English 日本語 (Japanese)

Tomoko Ishida

Below is a comment Mrs Ishida wrote in January 2005 to explain how and why she came to work with paper as a material. Visit Tomoko Ishida's website for more information, including a biography, pictures and movies.

I began making art from paper in 1992, that is, after my marriage. I married a Buddhist priest, and came to live in a Zen temple in the countryside of north-eastern Japan.

The year after our marriage just happened to be the fiftieth year after World War II, so there were many memorial ceremonies for fallen soldiers around that time. As a result, I spent many days without working on my art, nor thinking, nor even going far out of the temple, but just taking care of customers and guests, cleaning and cooking for the temple.

Living this way, I experienced for the first time a feeling of “connection” to the many things and people who came and went in my life each day. In particular, newspapers, letters, and various wrapping papers were passing in front of me all day long, without interruption, each and every day. I used to make art work from cloth, so it might be that I am fond of such fibers to begin with, but among all those paper, I picked up the papers used to wrap offerings to Buddha. Because those papers were durable material and beautiful color.

And I began to consider how to make art works out of those wrapping papers. But I wondered how I could work without any concentrated free time or even a workshop space, living as I was in the temple. I realized that it would have to be something simple and repetitive. In the end, I decided that I would make “koyori” pieces in the spare moments I could carve out of each day. With no particular plan in mind, I just worked at it, day by day, like keeping a diary. It only takes about 20 seconds to roll one paper for “koyori”, and they don’t take up much space, so I could see that this method and material suited my living conditions quite well.

As I worked with the paper that I gathered from many different sources, I began to imagine the reactions of the people that would come into contact with the paper after it left my hands as a work of art. Nowadays, I can even hear the paper say, “We are the embodiment of your time, your spirit , and even your encounters.”

“We are the embodiment of your discontent, your prayers and your dreams. We are the embodiment of you.” In this way, I feel that my koyori works represents not just me in this way, but the commonality of all mankind ? the human community.

For most people, it is not necessary to make art in order to live. However, for me, it is the only way to make sure that I am living. So, it is my hope that you will not just “view” the exhibition, but rather that my works will appeal to your senses and that it might resonate with you on a deeper level.