wooden suiseki

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wooden suiseki

Post  austinheitzman on Thu Oct 28, 2010 2:09 am

These are not exactly traditional in their execution, but I feel like they acomplish the same goals as suiseki. They are natural bits of wood found and simply cleaned up, the only carving is done to remove parts to rotten to hold up for any time. What do you all think? They are Dogwood, Maple, and White pine.






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Re: wooden suiseki

Post  ogie on Thu Oct 28, 2010 5:04 am

Hi there Austin,
I think woods that became petriffied might be part of it??Am not quite sure,i remember Chris Cochrane did show us before some old harden wood sold in an auction at H.K.He would enlighten you more regarding this subject matter.
But with the above posting i think it will not fall under suiseki,but i love WOODS,thanks for sharing
Regards,
Alex/Ogie

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Re: wooden suiseki

Post  Chris Cochrane on Thu Oct 28, 2010 9:58 pm

Hi Austin... Stone enthusiasts are often intrigued by naturally contoured wood, as well. For both Chinese and Japanese literati in the past, wood of natural contour was valued. In Japanese aesthetics, this is closely associated with sencha tea enthusiasm as objects used functionally as well as for viewing. In Chinese aesthetics, naturally contoured wood is often shown alongside scholars rocks imitating the same natural forces at work in the universe-- a miniature representation of "concentrated energy" qi/chi in landscape scene form.

Hideo Marushima, who is perhaps the foremost historian on Japanese bonsai, credits a tangle of roots which resemble an island with pointed peaks as a possible precursor to suiseki. The roots are in the 8th century Nara Treasure House/Repository Shosoin. Many gifts presented to this temple originated in Tang dynasty China.

In Potomac Viewing Stone Group (meets in Washington DC), one member has an astounding collection of Chinese wood art (sculpture?) that looks entirely natural though likely has had modest crafting. Examples are displayed alongside scholars rocks in the annual club "viewing stone'" exhibits. Even today, Chinese craft roots to mount for viewing that look mostly natural though partially crafted. Japanese enthusiasts have collected wood from important timbers & blown away the dead material to create a time ravaged sculptural form with historical connection. Artifacts are crafted from weathered or insect ravaged boards to make art objects & utensils.

What is unique about your pieces, Austin, is the mountings. The mountings appear with intention to be awkwardly balanced, modest and clumsy-- though they may actually be deftly constructed. Since awkward, modest & clumsy can be endearing for a scholars rock or related root form, it is a valid interpretation to create that feeling, which also suggests 'unaffected by society' & additionally projects 'loneliness.' The mountings also strongly impart being built of dimensioned (measured & cut) wood, which competes with the natural contour of the mounted pieces. It is strong statement of competing forms; it is not conventional.

Arguably, the compositions (stones + stands) promote the maker more than nature. The artistic statement is at least as critical as feeling for nature.

The boundless scene or atmosphere of nature is less-well projected than with suiseki, but artfulness is arguably more apparent.

BTW, I like them in the way I like non-functional chair sculptures as artifacts, with the added attraction of naturally contoured parts. The use of naturally contoured objects, however, seems an ancillary choice of material for parts of each rather than the object of contemplation. The seats are as important as the seated in drawing gaze and meaning. In suiseki, seating is best when almost unnoticable as it allows nature to fill the imagination.

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Re: wooden suiseki

Post  austinheitzman on Fri Oct 29, 2010 2:56 am

thanks chris for that response- love to hear such a thoughtful opinion on any post, especially helpful if it is my own. I am going to think about all this for a bit before I respond any more- again thanks.

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Re: wooden suiseki

Post  Chris Cochrane on Fri Oct 29, 2010 4:50 am

Hi Austin... Expand the size of the the Japanese sencha (steeped tea) & scholar art (Japanese objects reflecting Chinese taste) on the website of the vendor Kagedo [LINKED HERE] in Seattle. The objects which appear naturally-contoured reflect nature apart from mitigation by man. The best pieces [e.g., the artist Oshin's figure, (Imai Oshin, 1880 - 1951)] include carving that cannot be discerned. These are close to modern suiseki in feeling while vastly different in construction. They share a common origin which initiated modern display (exhibition as well as alcove) techniques for bonsai & suiseki.

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Re: wooden suiseki

Post  Chris Cochrane on Fri Oct 29, 2010 2:44 pm

Hi Austin... You have a very accomplished blog and are clearly accomplished as an artist & art teacher. It is great browsing! Your sculpture resonates with the "Manscapes" of the late, great Chinese scholar rock collector & sculptor Richard Rosenblum [website LINK]. Richard wrote,
Any time an artist takes a piece of nature out of the place where it is in motion-- growing, dying, decaying-- and fixes it permanently as art, the intention is to see this fragment of nature as enduring and irreplaceable. And by extension, the intention is to see the rest of nature, the earth and ourselves as lasting too.
He sounds so sure of what does not seem obvious, but perhaps is true.


