To begin with we did some short meditation together, just grounding and breathing, settling, and then touching the materials which everyone enjoyed. Then we poured the sumi ink and straight away they were making marks with the fude brushes and engaging with the pictorial aspects of the characters, and the shapes of the strokes.
They were especially keen to try the tensho and kinbun styles of characters, and we chatted about the meanings behind these and how they related to our experience of being connected to nature. There was a fair bit of experimentation in this group with the children exploring the dense quality of the ink and also the hanshi paper which was is a lot thinner they are used to.
明 akarui – bright was a nice kanji that was enjoyed, and also 春 haru – spring – and dai 大 – great – with other kanji also being worked on. The meanings and rich visual language of each character was quickly absorbed by the young people.
Secondary school young people at the Friday night North United Communities group embraced Japanese writing and Shodo calligraphy. The group had some meditative time first to feel the textures and weight of the materials, such as the types of fude brushes, suzuri ink well and bunchin paper weight, and to settle and breathe deeply, before beginning.
Kumo 雲 – cloud – was especially popular in the kaisho style. And with a few participants being anime fans such as of Natsu Dragneel, so we worked on natsu 夏- summer – as well as a bonus!
Some young people also enjoyed working on kokoro 心 – heart or mind. One young participant even worked on the hiragana syllabary which was fantastic and we explored some of the pronunciation of these as well as the kanji characters.
At our first Sasakawa Foundation sponsored event in Ruchill, local children and staff tried out Japanese calligraphy for the first time, using traditional materials such as fude brushes and sumi ink to write some Chinese kanji characters. We explored a natural theme of light and space.
We started with some discussion about the styles and type of imagery, and just a little about the history! Then after some demonstration, we worked from tsuki 月, moon, and hi 日, sun or day. The young people really engaged with the peaceful and attentive way of working, and with the tensho and kaisho styles, and surprisingly told us it was so easy! They wanted more kanji to work from 🙂
Next we worked on mountains and water, or landscape, sansui 山水, a nice simple word with two characters. Then ai 愛, love, and onto dai 大, great or large, which has a lovely balance and contrast between the type of brushstrokes. No problem for the Ruchill young folk!
We then worked on each person’s name in the katakana syllabary, which we encouraged them to add to some of their pieces, or just try it on a single sheet of paper.
We started off sketching the main shapes of the composition – of the Clyde river and Hydro, Armadillo and Tall Ship, then added the great Glasgow icon of the Duke of Wellington with his stunning traffic cone hat 🤠 Next the Squinty bridge, Finnieston Crane, some flats and the Riverside Museum. The young folk were keen on an Irn Bru bottle being included too! We had a flurry of energetic painting and have about half still to work on soon. 🎨
There were varied NUC summer art and craft sessions in Maryhill, Ruchill and Milton with young people and adults, they were fun groups inspired by a few different themes and using ways of working that were enjoyable while learning new methods.
There was a large banner with ‘Summer Sunshine’ drawn with pens, with a funky lizard carefully added in, plus hand stencil drawing using the hand shape as a composition for decorative patterns worked into the finger and palm shapes..
The lucky laugh game we played was really light hearted, with the kids closing their eyes while moving cut outs of facial features onto their head shape they had drawn – other children guiding them to the best, or worst!, spot to be stuck down. It was a nice way for them to make some quirky portraits while working with each other 🙂