01 September 2012

Seven Questions To - Kyoko Imazu

After a summer hiatus, we are back with an interview about bunnies and yōkai with Kyoko Imazu.

I am originally from Japan and I have been living in Melbourne, Australia, since 2002.
I graduated with a BA in Printmaking in 2007 and since then I have been making prints at Trinity Grammar School in Melbourne, where I am an artist in residence, and at Australian Print Workshop, Victoria, where I met fellow printmaker Damon Kowarsky, whom I collaborate with.
Besides prints, I also create artist books and large-scale paper cuts.

Tia And Haniwa, aquatint and etching, 2011.
Dimensions: 19,7 x 14,8 cm.

The protagonists of your artworks are mainly animals, especially rodents.
Can you explain us the reason of this choice?
I have always been drawing images of animals like rabbits and rats since I was a child.
My first drawing I ever made was a rabbit too.
I feel fascinated by images of animals, even tiniest ones.
I did not really think about why I draw them so much before but in retrospect I think it is probably because I grew up in Japan, where images of animals are found everywhere from traditional craft, kids toys and stationary, anime, advertising signs, to name a few.
There are even rabbits and rats statues in Shinto shrines and temples.

Besides prints, you have created many artist books and paper cuts.
Can you tell us how was this passion born?

How do you approach this technique and how do you compare it to printmaking?
I have a passion for books and folklore.
As a child I remember feeling particularly intrigued watching and reading Japanese folklore shows and books produced as paper cut silhouettes, I thought it was magical.
I feel my passion comes from that time.
Also, I work in a bookbindery, where human hands and old machines are used, and I feel passionate about this beautiful ancient craft of creating books.
I would like to believe books still hold magic that Kindle cannot provide, just like Stephen King said: "books are a uniquely portable magic".
Although my hands are a lot dirtier when printing, I think I have the same approach for working on books.
For both printmaking and books, I start with lots of drawings or collages.
When I make collages I search for images everywhere, mostly from my sketchbooks, often books on Japanese
yōkai (supernatural monsters), science books, children books and Internet.

What are your favourite methods of printmaking?
I like intaglio techniques, like etching and copper engraving.
I like how they can create very subtle tones and intricate lines.

What is the aspect that you prefer about printing?
I like how printmaking is a process-based medium.
Technique must be learnt and executed well in order to create a beautiful work.
I am always learning and I always will be.
I like this kind of traditional discipline.

What and/or who influences your prints?
Visiting natural history museums to see lots of familiar and strange animals always inspires me.
I love imagining they once ran in fields, slept on trees, nibbled on grass, flesh and insects, although their time has now stopped forever behind museum cabinets.
Reading folklore tales, particularly the ones involving monsters, is very inspiring.
I mostly read Japanese ones and they are all closely connected to animism, where kitchen tools walk around, old cats talk like us and shadows become as gigantic as mountains.
I love the style of Australian illustrator Shaun Tan very much.
I have been to many of his talks and they are all extremely interesting and influential to me.

How do you think printing will evolve?
Hard to say, but like everything else, I think it will steer towards digital printing.
In the past five years since graduating from university, I have noticed many more students choosing digital media.
I think printmaking will hold on, as it is a different art form from digital printing, so I hope university courses and workshops will continue to offer traditional printmaking courses and studios spaces for artists.

Can you tell us something about your next printmaking project?
I have been drawing the Melbourne Museum's backstage collection of specimens and turning them into a suite of etching.
I am also making miniature books and trying to make large-scale paper cuts.
I hope to have an exhibition of small books one day.

 Amami Rabbit I, aquatint and etching, 2012.
Dimensions: 27 x 34,5 cm.

Baku, aquatint and etching, 2012.
Dimensions: 19,5 x 32 cm.

In The Garden, miniature artist book, 2012.
Dimensions: 6,2 x 7,8 cm.

 In The Garden II, miniature artist book, 2012.
Dimensions: 6,2 x 7,8 cm.

Meeting, aquatint and etching, 2012.
Dimensions: 15 x 19,8 cm.

Winter, aquatint and etching, 2012.
Dimensions: 15,6 x 20,6 cm.


Post a Comment