Asian Lacquer Craft Exchange Program, in Yangon, 2017

Exhibition & Lecture | Workshops & Study Tour | Yangon Program

“The Allure of Lacquer”

Date: 9 September (13:00~17:00)
Place: MYANM/ART, 98 Bo Galay Zay Street 3rd Floor, Yangon

Events:

  • 1) Exhibition of Asian Lacquer Artworks
  • 2) Panel Discussion: Artists from Japan, Myanmar, and SE Asia
  • 3) Workshops: Myanmar and Japanese traditional lacquer techniques

Organizers:

  • The Japan Foundation, Bangkok
  • The Asian Lacquer Craft Exchange Research Project Executive Committee

Support:

  • The Japan Culture House, the Embassy of Japan in Myanmar, the Bagan Lacquerware Technology College, the Myanmar Lacquer Association, and Tokyo University of the Arts

Natural lacquer, the sap of several tree species native to East and Southeast Asia, has been used since antiquity to protect and ennoble wood, bamboo, and other materials. As they evolved, Asian societies developed their own unique lacquer arts culture. Asian societies still produce lacquerware, but in our increasing fast-paced world, lacquer culture and industry is in decline.

This event sought to increase awareness of the beauty of lacquer and the remarkable culture that surrounds this wonderful art and craft. At all our events the goals are to: 1) Encourage Asian peoples to rediscover and preserve their traditional lacquer cultures; 2) Encourage artisans and artists to create new designs and renew lacquer’s relevance to our modern lifestyles. We believe that developing an understanding of Asian lacquer culture in its totality will lead to the strengthening of our individual lacquer cultures.

The Yangon Program was a collaboration between the Asian Lacquer Craft Exchange Research Project (ALCEP) and the Japan Foundation in Bangkok. ALCEP began in Bagan in 2004 with yearly programs by Japanese and Myanmar lacquer experts. In 2014 the project expanded and since then has held programs in Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. In Yangon, lacquer artists and artisans from Myanmar, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia exhibited their art and discussed the state of the lacquer arts in their nations.

Opening Remarks:

開会の挨拶
Ms. Nathalie Johnston, Director, MYANM/ART
Mr. Yusuke Matsuoka, the Embassy of Japan in Myanmar
会場であるMYANM/ARTのナタリージョンストン氏, 日本大使館広報文化班の松岡裕祐氏に開会の挨拶と開催の意義についてお話をいただいた。

Panel Discussion Part 1 13:30~14:10

“What is Lacquer? - Lacquer Art in Asia”, Moderator: Dr.Yoshie Itani
パネルディスカッション “漆とは何か? アジアの漆芸” モデレーター: 井谷善恵

“What is Lacquer?” Sakurako Matsushima, Lacquer Artist, Professor, Utsunomiya University, Japan
Lacquer Art in Asia Myanmar – U Maung Lin Japan – Matsushima Sakurako Cambodia - Eric Stocker Thailand - Sumanatsya Voharn Vietnam - Trinh Tuan

Panel Discussion Part 2 14:30~15:10

“The Allure of Lacquer, and the future of lacquer arts and culture”, Moderator: Ken Dillon
パネルディスカッション “漆の魅力と漆芸文化のこれから“ モデレーター: ケン ディロン

Panelists:
・U Maung Lin (Head of Research and Development Department, Lacquerware Technology College)
・U Aung Kyaw Htun (Myanmar Lacquerware Association)
・Sumanatsya Voharn (Lecturer, Chiang Mai University, Thailand)
・Eric Stocker (Owner, Angkor Artwork, Siem Reap, Cambodia)
・Trinh Tuan (Lacquer Painter, Hanoi, Vietnam)
・Sakurako Matsushima (Lacquer Artist; Professor, Utsunomiya University, Japan)
・Yoshie Itani (Historian, Japanese Art History; Professor, Tokyo University of the Arts, Japan)

In the second discussion, discussants were asked what made them choose lacquer arts; what was lacquer’s allure? Answers were personal and varied, from being born into a lacquerware family, to the attraction of its history and traditions, to a love of working with the possibilities of the material itself. The floor was thrown open for questions and the audience actively joined in the discussion.

One audience member asked about the drawbacks of working with natural lacquer. U Aung Kyaw Htun addressed some technical difficulties, the time needed to remove water and the time it took to harden in particular. He noted the lack of modern methods to speed up these processes. Trinh Tuan, however, noted again that while lacquer is not easy to work with, the final product had a luster and sheen not found in other mediums. He also noted that lacquer is a natural material unlike acrylics and varnishes.

Sakurako was asked about lacquer education and how to begin as a young artist. She spoke of the importance of exposing young artists to quality lacquer art to stimulate and encourage them to use the material. Sakurako stated that she hoped that the lacquer art exhibition in Yangon would help young artists to awaken to the possibilities of lacquer art. Sumanatsya Voharn agreed that students tended to use acrylic and other modern materials and needed more exposure to the quiet and slow beauty of working with lacquer

Workshops 15:30~16:30

Myanmar lacquer techniques including gold leaf (shwei-zawa), and chinkin were practiced.
ミャンマーの伝統的漆器装飾技法である箔絵と日本の伝統的漆器装飾技法の沈金の体験ワークショップ

Myanmar Lacquer Technique “Shwei-zawa” Workshop
Instructor: U Zaw Naing (Instructor, Lacquerware Technology College)
ミャンマーの箔絵ワークショップ 講師: ウ ソーナイン (漆芸技術大学指導員)
Shwei zawa is a gold leaf layer technique. Yellow powder mixed with neem resin is drawn on the parts that are not to be gilded. Then, a thin lacquer coating is applied. Next, gold leaf is affixed to the piece. When dry the piece is washed removing the powder and resin revealing the pattern. Usng a simple shwei zawa technique, designs were created on 30 x 55 mm oval pendants.

Japanese Lacquer Technique “Chinkin” Workshop
Instructor: Kiyomi Okukubo, Ami Tanakadate (Tokyo Universty of the Arts)
日本の沈金ワークショップ 講師: 奥窪聖美, 田中館亜美
“Chinkin” is a gold-inlaid lacquer decoration technique using gold powder or leaf in etched grooves. The technique originated in China and later introduced into Japan. After the pattern has been incised into the lacquer surface with a fine chisel “chinkin-tou”, raw lacquer is rubbed into the grooves as an adhesive for gold powder or gold leaf pressed into them. In this workshop using chinkin technique, designs were created on 30 x 55 mm oval pendants.

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