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Murasaki: A Man Fascinated by Colour

Directed by Kawase Mika (2011). 77 minutes, in Japanese with English subtitles
ATMK Co. Ltd.

Murasaki: A Man Fascinated by Colour is a documentary film following a natural dyer, Yoshioka Sachio and his natural dyeing studio in Kyoto, Japan. Yoshioka is the current head of the natural dyeing studio ‘Sometsukasa Yoshioka’, which has been established since the end of the Edo era (mid 19th century). Upon inheriting his family’s studio, Yoshioka has decided to make a return to the old techniques of procuring natural dyes from the environment. Colours produced with organically grown plants and pure spring water in Kyoto are far more beautiful and enchanting than any chemically produced dye in the laboratory. In his daily routine, Yoshioka teams up with his long serving natural dyeing specialist, Fukuda Denshi, to run the natural dyeing studio, something which has become increasingly rare in the 21st century.

Part of Yoshioka’s work involves the restoration of ancient textile works and decorative materials. He researches the techniques employed to create some of the National Treasures of Japan and traditional gigaku (ancient Chinese performing arts) costumes kept in the Shosoin treasure house (the Imperial treasure house built in 8th century), recreating those same techniques in order to restore artifacts to their original glory. Yoshioka says that it is not modern science, but traditional methods that should be used to authentically restore ancient pieces of artwork. Fukuda Denshi works daily in the studio using ancient Indian sarasa (silk or cotton printing) and kyokechi (wood binding) dyeing techniques. However, Yoshioka and Fukuda do not always succeed, and there are still ancient techniques that even they have yet to uncover.

Presented by the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures.

Venue: Cinema City (Screen 2), St Andrews Street, Norwich NR2 4AD England on Monday, 2 June 2014 from 6-8pm. The screening will be followed by a question and answer session with Yoshioka Sachio, the head of the natural dyeing studio ‘Sometsukasa Yoshioka’ who is featured in the documentary.

More here.

江戸時代から続いている京都の染色家「染司よしおか」の当主である吉岡幸雄にスポット­を当てたドキュメンタリー。化学染料の使用がポピュラーとなっている昨今、植物だけで­染め上げることにこだわり抜く染色家としてのプライドや、正倉院に収蔵された美術装飾­品の復元者というもうひとつの顔を通して、職人の生き方、ものづくりのあり方、人間と­自然の向き合い方などを問い掛けていく。メガホンを取ったのは、博多出身のロック・ミ­ュージシャンたちを題材にした『BIG RETURNS』で注目を集めた川瀬美香。
配給: エーティーエムケー
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The Stonehenge Exhibition and Visitor Centre by architects Denton Corker Marshall on opening day last December
The Heritage Trust

This is Wiltshire reports –

The £6.9m building, named in a prestigious ceremony at City Hall, Bristol, yesterday, takes an Australian aboriginal dictum of ‘touching the earth lightly’ to perch on an archaeological landscape creating a vastly improved visitor experience. A major part of the £27million Stonehenge Environmental Improvements Programme – the largest capital project ever undertaken by English Heritage – the new visitor building, is 2.1km (1.5 miles) to the west of Stonehenge.

RIBA South West Awards recognise examples of innovative and outstanding new architecture within the region. Chair of the jury, John Pardey of multiple award-winning John Pardey Architects said of the English Heritage project: “The building follows the concept sketch by the architect Barry Marshall. A forest of thin square columns dancing at different angles like tree trunks, supporting a curvy canopy roof, which has fretted edges like leaves meeting the sky. Spaces are laid out with precise clarity and work fabulously well. The visitor centre provides an essentially outdoor experience and that is as it should be on this wide Wiltshire landscape.”

Full article here. Read also our first impressions of the Centre here.


A video describing the work of Global Heritage Fund narrated by Executive Director Vince Michael


