Zen among the willows
Saturday we visited the ‘Vlechtdagen’, the fair for basketmakers in Noordwolde, in the North of the Netherlands, where they have a museum devoted to this old craft. My wife loves to put her energy into folding, weaving and sometimes even beating the twigs into shape. My interest would be more in the surroundings, to see if some more abstract or architectural theme would offer itself. And it did! But there was more for my photography than expected.
The fair’s theme this year was ‘Japan’, with a show of marvellous Japanese basketry–even interesting to people like me who are not into making willow baskets. Photography inside was not allowed, so I can show you only one little picture 😉 of a creation called Connection, made by one Takeo Tanabe. The original plan had been to invite the artists (rather than just artisans) from Japan to demonstrate their skill, but apparently the organisers’ funds were not quite sufficient to make that possible. Too bad! I would have loved to see these people at work: would they be able to concentrate on the precise detail in the hum of a fair? Would they work fast as in a routine, or slowly as monks?
We had to make do with mainly Dutch and German basketmakers; an example from my wife’s favourites at ‘De Mythe’ is shown here.
But we were also given the chance of some other Japanese arts and besides the ubiquitous bonsai tree pruning, they had something rather more special. Didn’t I write about kyudo, the martial art of archery, before? A Dutch group gave a beautiful demonstration of what I might translate as the essence of photography: prepare your materials, yourself, and then wait for the right moment to let go. A lesson in Zen-plicity, which I involuntarily started to mimick with my camera while watching them go through their ceremony. With one little difference: they had one arrow, and I had 5 frames per second… Hopefully, they’ll forgive this novice for cheating on the rules a little 😉