There has been a very long gap since the last blog post, partly this was due to the pressure of work, deadlines were everywhere in the run up to Christmas and then on into the new year, but mostly it was due to the fact that I did not have a working computer and had have data recovered from a damaged hard drive. Now that that is all behinds me we can get back to work. This post should have appeared back in November, (and once again my apologies to Griet, Paul and Yoshida San for the delay) and deals with a glass art residency here in Kobe...
Blue Moment. Glass + Dance + Movie 1-17 November 2017
Naked Craft Project Volume 2.
During the first half of November the second volume of The Naked Crafts Project took pace here in Kobe. I was lucky enough to see the exhibition and meet with the artists involved and discuss their work…
When people think about visiting Japan Kobe is probably not high on their list of destinations. It does not have the scale or intensity of Tokyo or Osaka or the artistic heritage and history of Kyoto, yet with a population of one and half million people it is not an insignificant city. Sitting with Griet Beyaert and Paul Miller (pictured to the left with Nobuyasu Yoshida) in a small wine bar in the Shin Nagata area of Kobe I mention that this unshowy city could perhaps be considered as the baseline existence for many people in everyday Japan. They seem to find this idea interesting and we swap stories about our respective experiences of Japan inbetween our main discussion of the work that has brought them to here.
Griet and Paul are participants in the Naked Craft Project, a residency opportunity for artists working with glass to come to Kobe and create work. The project is spearheaded by local artist Nobuyasu Yoshida who runs a small studio creating works for sale and exhibition and who is also keen to explore dialogues with other artists.
The work created for the project is an extension of the installations that Griet and Paul have been staging for several years. Paul works with projection mapping, projecting animations and film onto areas of buildings, interior spaces or objects. Griet creates fused glass panels and objects with a highly granular texture that interact with Paul’s films, refracting them and creating shadowed areas within the installation space. The result is mesmerising.
The installation in Kobe is housed in an old school building that has been repurposed as a community arts centre. A corner of a third floor stairwell has been curtained off creating a small impromptu theatre. Pauls projection, images of the school building blended with images of the Kobe docks and accompanied by locally recorded sounds looped and distorted to create an ambient wash of music, flood the space with pastel coloured light. Griet’s glasswork, hanging from the ceiling cannot initially be separated from the projected images. It takes repeated viewings for images to gradually coalesce into something more concrete. This gradual reveal of more and more detail is beguiling and surely one of the things that is bringing a young local boy back for repeated viewings. We are told he has viewed the installation four times so far and each time returned with friends.
Asking how the project came about Griet tells me of seeing information about the residency opportunity via the Contemporary Glass Society in the UK. Both Paul and Griet are based in the UK although Griet herself is Belgian. Griet responded to the notice for the residency and over several emails discussing ideas with Yoshida San (in Japan everyone is a San!) it became clear he was interested in the collaborative work she does with Paul.
So, was it hard working in Japan? There are after all significant cultural and language differences between here and the UK. Both artists shake their heads. There were practical concerns with shipping and hanging the glass, and installing the projection equipment but Paul mentions that being here in person, being able to physically gesture and demonstrate through actions what needed to be done, things actually went very smoothly. It is interesting to note that Yoshida San himself suggested the theme of the “Blue Moment” which specifically talks about the quality of light just after the sun sets. If anything the language barrier seems to have energisied both of them rather than held them back. During the course of their residency they have facilitated drawing workshops and also collaborated with a dancer who performed within the installation space.
Today is the last full day that the work will be exhibited. Tomorrow will be a half day followed by the procedure of take down and packing after which Griet and Paul have some time to explore Japan, but they are already looking ahead to future projects one of which will be to work as part of an exhibition exploring contemporary glass art with the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh.
We leave the wine bar and pay a final visit to the installation. The boy and his friends are back again, sitting in the dark, hypnotised by the ever-shifting lights.
For more information about the work of Griet Bayeart and Paul Miller follow the links below…
The Light Within, Blackwell Arts & Crafts House - Bowness-on-Windermere
Kinetic Flux, Manchester Science Festival
The Glass Cyphers, Left Bank Leeds
For more information about the Naked Craft Project and the work of Nobuyasu Yoshida log onto