I was born and raised in Kyoto. I believe that Kyoto with a long history as the capital of Japan and its flourishing court culture is the hub for Japanese arts even today. Here you find urban life integrated with rich, untouched nature, which is not only admired in its original beauty but also skillfully designed and enjoyed in daily life in accordance with seasonal changes. Growing up here and being in touch daily with the rich culture and nature of Kyoto fostered my aesthetic sense of beauty.
I studied environmental marketing at university with emphasize on the protection of nature. After completing my master’s degree, I worked for a newspaper company and advertisement agency in Tokyo and Kobe. What I found was a business environment with extremely long working hours, even compared to the usual overwork which Japan is well-known for, and where employees dying from overwork or committing suicide was a common occurrence. It was a life where meetings and phone calls even late at night were the norm.
At that time, I deeply felt a glaring difference in the way that time flowed in stressful Tokyo compared to the prosperous Kyoto. All these hustling businessmen, even with plenty of money at their disposal, had no time to spare to experience and feel the beautiful seasonal changes of nature around them. That experience led me to become an artist and forms the basis of my creations.
I have loved art since I was a child, and I continued my passion for glass and ceramics handicrafts even while working. I finally decided to quit my day job and enrolled in the graduate program of Tokyo National University of Fine Arts to make this art my career.
The recurring theme of my art is the contemplation about the flow and quality of time as well as respect and honor of nature. The inevitable passing of time, irreversible from birth to death, and the cycle of eternal recurrence of life; all living things, be it humans, plants, or animals, exits on these two time axes.
In our modern world technology like mobile phones and the internet are demanding our attention and time more than ever. But wouldn’t we be able to live our lives more kindly, more genuine, prosperous, and more peacefully with a bit more mindfulness for the transience of nature? It would make me most happy if a stressed businessman could pause from their busy everyday life, even if just for an instant, and enjoy a quiet moment though my works.
Then, you may wonder why I chose working with glass. Because I am captivated by the two opposing faces of glass:
It may be soft or hard.
It may be round or sharp.
It has strength within its fragility.
It lets light pass through, but then seems to shine all by itself while creating wavering shadows.
Glass shows all these contradictions, quite similar to us humans. As if the transparent glass reflects everything from deep inside our hearts. These kind of opposing sides permeate not only us humans, but also plants and animals, all living things, and in essence everything that is.
When I become aware these subtle changes of nature, I pause and find the fluctuations of my own heart reflected.
The joy at times, also sadness, warmth, and loneliness; all these passionate feelings of life interweaved in fragile layers.
Life continues to evolve and adapt to every environment. No matter what happens, snow will fall and cherry blossoms will bloom again. Then, you can hear the bussing sounds of insects in summer, followed by the scent of fallen leaves. Experiencing these transitions lets me believe that within all the fluctuations in life something will remain unchanged.
With everything in constant transition, the same moment will never return again. However, glass is able to freeze a momentary expression, even though it is constantly changing under the influence of temperature and gravity.
The glass reflects the other side through the light.
You may say, it acts as the boundary between reality and illusion.
It is something yet also nothing at the same time.
The glass is a window that is open to the future and past.
Superimposing the daily changes of nature and within our hearts, past memories and dreams are evoked.
I want to carve the fleeing moments of mind into the glass and give them a tangible expression.
At the studio in Kyoto Akiko Noda