• Greetings

    photograph SAITO Sadamu

    Sakuragawa City in Ibaraki prefecture, which is an expanse of rural scenery, is also one of Japan’s leading sources of stone with a flourishing stone industry. In 1996, a number of stone sculptors with workshops in the area began “Amabiki Village and Sculpture”. The participating artists ran the event themselves, with the cooperation of local people, and by now the sculpture exhibition has a history of 15 years. Many art events have been staged in recent years, to stimulate the region, and the diligent efforts of the artists have gradually won people’s understanding. The exhibition is also a rare example of such an effort leading to the beginnings of community stimulus, and it offers many hints on the relationship between society and the pure, expressive efforts of the sculptors.
    In this, the eighth exhibition, 42 participating artists will place their works, which use diverse materials and forms of expression, in the “satoyama” village hillsides and hamlets between the start of the year in January to the beginnings of spring in March.
    Until now, the exhibitions have mainly taken place in the milder seasons of spring and fall, but this time we chose to brave the harsh cold of winter in an exhibition entitled “In the midst of winter”. As the trees lose their leaves, the ridge lines of the landscape are starkly exposed, revealing a different kind of beauty from spring and fall. What kinds of places will the 42 artworks settle into, amid the attenuated colors and the harshly chilled air, and what kinds of scenery will they create?
    Visitors will feel the air of the season and move around in an orienteering style, encountering scattered clusters of works. As they do so, they will also experience the beauty of Japan’s “satoyama” hillsides, and the local industries and people’s lives that go on there. Those things have always made the exhibition richer and more vivid.
    The artists called to Amabiki Village have been searching for expression in the intersection between the natural life of the “satoyama” and the social environment of the area. Regardless of age and background, they are stimulated by each other’s work, turning the exhibition into a workshop in which they polish themselves. I believe “Amabiki Village and Sculpture” will go on making steady progress, like marking a row of footprints over this wintry terrain.

    March 2011
    Amabiki 2011, Executive Committee

  • About the exhibition of AMABIKI 2011

    There was a letter from the artists who established the first exhibition, inviting people to participate in the Amabiki Village and Sculpture event. I still remember how truly passionate and sincere it was. I liked what it said and have participated in the Amabiki Village and Sculpture exhibition since the second event. Since then, the exhibition has expected the artists to put in the hard work of running the event for themselves, and in exchange, it has respected their individual expressive efforts, while searching, with an unwavering stance, for the ideal form of exhibition. The way the artists, doing away with frills of all kinds and working with a kind of austerity, build this kind of outdoor exhibition, is now very important.
    While the outdoor exhibition has come around every two years, as a venue for artists to explore their own potential for expression, it has become even more important as a precious opportunity for artists to meet colleagues and their works, and stimulate each other.
    Around the time when that process reached the seventh exhibition, I fell ill with a serious disease and was repeatedly hospitalized. The situation was serious, and not a time for creating art. I had a sketchbook by my hospital bed, but didn’t have the spirit to draw a single stroke. Unavoidably, I had to give up on the seventh exhibition.
    Three years passed, then I came back to Amabiki, to exhibit my work in the eighth exhibition.
    Helped by many people, the will to live, and to create, somehow guided me to Amabiki. I started walking around this beautiful village for the first time in a long while, looking for a suitable site for my work. Our forefathers drew pictures in caves long ago, or erected giant stones on hilltops. Expression emerges in its own right place, and perhaps the search to find that place is a desire and a creative wellspring that is fundamentally innate in people as they try to express themselves. I was brought up in the mountains of the Hokuriku region, and when I was in junior high school, I was unavoidably fascinated by a giant rock poking out of a river. I thought of cutting a hole into the tip of that rock. Lacking the right tools, it took three years before I finally managed to pierce the rock with a hole. I wonder if that was the starting point? Thinking of things like that, I move on through beautiful scenery. I have already begun the process of creating my art in Amabiki.
    And that brings me to this year’s Amabiki Village and Sculpture exhibition.
    The backdrop will be “in the midst of winter”. It is a season in which creatures sleep and people turn to indoor work. Perhaps it is the nature of artists, or really the character of Amabiki, to overturn that natural rhythm and stage an outdoor exhibition.
    Over these three years, I have slept so much it disgusts me. I’m done with medicines that are like filthy poisons. Imagining the artworks dotted amid the winter scenery of Amabiki, I am longing to meet and join a group of 42 artists and their works.

