A major issue we address here is that the success of a single artist is insufficient. Interview with Takayoshi Terajima by Anna Wójcik-Korbas

Interview  /  Artists   AnnaWójcik
Published: 13.06.2023
Takayoshi Terajima Takayoshi Terajima
Takashi Kojima. Pendant: Parfum_28ml+7ml, 2022. Silver, perfume bottle, 18ct gold. Takashi Kojima
Pendant: Parfum_28ml+7ml, 2022
Silver, perfume bottle, 18ct gold
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CJST (Contemporary Jewellery Symposium Tokyo) was founded in 2019 by artist Takayoshi Terajima and his like-minded peer, Takashi Kojima, to revitalize, develop, and promote the culture of jewelry expression in Japan through various projects. 

The group exhibition Pendant prepared by CJST is presented at the RING Gallery as part of the Legnica Jewellery Festival SILVER until June 11 2023.
What is the mission of the Contemporary Jewellery Symposium Tokyo?
A major issue we address here is that the success of a single artist is insufficient. Our goal is to establish a movement that will leave a lasting mark on art history. To achieve this, we need to go through a process to bring together a significant number of works and artists and share them with society.

The core of our effort to engage with society lies in the organization and implementation of three projects: symposiums, juried exhibitions, and donations of jewelry to art museums. Rather than engaging in small, isolated artistic activities, we aim to rebuild a community that is founded on connecting with individuals involved in art, its viewers, and local residents. We believe that this will result in the establishment of a culture of jewelry expression and the beginning of a new movement.

Takayoshi Terajima, Pendant: "TSUBA pendant" , copper, zinc, enamel, iron, string, nickel silver, 2017

Japanese artists who live in Europe also take part in projects and exhibitions organized by the CJST. What was the most surprising thing for you in your first exposure to art and culture in Europe after moving from your home country?
My first visit to Germany was 10 years ago, and I was surprised at how different everything was. For example, toilets and kitchens are all located higher, there are no turnstiles, you tip at restaurants, and traffic rules are different. I also felt I was discriminated negatively as an Asian but positively as a Japanese.

I had a lot of prior information about art because I was interested in it, but more than that, everyday life was shocking to me. My fixed concept of Japanese common sense was broken. Perhaps nowadays, there are fewer and fewer Japanese people who can have an experience like mine because so much information is available on SNS.

Watanabe Ryota, Necklace: "Paradigm shift no-034", red brass, string, polyurethane coating, 2021

How many artists are currently involved in CJST activities?
Kojima and I play a central role in CJST's activities, holding regular meetings and recruiting artists who are willing to work together with us on projects decided at those meetings. For example, when we held our first open call exhibition, "Pendant," we formed a team with four other artists. They helped us with the organization and publicity of the exhibition in Tokyo. In other projects, we have had curators, lawyers, designers, teachers, and students joining the team in addition to the artists. A very flexible and varied team is created each time. This approach may be difficult for larger organizations. Our activities are constantly changing, and we have the best people to support us each time. I believe that we are able to make decisions, take action, and adapt quickly because we are a small group.

CJST provides updates and news on contemporary jewelry to the Japanese audience. And we are trying to grow our circle by involving anyone who might be interested in it. I was surprised that 170 people attended the first symposium, and I consider CJST's activities to be the spark that started the fire in Japan.100%

Yoshiki Yamada, Pendant: "Anechoic pendant", ebony, silver 950, 2021

Visitors to th Pendant exhibition in Legnica are usually surprised by the sense of peace and harmony that emanated from the works on display. Do you notice certain aesthetic tendencies/trends in the work of Japanese artists due to cultural circumstances?
I think there are two main groups of Japanese jewelry artists. One group follows the Western style. The other group assimilates that style and fuses it with traditional Japanese craftsmanship and culture. I am part of the latter, and I am conscious of how to update the materials/techniques to reflect the times. I believe that other artists also respect the traditional culture and create unique Japanese contemporary jewelry pieces by giving them wearability and physicality. The Japanese also have a long history of a strong sense of "decorating things," and a culture of "fixing and reusing broken things.” It is my personal feeling that works with this Japanese cultural background are attracting attention from all over the world.

Rio Yamamoto, Permanent line pendant, nylon, silver 950, 2021

Do people treat contemporary jewellery as a field of art in Japan? Do you have jewellery galleries, collectors, and departments at art colleges training in jewellery design and creation?
Unfortunately, contemporary jewelry is hardly recognized in Japan. It was imported to Japan in earnest in the mid-1950s, but the number of actors has been steadily decreasing since its peak in the 1990s. As a branch of applied arts, it is located between contemporary arts and crafts.

There are probably no art university departments in Japan that specialize in jewelry, and most universities offer jewelry classes as part of the curriculum in their crafts or design departments. Of course, there are a certain number of young people who have chosen jewelry as their creative activity and continue to pursue it after graduation. However, those who want to study jewelry in earnest usually choose to study abroad.

There are a few collectors, no doubt. And there are some jewelry galleries, but I think the situation is similar to galleries in other countries. I hate to say this, but it is not easy to sell contemporary jewelry in Japan. I think it is CJST's role to improve this situation, as I am sure you are aware.

Akiko Shinzato," Dew Drop (from Sweating) pendant", sterling silver, lemon quartz, 2022

What projects is the CJST planning in the near future?
CJST is currently working on its second juried exhibition project with a deadline of June 30. We have asked five of the six jurors to be people involved in contemporary art. We have also added a requirement that the judging method be based not only on photographs but also on the preparation of presentation materials. We expect to receive a wider range of approaches than we have received from existing open competitions.

We will also hold our second symposium on August 26 and 27. The theme of this year's symposium will be "How can contemporary jewelry connect with society?” We live in an era where we receive a lot of information from overseas, but most discussions about jewelry take place in English. CJST will translate information from overseas and stimulate discussion in Japanese.

We are also working on a project to donate jewelry to art museums. There are many public collections abroad, but it is difficult to create a similar collection in Japan. This is because the history of jewelry in Japan, unlike that of the West, is only about 160 years old. Our goal is to create a unique context for jewelry in Japan that is different from that of other countries.

Thank you for the conversation.

Chihiro Hanayama, " Single fungus pendant", silver 950, 2021

CJST ( (Contemporary Jewellery Symposium Tokyo) Opening.

About the author

Anna Wójcik-Korbas - coordinator of the Legnica Jewellery Festival SILVER. She works in the Gallery of Art in Legnica (Poland) since 2018. She graduated with a bachelor's degree in the history of art from the University of Silesia in Katowice (Poland). She's a member of the International Amber Association, and a member of the editorial team of the Amber Magazine.