Essay English

I was still in elementary school when I found a hollowed, round stone and a scooped out, cylinder-shaped stone on the riverside. Those days my father would take me with him to the river to fish, and I would spend all day staring at stones, catching insects or chasing fish. Those stones I collected there, were long displayed in my room, for they were some kind of fossils to the child's eyes. 

These childhood memories came back to me when someone wrote on my work: "She grew up surrounded by nature. This is the reason why infinite number of motifs, or vocabularies from nature were developed inside of her... It is as though her method of sculpting stirs up these vocabularies in her subconscious. Through the creation of forms, or the physical influence on the substances, those natural vocabularies seem to flow out of her body into the material." Somewhat his comment stroke me.

Recently, I have moved my house/ atelier in midst of a wood, coming back closer to nature. I live a very simple life, doing basic household matters: cooking, cleaning the house, washing clothes and drying them. It is in this routine that I make my artwork. In my spare of time, I look at birds on a tree, watch buds grow from the ground, hold up a dead leaf to the sunlight, and pick up fallen nuts. In this everyday life I recognize, as the seasons go by, how well the living creatures adopt themselves to the harsh climatic changes in order to preserve their species. This environment naturally gives me a desire to recreate the shapes on the surface of each creature, and further, the strength that lies underneath.

The process of my making art work is as simple as my daily life. First I roll the clay into the shape of a rope, then coil-build it. This is identical to the basic process of earthen vessel making, only with one difference that there is no opening. This process allows me to make fairly large objects, in shapes with wide variation: round, or long and slender. When determining the form, I press outward from the interior as I coil-build, or, squash inward from the exterior--the way of sculpting the most appropriate for clay. After, I scratch the surface either with fingers or with tools, then apply many layers of slip before finally to fire. The surface treatment is utterly important, since the color, the texture, and the slip altogether would appear in complexity as the work's character. I believe that the moment when the surface and the form are united, ceramic--a unique material, not iron, stone, or wood--acquires its specific quality.

I continue to create my art work just like writing an endless story. Upon a completion of a work, I reflect on technical problems and reconsider objectively if my thoughts would actually echo from the piece. This gives me the motivation for my next work to try out even newer things.

Both my childhood memories and the actual events at the time are my starting points, as well as the points of my creativity. These small points are scattered all around the days without a name. I am certain to commit to my ceramic work for the desire to grow these points into visible forms of my reality... Those anonymous days will ultimately become the most valuable days of my life.

Yuki Nakaigawa