Mural of the Asuka Beauties painted on the west wall of the stone chamber in the Takamatsuzuka Burial Mound (kofun) in Asuka, Nara Prefecture, Japan
Photo taken in August 2013 after the mural had been cleaned
Image credit the Japan Agency for Cultural Affairs
Kazuto Tsukamoto, Staff Writer for The Asahi Shimbun, reports that –
Stunning murals painted 1,300 years ago in the stone chamber of the Takamatsuzuka burial mound, currently under repair, will continue to be preserved in an outside facility. The government panel that made the decision March 27 said the colorful wall paintings can stay “for the time being” outside the stone chamber even after the decade-long repair process winds up. A key reason for this is the lack of established technology to prevent mold from re-emerging and destroying what is left of the paintings.
The murals created a huge buzz when they were discovered in 1972 at the burial mound in Asuka, Nara Prefecture. “Given existing technologies, it would be difficult to return the mural paintings to the burial mound, although we will continue our research for doing so,” said Yorikuni Nagai, an adjunct professor of education policy with the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies, who chairs the 17-member panel, which reports to the Agency for Cultural Affairs. “We will have to build a solid preservation facility if the process is going to take 20 to 30 years to complete.”
The Agency for Cultural Affairs initially envisaged returning the mural paintings to the Takamatsuzuka burial mound once the repair work was finished. The panel’s decision represents a departure from established policy, which is based on the notion that archaeological finds should in principle be conserved on site. “It would be appropriate to preserve, maintain and display the mural paintings at an appropriate location outside the burial mound for the time being,” said part of a draft plan the agency presented to the panel, which subsequently approved it.
The Takamatsuzuka paintings, designated a national treasure, include the famous “Asuka beauties,” or a group of female figures originally found on the west wall of the stone chamber. The entire stone chamber was removed in 2007 from the tumulus, which dates from the late seventh or the early eighth century and is designated a special historic site by the government. A similar decision had earlier been reached on colorful mural paintings from the Kitora burial mound,  another government-designated special historic site in Asuka. They are being preserved outside the tumulus, which also dates from the late seventh or the early eighth century.
While preferable to preserve artefacts, works of art etc in their original context it’s surely impossible (and probably undesirable) in this case. Since their discovery forty years ago the Takamatsuzuka murals now show signs of degradation and, given their delicate nature, perhaps should have been moved to a controlled environment from the beginning. Even the poor quality press cutting below shows loss of facial (and other detail/degradation) in the paintings since the 1970s.
Press cutting from the 17 March 1972. Compare with the more recent Agency for Cultural Affairs photograph above (top)
Original article here. See also our feature on Asuka here.
The Angel of the North by sculptor Antony Gormley
Image credit Michael Powell / Imagewise
Morrisons, the UK supermarket chain, has apologised after anger grew over its decision to beam a baguette advert onto the Angel of the North sculpture by Antony Gormley.
ChronicleLive reports –
The under pressure supermarket tried to kick start a new price cutting move over the weekend by projecting an image of a baguette onto the Angel’s wings. The move was criticised by artist Antony Gormley, who has always wanted the artwork to stand without any interference isolated and unlit. Mr Gormley had a clause added to the original agreement when work on the Angel began in 1994, refusing permission to light the Angel. “I’d rather the Angel is not used for such purposes, but it’s out there,” Mr Gormley said yesterday. Full article here.
It’s unclear if Morrisons had permission from Gateshead Council for the stunt but generally speaking roadside advertising in England is restricted and –
Land alongside motorways is landscaped for reasons of safety and appearance … It is hoped that local planning authorities will take steps to ensure that on land alongside motorways but not required for them, no advertisements that could adversely affect amenity or constitute a danger to traffic are allowed.’ The Government emphasised, in its July 2005 letter to local planning authorities, that this advice is still relevant. Source: Campaign to Protect Rural England.

Roman relief of Aesculpius embedded in the south wall of the Church of St Giles, Tockenham, Wiltshire, England

Several miles north of Clyffe Pypard, at Tockenham in Wiltshire, England, lies the little Church of St Giles. Writing on her blog, North Stoke, Thelma Wilcox says –

This church is not of notable interest, but the reused Roman statue embedded in the wall probably came from the Roman villa nearby. “Roman tesserae, tile fragments and pottery sherds were found at Tockenham and a possible villa was suggested. The site has been subject to investigation by the Time Team in 1994 and was confirmed as being a villa with associated structures, probably dating from the 2nd to 4th centuries. Finds from the excavations have included pottery, tesserae, window glass fragments and roofing tile. Scheduled.” Taken from Pastscape Monument No.887838.

“The Rod of Asclepius symbolizes the healing arts by combining the serpent, which in shedding its skin is a symbol of rebirth and fertility with the staff, a symbol of authority, befitting the god of Medicine. The snake wrapped around the staff is widely claimed to be a species of rat snake, Elaphe longissima, also known as the Aesculapian (Asclepian) snake. It is native to south-eastern Europe, Asia Minor and some central European spa regions, apparently brought there by Romans for their healing properties.” Taken from Wikipedia.

The snake wrapped round Aesculpius’s rod is a single snake and not to be confused with Mercury’s double snakes. There are also wooden posts embedded in the south wall of the church – Pevesner says, that inside, the bell-turrets stand on old posts, and that they are flanked by new timber-framed work.

More on Clyffe Pypard and Nikolaus Pevsner here.

Maen Llia
Image credit: Immanuel Giel. Source Wikimedia Commons
Heritage of Wales News announces that tomorrow (Saturday, 3 May) –
David Leighton, an expert in uplands archaeology from the Royal Commission will be leading a guided walk around Fan Llia and Fan Dringarth in the beautiful Brecon Beacons. In a quiet area for walking, well hidden from more popular routes, this picturesque moorland walk is notable for monuments of prehistoric, medieval and post-medieval date, which can be seen along the route. Notable highlights of the walk include a massive block of sandstone and one of the largest prehistoric standing stones in South Wales at Maen Llia (NPRN: 84541), and the old toll road and possibly the line of the Roman road, Sarn Helen (NPRN: 407122), as well as the extensive remains of numerous historic period settlement sites in the Nant y Gaseg Valley.
Details here.
Pugh appears courtesy of the Daily Mail
Amesbury (including the Stonehenge area) in Wiltshire has been confirmed as Britain’s longest continually-occupied settlement. Experts believe that the area has been occupied since 8,820bce ‘following an archaeological dig which also unearthed evidence of frogs’ legs being eaten in Britain 8,000 years before France’. BBC News Wiltshire reports –
David Jacques, from the University of Buckingham, said: “The site blows the lid off the Neolithic Revolution in a number of ways. It provides evidence for people staying put, clearing land, building, and presumably worshipping, monuments. The area was clearly a hub point for people to come to from many miles away, and in many ways was a forerunner for what later went on at Stonehenge itself. The first monuments at Stonehenge were built by these people. For years people have been asking why is Stonehenge where it is, now at last, we have found the answers.”
Mr Jacques said the River Avon, which runs through the area, would have been like an A road with people travelling along it. “They may have had the equivalent of local guides and there would have been feasting,” he added. “We have found remains of big game animals, such as aurochs and red deer, and an enormous amount of burnt flint from their feasting fires.”
Mr Jacques said our ancestors were eating a “Heston Blumenthal-style menu.”
Full article here. See also our earlier feature here.


May 2014
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