I have recently been making a water basin for a Japanese garden and came across the Japanese technique of Kintsugi which is used in ceramics. Today, artists often experiment with this ancient technique as a way of illustrating loss and destruction followed by repair or rebirth.
I decided to make an experimental sculpture called ‘Broken Heart’ using the Kintsugi technique where I joined the pieces of marble together with black metal pins. The idea was to illustrate the disintergration of a relationship and the heartache involved but also survival and renewal after the break.
Medium: Black and Gold Portoro Marble
Dimensions: 54 x 25 x 25cm and weighing 20 kg
Kintsugi is an ancient Japanese technique used to repair broken or damaged ceramic pottery. The breakages are often repaired with laquer which is mixed with either powdered gold, silver or platinium. This is similar to the maki-e technique used for Japanese lacquer in which the design is sprinkled with gold or silver onto the surface.
The Japanese philosophy of Kintsugi or Wabi-Sabi embraces imperfections and treats breakages and repairs as part of the history of the object rather than something that needs to be hidden. These techiniques are also used in China, Vietnam and Korea. Wabi-Sabi is from the Bhuddist religion which believes that nothing lasts, nothing is finished and nothing is perfect.
With Kintsugi, a pottery ‘crack’ maybe repaired with gold dust, resin or lacquer to attach the broken pieces together so that there is a mimimal overlap.
The ‘piece method’ is when the replacement ceramic fragment is no longer available so the additional piece is made from gold or laquer.
The ‘joint call’ is when a non matching fragment is used to replace a missing piece from the original vessel creating a patchwork effect.