The artist, Masa Suzuki, was awarded a Daiwa Foundation Small Grant in our March 2013 round, to support his art project at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Wakehurst Place (West Sussex) over summer 2013.
Masa will carve a deer relief sculpture using Japanese cedar wood, and hold complementary workshops.
Tachigi-bori, literally translated as ‘standing wood carving’, is the traditional Japanese practice of carving sculptures into living trees. The practice is linked with the Shinto belief in the sacred force that resides in all things and is a powerful presence in any large old tree. The carving gives a form to the spirit of the tree, and the artist works with the living tree to avoid damage and accepts the changes that the living tree contributes to the image.
The carving on this Japanese cedar tree (Cryptomeria japonica) is restricted to the dead wood which was caused by the great storm of 1987. Repair tissue known as callus has begun to close over the outer edges of the wound. As this natural process continues, it will interact with the sculpture and the callus will slowly cover the sculpture over the next 25-50 years.
For this carving, Masa Suzuki has chosen the head of a Sika deer. Within the Japanese tradition, the elegant Sika deer acts as a messenger between the earth and the spirit world. This deer, now common in the south of England, was introduced from Japan, as was the Japanese cedar, by early Victorian collectors.
You can see Masa Suzuki’s website here:Masa Suzuki