After spending three hours with Shindo-San, I would have died a happy woman, but there was still more to come! At noon we departed Miyama to make our way to the home and studio of Jun Tomita in a small town in northwest Kyoto.
I have to interject here that I was feeling so much gratitude for all of this -- the company of the friends I was travelling with, especially Chisako who made it all possible; the beautiful countryside; the food put on my plate three times a day, so beautifully presented; and to top it all off, the chance to meet such artists as Hiroyuki Shindo and Jun Tomita. This feeling recurred throughout the trip as we continued to meet remarkable people who were so open and welcoming to us.
Back to Tomita-San...it was a bit tricky finding him, and we had to ask two or three locals for directions. He welcomed us into his home, served us cold roasted barley tea (the perfect antidote to the hot, humid weather), and brought out several binders containing photos of his various exhibitions and publicity clippings. Conversation flowed easily, as he speaks excellent English. After showing us silk and linen ikat wall hangings reminiscent of Rothko paintings, he suggested we take a short hike up the hill to see his studio which is in a former greenhouse -- perfect for stretching out long warps which he paints under tension, tied to the back beam of his loom. This is a studio from my dreams -- light, space, water and a dedicated area for dyeing. Set on a hill overlooking farmland to boot!
|Jun Tomita's greenhouse studio|
|A painted warp on a loom -- soon to be a felted wool rug|
|Tomita-San checking yarn for rugs he's making for Steve Jobs|
Permanent exhibitions of Tomita-San's work are shown at Tawaraya Ryokan in Kyoto and The Toyama Modern Art Museum, Japan. His work is also in the permanent collections of the Stediijk Museum, the Victoria & Albert Museum, the Denver Museum of Art and the Israel Museum. Unfortunately, I don't have photos of his work that do it justice, but here are a few small pieces. He is also featured in the video "Textile Magicians", well worth a look.
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