Hi Madoka, hope everything is going well. Could you tell us a bit about yourself and your background?
Hi, I am pretty good thank you! Let’s begin at the beginning, I was born in Niigata, North-west coast of Japan. I grew up in Tokyo, but spent 2 years between 6 and 8 years old in Paris, brought by my mother who was willing to learn French. When we came back to Japan I attended the french school of Tokyo.
After high school I flew back to Paris for studies then spent my whole adulthood there. I worked for over 10 years as a graphic designer, but I got into clay when I had my youngest child. I decided to focus on it after 3 years of practice.
Very recently I moved to the country side in Norway where the father of our 2 children comes from.
Working with raw materials, creating with your own hands, what do you love the most about ceramics?
There are many aspects of ceramics that made me stuck into. First aspect is the meditative process of the hand building technique, you have to be concentrated but you can also be completely somewhere else in your mind. I like to compare the mind state to when you do the dishwashing...!
Second, the solitude of the work. It’s not that I don’t like people but I really enjoy being alone in my studio. And last, to be able to create an object from A to Z by yourself.
Do you remember how it felt when you took your very first piece out of the kiln?
To be honest, I don’t remember very well, but I’m sure there was some kind of silent emotion. It’s close to the feeling, as a graphic designer to work on a book project and get the actual printed objet from the printer. You are excited and happy at first but then you start looking for the flaws it could have.
Why did you decide to change your career and start as a ceramist?
I was not totally satisfied by what I was doing as a graphic designer, at the end I was mainly working on projects that pay the bills, I must admit I was frustrated. It was also so much about convincing people/clients, creative negotiation, I was tired of that relationship.
Then I had the chance to take ceramic courses. After the first year, I started having small orders and allowed myself to imagine how it would be to become a full time ceramist. I was doing both for a while, but I realised that I had to make a choice at some point, I’m not clever enough to handle two different careers at the same time. I was really not sure about the consequences but I took the plunge.
You’ve been raised in Tokyo, have been living in Paris since you were 18 and recently moved with your family to Norway. How would you say these places have influenced your work?
I definitively have an emotional relationship with Japanese culture, Tokyo has been a lot about nostalgia; my childhood, memories, my roots. Paris was in contrast a place where I became aware of all this, and learned to express it.
If I was willing to be a ceramist in Japan, I would have spent many years assisting before I dare starting as a professional. In Paris, I feel like we don’t have to follow the rules all the time, being a model pupil is not an attribute that is so much important in France. And I’m grateful for that.
The interesting thing about moving, is that it confronts you with yourself, almost like a scientific experiment, you extract yourself from an environment and put it in another one, and see how you react. Then you see what makes you you. Which aspects of you are different and what are not? Does my behavior change? Do I evolve? Do I remain the same person?
I don’t know yet what influence will Norway have on my work, but I’m very curious!
You mostly work on functional homeware, pieces for everyday life. They are somehow serial but each one is unique. How important is for you to create a beautiful, inspiring environment at home?
I am a indoor person, I love hanging out at home. If my husband was not the complete opposite I would stay home all the time. I’m the kind of person who love thinking about how to arrange the inside of a drawer, or folds towels in a certain way.
All the ceramics that I have collected make every meal so unique and exciting. Those little things of the daily life provide me real satisfaction and happiness, so it’s more than important, it’s a way of living!
Enigmatic faces with somehow suspicious eyes have become your signature. They are like creatures from a another dimension. Those eyes… they look so mysterious! Where do they come from?
From the love I have for these expressions; the ones I like the most are the moody ones. The faces on my ceramics are like this grumpy person in a party full of happy people. I always loved finding suspicious eyes in art, if you start looking there are always these incredible petty looks in Bruegel paintings for example.
How does this Japanese idea of plants, animals, rivers but also places and objects having its own spirit could inspire our daily life?
I think it simply helps taking care of our surroundings and environment. If you start thinking that every little thing has a spirit then you will start considering them, maybe even put yourself in their place, and treat them with more respect.
What’s your idea of beauty?
That there’s a thin line between beauty and ugliness.
How important is nature in your daily life?
I am a real city girl who just started a rural life in Norway. I barely know anything about nature or the way to survive in it. And that’s also the reason I wanted to move here, to understand a little more, and eventually feel that I am part of it. It’s been only a month and a half and what I noticed so far is that nature is in constant changes, the river can be higher or lower from a day to another, leaves on a tree can change colors in one night, and those are maybe keys to understand something deeper.
You are mother of two kids, how do you teach them to appreciate nature?
My 11 years old son is an indoor person just like me, who loves drawing, playing the piano, so it’s sometimes difficult to motivate him go hiking in the mountains for example, but if we say we’re going to pick berries and mushrooms, go fishing at the lake, then it becomes more fun.
The challenge is to make them appreciate wild by experiencing, observing and reading the signs of it, which I am also learning as much as them...!