Midori Takaki is a Japanese born artist working with clay to create beautifully odd little creatures inspired by her daily thoughts and her childhood, capturing a journal in ceramic.
Did you experiment with other mediums before choosing to work with ceramic? What was the process?
No. Clay is the first and only one medium I have worked with.
How do you think growing up in Japan has influenced your work?
My work is full of what I have observed, experienced and felt in my life. Animism in Japan is wonderful thing. We see spirits everywhere, in mountains, rivers, animals and even stones! I also think Zen has influenced my aesthetic in a big way. I try to express my thoughts and feelings in the fewest strokes, so to speak. I also think being able to view Western culture from Japanese view point gives me depth to my own world that I create.
Owl Finch Owl
What’s your process when creating work? Where does your inspiration come from and how do you turn an idea into reality?
My inspiration comes from all the things I have seen, heard, read and dreamt. I usually make something every day. I end up making something I have felt and observed on that day. I call it diary. It is like writing diary in clay. But I don’t decide what to make beforehand. I don’t know what will appear. It is more like I rediscover my feeling in clay after I have made my work. I just let spirits appear from the clay. It is very therapeutic. I sleep very well after that.
Do you make a living from your work?
I think it would take a few more hard working years to get there.
What’s involved with creating your work? Do you finish in one session? Do you have breaks? Do you listen to music?
I used to make a piece in one go; up to six hours without breaks. Then I would suffer from massive back aches afterwards. Now I’m a bit wiser, I make sure I have breaks whilst waiting for the clay to harden. Usually every two hours or so.
I work in silence whilst working because I have to listen to what the clay says. That’s the best part of being an artist. Once I start glazing, I will put music on that’s usually fast and upbeat. Glazing is tricky. I used to hesitate a lot as it is “final”; once you fire the piece you can’t remove the glaze. In order to be decisive, I use music to block out my doubts. I also found if I listen to music with a fast tempo, my brush strokes are faster, too. Music is a drug. It is addictive.
Any particular track you’d like to share?
When did you decide to start working with clay and how did you discover it?
I only started ceramics some years ago when Mike, my husband, wanted me to go to an evening ceramic class with him. We had made pots for a while, but one day I started making little animals for fun, and I found I could do well. Then I started making something everyday. I discovered an ‘unknown me’ in my 40s. That was awesome!
How do you think it would have been different if you’d have discovered your talent when you were younger?
I have thought about it a lot. But I concluded I might have taken longer time to get where I am now if I had discovered it when I was younger. As a middle aged woman, I have more confidence, more knowledge and more experience in lots of aspects of life and business. I happened to be ripe to start my art career; I could say all things I have done in my life before were preparation for my art career, although I didn’t know that. I am also aware that I might still have unknown me, and I feel much freer and hence I can’t see my limit. How wonderful is that!
Where the Wind Blows
How do you think social media has played in your development as an artist?
It was god sent! I started with a blog and then Twitter. Both have been great to my career. Last year I also started Facebook. I enjoy Twitter most because it is instantaneous and it can reach so many people. I can tweet easily at my breaks. Also I like 140 letter limit – it is a bit like Haiku!To start with, I was sceptical at the idea of selling ceramic sculptures on the internet because of the nature of 3D, high shipping fees as well as possible damage in the post. I was blown away when customers started contacting me from all over the world after finding me on social media. Many of my customers are from Twitter. Social media has changed how people communicate and shop in a big way. Artists are able to set up their business at nominal cost thanks to social media. The world is changing, so I am happy to go with it.
What’s your own favourite piece of work?
It changes all of the time, as I like my latest. Currently, Into the woods.
Into the Woods
Who do you hope your work appeals to?
At most, to myself! At the beginning, I decided that as long as I like what I create, it doesn’t matter what others thinks about it. So far, people like what I like.
Have you ever felt a creative block that prevented you from either working at all, or producing work that you did like?
No, I have never felt a block. As I don’t know what I will make, all I can do is that I will see what will appear. When the sculpture keeps telling me what she doesn’t like, I would keep making and changing until she is satisfied.
Rhapsody of Birds
What are your thoughts on the art world generally, particularly for women?
I am an odd ball in the art world. I seldom go to see exhibitions by contemporary artists. My haunts are the British Museum and the National Gallery. From my limited point of view, I think we might be reaching a turning point. I feel that abstract art may have passed a peak. It won’t go away for sure, but I feel figurative arts will be coming back. Art itself is transforming to something new; a new role to play in our lives with our digital technology. I am certain I will see lots of drastic changes in my life.
As for art business, it is still, I observe, done in a traditional and conservative way. That would change in near future with all the changes occurring within the rest of the society. The last two decades have witnessed a revolution in retail in the UK as well as most developed countries. The tide will swallow the art business, too. It is unavoidable.
With the help of the internet, it has become much easier for female artists with families to market and promote their work. Even better, they are able to do it by themselves from their houses. The threshold is low, and you don’t have to wait to be discovered. People are used to do shopping online; this extends to art. The landscape in the art world is changing.
Personally, we elected not to have children. I don’t do domestic works. I feel no guilt about it. I imagine my situation is probably different from others.