Eri Sayoko (江里佐代子)
Sayoko ERI (July 19, 1945 - October 3, 2007) was a Japanese craftsman of cut gold leaf. She was designated as the third holder of Important Intangible Cultural Property (Living National Treasure) in the field of saikin.
She was born in Kyoto City, learned Japanese Art and dyes in college, and married a Buddhist sculptor Kokei ERI. She took this opportunity to learn saikin skills under saikin craftsman Kisho KITAMURA.
She incorporated saikin techniques from Buddhist sculpture decoration into decorative cases, containers for powdered tea, incense containers, dividing screens, folding screens, and free-standing, single-panel wooden screens to explore its possibilities. She became famous for receiving the Nihon Kogeikai (the Japan Art Crafts Association) director-general prize in the Japan Traditional Art Crafts Exhibition, Nikkei Inc. Award, Takamatsunomiya Memorial Award, and the Mayor's Prize in the Kyoto Applied Fine Arts Exhibition, and had an exhibition of 'Buddhist statues and saikin' with her husband, Kokei ERI.
July 8, 2002: She was designated as the youngest holder of Important Intangible Cultural Property (Living National Treasure) and received Kyoto bunka koro sho (the Award for Cultural Distinguished Service by Kyoto Prefecture) with husband Kokei ERI.
She was active in a wide range of works such as architecture, temple walls, spatial decoration, and saikin added to 'Koru Koin' doors in the dinner room of Kyoto State Guest House called 'Japanese Wisteria Room.'
In midst of raising an heir and production of upcoming projects, she passed away from a stroke at the age of 62 in Amiens, France, where she went for research after lecturing and demonstrating in 'The Beauty of Modern Japanese Techniques' exhibition at British Museum, London.
Characteristics of her works
She gave her works a uniform look by using a synergistic effect of putting saikin on top of dyed colored paper boxes or tanzaku (long, narrow cards on which Japanese poems are written vertically) boxes.
Art Craft Technique
The dye is placed and arranged on top of cylindrical byobu and tsuitate to produce gradation and three dimensional feel by winding it with saikin many times.
She incorporated not only geometrical patterns but her own patterns derived from her imagination.
Many of her works featured a sphere divided with fancy colors and coated with saikin.
It used a technique called byakudan nuri (lacquered sandalwood) where lacquer is painted on top of gold foil, and it is strong and practical since saikin does not come in direct contact with hands.
She also produced a frame or border that used glass or stainless reflection.
Chronological List of the Main Events
1945: She was born in a family that practiced embroidery. 1966: She graduated from Designs and Dye Course of Seian College of Art and Design. 1971: She married a Buddhist statue sculptor Kokei ERI. 1978: She studied saikin techniques under Kisho KITAMURA. 1981: She opened a saikin exhibition at Santa Fe, United States. 1982: Her 'Color folding saikin screen titled Banzo hoki' was awarded the top honor in the 35th Prefectural Art and Art Craft Exhibition and she held her first 'Saikin Exhibition of SAYOKO Eri' in Tokyo Ginza Wako Hall. 1983: She submitted her work for the first time to 30th Japan Traditional Art Crafts Exhibition.
1984: She held the second 'Saikin Exhibition of Sayoko ERI.'
1985: She was awarded with Nihon Kogeikai (Japanese Art Craft Association) Award for 'Kirikane kazaribako (an ornamental covered box decorated with kirikane) titled Butterfly Dream Illusion' in the 13th Nihon Kogeikai Kinki Branch Exhibition. 1986: She was awarded the Mayor's Award for her 'saikin folding screen titled Cosmic Wave' at the 38th Prefectural Art and Art Craft Exhibition and 'Tsuitate titled Night time Flying,' received the Encouragement Prize at Kyoto Art Crafts Creators Union Exhibition, and she was accepted as a full member of Japan Art Crafts Association.
1987: She held the third 'Saikin Exhibition of Sayoko ERI.'
1988: 'Three folds folding screen titled Echo' received the Mainichi Broadcasting Award at the 40th Kyoto Prefecture Fine Arts and Crafts Exhibition. 1989: She received the Sankei Shimbun Award (Sankei Newspaper Award) for 'Two Fold Folding Screen entitled Dream is in the far end of Great Sky' at 41st Kyoto Prefecture Fine Arts and Crafts Exhibition. 1990: Her 'Saikin Furosaki byobu' (a folding screen used for "Furo", a summer-style tea ceremony using a portable stove for boiling water) received the Excellence Award at the 42nd Kyoto Prefecture Fine Arts and Crafts Exhibition, 'saikin color box titled blooming flower' received Asahi Shimbun Award at the 6th Japan Traditional Art Crafts seventh District Exhibition, 'kogo titled Gosechi' (annual court ceremony of girls music) received Hounsai Chairman Soshitsu SEN Iemoto Special Section Award and Tankosha Publishing Co., Ltd Encouragement Prize at Japanese Tea Ceremony Art Public Contribution Exhibition for Tomorrow,' 'Heart and Skill Exhibition' went on a tour around Europe while being sponsored by Agency for Cultural Affairs, and held Saikin Exhibition at Frankfurt, Germany. 1991: 'Richly colored Kirikane kazaribako titled Kafuyuin' (an ornamental covered box decorated with kirikane) was awarded the Nihon Kogeikai director-general prize at the 38th Japan Traditional Art Crafts Exhibition. 1992: 'Color saikin box titled Tamayura' was awarded the Nihon Kogeikai Award at the Eighth Japan Traditional Art Crafts Exhibition, Section Seven, and 'Furosaki byobu titled Bansho' was awarded the Tankosha Publishing Co., Ltd Encouragement Prize at the Exhibition of Public Contribution of Japanese Tea Ceremony Art for Tomorrow. 1993: 'Kirikane kazaribako titled Ryuka' (an ornamental covered box decorated with kirikane, titled playing flowers) was awarded the Nikkei Inc. Award, received the Kyoto Prefecture Akebono Award, and the Traditional Cultural Award of the 14th national Costume Cultural Distinguished services Prize. 1994: 'Furosaki byobu titled Enkyo' (round mirror) was awarded the Special Encouragement Award in Tanko Biennale Tea Ceremony Public Contribution and participated in making the imitation of 'Urushi Saie no Hanagatazara' (Flowered Shaped Colorful Lacquered) of the Shoso-in treasure. 1997: 'Saikin Screen Fantasia' was awarded the Mayor's Award at 49th Kyoto Prefecture Fine Arts and Crafts Exhibition. 2000: She was awarded the Kyoto Fine Arts Cultural Award. 2001: 'Saikin kazaribako Silk Road Illusion' was awarded the 48th Takamatsunomiya Memorial Award at the Japan Traditional Art Crafts Exhibition and participated in reconstruction of "Unchu Kuyo Bosatsu" (National Treasure) in Kyoto Uji-byodoin Temple. 2002: She was designated as the holder of Important Intangible Cultural Property and awarded with the traditional culture POLA prize. 2005: 'Ayanasu (beautiful color or pattern) decoration with Gold Flakes- Sayoko ERI of Living National Treasure/the World of Saikin' exhibition went on a tour to five exhibition halls around Japan, and she was awarded the Shiju hosho (medal of honor with purple ribbon), participated in interior design Kyoto State Guest House (dinner room stage door called "Koru Koin," hall transom "sun and moon" and a guest room decorated shelf). 2006: She became Kyoto City Culture Contributor. 2007: She was awarded the 41st Promotion of Buddhism Cultural Award along side Kokei ERI, passed away on October 3 (at the age of 62), and received the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette.