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D+P Studio News

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Currently browsing Tag: Shodo calligraphy

Deeply, slowly and softly – Shakyo tracing at KSD

8 May 2019

Deeply, slowly and softly - Shakyo tracing at KSD

The last of our series of free events related to Japanese calligraphy and meditative practice was Shakyo copying – tracing a sutra.
We started with a talk where Blair discussed the history of Shakyo (and of course including the famous story of Genjo / Xuanzang c 602 – 664 which was popularised in the Saiyuuki / Monkey Magic series, itself based on the fictionalised Chinese novel Journey to the West) and his experience of participating in Shakyo practice in Soto shu and Hosso shu temples in Japan taught by monks and calligraphy masters, connecting with wider zen practice.

Deeply, slowly and softly - Shakyo tracing at KSD

We then had a look at the structure and some of the many meanings in the sutra, the shortened essence or heart of the massively longer epic Dai Hannya (as the monks call it) or Vast Perfection of Wisdom Sutra.
Then we approached this session like a period of meditation, working peacefully and being absorbed into the very process of tracing each character of the chosen Heart Sutra. This is a very tranquil activity best done slowly. 

Deeply, slowly and softly - Shakyo tracing at KSD

In many ways it is also very different from Shodo calligraphy (which we explored in the other groups in this series), such as we worked on many small characters in vertical rows with small kofude brushes, grinding our own ink (listening to the sound as we did so and noticing the speed of the grinding) and connecting to the sutra rather than working with large brushes and kanji in the much more dynamic process of Shodo.

Deeply, slowly and softly - Shakyo tracing at KSD

This type of Shakyo group working with the these traditional materials and methods and looking deeply at the ideas in the sutra is new to Scotland and the UK, and we were delighted to host this and see the participants engage wholeheartedly, enjoy it and want to practice it further. Thanks again to the GB Sasakawa Foundation for their support for this project.

Deeply, slowly and softly - Shakyo tracing at KSD
The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation

Kindly supported by The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation

Category: Art Groups Tags: , , ,

Meditative calm and connecting to spaciousness and light

1 May 2019

Meditative calm and connecting to spaciousness and light

At Kagyu Samye Dzong Tibetan building we had a large turnout for this free Shodo calligraphy group (apologies to those we couldn’t accommodate) and enjoyed a gentle introduction to the way of Sho.

Meditative calm and connecting to spaciousness and light

Before working on the kanji characters, we talked about the history of Shodo and kanji characters, and Blair’s experience in Japan and in particular with calligraphy and meditation. We looked at the traditional materials, from bunchin paper weight to shitajiki felt mat to suzuri inkwells and fude brushes, pausing reflectively to notice and feel the textures such as of the hanshi paper. 

Meditative calm and connecting to spaciousness and light

In the peaceful atmosphere of the garden room (where groups such as the Glasgow Zen Group or Tibetan Buddhist group meditate) we worked on several kanji and built up to working on Koumyou 光明 – radiant light or luminous brightness – in the kaisho style and tensho styles. 

Meditative calm and connecting to spaciousness and light
Meditative calm and connecting to spaciousness and light

We also had time to try some of the strokes practice, and some participants also experimented with using the brushes to write fluidly in English alongside the kanji characters.

Meditative calm and connecting to spaciousness and light
Meditative calm and connecting to spaciousness and light
The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation

Kindly supported by The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation

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Enso zen circles and old bone language at Maryhill Art Group

30 April 2019

Enso zen circles and old bone language at Maryhill Art Group

In this session generously supported by the GB Sasakawa Foundation, our group of adults with children were able to try out Japanese calligraphy for the first time and find out about some of the history and culture behind the beautiful characters.

Enso zen circles and old bone language at Maryhill Art Group

The participants enjoyed the challenge and variety of making an enso circle in a single mark – reflecting their experience and being in that moment, and in some ways a meditation in itself. Time to breathe, relax and connect helped to settle into the calligraphy, but folk were very quick to get going and try out the kanji characters.

Enso zen circles and old bone language at Maryhill Art Group

As we have worked a lot with natural materials in this group previously it was ideal to try out characters such as moku 木 – wood, and kumo 雲 – cloud. 

Enso zen circles and old bone language at Maryhill Art Group
Enso zen circles and old bone language at Maryhill Art Group

The younger participants engaged very readily to the older tensho, kinbun and kokotsubun styles – back to the shell and bone language which evolved into kanji. We considered the connections to the old Scottish Pictish and Viking Norse visual languages and found these to be closer than we would have thought. 

Enso zen circles and old bone language at Maryhill Art Group
Enso zen circles and old bone language at Maryhill Art Group
Enso zen circles and old bone language at Maryhill Art Group
The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation

Kindly supported by The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation

Category: Art Groups Tags: , , ,

The way of sho

24 April 2019

At Zen Heart Brush this time we worked with the characters for Shodo – the way of writing. 書 Sho/ kaku can mean to write, to draw or to paint so has a fairly broad range of interpretation. Lots of horizontal strokes in this character!

The way of sho
The way of sho
The way of sho

道 Dou/ michi – meaning way, road, teachings such as Buddha way – visually varies a lot from tensho to kaisho styles, especially the foot moving forward on the left side (hen radical), itself meaning walk or advance. We looked briefly at the roots of meaning of this Chinese character which are ancient and shamanic.

The way of sho

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Kokyou – the eternal mirror

24 April 2019

Kokyou - the eternal mirror

We first had some fun loosening up with some markmaking before working on the kanji character 古 ko / furui for old or ancient. Exploring the oldest bone carving style of character was really fun in addition to the tensho and kaisho styles.

Kokyou - the eternal mirror

鏡 Kyou/ kagami meaning mirror had a lort more strokes to work with but we enjoyed the contrast with the ko character. This relates to the old Chinese bronze mirrors.

Kokyou - the eternal mirror
Kokyou - the eternal mirror

Combining both kanji together with the resulting sound Kokyou, has a very old Chinese meaning – mirrors are the origin of yin and yang and regulate the body eternally – as well as a later meaning in Buddhism – in the ancient mirror nothing is discriminated, everything is shown.

Kokyou - the eternal mirror

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Spring experiments and lots of tensho!

16 March 2019

The primary school group on Saturday at North United Communities in Maryhill Hub tried Japanese calligraphy for the first time and had lots of fun!

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.

The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation

Kindly supported by The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation

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Workshop for North United Communities

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Clouds and heart-mind at Maryhill Hub

15 March 2019

Clouds and heart-mind at Maryhill Hub

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.

Clouds and heart-mind at Maryhill Hub

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!

Clouds and heart-mind at Maryhill Hub
Clouds and heart-mind at Maryhill Hub
Clouds and heart-mind at Maryhill Hub

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.

Clouds and heart-mind at Maryhill Hub
Clouds and heart-mind at Maryhill Hub
The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation

Kindly supported by The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation

**********

Workshop for North United Communities

**********

Category: Art Groups Tags: , , , ,

Shodo calligraphy at Ruchill Community Centre

14 March 2019

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. 

Shodo calligraphy at Ruchill Community Centre

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 🙂

Shodo calligraphy at Ruchill Community Centre

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! 

Shodo calligraphy at Ruchill Community Centre
Shodo calligraphy at Ruchill Community Centre
Shodo calligraphy at Ruchill Community Centre
Shodo calligraphy at Ruchill Community Centre
Shodo calligraphy at Ruchill Community Centre

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. 

Shodo calligraphy at Ruchill Community Centre
The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation

Kindly supported by The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation

**********

Workshop for North United Communities

**********

Category: Art Groups Tags: , , , ,

Winter clarity and creative exploration in Japan

1 March 2019

In January Blair visited Japan as part of a project kindly funded by the GB Sasakawa Foundation. He had an exciting packed schedule learning about various Shodo calligraphy styles of Japanese calligraphy with Shodo masters in Tokyo, and investigating mindful meditation practices with different teachers and monks in Tokyo and the Hokuriku area.

