Wabi-sabi is a Japanese aesthetic based around the imperfect, impermanet and incomplete. It is something that fascinates Ellen and I, and was the basis of our second Brighon Creative Writing Sessions workshop on Sunday.
Wabi-sabi focuses on the ephemeral and neglected, and their charm: 'where ugliness begins to crack and shows beauty'. One of the morning exercises was to write about something ugly. This produced some grotesque and striking language. We were then encouraged to write about the same thing, but describing it as beautiful.
Ellen explained how she wanted everyone to learn a new way of looking at the world, of appreciating things that are often overlooked. Wabi-sabi might sound depressing, but I also find it life-affirming, a way of enjoying things for what they are, not for what one thinks they should be.
Other exercises looked at memories of places and things in the past. Ellen set the mood with video, poems and music, including Into the Great Silence,and Amanda Palmer's ukulele cover of Fake Plastic Trees.
Over lunch, everyone collected small items they found it town: scraps of paper abandoned on the street, feathers, small stones and leaves. These were then stuck into booklets alongside snippets of writing produced during the day. Some of these booklets can be seen in the photograph at the top of the page.
Thanks once again to Jake Spicer for providing the venue. We have two more events in this season. On Saturday 2nd we're doing a workshop inspired by the Beats, and on the 9th we have a short story workshop. We also have a free flash-fiction writing workshop in October.my mailing list