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Japan Flowform Work Shop with Taruna 7 project

I left Brisbane Airport on the 15th of June at 8:30 am and arrived at 10:30 pm in Sapporo the main city of Hokkaido the major northern Island at 10:30pm. Destined for Hibiki Nomura the Steiner teacher training College near Date City. A truly amazing place with a dormant Volcano just a couple of  klms away, rich black soil that grows cow grass to a metre high.
Konomi runs “Windy Hill” Biodynamic farm where I  stayed with the woofers , more than comfortable in my little room, with plenty of good food & great hospitality. This was truly an amazing experience running a Flowform workshop & building a Taruna 7 water feature, which ran into a good size pond still under construction.

The w/shop was for 2 weeks of 5 hrs/day so we attempted to follow right through to concrete FFms from plaster casts. Starting with clay shapes that we trial with water, this is a series of trials & errors, until the Lemniscate appears. Even then this is but a start to a good FFm. Following that, is a plaster casts of the clay shape, drying, sealing, applying release, then casting in concrete.

This was far more than I had expected to accomplish within the short period of 10 days, & I was rather horrified when Yoshimi (our interpreter) said the 22 students where all looking forward to seeing their FFms working on the new pond at the conclusion of the w/shop. “Ah ! Is this possible” said I, WOW have we got some work to do.

We commenced with most of the first 2 days lecturing on water & Flowforms, power point slide show, and lengthy disscussions on the creation of FFms. Mid after noon on the second day we started on the clay & boy, these guys where keen. I was constantly on the go, attending to all the questions. Unfortunately the materials list had not been totally fulfilled so I found myself furiously making clay tools for each of the 22 students, whilst rushing around attending many queries & showing people how to work with clay.

Amazing people they where too, so diligent & helpful, nothing was ever too much trouble & to witness the way they work together and help each other was truly an education.
The crows are quite a bit bigger than the Australian version and very inquisitive, to the point where we had to cover our work every night to keep the crows out. By the early stages of the second week it was becoming apparent that we were running out of time, so I asked the art class teacher “Toyo” if he could spare them from a lesson or 2 “Yes of course” came the reply, so more hours where crammed in to the day in an attempt to complete the forms.

Meanwhile I was laying bricks after 4.00pm till dark, about 8pm, for the Taruna 7.

There where 900 bricks to lay in the serpentine wall which is nearly 5mtrs long with steps 710mm long and rising 300mm. This was my first Serpentine wall and I found it to be an enjoyable challenge. Although I was a bit slow with the course gravelly sand they gave me.

To my surprise procuring materials was often quite difficult. Gravel for concrete came in 20kg bags & white plasterers sand was hard to get & finally turned up in a 20 kg bag for the equivalent of $30 aus. May I state here that we are so lucky in Australia to have an abundance of raw materials of nearly every type. Concrete pigment was virtually unobtainable. We finally conned the Bayer Company to send us samples of both red & yellow, all the way from Tokyo. By the first Saturday the pressure was on. The pond builders wanted to finish the landscaping around the FFm wall, which wasn’t finished yet, so they knocked off.

It started to drizzle, so we put up a tent over the brick work, with a couple of flood lights. I nearly finished it that night but needed 30 more bricks to finish. Konomi had the bricks by 8.30 the next morning. The Monday evening Fumi & I cut the fibro sheeting up for the steps. We just had enough material. Which was the way most things went during this amazing experience.

The following night we built a drying box for the plaster moulds, I had ordered a fan heater but all they came up with was 2 hair dryers. Unfortunately, they where not hot enough. We needed 63 degrees and only got to 45. By Tuesday Naho and Saturo had completed their masterpieces, so it was out with the plaster. In total I mixed 500kg of plaster with a drill and stirrer I had squeezed into my suitcase along with a trowel and a ceramic Sprite for Konomi, plus, a few clothes. Wednesday evening I rounded off the bricks with an angle grinder and glued all the cement sheets down. Thursday evening I bagged the wall with sand cement and colour, sort of an Ayers Rock shade.

As I had no inkling that the students would get this far in such short time we had no release for the plaster moulds. We tried a floor wax, which I’d never seen before, funny stuff it was too. Alas it was a failure, the concrete stuck to the damp plaster so Saturo spent nearly all of Saturday with a chisel and mallet chipping the plaster away. What a job, yet he was undeterred and just kept chipping away hour after hour until finally his precious FFm appeared. We ran water through it, he was overjoyed at the result.

The day before Friday we spent a lesson on evaluation of the workshop. Generally every one was very pleased. One lady Hanako, referred to the language barrier as a wall. It was quite a emotional time for me as they gave me a long clap which seemed to go on forever. Such a pleasure to be with these warm, and, beautiful people. Saturday afternoon we had the Taruna 7 Flowform opening party, which was great. At about 10am on the Sunday Jiro drove me to Sapporo Airport.
And that was the end to a rather full on Japanese experience, which I shall never forget.
 

 

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