photo: SAIKI Taku

The Garden Below

ArtistMIYAZAKI Toyoharu
Material/ Techniqueiron, Japanese lacquer
Size/ DurationH153×W165×D173cm
Copyright Notice© MIYAZAKI Toyoharu
Year of acquisition/ donation2000
DescriptionBorn in Kanazawa, Ishikawa, Japan in 1946. Lives and works in Kyoto.

Second-born son of teakettle artisan MIYAZAKI Kanchi XIII, Miyazaki Toyoharu graduated from Kanazawa College of Ar t where he majored in sculpture. Strongly influenced by conceptual art, he began using a variety of different materials such as wood, iron, copper, and brass in his work. In 1979, he began a series titled “Personal Life Model,” in which, centering on his own body, he incorporated ideas such as the size of different body parts, the environment and landscape surrounding him and his own personal memories, for which he attracted attention. “The Garden Below” series, begun in 1988, adopted the same form as “Personal Life Model” but created a much more profound world, the outcome of which was a universal representation of the memories of an extremely private artist.

In this work from the series “The Garden Below,” a narrow iron bar gently stretches outwards horizontally like the branch of a tree from the bottom of a vertically standing iron post, and coupled with the unique texture produced by the baked Japanese lacquer baked surface, looks like a tree. About halfway along the branch stand two people standing at a distance from each other with their backs turned, their backs connected by a line of brass that forms a gentle arc. To bake the Japanese lacquer onto the iron, Miyazaki used the same technique as was used by former generations of the teakettle artisans of the Miyazaki family to give color to and prevent rust from forming on the tea kettles. The ever-expanding images in which his memories of the house he grew up in, his family, the garden and the streets in his neighborhood seem to have been deposited around Miyazaki‘s feet are contained in the title “The Garden Below.” He uses different forms of plants to express the path he has walked in life, his own existence within that span of time, his relationships with others, and to reconstruct himself. By superimposing his or her own line of sight onto the line of sight of the people standing on the branches, the viewer is able to experience vicariously the subjective time and space within the memory of the artist.