This week we announced our upcoming Woodcutter sculpture with James Jean. The character is one of my favourites and is super rich in cultural references and hidden inspirations.
The Woodcutter's kindling shows a lot of different faces and imagery, these are based on ‘Kami’ or spirits in the Shinto religion of Japan. Kami are ever-changing, but their presence in Japanese life has remained constant. The kami's earliest roles were as earth-based spirits, assisting the early hunter-gatherer groups in their daily lives. With James Jean's work, the faces of the spirits become visible as the wood is cut. When the Woodcutter burns the kindling, he is thankful to the spirits for releasing their energy and creating heat.
In Shinto there is the belief that spirits are in all of nature and even in inanimate objects. That's part of the reason why you see so many anthropomorphised objects in contemporary Japanese culture – even the bullet trains have individual faces and personalities! To see all the faces James created on the kindling check out the Woodcutter in bronze: https://avantarte.co/38UG6UO