When we returned to Manchester, tired but still on a high, Jane said if we had found an hour in Kusano-san’s company such an inspiration, imagine how it would be to take a class with her. I think we all went to bed and dreamt of such an opportunity.
Well, it seems that dreams can come true. At the end of June, Kusano-sensei returned to the UK to exhibit her work and teach a five day Special Class in Ferndown. And it truly was a special class. Kusano-sensei designed 24 unique designs, one for each student. We were given a choice of designs ahead of the class and asked to submit our first, second, third choices. All of the designs were so lovely, I would have been happy with any one of them but I was lucky enough to get my first choice, New Moon and Cherry Blossom.
Kusano-sensei brought with her a selection of Kimono, obi, tapestries and other item for the exhibition. Some I had seen before in Edinburgh but there was also a selection of new work that I have not seen before. The exhibition was set up in the very room where the course took place so during class we were surrounded by beautiful embroideries.
Throughout the week, we covered most of the techniques JEC students are familiar and learnt some slight variations on the methods we already knew. Every day Kusano-sensei delivered one or more short lecture and gave several demonstrations to the entire class. Throughout the day Kusano-sensei and her two delightful assistants, Watakabe-san and Ishii-san, worked tirelessly giving individual demonstrations and guidance to each student.
If I had imagined that taking a class with Kusano-senei would be wonderful then the reality far surpassed my imagination. I learnt a great deal in practical terms but I gained something quite unexpected from Kusano-sensei’s gentle but enthusiastic encouragement. Kusano-senei made me feel like an artist.
"He who works with his hands is a labourer.
He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman.
He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist."
- St. Francis of Assisi
Class of 2013