It’s been quite a while since I’ve been lucky enough to have a new portrait to share with you all! This fantastic piece was done by Melanie Georgiou (Merrie Go Art on Facebook). She is currently undertaking the incredibly inspiring challenge of doing one hundred portraits of kimono friends and colleagues. So far, they’re all as unique and bold and as fabulous as this one which just blows my mind. She was inspired by some of my favourite yabane pieces since we share a love of the motif, and I absolutely love that she included the iris motif since it’s one of my favourite flowers but not something I think I’ve ever mentioned. And of course, how could I not be thrilled with the bright bold blue of my hair? If only I could get it to stay this vibrant in real life!
If you liked this gorgeous painting as much as I did, click here to check out the rest of the project and her other amazing creative output!
My aunt and I have a particular bond in my family. First, I should mention that my mother and my aunt are identical twins, so growing up my relationship with my aunt (and conversely, my cousins’ relationship with my mother) may have been somewhat different from a normal aunt-niece dynamic. I honestly have no way of knowing for certain since I have no other point of comparison, but sometimes it felt more like having two mothers and several sisters.
We also seem to share certain things that nobody else in the family does to such an extent – my aunt is a civil engineer and interior designer, and while I am certainly nowhere near as capable or qualified, I’ve always loved decorating, the artistic aspects of interior design, and had I had more of a brain for math I probably would have tried to be an architect. We’re also both more prone to health problems than most of the other people in the family, who mostly seem to be fit as the proverbial horses.
I guess what I am trying to say is even though I don’t see her as often as I did when I was little, we connect on some level, and she always seems to have a knack for finding things I would appreciate. When I was younger she often gave me art supplies to try to encourage my artistic side (which I shamefully admit I have been horrible and neglected since then). For Christmas this year I asked for a very strange and specific camera lens adapter and it was decided it would be better if I went to buy it myself, so I could make sure I was getting the right model. My aunt, however, was not comfortable with the idea of me having nothing to open, so she gave me this gorgeous set of four prints of Kumadori, or Kabuki stage makeup. They are absolutely stunning. Naomi has brought to my attention that they seem to be inspired by the tradition of oshiguma:
There is a delightful custom associated with the use of kumadori, that of oshiguma. The actor takes a silk cloth to make a “print” of the make-up on his face with after the play has concluded. This is considered a souvenir of the very essence of the performance and is highly prized as a collector’s item.
After the “yay opening presents!” hubbub subsided, I managed to catch my aunt aside and ask where on Earth she’d gotten them, because I’ve never seen anything like them. She looked at me sheepishly and confessed that a friend of hers had received them as a thank-you gift while contracting with a Japanese company, had passed them on to her, and she in turn had passed them on to me. I was so touched. Now some of you may think ill of re-gifting, but to me this wasn’t so much a re-gift as the passing forward of a really beautiful treasure, ensuring they finally found a home with someone who would appreciate them. The previous owners were simply fostering them until they found their forever home!
Many of my beloved friends and family members appreciate and encourage my kimono addiction, but when it comes to giving me gifts they openly admit they’re not comfortable buying kimono for me – either they’re unsure of where to start, they’re not familiar with sizing structures, or are just not familiar enough with my tastes or the specifics of what I want/need. This has led to a wonderful trend of people giving me gifts of artwork that are related, either directly or indirectly, to my passion for Japanese aesthetics.
I love all these pieces, and while I can’t really carry them around outside to share with the world like I do when I wear kimono out, I realized there’s nothing stopping me from sharing them with my wonderful readers who would probably appreciate them as much as I do.
This one is a gorgeous kakemono or kakejiku, a painted wall-scroll attached to a fabric backing, usually for hanging in an alcove in a traditional Japanese room. It was a gift from a dear family friend – I’m not entirely sure where he got it, I think it was found in a box while he was cleaning out his mother’s house. Wherever it’s from, it’s really lovely. The painting itself is a cascade of pink flowers and a tiny stylized butterfly. I often find depictions of butterflies a bit twee and frilly in Japanese art, but this one is sort of geometric and absolutely original, and fits perfectly with the stylized flowers.
I’m not sure if the painting itself is Japanese or Chinese in origin (a lot of these are also made for the Chinese export industry), but here is a close-up of the calligraphy on it – if anyone has any ideas what it might say I’d love to know.
I hope you enjoyed this odd little venture outside the specific realm of kimono, because there will be at least a few more of these to come in the near future!