That Wabi-sabi Feeling


A plant grows from the closed market building in the centre of Corralejo, Fuerteventura

This year, I spend Christmas week on the Island of Fuerteventura.

Walking the streets of the surf town I was staying in filled me with a sense of wabi-sabi, the Japanese concept of transience and imperfection. In the pale architecture, the wind-beaten murals, the plants filled with blooms and broken branches, the rugged black beaches, there was a sense of nature’s perfect imperfection.

A plant grows from the closed market building in the centre of Corralejo, Fuerteventura

One of my favourite books on the subject is Wabi-sabi: For Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers by Leonard Koren. The author compares the eastern concept of wabi-sabi with contemporary western ideas of beauty and the ideal.

‘Things wabi-sabi are usually small and compact, quiet and inward-oriented. They beckon: get close, touch, relate. They inspire a reduction of a psychic distance between one thing and another thing; between people and things.

Places wabi-sabi are small, secluded, and private environments that enhance one's capacity from metaphysical musings.’

— Wabi-sabi: For Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers by Leonard Koren

Exploring the complexity of perfection and its impossible attainability can give a creator more confidence in their own process. It certainly has been an important part of my creative development, and it’s something that I have nurtured in my students.

As creators, often we are making and re-making, writing and editing, and drawing and drawing again.

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