Interview with Takeda Asayo - Japanese textile artist represented by Keiko Gallery, October 2011
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Ceramics Now Magazine : You are one of the most appreciated textile artists in Japan, with many awards for your purses. When did you start working with textiles?
Takeda Asayo: I started making purses in 1970 and had my first solo exhibition in a gallery in 1983.
Do you remember how much you asked for the first bag you created to be sold?
It was about JPY 12000 (=$150). That purchase made me confident and gave me the power to go forward.
Sculpturesque Purse, 2009, Cotton, leather - View her works
More than 30 years ago, you established your own independent studio for the production of fabric sculpture and bags. What can you tell us about the studio, how it evolved in time?
I would like to create the usable sculpture rather than just looking. I believe that this new concept appeals to many people, so I have been able to continue my style until now.
Your works have an amazing and innovative design which distinguish itself. You carefully chose the fabric material, and you try to make your works to be comfortable and complimentary to the human body. Doing all that, you find a balance between functionality and design. How?
Our body of work consists in many curved lines, so I always consider that the shape and lines of my purses can harmonize with our body line. I prefer to improvise rather than using the fixed patterns. That makes my purses comfortable to wear.
Sculpturesque Purse, 2011, Cotton, leather - View her works
What can you tell us about the contemporary art/textiles scene in Japan? The last years and events have been like a roller coaster for many of us, with many ups and downs. How do you manage to thrive in this environment, can you make plans for the future?
Though Japan has a long history of textile and many textile artists have developed unbelievable techniques and created amazing pieces, I feel that the textile art is not recognized as a fine art in Japan. To survive in an economic downturn as an artist, I think that we definitely need a strong originality.
What’s the most important advice you can give to a young artist?
I would like to advice to the young artists to preserve their individuality and create the pieces affectionately.
Sculpturesque Purse, 2008, Cotton, leather - View her works
TAKEDA Asayo began studying art at the age of 23 at Kyoraku Art Institute, and continues her study in abstract painting at Motonaga Sadamasa Studio in Kyoto as a way to refine her concepts of soft, textile sculpture. In 1970, she was an affiliate craftsman for a large company that produces handmade bags and in 1976 she established her own independent studio for the production of fabric sculpture and bags. Early, in her independent career, she was awarded various prizes for her sculptured purses, from established competitions such as Asahi Modern Craft Competition, the Japan Craft Association, Shinbi Craft Association and Takaoka Craft Competition. To wear one of Takeda Asayo’s bags is like carrying around an exquisite piece of sculpture. She continually studies figure drawing in order to create designs that are comfortable and complimentary to the human body. In addition to careful choices of textiles - everything from fine black silk and brocaded obi fabric to the rustic rich brown coarse textiles of old recycled filter used in sake brewing— she thoughtfully places exterior and interior pockets for easy access without interrupting the flow of the form.
Visit Keiko Gallery’s website.
Interview by Vasi Hîrdo - Editor of Ceramics Now Magazine with help from Iunia Rațiu.