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Matsushima Sakurako’s elegantly sculpted wave-like forms decorated with lacquer, mother of pearl and powdered gold reminds us of the Rinpa *style of Japanese art in the 17th century that was characterized by brilliant colored painting and the lavish use of gold leaf, such as in the famous iris screens painted by Ogata Korin.
However Matsushima’s pieces are intended as wearable body art and reflect aspects of avant-garde jewelry.
Her use of lacquer was inspired by her travels deep inside of China and other Asian countries when she was in her twenties, where there are old, established traditions of lacquer. She discovered there were unique tribal traditions of wearable ornaments that were deeply embedded in their cultures.
Not only did this experience give birth to the inspiration for her future work, but it also changed her life. She developed a commitment to people elsewhere in Asia, who are also working with lacquer, with whom she now organizes symposia, exhibitions, workshop and exchange programs. These activities have earned Matsushima a high level of respect and appreciation by many organizations, and she is frequently invited to talk at special events, such as a dinner party at the residence of Prime Minister Abe, when the President of Myanmar visited Japan in 2017.
Matsushima is currently a Professor at Utsunomiya University in Tochigi Prefecture as well as the Director of the Asian Lacquer Craft Exchange Research Project at the University.