When I first envisaged what Three Lives was going to be, it was a space to discover and immerse yourself in the culture of bathing. I imagined it would have some grounding in my travel-prone and artistic proclivities, but other than that I was open to whatever struck my fancy.
In October 2014, my friend Becky and I took a trip to Japan. Nothing particularly out-of-the-ordinary for me – after living there a few years ago, it’s difficult to resist the pull of the place. The prospect of seeing close friends and family, locations I’ve yet to discover, plus the endless curiosity I have for how its cities change (or don’t) over time are enough to draw me back on an annual basis.
This visit was different though, bringing with it an enduring desire to create this thought space, travel journal, research outlet…however it would manifest at a later point. I was looking for a launching point for Three Lives, and I found it in Hagi, Yamaguchi.
Hagi is a town famed for its unique style of ceramic glaze, Hagi-yaki (萩焼). I’d seen it whilst vaguely trawling the ambient digital image-space, and was taken with the earthy, tactile textures and glazes. A little further digging brought me to Katsumasa’s beautiful online collection. With a pretty intangible concept of an online store in my hands, I wrote to Katsumasa about the artists he represents. A couple of months later, we were meeting him at his friend’s beautiful little guest house in the centre of Hagi, an historical town virtually unmodernised thanks to being far flung from the channels of Japan’s high-speed rail network.
Katsumasa took us to visit Tairei Tokimatsu’s studio in Mine, just outside of the city, and Becky Sui Zhen documented the day.