For the majority of our time as humans we have lived in a profound symbiosis with the Earth. We used rocks to create our tools. Many other natural materials that came directly from the Earth allowed us to survive and to create what became culture. Our life and other life on Earth were one.
The relationship between the Earth and our own existence was very clear and so the respect for everything that is natural and everything that is “given to us” by the planet was omnipresent. This respect for nature survives in some religions (like Shinto 神道), and so some people are still able to feel the connection to the spirit of the planet, its fragile beauty and to the importance of everything around us.
But especially in the Westen World the connection has been replaced, by a more abstract idea of the divine. Because the Western region has dominated history recently, its human-centric point of view has also dominated and replaced the more harmonious relationship between humans and nature in thought, expression and action.
And in the last few hundred years, especially triggered by the industrial revolution, have we taken drastic steps to create an artificial alternative world that is here to entertain us, and separate us from the natural (and often from each other). The consequences of this have been seemingly miraculous, but actually quite catastrophic. (From climate change to pollution on an unprecedented scale, to the sixth mass extinction.)
We still need the Earth! But now we dig out rare materials and process them using industrial methods. This is done to to create masses of precious objects we use to communicate with each other. We burn the memory of the planet to move goods and people. And we produce disposable materials that poison us and other life on Earth. What have we done to the beauty of the Earth?
With my work I am looking to create a very personal and meaningful connection to the origins of culture and art. I am looking carefully and respectfully at materials and their origin and destination. I am not nostalgic. I am interested in the poetic, the profound, the beautiful in nature and the particles that make up our world.
This includes particles we barely see or are only able to smell or sense.
And so naturally, some of my work now involves the use of clay.
Humans have fired clay for at least 16000 years. (Ceramics from even before the Jōmon period 縄文時代 were found in the Ōdai Yamamoto I Site 大平山元I遺跡 in Japan). Clay was also first used to create written records and temporary notes, (using Cuneiform since at least 3500 BCE, in the area that was the ancient Near East, or the fertile crescent). The story of porcelain, a precious clay material, and how it shaped the world is an amazingly complex chapter of more recent history. In fact, the material was so significant and so desired that westerners use the name of it for the entire country from which it was stolen: China. Clay is one of the most universally significant materials for humanity, and it has been used almost everywhere.
More than half of the world population today lives in houses made of clay or brick. And even much of the paper in use today contains traces of clay to make it the material we know.
To our ancestors, clay had a major daily significance and was locally relevant and had also unique local properties. It is touched by hands and it is shaped in very intimate ways. It is a material that can reflect our connection to beauty, one of the main ingredients of culture.
It is this awareness of oneself, in the context of the world and time that permeates most of my work.
With the clays from other relevant locations I want to create a connection of awareness of how multifaceted and beautiful the planet is, and yet also how much it is our mother who created us and also the place which will welcome back our bodies, once they are no longer alive.
Built on the idea of connection I want to explore some other ways to amplify the experience. This could happen through other visual clues, possibly photographic work, perhaps even specific use of scent? My work reacts to places and conversations and so it will evolve to grow into something beautiful and place-relevant.
The main theme of my project is thus the connection we have to the Earth and its beauty.
In the broader sense of the idea, but also as a very personal and intimate experience.