Kintsugi : The Poetic Mend

4.36 (11 ratings by Goodreads)
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A broken pot is made whole again, and within its golden repair we see a world of meaning. Kintsugi is the art of embracing imperfection.

In Western cultures, the aim of repair has been to make the broken item 'as good as new'. Kintsugi on the other hand, is a Japanese art that leaves an obvious repair - one that may appear fragile, but which actually makes the restored ceramic piece stronger, more beautiful, and more valuable than before. Leaving clear, bold, visible lines with the appearance of solid gold, it never hides the story of the object's damage.

Kintsugi traces memory, bringing together the moment of destruction and the gold seams of repair through finely-honed skills and painstaking, time-consuming labour in the creation of a new pot from the old. There is a story to be told with every crack, every chip. This story inevitably leads to kintsugi's greatest strength. an intimate metaphoric narrative of loss and recovery, breakage and restoration, tragedy and the ability to overcome it. A kintsugi repair speaks of individuality and uniqueness, fortitude and resilience, and the beauty to be found in survival. Kintsugi leads us to a respectful and appreciative acceptance of hardship and ageing.

Author Bonnie Kemske explores kintsugi's metaphorical power as well as exploring the technical and practical aspects of the art, meeting with artists and ceramists in Japan and the US to discuss their personal connection to this intricate technique. With the inclusion of diary entries, personal stories, and in-depth exploration of its origin and symbolism, this book shows kintsugi's metaphoric strength as well as its striking aesthetic, making it a unique and powerful art form that can touch our lives.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 176 pages
  • 226 x 284 x 17.78mm | 1,038g
  • Herbert Press Ltd
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 1912217996
  • 9781912217991
  • 29,185

Table of contents


1. Cracks made whole in a golden repair...and Nekowaride
2. Beautiful joins...and kintsugi in Arizona
3. Four historic elements...and a famous temper
4. Materials and techniques...and a collaboration
5. Cracks, breaks and reconstructions: kintsugi in contemporary use...and a visit to Goro
6. A metaphoric world...and a kintsugi repair

List of illustrations
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Review quote

Thoughtfully written and splendidly illustrated. * The Economist * You're given the opportunity to travel to Japan through its pages and absorb more of this brilliant philosophy on objects and life. * Stylist * Bonnie Kemske traces the history of the art form in this lavishly illustrated book. * The i * Kintsugi: The Poetic Mend is a beautifully illustrated book where artist, Japanese tea ceremony student and author Bonnie Kemske guides us through the origins and techniques of kintsugi . . . It is visually gorgeous, its selection of pictures exquisite and it taught me a great deal of kintsugi. . . . The book is a testament of a narrative of loss and recovery, breakage and restoration, tragedy and ability to overcome it in respectful acceptance of loss and hardships. -- Eleonora Faina * The Japan Society * Kintsugi reveals how much more varied and exciting the practice of ceramic joining is than the iconic version now known internationally. * The Los Angeles Review of Books * Kemske's rich and comprehensive survey, which also takes in the ritual of the tea ceremony, the contemporary art scene of kintsugi, and the framing of the techniques as a metaphor for overcoming tragedy and as a model of sustainability, illuminates a complex cultural sensibility with a long pedigree. * World of Interiors *
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About Bonnie Kemske

Bonnie Kemske a professional writer and ceramic artist. She holds a PhD by practice from the Royal College of Art, London, in touch and ceramics. This followed ten years of working as a professional potter, and drew on her experience of being an American living in Britain, her love of Japanese tea ceremony, of which she has been a student for many years, and several years of training in dance when she was a young woman, which she says is the undergirding of her love of the human body, not as an object but in our physical experience of it.

After finishing her PhD she took over the editorship of Ceramic Review (2010-2013), following Emmanuel Cooper who had been its Editor for 40 years. She has continued to contribute articles to Ceramic Review as well as many other international publications, including the Observer Magazine, Crafts, Studio Potter, Ceramics: Art & Perception, The Art Newspaper, and New Ceramics. She continues to write and/or present papers for diverse academic conferences and symposia. Bonnie's interests focus on positive bodily engagement as an experience of art, Japanese culture including ceramics and tea ceremony, and contemporary ceramics. As with Kintsugi: The Poetic Mend, her first book, The Teabowl: East and West (also published by Herbert Press/Bloomsbury) drew on her knowledge and experience as a potter, a writer, and a tea ceremony student.
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Rating details

11 ratings
4.36 out of 5 stars
5 45% (5)
4 45% (5)
3 9% (1)
2 0% (0)
1 0% (0)
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