Jihei Murase Exhibition
December 01, 2016 - December 10, 2016
Several generations of the Murase family specialized in the production of the wooden bases for lacquerware, dating back to the Edo period (1603-1868).
When my grandfather, the first Jihei Murase, still lived in Nagoya city, he was commissioned by the proprietor of the famous restaurant, Hasshoukan, to produce some bowls for the artist and epicure Rosanjin Kitaoji. Prior to this time, the production of the wooden bases and the application of lacquer were separate professions, but as a result of this commission, my grandfather undertook to do both himself and this was to become a very special characteristic of his work.
When producing the bases for lacquerware, the craftsman starts by carefully selecting suitable timber, carving it into the rough shape of the work before setting it aside for a long period of drying. Next he turns the wood on a lathe to achieve the finished form, shaping it freely to suit the characteristics of the wood.
The gradual disappearance of old-growth forests in Japan has resulted in a dearth of fine-grained chestnut, cherry, zelkova, cypress, Yakusugi cedar and mulberry, as well as zelkova or cedar bogwood suitable for this work and so it is important to make optimum use of those materials that are available.
My grandfather, Jihei I, and my father, Jihei II, had many patrons among the dilettantes and top restauranteurs of the times whose exacting demands forced them to perfect their technique. Even when they were still in Nagoya, they lived in an environment where their daily tea was tea-ceremony tea and after they moved to the Setagaya district of Tokyo in 1952, they started to produce utensils for the tea ceremony under the direction of the tea master, Soho Suzuki. They became acquainted with numerous aficionados of the tea ceremony, such as Jian Matsunaga and Fujio Koyama, and began to hold an informal monthly tea ceremony that has continued now for approximately sixty years.
I have been strongly influenced by my grandfather and one of the main themes of my work is the creation of works derived from everyday life. I hope to continue to produce items that are founded in tradition but are simultaneously suited to today’s lifestyle.