Art in Focus – March 2021
Pottery, powdered gold
Broken tea bowl? Disaster! But wait. Look more closely. Those cracks are filled with gold.
This is an example of the ancient Japanese tradition of Kintsugi – the art of repairing broken pottery with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver or platinum. However, it is not simply a repair technique. There is a whole philosophy behind Kintsugi. It is part of the concept of wabi-sabi, which means finding beauty in imperfection. It is centred on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. ‘Wabi’ refers to finding beauty in wonky and unbalanced things, while ‘sabi’ suggests the unexpected beauty of decay, the frayed edges, the patinas that come with age. The Kintsugi artist aims to treat breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, part of its beauty rather than something to disguise. As Leonard Cohen sings is his wonderful song, ‘Anthem’: ‘There’s a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.’ Or as the writer to the Corinthians has it: ‘My grace is sufficient for you: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.’
All this from a broken bowl.
Art in focus is curated by Meryl Doney
This article was published in the March 2021 edition of Reform