‘The Shape Of Things’ national craft initiative

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Bilston Craft Gallery, Wolverhampton

Touchstones Rochdale

More about these pieces

Earth | Atmosphere

Seiko was one of eight artists selected for ‘The Shape of Things’ project in 2009. Seiko was matched up with ceramic artist Halima Cassell, to create a two persons show for Bilston Craft Gallery and later toured to Touchstones Rochdale.

‘The Shape of Things’ was a national craft initiative which supported culturally diverse artists to make and show significant new work; which developed new audiences for contemporary craft; and which stimulated debate about diversity in craft.

A Walk In The Rain

A walk in the rain

Kasuri (Ikat) dyed paper yarn
Paper yarn, direct dye, powder coated metal frame.

One Sunny Day

One Sunny Day

Hand dyed and woven paper yarn
Paper yarn, direct dye, float stop, plastic tube, nylon thread, powder coated metal frame
Size: 3m height; 3m diameter

Seiko's statement for ‘A Walk in the Rain’ and ‘One Sunny Day’

My concept for “The Shape of things” exhibition is based on my observation of British people through my eyes as a foreigner. After few years living in the U.K, I started to notice how weather has a profound effect on the daily attitudes and feelings of British people. It’s almost as if the weather controls the nation’s mood! For example, if you are driving a car trying to get in a queue on a rainy day, it is much harder than when the sun is shining. If you are walking pass a stranger on the street on a sunny day, many people smile at you and say ‘hello!’ or ‘it is lovely day, isn’t it?’ In the rain, or under a grey sky, most people don’t bother look at you or even not register your existence, just walk pass apathetically. I am fascinated by this phenomenon! In Japan where I am from, rain is not such a hated thing. We have many songs using rain as a romantic term, or simply relating to happiness. It might be because rain is very important for rice or other agriculture. One famous Japanese nursery line, describes a child wishing to have rain, because if it rains, the child’s mother will come to get him/her with an umbrella. It reminds you of the child’s special time with mother. In India, monsoon is a long awaited time, which gives people much joy. It is interesting how weather affects people so differently in different places. Recently, I read about some very interesting research by Bruce Rind, Department of Psychology, Temple University, Philadelphia, ‘Effect of Beliefs About Future Weather Conditions on Restaurant Tipping’. His research showed if a waiter in a restaurant made a forecast of good weather to the customer, even when entirely false, they received much higher tips! Science shows, the power of beliefs regarding the state of atmospheric conditions in affecting human response is indeed great.

When I lived in Japan, I never saw myself as very Japanese or didn’t understand what Japaneseness was. But since I’ve lived in the U.K, I started to discover a little about my Japaneseness. I think seeing cultural differences is easy for an outsider, in other words if you are native, it is much harder to realise it. I believe the U.K is one of most tolerant and generous countries with respect to others; it tries very hard to understand and learn from different cultures. However, I think sometimes there is a failure to preserve and cherish such lovely Britishness. Therefore, I wanted to create two contrasting works reflecting British people’s behaviour to weather with a Japanese sentimental twist.

The design of my work is always simple, even when I consciously try to complicate my design, my natural instinct takes over and the design evolves back to a simpler format. This must be my Japaneseness or perhaps a Shinto/Buddhism religion influence at work. Due to the simplicity in the design, colour is ultimately important in my work. I always dye my yarns myself in order to get just right depth of colour. I also weave everything myself so that although each woven or dyed element is made with the same process, each one is unique. The use of traditional techniques to create a contemporary installation to me feels like the new respecting the old.

I intended to create a harmony with the space and viewer. Both works invite the viewer to walk around and between the installations, hopefully stirring the imagination and evoking the same emotions as the weather itself.