Whilst I was in Kochi, Mio took me to visit a town about 30 minutes away from the city called Susaki.
Susaki is a small, sleepy town by the sea. The town is hidden from the sea behind a sea defence wall, but the fisherman has set up a kind of living room on the beach which also contained lots of tables for drying fish. The beach felt quite like Ramsgate or Folkestone.
Mio took me to visit an exhibition by Susaki (art) Assemble. The collective have taken over several disused public buildings in the town. The collected use them to host artist residencies and exhibitions. The exhibition I saw was work produced by artists who had just finished a residency in the town. The first building I visited was a disused bank, but not like any bank you would find in here, it was a beautiful old building with an inner garden and tatami floors.
An artist had cast items of rubbish in glass which were very beautiful and I especially liked some assemblages by an artist of drawings, photographs and objects.
Just as we were on our way to the next building we met the director of the project, Tatsushi Kawanabe. Fortunately Mio was there to translate between us as I (shamefully) do not speak very much Japanese and he spoke German rather than English. It was really nice to speak with him and learn more about the collective. Their aims seem similar to Crate and other groups of artists in Margate.
The next building we came to was a disused hospital which had work by several artists and also the Meitoku Gijuku Junior and Senior High School. Unlike any hospital I have ever seen there was another beautiful garden. I particularly loved work installed in the garden, an artist had created lots of ceramic pebbles and covered the path with them leading to corresponding tea bowls in pastels.
For the next art work we walked to the beach. As I said before the town is hidden from the sea behind a sea wall and there are large sculptural concrete triangles all along the beach to break up waves.
Artists Kosuge1-16 had formed pages of a book set on a grassy dune looking out to sea. The pages were made from collections of flotsam found on the beach. I found this work very peaceful and meditative.
The next stop on the trail was a disused bath house. Again it was really lovely to see the building. the bath house had men’s and women’s entrances and a small sunken bath.
In the evening we drove back to Kochi and Mio took me to visit artist Nae Fukata, Nae’s practice includes black and white photography, paper-making and cooking as well as curating events which take place in her home under the name of Equivalent.
She told me about some of the events she had hosted such as when she had filled her house with 600 roses or held dinner parties of incredible looking gastronomic food and the previous week a doctor had given a talk on holistic medicine. It was really interesting to meet her as all the elements of her practice seemed very natural. She make me a tea from a naturally sweet herb which she had gathered herself.
It was brilliant to see how other artists and artists groups are working. I feel like we have similar aims just in different places. I hope to keep in contact with them and collaborate in the future.