    MURAKAMI Tsukumo, participating artist

  • Documents of AMABIKI 2011

    Documentation of AMABIKI 2011

    First Preparatory Meeting
    *Decision to hold the next exhibition, deliberate over the exhibition period and contents.
    *Reports and Explanation surplus of the last exhibition and the latest circumstances.

    Second Preparatory Meeting
    *Exhibition timing determined.
    *Deliberate over the installation area.
    *Confirmation of the way to nominate new artists.

    Third Preparatory Meeting
    *Confirmation of the intention to participate in the exhibition, nominate new artists.
    *Adopt “Amabiki Village and Sculpture 2011” as the exhibition name, with “AMABIKI 2011” as the official English title.
    *Confirmation of application for subsidy to JAPAN ARTS FUND.
    *Report investigation of the installation area.

    Fourth Preparatory Meeting
    *Deliberate how to nominate new artists for the second time, confirmation of means.
    *Report the latest circumstances of applying for principal subsidies.
    First General Meeting
    *Executive Committee of Amabiki Village and Sculpture formed.
    *Introduce new artists to all participants.
    *Deliberate over better ways to manage the AMABIKI official website and manner of mailing list.

    Second General Meeting
    *Adopt installation area, after inspection visit by all participants around candidate area to set up.
    *Explanation of proposed installation area, and the procedures for negotiating with landowners thereafter.
    *Report present progress applications from the managers in charge of subsidies.

    Third General Meeting
    *Suggestion made to connect shuttle bus services of “the Doll’s Festival at MAKABE Town” with the exhibition by Sakuragawa city officer.
    *Determine the AMABIKI 2011 Executive Committee chairperson, managers for various tasks in the Executive Committee.

    Fourth General Meeting
    *Report the determination of receipt subsidy from Sakuragawa city.
    *Submit desired site questionnaires with an explanation of the proceedings thereafter.
    *Report regulations of CITRUS Hall entrance.
    *Determine the sum of participation fees.
    *Reports and explanation from each manager of Subsidies, Bus tours, Accounting, Social events, Small works Exhibition, and other issues.

    Fifth General Meeting
    *Report having requested and explained the desired site questionnaires of Landowner confirmations for assistance of community heads.
    *Adopt “In the midst of winter” as the subtitle of “AMABIKI 2011”, determine subtitle insert and sentence of explanation about the exhibition on the official printed materials.
    *Reports and explanation from each manager, Accounting, Subsidies, Social events, and other issues.

    Sixth General Meeting
    *Report and explain ways to use each institution of the village, deliberate over making our demands from now on to the city office.
    *Report cooperation of the Culture and Lifelong Learning Department.
    *Reports and explanation from each manager, Posters and fliers, Exhibition venue and local society, Subsidies, and other issues.

    Seventh General Meeting
    *Deliberate over the original explanatory note of the exhibition, requirement for revision.
    *Adopt a designer.
    *Explanation on progress of the printed materials thereafter, proposal for circulation of the materials.
    *Reports and explanation of regulations for usage of CITRUS Hall.
    *Reports and explanation from each manager of Subsidies, Small works Exhibition.
    *Inspection of the exhibition course and bicycle course by all participants.

