Ozu, Mizoguchi, Kurosawa, Ichikawa and Shindo were my introduction to Japanese aesthetics.

From the age 10 I would go to the cinema twice a week and at 18, in university, I had access to “art” cinema and foreign film – a formative influence.  Long before I ever thought of making a garden,  Japanese cinematography and editing taught me about concepts like “mono no aware” or “yugen” or “shibui”.  

Some classic Ozu set in Ryoan-ji in 1949

Mountain scenery has also been a  constant factor in my life.

My first JGS meeting was AGM at Calderstones Parkin Liverpool. Yoko Kawaguchi explained how Song Dynasty ink paintings were the model  for Japanese Gardens- an abstract evocation of mountain scenery. Things began to fit.

File:Autumn Colors on Rivers and Mountains, Northern Song Dynasty.jpg
Autumn Colours on Rivers and Mountains , ink and colour on a silk scroll,anonymous painting , Northern Song Dynasty (960– 1127 AD).

Some centuries later, Japanese artist, Sesshu (1420 –1506) took this art form into deeper levels of abstraction, and the Hoboku landscape painting has been for a long time one of my most favourite  works of art.  I see in it the essence that many Japanese gardens were trying to capture.  In another Sesshu painting, the bayou landscape screen, there is a great image of a pathway through the mountains. I draw on these images when I imagine my garden.

 The Hoboku landscape

I  am, after all,  building a journey up a mountain path.

 The Bayou Landscape Screen

On my rambles through my local hills I encounter many places that inspire and recall scroll paintings., The b&w photo  is one such encounter above Yateholme reservoir in the South Pennines – although I desperately felt the need to prune the “candles” on the Pinus sylvestris.

Above Yateholme

The tradition to abstract mountain views continues to fascinate and I have an example of the work of Welsh artist Elfyn Lewis.

Mountain – Elfyn Lewis

Ispiration, 感激.

Imgages are WikiMedia Commons or the author’s own.

Next Post

Mitate-mono : Architectural salvage 1

Thu Dec 9 , 2021
In this diary I will return again and again to what we refer to in the West as aesthetics.  Just as in Japanese it is […]

You May Like