Friday, June 24, 2011


Anyone who has been to Japan and visited historical residences, castles or temples can attest to the fact that the decoration in most is sparse with objects set about to punctuate the space rather than overwhelm it. For westerners, or at least this westerner, it always struck me as, where the heck is all the stuff? The Japanese are fond of cleverly storing their stuff in wood boxes in closets, under the floor boards, in tansu of every shape and size imaginable (including a stair kaidan tansu), kura (secured and fire resistant storage building) and elsewhere. The preference was to use singular objects to accent the mood, season or occasion. In time, these objects are repacked in their storage boxes and rotated out for other pieces.

Since my wife and I started living with art and craft, we have basically done the same, with a few pots out and then rotated when the mood hits us. The same goes for Japanese scroll paintings, kakejiku, which are also picked to express a visual mood or co-ordinate with the seasons. Living with art and craft to create the ideal environment is a very old concept and is very much alive and well today among collectors of all sorts. Today the concept of blending East and West is very common and having seemingly disperate objects on display takes a keen sensibility and a good eye to create “that” harmonious balance.

A friend of mine went from collecting western painting and glass, to include modern Japanese pottery to the mix. Despite having enough dogs to qualify as a kennel, his home is perfectly suited for the display, above ground level, for pottery and he has built a very nice collection over time. Under the watchful eye of his significant other (she is an interior designer/decorator), his pottery is intermingled with other objects of glass and his painting collection.

Illustrated is a wonderful Uraguchi Masayuki large seiji tsubo under the watchful glance of a very complimentary oil by American 20th century master, Ben Shahn. Though this combination may seem out of sync, especially if it was described to you, in actuality, the two works work create a visual counterpoint to each other. Living with “stuff” is a great way to control your own environment and replenish the spirit often diminished in a hectic, demanding and fast paced world. Enjoy what is on view, at least for now.

(Photo used with the kind permission of a private collector)