gallery's latest exhibit. PICTURES: RENEE WOOD

By Renee Wood

YAVA Gallery in Healesville has opened it’s latest art exhibit, embracing Japanese culture.

Particularly surrounding tea ceremonies which are a way that people create bonds with one another, conducted in a ritualistic and ceremonial way to promote inner peace and wellbeing empowerment.

Master potter Alistiar Whyte and Sumi-e, Japanese ink painter Junko Azukawa hoping the audience can experience Japanese culture through the showcase.

Tojiki & Sumi-e exhibit launched on Thursday 28 July and highlights Whyte and Azukawa’s connection to eastern culture and how Japanese tradition takes form through their crafts.

Many pieces of Whyte’s pottery are on display, including descriptions on how the pieces are used in tea ceremonies and daily life.

His work is inspired by his time living and learning while studying in Japan for five years.

“Tea ceremony is all about collaboration and peace and harmony and Sumi-e is part of tea ceremony anyway because there’s usually a hanging scroll within a tea house so that’s why I’ve incorporated it,” Whyte said.

“It’s also a traditional part of Japanese culture and to be able to invite a couple of other really high class potter’s to actually help glaze a few bowls I thought was a really good thing too.”

This includes master potter Ted Secombe and ceramic artist Koji Hoashi who collaborated by glazing pieces for the show.

Azukawa also switched mediums for the first time working on 3D, decorating three pieces of pottery for the show.

“That was a new challenge, I thought it would be actually the same, but it was different working with brush on porcelain,” Azukawa said.

“Actually the ink was quite powdery, I couldn’t use like a bleeding effect so that was a big challenge for me to work with but Alistair introduced me to so many different tools and medium and colours… that was another new world.”

Azukawa’s works in the exhibit were mostly created through lockdown, saying that’s when she was able to step away from traditional Japanese objects.

“I had more time to paint and I started working on Australian subject actually, some gum tree and Australian birds, and so I used to practice more Japanese traditional subject but lockdown made be explore new things,” she said.

As her talents stretch across the canvas, it’s the fluidity and blends that are pleasing to the eye.

This is something Azukawa will be teaching on 7 and 28 August for the introduction to Sumi-e Ink Drawing workshop.

“To get the clean brush marks you have to become brush yourself as one, to become one with your tools.

“The more you practice and the more you experience it, you don’t think, you express yourself without thinking, without planning without without thinking.”

Another workshop will also be held on Sunday 7 August where you can learn all about Japanese Tea ceremony – Chadô, the way of tea with Chadô Urasenke Tankôkai Melbourne Association.

The exhibit runs until 21 August at the YAVA Gallery.