Kintsugi is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with lacquer mixed with a precious metal, usually gold, silver or platinum. The technique celebrates the history of the object and, rather than disguising a repair, highlights it and makes it beautiful.
Kintsugi has come to the West, where it found fertile ground through its kinship with the current trend of 'make do and mend', as well as for its lyrical metaphoric loading, which has been used in areas such as psychology and therapy, well-being, music, and emotional healing and spirituality. It is also being presented as a model for sustainability.
This book explains what traditional kintsugi is and how it is done, giving historical examples and using interviews of traditional kintsugi masters in Japan. It reflects on the possible reasons for its development, looking especially at a cultural attitude of "creativity through destruction." Different kinds of repairs will be discussed, including the earlier "staple" repair often seen in Chinese ceramic wares and the development of yobitsugi, in which shards from different vessels are pieced together in a patchwork, and other kintsugi techniques.
The underlying concept of kintsugi, which encompasses the wabi aesthetic of accepting the imperfect, has struck a chord in other fields such as fine art, textiles, graphics, and product design. The metaphoric richness of a broken pot made stronger and more beautiful is both universal and deeply personal. The book will discuss how this is being used in music and literature, with the inclusion of short works of fiction and/or poetry separating the chapters.
There have been recent ceramic exhibitions with a kintsugi theme, including "Golden Seams" at the Smithsonian's Freer Gallery in Washington DC. Other exhibitions outside of ceramics that have had a kintsugi theme include a photography and installation piece by Koo Stark at the Leica Gallery, London. An example of its metaphoric application can be seen in the Radio 4 programme, 'Mending Cracks of Gold' (part of the series Something Understood, which presents 'ethical and religious discussion that examines some of the larger questions of life, taking a spiritual theme and exploring it through music, prose and poetry'), for which Bonnie was a contributor. There have been two TED Talks about kintsugi.
About the Author
Bonnie Kemske is a professional writer and critic, as well as a ceramic artist with a PhD from the Royal College of Art, UK. She was editor of Ceramic Review from 2010 to 2013, and has contributed articles to many international magazines such as Ceramics: Art & Perception and New Ceramics. In 2013 she curated an exhibition of teabowls at the Embassy of Japan in London.
“Thoughtfully written and splendidly illustrated.” - The Economist
“You’re given the opportunity to travel to Japan through its pages and absorb more of this brilliant philosophy on objects and life.” - Stylist
“Bonnie Kemske traces the history of the art form in this lavishly illustrated book.” - The i
“Kintsugi: The Poetic Mend is a beautifully illustrated book where artist, Japanese tea ceremony student and author Bonnie Kemske guides us through the origins and techniques of kintsugi . . . It is visually gorgeous, its selection of pictures exquisite and it taught me a great deal of kintsugi. . . . The book is a testament of a narrative of loss and recovery, breakage and restoration, tragedy and ability to overcome it in respectful acceptance of loss and hardships.” - Eleonora Faina, The Japan Society
“Kintsugi reveals how much more varied and exciting the practice of ceramic joining is than the iconic version now known internationally.” - The Los Angeles Review of Books