Last year, whilst in Japan for Kofu Art Festival 2013, I was asked to do a project for a closing party happening in an old school house in the mountains. The party was in celebration of the local community around the school (mostly older generations) who had supported the artists who had temporarily inhabited the space as a studio for the two weeks of the art festival.
The community had cooked for them and taken them of walks around the area telling them about local history and specific sites.
In Japan, before eating, it is customary to say a thank you for the food (ita-daki-masu) and a thank you after the food (gochi-sou-sama-deshita). The thank you is not just for food, but for the effort of preparing something for someone else. Hands are clasped together in a prayer like position when these phrases are said.
I decided to make a record of this notion of graditude. Visitors came to a table where I had prepared some clay, and put the piece of clay between their palms whilst performing the ritual of gochisousamadeshita.The clay held the memory of the persons hands, and of the process of saying thank you.
Once dry, the works were bisque fired. They were then sent to me in Melbourne. Today, I glazed them, will fire them here, and will then send to each individual in Japan. These works are glazed so that they can be functional as chopstick rests. Made as an initial signifier of thanks for food, they will now be used in the ritual of eating and carry on that connection.
The title: ごちそうさまでしたのあと／gochisousamadeshita no ato Translates to After giving thanks
Interestingly, the word Ato can mean after, or trace/remains.