Iwai's Column
Here's what artist Shigeaki Iwai, the creator of "The Field of Nusa," is thinking now.

You can see past columns in the archive.

b 2007/3/21 b 2007/10/31
b 2008/7/12

Effect of clay

The continuous workshops to create the earthenware have become a major movement. Between the end of February and early March, workshops at seven elementary and middle schools, as well as ones targeting adults have been conducted in Tokyo, Hokkaido and Nagano. More than 400 people have participated in total. I would like to show all my gratitude to those who have taken a part in the workshops.

Clay as a communication tool

I am surprised at the potential power of clay (or earthenware) as a communication tool. Clay is considered as mental and emotional material in the creativity educational study. Some consider it is suited to express one's feeling directly. Others say it has the power to soothe and stabilize mentality. In addition to these characteristics, I believe there is even a greater meaning of holding the workshops. At the workshop, people hold conversations and hence build up the sense of a group and connection in a short period of time. That feeling effects the way people touch the clay. You can feel the atmosphere of the workshop by looking at the pieces that were made in the small group. It is an effect you cannot find when one man makes a china using potter's wheel and concentrate on his/her work alone.

Amanda's Let's Chat
Amanda Heng is a Singaporean artist who creates marvelous works under the theme of human relationship. One of her works is "Let's Chat." Here, the artist and the audience or audience themselves encounter each other. The method is very minimum and effective. She invites people to a table with a full of bean sprouts she planted and cropped by herself. People at the table involve in the work of taking the stem of sprouts while having a conversation. The idea came from the traditional chores by Chinese housewives. I myself have taken a part once. While you continue the simple work of taking the stem, the conversation with strangers do not end. Or more precisely put, there is not an awkward pause. It was a very strange experience. In the past, housewives from around the corner have gotten together to avoid the boredom of simple task by having a conversation. Amanda's idea is the opposite. It uses the simple work to bring a natural conversation. You could feel problems, new ideas and real happiness in the simple everyday conversation.

The "Field of Nusa" is a work made of nature and earthenware objects that are reminders of lives. The idea of production may be different, but it has the similar effect like "Let's Chat," in a sense that the work is made in the relaxed atmosphere of participants relating to each other. In addition, ""The Field of Nusa" has an aspect that the thoughts brought by the relationship are reflected as the shapes of clay. By burning the clay, it earns the eternity. In other words, the moments of participants' lives are sealed in their products.

Opening a workshop targeting all ages
At the moment, workshops for "The Field of Nusa" take place mainly at elementary and middle schools. Different atmospheres depending on the area or school and uniqueness of each classroom are reflected in the products. I have discovered the wonderful effect that gap in different ages is filled literally with clay at a workshop targeting all ages. There are not many materials like clay with which you can overcome different standards like naiveness and steadiness. If I could say, without fear of misunderstanding, clay is the material that would bring the charm in the product regardless of skill.
I would like to focus on the meaning of the process in The Field of Nusa and hold workshops where people regardless of ages can interact. I would like the understanding and cooperation of people around Japan.(2007/3/21)

Shigeaki Iwai

Born in Tokyo in 1962. He lives in Tokyo.
He has continuously presented sound installations created from sounds and noise he collected since 1990 in galleries.
From late 1990s, he has found a theme from relationship of people and society and created video and noise pieces through various cultures mainly in Europe, Australia and Japan. Recently he has expanded his field to installation text performances and tried to recreate local community and traditions by living in diverse areas in the world.