Takako Araki

I still get very frustrated by the web sometimes. I guess if I weren’t the kind of person who desperately wants to know more about a particular modern Japanese ceramic artist, and would stick with porn and Lord Of The Rings, I’d get less pissed off. I even asked Mark Sinker, who works on a crafts magazine, but they had nothing on her either. I already knew Takako Araki made ceramic bibles, and a few pretty thorough web searches have taught me no more than this. I don’t even know if she is still alive – she was born in 1921. I also can’t find an image of the stunning work I found in a book (The Art Of East Asia, ed. Gabriele Fahr-Becker), which started me on this, so we’ll settle for the image shown. Front seems to be a rock (perhaps to tie the whole to the great Japanese tradition of the dry rock garden), and back right is a bible part buried in sand, but the back left one is more like the first piece I mentioned, a bible modelled to look as if it’s been in a fire, curled up, with charred and fragmented pages. Apparently her work is sometimes so delicate it’s almost impossible to touch without parts of pages breaking off, and you can read the words where the apparent burns don’t prevent it. It’s striking enough on a craft level, but even for an atheist like me, the books being bibles provides some extra charge, though it’s hard for me to pin down why.