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Re: wooden suiseki

Post  austinheitzman on Sat Oct 30, 2010 3:19 pm

chris, thanks again for your many thoughtful replies. I am also surprised you were able to find my blog- I wouldn't call myself exactly an accomplished artist, but I do enjoy its pursuit. Bonsai, in general, has done much to inform my artistic pursuits over the past years since I discovered the art. I attempt to grow my own trees, which I have had a modest amount of success at, nothing that is a bonsai yet by far, but I have managed to keep a percentage of them alive, which is a success in its own. These suiseki inspired pieces have developed over time, they started as small ancient dead tree inspired works with out the base, but as my collection of wooden bits grew and became more expressive the necessity of some sort of base became apparent. I agree that it takes a great artist to carve wood to appear absolutely natural, I believe that any carved base I could make for these things would look very artificial and out of place next to these wooden bits- hence the sticks. My girlfriend says they remind her of the walkways at national parks that give you access to the natural wonders- I think this is a valid interpretation- nothing comes out of nature and into our homes "pure"- even the stones are rotated, stood on end, and displayed to accentuate their naturalness- I would say this is the hand of the artist as well. That quote you posted about making nature infinite I think is right on many levels- I believe that when to take nature into the scope of our language and understanding, we reform it, like the stones and the wood, simply by talking about it we give it the artists touch since nature has to be "translated" into our way of understanding. This is not an entire thought, and I apologize if it is rambling- I have enjoyed reading and thinking about your responses, as I have enjoyed incorporating the philosophies of bonsai into my artwork.

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Re: wooden suiseki

Post  Ingvar Nilsson on Sun Oct 31, 2010 10:13 pm

The bases reminded me of this swedish cabinetmaker. Have a look: http://npgdesign.se/

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Re: wooden suiseki

Post  Billy M. Rhodes on Tue Nov 02, 2010 7:31 pm

I don't know about wooden suiseki but here is a wood carving from the Xingwei Stone Culture Art Center in Beijing China.


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Re: wooden suiseki

Post  ogie on Wed Nov 03, 2010 11:08 am

Hi Billy,,,that figure is very common in China,display mostly in hotel or business center,its their god for to guard the entrance gate,similar to the temple lion
Kind regards,
Alex

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Re: wooden suiseki

Post  Chris Cochrane on Thu Nov 04, 2010 11:03 pm

Hi Austin... Your GF's reading of your compositions was both insightful & informed. I wish more contributors to the Stone Forum approached the subject as seriously.

Looking at the Nitten awards (in this case the Japanese awards for "craft as art") this afternoon, I noticed a 2009 piece titled "Kegon '09" by You Rin Kaoru and explored further. It looked like wood & could easily represent the famous cascade Kegon Falls. Surprisingly, it is crafted of pottery (location: Nitten selection "Kegon '09" [link]):

It was awarded for (automated translation):
While a sense of control of soil material, burning sensation and expression of the author has a sense of rhythm, bringing a sense of stability to the overall shape. The integration of form and full of decorative colors and modern touches, the work of great individuality.
I thought about your constructed paths supporting as-found objects expressive of nature and, perhaps, divinity.


Last edited by Chris Cochrane on Sun Nov 07, 2010 4:20 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : removed photo not owned by the poster)

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hello, Austin

Post  Taihu13 on Fri Nov 30, 2012 6:03 am

Austin,

Chris Cochrane linked me to your posts of your "wooden suiseki" pieces. I noticed that the exchange I read took place in 2010. Are you still doing pieces of this nature? If so I'd like to see them. Please take a look at my recent post New Strategies for Displaying Viewing Stones.

Best,

Taihu 13

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Re: wooden suiseki

Post  Chris Cochrane on Fri Nov 30, 2012 7:44 pm

Hi Taihu13... I've been speaking with Austin to create a shoku/"table stand" (or hopefully a series of similar stands owned by several enthusiasts) for displaying suiseki. I am particularly interested in a stand large enough & with adequate strength to support stones in suiban/doban of 60-70 cm/24-28" length. You might try reaching him in Portland (Oregon) at his Five Fifths Furniture shop (linked HERE). I contacted him after his posting in an IBC Display Forum thread several weeks ago.

It would be great to see his (& others') craft talent directed to the benefit of our community.



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Hello Chris

Post  turner on Mon Dec 03, 2012 7:28 pm

I'll try getting in touch with Austin via the link you sent. By the way, did you receive the private message that I sent you last week?

Taihu13

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Re: wooden suiseki

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