Kyoko Imazu’s work tells the stories of our often-overlooked neighbours like the weeds, bugs and pebbles that fill our everyday lives. Upon closer inspection, every petal, leaf and wing is miraculously unique; they all have their own stories and universes within themselves, containing many states of life, death and regeneration. In the following Q&A we chat to Kyoko about life during quarantine and her upcoming body of work to be exhibited at Australian Galleries in Melbourne next year.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE ARTIST/ARTWORK THAT CONTINUES TO INSPIRE YOU?
There are so many artists who inspire me and it is difficult to choose, but I’d say Albrecht Dürer and his watercolour Great Piece of Turf.
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE ANIMALS OR INSECTS? HOW DID THEY BECOME A SIGNIFICANT PART TO YOUR STORY?
It’s a hard one! I have to divide this question into animal and insect.
Rabbits were my drawings as a child that exists in my parents’ house and I’ve drawn them so much as an adult that they’ve become almost like my icon or a symbol.
They will always have a special spot in my heart.
I always thought of myself as a cat person and have drawn lots of cats but a dog called Hank recently came into my life and he has completely converted me.
These animals almost always appear in my work whether it’s prints, papercut or ceramic.
For insects, Japanese rhinoceros beetle is probably my favorite because of my childhood memory of collecting them. In Japan, this beetle is like a golden trophy – you become an instant hero if you catch it.
I’ve been working on mayflies for my upcoming shadow puppetry project. They have an incredible story and provide rich materials for me to explore.
WHAT APPEALS TO YOU ABOUT THE DETAIL OF ETCHING AND AQUATINT?
I’ve been working with etching and aquatint ever since I first saw Goya’s suits of etching such as Los Caprichos and Disasters of War.
I immediately fell in love with the richness of the lines and tones of etching which has a perfect balance of control and accident.
Somehow this characteristic of etching helps me imagine a world of both real and fantastical or subtle / dramatic.
Etching also suits me well because I love drawing lots of small details.
WHAT ARE THE INSPIRATIONS FOR YOUR NEXT BODY OF WORK?
It has become an unexpectedly long project but I’m working on a project that started in 2017 in a State Library of Victoria Amor residency fellowship program.
I’m hoping to show them at my exhibition at Australian Galleries.
I’ve made a number of small plates to be printed and bound into a book a while ago but when I saw them again late last year, they weren’t quite right anymore.
So I’ve decided I’d start over the whole images again – it was disappointing to let them go but it is not worth spending time and energy into things that don’t do much…
Inspirations for this project is ‘hiding spots’ in our everyday life – things we find in our daily walk, in the garden or kitchen pantry or inside furs of our pets.
I used to look for (and collected) small insects and pebbles when I was a kid and imagine a completely different world or universe that these creatures and things live in.
In my art practice and in particular this project, I guess I’m trying to capture that world.
ARE YOU INTENDING ON WORKING WITH ANY OTHER MEDIUM, OTHER THAN PRINTMAKING, FOR YOUR NEXT EXHIBITION?
I’m hoping there will be a book!
WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN UP TO DURING ISOLATION? HOW DO YOU CURRENTLY LIKE TO SPEND YOUR DAYS?
In this isolation, my partner Alex has built me an aquatint box!!!! I’d been using my dear friend Stephanie Rampton’s beautiful aquatint box but finally now I have my own in my studio. It is SO exciting but I will miss bothering Stephanie in her studio
A perfect day is either, spend all day at home drawing a new copperplate and listening to podcasts with Hank on my lap or in the studio etching or processing my copperplates and going to my neighbouring bakery in Collingwood called To be frank. It’s not that much different from pre-Covid time.
WHAT ARE YOU MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO DOING POST-ISOLATION?
I look forward to catching up for drinks with people I love.
Following a successful grant application to Creative Victoria, Print Council Australia recently launched the landmark Superpowers Project. The project involves four printmakers, paired with four writers. Each pair has been exploring one of four different forms of ‘energy’ – air, sun, water and plant life – in the context of the global climate emergency, and informed by Indigenous knowledge. The essays and artworks created for Superpowers will be published in Imprint Magazine over the next twelve months, and exhibited in due course. Kyoko has worked with Aboriginal author and academic, Tyson Yunkaporta. Together, they have contemplated ‘air.’ Click here to view their beautifully illustrated article, ‘Airborn,’ courtesy of Imprint Magazine.
Kyoko’s beautiful work Murnong yam daisy is currently available to view in the Stock Rooms.
We have a wonderful selection of Kyoko’s delightful prints available to view and purchase online. Click here to view more.