The ABK-AOTS Dosokai Centre in Chennai, India, is a society formed to work as a bridge between Japan and India. The centre regularly conducts programs to introduce us to Japanese arts and culture. One such event is the Japanese Cultural Festival, hosted between 22nd and 24th March this year.
During this year’s festival, the Origami Society of Madras was invited and as I am a recent member of the society, I too got an opportunity to exhibit what I have folded. I have been quite thrilled with the opportunity I had displayed about 40 models. I wanted to go with as many Japanese artists as possible, so I included models by Tomoko Fuse, Jun Maekawa, Yoshihide Momotani and Miyuki Kawamura. John Montroll, Michael LaFosse, Lewis Simon, Meenakshi Mukerji and Robin Glynn were a few of the other artists’ works I had included. I had also displayed my origami earrings, which were a big hit! The modular boxes, the larger modular origami, the simple origami stars also garnered a lot of interest.
The other members of the Origami Society of Madras had exhibited a whole lot of models. The modular 3D pieces were a major hit! They were quite colourful and though simple, they look very complex, don’t they? As for me, I especially liked the collection of origami dogs. I liked the way they were folded and how sturdy they were! A couple of tessellations were also folded. Stephan Weber’s bull was another model I liked.
Among the other arts that were displayed, the most eye-catching was the Japanese clay art. Beautiful flowers are hand-crafted from clay and are assembled into bouquets, flower arrangements, ornaments and accessories. They look incredibly life-like and in fact, were often thought to be Ikebana (Japanese flower arrangement) by the visitors! The festival also included a demonstration, with an artist explaining how the petals are individually formed using moulds and how these petals are then assembled into flowers and air-dried.
The next art that caught my eye was the Japanese art of flower arrangement, called Ikebana. Rather than just putting flowers in a vase, Ikebana involves arranging flowers, leaves and stalks artistically, drawing emphasis to the form and shape of the arrangment. Ikebana is minimalist in style, using the simplest and fewest number of blooms, along with stalks and leaves for a maximum effect. In addition to the arrangement, I must say I fell in love with the beautiful vases that they had used!
Japanese dolls were of course, a prominent part of the exhibition. Wooden Kokeshi dolls, Hina dolls from the Hinamatsuri (Doll Festival), a Kabuto warrior, Ichimatsu dolls of perfectly proportioned, elaborately dressed people, were displayed. Dioramas are 3D miniature models enclosed in glass containers. The exhibition featured a number of dioramas of prominent places in Japan, famous palaces with unique architecture, temples such as the World Heritage Site, Kinkaku-ji. Bonsai is the Japanese art of growing miniature trees in containers. A whole lot of bonsai plants/trees were part of the display.
The festival also included a number of demonstrations and workshops. The one that I was most interested in, was of course, the Origami workshop. This went on for more than half a day and the participants folded quite a few models, including a butterfly, a bird, talking lips. The participants included a number of children and they had a lovely time folding all these models. Martial arts, clay art, bonsai were also demonstrated.
The festival was fun and I enjoyed myself immensely. I got to know quite a few fellow origamists, found that children enjoyed learning and folding origami, got to know some of the lesser-known Japanese arts. And now I think I need to fold kusudamas and be ready for the next exhibit – there was not one kusudama in the entire origami collection!