Lacquerware artist Hiroyuki Watanabe maintains a small bowl as the only remnant of his years as a master’s student at Tokyo University of the Arts.
He fed his newborn daughter from the bowl, and she continues to use it for miso soup, rice or ice cream every day.
“Home training is important for the preservation of urushi culture,” says Watanabe, 55, who displays his handmade wooden tableware at the Frederick Harris Gallery from December 19 to January 11.
Watanabe’s pieces are painstakingly coated with sap cultivated only from domestic Japanese urushi trees at his Saitama Prefecture workshop.
The researcher and lecturer says 2 percent of Japanese lacquerware is produced with domestic trees.
“Most artists dislike [Japanese urushi] because the skin [rash] is so awful,” says Watanabe. “For me, when painting by hand with the urushi, it creates a stronger connection and spirit of expression.”
Dec 19–Jan 11
Open to adults, invitees and Members only
Nov 25Jean Pearce Classroom | ¥7,240
Dec 5Toko Shinoda and Yukiko Maki classrooms | Price: see details