wrapped orchid by Georgia Dorey

about petals and paper.

I love looking at the orchids for sale in Japan. Many plants are planted together in the same pot and then individually wrapped in chiffon paper coverings. Orchids are not native to Japan but they are given as gifts to new businesses. They are chosen because they are the only flower that is available all year round in the same shape and size.

I prefer them with the coverings on. #inpraiseofthefold #蘭

carefully handled and wrapped in an additional layer by Georgia Dorey

about modern wrapping.

If you find yourself at a supermarket checkout in Japan, you might notice that it is not uncommon for the clerk to take each of your already wrapped/contained items (carton of milk, bag of lettuce, plastic container of pickled plums), and wrap them for a second time. 

Frist and foremost, what a horrible and pointless overuse of plastic. However, guiltily, I also find the process to be fascinating and somehow ceremonial. As if each item were a treasure to be carefully handled and wrapped in an additional layer of soft, almost transparent plastic. 

When I look inside my shopping bag full of groceries, I see what looks like a soft skyscape. Air is trapped inside each of the plastic bags, which have then been pressed together inside their carrier, creating a ballooning effect. The fresh green leaves of the lettuce and the bright blue carton of milk now appear softened because of the space that has been captured inside their additional layers. 

I am struck with the question that I have so often been left wondering during my time in Japan: What is the reason for such unusual behavior? 

These items are already perfectly packaged and contained, what use are their new coverings?

I think about the images that lie inside the pages of my much-loved copy of 'How to Wrap Five Eggs,' and of how charming the traditional packages and wrappings documented are. But were they charming then as they are now? 

 With time, everyday habits and processes that were once considered mundane, become fascinating, they become something worth thinking about and documenting. These everyday habits become even more intriguing when they belong to a culture different from your own.

Perhaps this behavior is the new approach to a habit that has long existed? Perhaps the plastic bag is the replacement of the bamboo leaf and the sheet of washi? 

sprite melon by Georgia Dorey

about wrapped fruits.

The skin of the melons appears waxy and dense. I have never seen such melons before, but there is something delightful about their almost unblemished, matte appearance.  
They are a faint yellow ivory in colour, and about the size of a large mango, I think they are lovely.  

They sit silent and heavy in their foam hammocks. Each one is so carefully arranged that they look like they are holding each other upright. Usually, fruit sold in supermarkets is piled up, plentiful and abundant, but the majority of fruits sold in Japan are ordered and cared for in such a way that they look less like nature's bounty and more like precious artifacts. No doubt this approach to the sale of fruit has something to do with how expensive it is to grow on an island that is almost 70% forest. 

I find out later that they are Sprite Melons, apparently similar in taste to the honeydew, and to my delight, this melon originates from Japan. A fruit that I would otherwise have never have crossed paths with had I not come to live here.

paper by Georgia Dorey

about observations.

To my absolute delight, paper is everywhere in Japan. 

From paperwork to purification wands/ōnus (大幣), I have found that the use of paper in day to day life in japan is deeply rooted. Its importance is clear, however very few Japanese people have a clear understanding of why it is so important, and used so frequently.

When I moved here I brought a few books with me, books that I return to time and time again, however since living in Japan, these books have taken on a deeper level of meaning. Texts that were once so alien and magical to me, have now been put into context, a little less alien but still so magical. 

There is a passage in Leonard Koren's book, Wabi-Sabi (侘寂), that perfectly sums up the language barrier between Japanese and English, and why certain things, such as washi (和紙) and shide (紙垂), are so difficult to fully explain. 

'The Japanese language is good for communicating subtleties of mood, vagueness, and the logic of the heart, but not so good for explaining things in a rational way.’

And yet, is this not what makes this culture so incredibly fascinating? That not everything can be or needs to be explained. 

 

 

In Praise of The Fold - beginnings and ends by Georgia Dorey

about Japan.

Japan arrival - the beginning of the completion of In Praise of The Fold.

I have been in the process of compiling works, research, and thoughts into a book that I had intended to launch before the end of May this year. However, as it always does, life had a very different plan for me. I found out that I would be moving to Japan at the end of the summer, and suddenly, rushing to complete the book made no sense. Moving to Japan has been an almost lifelong goal of mine, to be placed at the center of a country that has had such continuing hold over me and the work that I do. And so, I decided that In Praise of The Fold would be made so much more enriched if I used my direct contact and experiences to further develop my understanding and research.

After the last four months of adjusting and settling into my new and wonderful life, I am ready to commence working on the book. I have a year and a half in which to complete it,  頑張って!   

this simplicity of construction by Georgia Dorey

about kimono.

Niigata, Japan - 1850-1900 - hemp, dyed and printed.

Niigata, Japan - 1850-1900 - hemp, dyed and printed.

kimono are made from single bolts of cloth, about 36cm wide and 11 metres long, which are cut into seven straight pieces. two panels - each extending up the front, over the shoulder and down the back - create the body, two the sleeves, two more the overlaps, and a narrower panel the neckband.

this simplicity of construction meant that kimono could be sewn in the home.

why wrapping? why fabric? by Georgia Dorey

about Christo.

...once wrapped, the objects would take on a new identity. by wrapping them, he would reveal some of the most basic features and proportions of the object by concealing the actual item. while the intricate details of the structures are hidden, the essence of the structures are revealed all the while making the imposing and solid structure seem airy and nomadic. the use of real fabric also gives the work a fragile, sensual and temporary character.