What a wonderful scope this topic offers, the second in our 'elements' series. As the range of articles in this issue testifies, we can think of 'earth' in many ways: as an all encompassing notion of the world we inhabit; as the soil which nourishes, and as the material from which works of utility, ritual and art are constructed such as ceramic vessels and sculpture. Earth has figured in most cultures as one of the basic elements that make up the material world, associated with origin myths, divine beings (often female) and honoured through ritual and festivals.
A deep seated regard for nature is at the core of Ikebana, a distinctly Japanese art form drawn from both Shinto and Buddhist beliefs. Jo Maindonald's article not only shows how this discipline evolved from a striving to bring out the full potential of objects in the natural world, but also how it manifests itself in the contemporary work of artists such as Rosalie Gasgoigne and Kawana Tetsunori, whose spectacular bamboo installation is currently on show at the NGV, Melbourne.
Jim Masselos' thoughtful article explores the many manifestations of earth in the context of Indian religious and political thought. He discusses the way early Hindu formative myths depict earth as a potent goddess and how this transformed into more contemporary notions of Mother India, the sacred territory of India, as an important rallying symbol in the late 19th and early 20th century agitations against British rule.
In Asia, mountains serve as potent symbols for earth and are often sacred precincts, offering protection in both a physical and spiritual sense. This is the case with Namsan, the southern of the four mountains that controlled access to the Silla kingdom capital, Kyongju (BCE57 - CE936), in SE Korea. Architect and Sydney University academic Peter Armstrong shares with us his delightful sketches made on his many walks through the pathways of Mt Namsan. His images bring to life its dramatic terrain and the Buddhist sculptures that are now the only evidence of the many structures that once dotted this sacred mountain. TAASA Review is delighted to have the opportunity to publish some of these original works of art.
Detailed instructions on the ritual worship of earth were codified in China as early as the Western Zhou dynasty (1027 - 771BCE). Iain Clarke provides a fascinating account of the origins of and rituals associated with the Altar of Earth, established in Beijing by the Ming Emperor Jiajing in 1530. His article offers the results of his research into the ceramic monochrome sacrificial vessels associated with the Altar of Earth, and other ritual altars in Beijing, which were ordained in regulations set out during the reign of Emperor Qianlong in the Qing dynasty.
The influence of the Japanese ceramic tradition on Australian potters, its aesthetics and its philosophical foundations, is explored in Janet Mansfield's article. In particular, the Mingei movement in Japan and the tea ceremony tradition found resonance in the 1960's and 70's craft movements and to the present day. Drawing from her own experiences as one of our outstanding ceramic artists, with strong Japanese and other international ceramic connections, Janet Mansfield is in a unique position to provide us with this overview of an interchange which still inspires Australian potters today.
Trevor Fleming explores the inspiration behind the work of contemporary Japanese ceramicist, Takahiro Kondo, which draws on the Zen Buddhist notion of transience, and the tea ceremony notion that each encounter is unique and decisive. In Kondo's recent work, monolithic objects inspired by the ancient standing stones of Orkney, Scotland, are encased with what appears to be frozen or dripping water particles, the result of an innovative overglaze that produces astounding effects.
Our regular "In the Public Domain" item allows us to dip into a different ceramic tradition, of wall tiles used extensively to decorate the palaces and mosques of the Islamic Ottoman Empire. From his research undertaken for this TAASA Review article on an Iznik tile of c.1575 in the Sydney Powerhouse Museum's collection, Paul Donnelly has found some evidence that this particular tile may have been removed at some point from the Ayub Ansari mausoleum complex in Istanbul.
Together with an exploration of cross cultural collaboration in Adelaide's OzAsia Festival rock musical "Once Upon a Midnight', and a number of exhibition and book reviews, this 'earth' issue aims to offer an abundant feast to nourish its readers.
3 Editorial: Earth - Josefa Green
4 The evolution of Ikebana: KawanaTetsunori’s installation at the NGV - Jo Maindonald
7 Mother India:The transmuting power of Earth - Jim Masselos
10 Sketching Mount Namsan - Peter Armstrong
13 Beijing’s altar of Earth and its ritual ceramics – Iain Clark
16 Inspiration and interchange: The Japanese-Australia pottery connection – Janet Mansfield
18 Transformation: The work of Takahiro Kondo – Trevor Fleming
19 In the public domain: An Iznik tile in The Powerhouse Museum – Paul Donnelly
20 Once upon a midnight: The OzAsia rock musical - Alex Vickery-Howe
22 Exhibition review:From the hands of our ancestors - Maryellen Hargreaves
23 Book review: The ancient tale of a Javanese Buddha-Prince – Pamela Gutman
23 Exhibition review: Nam Bang! at the Casula Powerhouse – Ann Proctor
24 The 2ndASEAN traditional textile symposium – Gill Green
25 Recent TAASA activities
25 TAASA members' diary
26 What’s on: June – August 2009