“It starts with something extraordinarily disruptive.” says Rob Coffland, founder of TAI Gallery and president of the Textile Arts Inc. The art of plaiting precisely cut strips of bamboo into baskets goes back to the 1600’s in Japan. When Coffland encountered his first Japanese baskets, he saw them as a sculpture. He thought that as functional as they were, they were worthy of being put on a pedestal. Hence the question arose “Basketry – Art or Craft?” Rob Coffland has been patronising bamboo artists in the years since and represents over 30 Japanese bamboo artists. His chief concern is in keeping the tradition alive, which may be threatened because of the grueling dedication required of the artists. An apprentice for the first few years does nothing other than cleaning scraping and splitting bamboo. The son of a fifth generation bamboo artist who shaved bamboo strips for four years to learn his fathers technique, spent a year deciding whether he was worthy of assuming the title of Hayakawa Shokosai V.
The price of a bamboo basket can range from $1,200 to $16,000 or more for major exhibition pieces, and they can take three to six months to complete. “There’s about 10 varieties of bamboo that people work with, and they will select from bamboo wholesalers or they’ll go out in a bamboo forest and cut it themselves, and then the bamboo has to be treated and cured,” Rob Coffland said. “The longer it cures, the harder it becomes.” Showcasing some of the pieces the fuels our curiosity.
Mimura Chikuho – Cloud on the peak
Honda Syoryu -Time cycle
Honma Hideaki – Knot 2
Iida Seiseki Spectral Light
Look out for the Bamboo Artists Signature – Fujinuma Noboru
Photos and information via Textile Arts & Four Seasons Magazine