Winter clarity and creative exploration in Japan

Winter clarity and creative exploration in Japan

Winter clarity and creative exploration in Japan

Winter clarity and creative exploration in Japan

Winter clarity and creative exploration in Japan

He met respected Japanese Zazen meditation (Zen) teachers to investigate connections between mindful meditation practice for calm and well-being, Japanese harmony with the environment and Shakyo practice. Shakyo is a peaceful, meditative method of tracing the Japanese and Chinese kanji characters of sutras such as the Heart Sutra (copying the old version of traveler monk Genjo in the temple artwork below, Blair enjoyed this in Soto shu and also Hosso shu temples in Tokyo). His teachers introduced him to Ganshinkei’s (Yan Zhenqing) calligraphy being exhibited at Tokyo National Museum, as well as an exhibition of shodo pieces he visited in Ueno.

Winter clarity and creative exploration in Japan

Winter clarity and creative exploration in Japan

Winter clarity and creative exploration in Japan

Winter clarity and creative exploration in Japan

Winter clarity and creative exploration in Japan

Visiting Okamoto Taro’s studio museum in Aoyama was also an inspiration as this is an artist that inspires some of the D+P Studio artwork collaborations.

Winter clarity and creative exploration in Japan

It was a fun trip for Blair and he was able to stay in an old Soto Shu temple as well as learn from masters like Issho Fujita who are knowledgeable about many Japanese practices related to Buddhism and mindfulness. In different temples he found varying and subtle styles of meditation practice (such as in Soto and Rinzai temples). He also visited Natadera temple and caves, an old Shingon temple dating to the 8th century – he found connections there between the sacred earth and nature worship of Shinto, Hakusan mountain reverance and Buddhist meditative practice.

Winter clarity and creative exploration in Japan

Winter clarity and creative exploration in Japan

Winter clarity and creative exploration in Japan

Winter clarity and creative exploration in Japan

Winter clarity and creative exploration in Japan

Winter clarity and creative exploration in Japan

There were many mysteries and places he would have liked to spend more time delving into, but he couldn’t stop too long before hopping on the next bus or shinkansen train to reach a new Zazen meeting or Shodo workshop! Blair is very thankful for all the support he received in Japan, from many kind and helpful individuals as well as teachers and monks.

Winter clarity and creative exploration in Japan

Winter clarity and creative exploration in Japan

Winter clarity and creative exploration in Japan

Winter clarity and creative exploration in Japan

Winter clarity and creative exploration in Japan

Winter clarity and creative exploration in Japan

From March to May we are running a series of free workshops in the Glasgow area exploring the themes mentioned above.

7th March 2019
Ruchill After School P4-P7 Shodo Japanese Calligraphy

8th March 2019
Maryhill 12+ Shodo Japanese Calligraphy

9th March 2019
Maryhill Breakfast Club Shodo Japanese Calligraphy

25th April 2019
Maryhill Art Group – Japanese calligraphy night

28th April 2019
Introduction to Japanese Sho Calligraphy

4th May 2019
Introduction to Shakyo – Tracing the Sutras

We will have fun trying out and discussing Japanese Shodo calligraphy, meditation and mindful awareness, and investigate how these practices can help us connect with our environment through markmaking. Also we will look for shared cultural connections for instance with Celtic and Pictish symbols and pictograms. There is very little knowledge about mindful Shakyo practice, which is a calming and activity aiding wellbeing and awareness, this is a new practice for people in the UK.

Winter clarity and creative exploration in Japan

 

The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation

Kindly supported by The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation


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Arts and culture project – calligraphy, meditation and Shakyo

3 January 2019

Mushin and Unsui calligraphy at Heart Brush

Supported by the Sasakawa Foundation, we will be running some free workshops in the North, West and central areas of Glasgow for young people and adults to discuss, explore and have fun trying out Japanese Shodo calligraphy, with some meditation and mindful awareness, such as the peaceful and meditative practice of Shakyo. Look out for dates in late Winter and Spring 2019! We will announce which groups are free to join (please note Zen Heart Brush is not part of this project).

Tracing the Sutras – Shakyo Peaceful practice following the Heart SutraTracing the Sutras – Shakyo Peaceful practice following the Heart Sutra

We hope to inspire people in and beyond Glasgow to connect with their environment through markmaking and look for shared cultural connections between Japan and Scotland, for instance with Celtic and Pictish symbols and pictograms.

Mushin and Unsui calligraphy at Heart Brush

Skybrush Earthbrush

 

The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation

Kindly supported by The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation

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