    Eighth General Meeting
    *Discussion about the design, comments, and explanatory notes for posters and fliers.
    *Determine “To AMABIKI, – AMABIKI Village and Sculpture 2011 Small sculpture exhibition – ” as the subtitle for the small works exhibition.
    *Proposed rest house “Yamato nadeshiko-an” staffed by volunteers.
    *Reports and explanation from each manager, Posters and fliers, Catalogue, Comments, Subsidies, Reception and other issues.

    Ninth General Meeting
    *Exchange ideas of ways to cooperate with SAKURAGAWA City.
    *Proposal and explanation for posters and fliers, and discussion.
    *Reports and explanation from each manager of Publications, Small sculpture exhibition, Social events, Reception, Accounting, and other issues.

    Tenth General Meeting
    *Confirmation of the contents of printed material.
    *Determine catalogue data.
    *Report having received official permission to use CITRUS Hall as the information centre.
    *Reports and explanation from Managers of Subsidies, Delivery and installation of works, Signage plans, Captions, Reception, Accounting, and other issues.

    Eleventh General Meeting
    *Work to prepare to send out printed materials (posters, fliers, direct mail etc).
    *Reports and explanation from Managers of Accounting, Delivery and installation of works, Small sculpture exhibition, Reception, Social events, Notice boards and other issues.
    *Confirmation of the deadlines of artists’ comments, captions, and data of small sculpture exhibition.

    Satellite exhibition plan “INVITATION for AMABIKI 2011, – Amabiki Village and Sculpture 2011 Small sculpture exhibition – “.
    (Gallery SEIHO, Ginza, Tokyo)

    Twelfth General Meeting
    *Manufacture notice boards and signage.
    *Preparation of rental bicycles.

    Starting operation at the venue, start delivery and installation of works.

    Installation of a several of works using large cranes. (25t, 8t)

    Installation of signposts and setting up the information center.

    Staging AMABIKI 2011.

    *Opening ceremony 15:00- (Yamato Community Center “CITRUS Hall”).
    *Opening party 17:00- (Welfare Centre AMABIKI).

    Setting up Rest house “Yamato nadeshiko-an” staffed by volunteers (Washijuku local exchange Centre).
    Starting SOBA demonstration and sale by the Handmade Buckwheat Noodle Appreciation Society- a voluntary group named, “SANTO-SOBA KAI” “Supporters Club for Amabiki 2011 Sculpture”(Nakane FURUSATO Comunity Center).
    Both of the above events are open every Sunday during this period.

    First bus tour 10:00-16:00, two buses.

    Thirteenth General Meeting
    *Proofread catalogue.

    The great earthquake occarred.

    Second bus tour 10:00-16:00, two buses.(canceled by the disaster)

    Shut the exhibition area after the disaster.

    Closing of AMABIKI 2011.

    Clear venues
    *Remove all completed works.

    Membership of the Executive Committee for “AMABIKI 2011”
    In 2009, we dissolved the executive committee for “AMABIKI 2008” and, in the same year, held the preparatory general meeting towards the next exhibition. Over several months, we discussed the whether or not to stage the next exhibition, the form of the event, if any, the composition of the participating artist membership, and other issues, and eventually decided to hold “AMABIKI 2011”.
    We formed the new executive committee in December 2009 for “AMABIKI 2011”, with all participating artists as committee members, and shared out various tasks for working towards the exhibition. The plenary sessions of the executive committee took place at an average pace of once a month, hearing reports from the people in charge of tasks and discussing and deciding on matters raised.
    “AMABIKI 2011” opened on January 15th 2011, with events such as bus tours taking place during the exhibition, and it closed on March 21st 2011.
    Executive committee managers:
    AMABIKI 2011 took place through the below division of labour.

    Executive Committee chairman / Secretariat / Accounting / Moderator / Secretary / PR / Subsidies / Press / Website / Poster, fliers and catalogue / Records / Venues / Sculpture delivery and removal / Sign planning and installation / Captions / Information Center set up / Comments / Reception / Bus tours / Opening ceremony / Volunteers management / Venue management (security) / Social events / Small sculpture exhibition / English translating / Municipal reports