Suiseki Art 2 – Gambare (Hang in There)

by Mas Nakajima

img_0006_edited-1.jpgAt about the same time that I was working on Looking Forward, I was also studying this beautiful piece of jade (jadeite) that I found in the Eel River. Neither the material nor the shape of the stone is particularly suited to traditional suiseki, but it is such a beautiful stone to just leave in the yard. I really wanted to finish it, and finally decided to try.

I chose the board and positioned the stone based purely on an aesthetic judgment of the composition. I kept it in my room after that and enjoyed watching it every day. Pretty soon I realized that I had started to share the feeling with the stone.

“Gambare”;W 24″ x D 11 1/4″ x H 12″ ;Eel River stone on walnut

In my imagination, this stone is standing on the seashore, battered and worn down by storms and waves. The bottom is so undercut that it is barely standing; it seems just one push will make it fall. But it is so strong, and hangs in there, enduring. That is exactly how I felt. During that time I was supporting my family: I had four teen-age children, and my wife had gone back to school to get her teaching credentials. It was during the recession of the early to mid-90’s and the housing industry was hard hit because of the real-estate slowdown. This meant that I had to work extra hard to compete for contracts and keep my crew working.

Every time I looked at this stone it gave me the energy and strength I needed to keep going and bear my responsibilities. I had no intention to show spirituality when I made this piece, and getting this spiritual energy from the finished work was totally unexpected. Stone appreciation is not only about representing nature and landscapes – at least as important for me is the ability to share with the stone the difficult parts of life and get the energy to live.

Title and attribution updated

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