Anglo-Japanese sculpture vultures in Scottish stone shows

By Culture24 Staff | 30 June 2009
A picture of tall granite sculptures standing in darkened woodland

(Above) Relative Perceptions (2002). Black granite. © Kate Thomson

Exhibition: Lyrical Abstraction – Sculptures by Hironori Katagiri and Kate Thomson, Mellerstain House, Berwickshire, until September 30, then Hill House, Greater Glasgow, until October 31 2009.

These examples of abstract stone sculpture by Kate Thomson and husband, Hironori Katagiri, represent something of a homecoming for the Scottish artist.

After graduating in Fine Art at Newcastle University, spending three years as a community artist in Glasgow and co-founding the Glasgow Sculpture Studios, Thomson married Katagiri, a former Assistant Director of the International Lindabrunn Symposium in Austria who spent his winters working at Aberdeenshire's Scottish Sculpture Workshop. The pair moved to Japan in 1991.

A picture of a selection of thick logs propped against a white sculpture on a hill top

Symphonia (2002). Grey granite, chestnut wood and stainless steel. © Hironori Katagiri

They set up the Ukishima Sculpture Studio to encourage public projects and experimental studio work, overcoming the country's economic collapse to create a series of major shows and festivals which approach sculpture as an art form directly related to daily life.

A picture of a tall white marble sculpture on a stone plinth in a garden

Aphrodite (2009) forms part of the new work in Scotland. Lasa Select Cararra marble. © Kate Thomson

This is Thomson's first show in the UK for 20 years. It continues the inclusive theme and aims to forge links between artists and architects within the contrasting architectural backdrops of Mellerstain House, Robert Adam's 18th century stately home in the Borders, and Hill House, a traditional Scottish home designed by Glasgow School of Art architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh at the start of the 20th century.

A picture of a ring-like white marble sculpture on a stone plinth by a roadside in a forest

Your Sun is Coming Out (2007). Krastal marble. © Hironori Katagiri

"The opening went well, with an amazing turnout," says Thomson. "Although I was a bit punch-drunk by then from working all hours to get the sculptures finished and set in time, it was wonderful to see our work in the gorgeous halls and gardens of Mellerstain House, and to get so much enthusiastic feedback on our work from so many people.

"Both Katagiri and I are extremely grateful to the Earl and Countess of Haddington for hosting the exhibition, and to the Scottish Gallery for organising it."

A picture of a pair of Greek God-style sculptures on either side of a stone opening to a garden

Hermes and Athena, two of Thomson's latest sculptures, enter the garden. Piastra Marina Carrara marble (2009). © Kate Thomson

Katagiri has chosen pieces to suit the formal architecture and landscape design of Mellerstain, with highly finished and polished asymmetrical geometric forms inside organic rough split surfaces. He's inspired by "astronomical phenomenon", lunar eclipses, stars and the sense of tranquility of Japanese Zen gardens.

Thomson moved back to Edinburgh two years ago, leaving Katagiri to hold the fort in Japan. The pair have continued to win awards and public commissions for their explorations of sculpture as a "language and philosophy to create a tactile poetry of space, form and light."

A picture of a stone statue standing in a garden

Nostalgia by Hironori Katagiri (Scottish red granite) in front of Hermes and Athena by Thomson (Piastra Mariana Carrara marble). © the artists

Thomson says her "fascination" with the parallels between different cultures has driven her work for this display. Celtic key patterns are compared with their counterparts from ancient Greek, Aztec and Ainu art, translating them in to three-dimensional space with themes and titles taken from Greek mythology.

A picture of a huge circular statue standing on a plinth in front of a statue

Hironori Katagiri, Eclipse. © the artist

A series of workshops, talks and tours on the "cross-fertilisation" of art and architecture are planned during the run, including a night of pecha kucha. This is where artists show 20 images for 20 seconds each in rapid-fire presentations at the Royal Scottish Academy as part of the Edinburgh Art Festival in August.

Edinburgh Pecha Kucha – Art and Architecture will be held at the Royal Scottish Academy on the Mound, Edinburgh from 7pm on August 7 2009. Tickets £5/£3 (includes interval refreshments.) Speakers include Katagiri and Thomson, other artists, architects, landscape architects, workshop directors and arts facilitators. Limited places, email studiodub@mac.com to book.

Mellerstain House, Gordon, Berwickshire, Scotland. Open 12.30pm-5pm Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. Admission £7/£3.50 (free for under-12s), call 01573 410225 or visit the Gallery online.

Hill House, Upper Colquhoun Street, Helensburgh, Greater Glasgow and Clyde Valley. Open 1.30pm-5.30pm. Admission £5.50-£8.50 (family ticket £21), call 0844 4932 208 or visit the House online.

For more images of sculpture work by Kate Thomson and Hironori Katagiri visit Ukishima Sculpture Studio online.

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