Aritst interview 2011.10.14



It's back.  Interviews with the KAIR 2011 artists!
I asked the artists to look as frightening as possible in their portraits (but Kevin did not manage to stop smiling so we have Buckley here looking scary as hell.)

First, we have KEVIN and his son BUCKLEY from CANADA:

What made you apply for the Kamiyama Artist in Residence program?
Kevin: I'm a teacher. I was on sabbatical and I've always wanted to come to Japan. I looked on the website and I applied, and I got it. Buckley?
Buckley: Mmmm
K: I persuaded you to come?
B: Yes.
K: I lied (laughs)
B: You lied?! That's just mean!
K: Wait, he came because I didn't think he should miss out on an opportunity like this.

Describe your work in one word

Do you have a special method for generating your ideas?
Because it's miniature I like to challenge myself with making ordinary things so that I can understand them and so after I make them I can appreciate them in a different way. Usually there is something about them that I find unsettling that I try to convey through miniaturisation.

What is the most frightening experience you have ever had?
K: I lived in a haunted house. I didn't believe in ghosts at the beginning, but now I do. What's your scariest moment? Maybe when I was mad at you?!
B: No, that wasn't too bad. Actually, that was pretty scary! I think my scariest experience was in a dream. There was this little midget white thing with a kind of skull face, a cartoony skull face. It gets big and tries to kill you. Very scary!

What is your favourite Japanese food?
B: There are these little tempurey rolls, with corn in.
K: I think I like soba best.

What do you enjoy most about creating art?
K: Finishing it!
B: Mine is when you get a really good idea and you just light up!
K: I like that too! (laughs)

What is there a process behind creating your art?
K: Usually I photograph the objects I want to create then I usually have to make scale drawings and scale them down. In this case all the bridge plans were from the city hall, so I didn't have to do anything!
B: Some of the things I do are from dreams I had. Maybe sometimes at night I look down at something, say some drawings of pokemon on cards and they both collide in some way and it gets me really hooked.

How did you discover your passion for art?
K: I was always considered to be good at drawing when I was a kid but I kind of got pretty bored with that. It wasn't until I started to realise that people respond to certain things in an image or object and it becomes a way to communicate with somebody. I'm not that articulate in other ways, so this is my voice, my language.

Do you think you have a particular technique/style?
K: Miniature, details, I try to challenge myself by working in miniature with materials that generally aren't worked in that way.

Do you find art difficult?
K: Yes because you don't often know if it is art until you show it and so how people respond to it.


If I gave you this piece of face-shaped processed ham what would you do?
K: My first reaction is to cut a hole here (in the mouth) and stick my tongue through it.
B: It would probably be the same with me. Or maybe I'd cut a hole in the nose and take a picture of myself then rearrange my face into that face so the nose maybe is in an eye and the tongue is maybe in the eye…or maybe the mouth in the nose and the eye in the mouth.

How do you feel in Kamiyama?
K: I am getting over being sick. I thought I was going to die! I feel like the fascination with Japan is getting kind of normal. I didn't think it would. I thought it would always be ‘everything is incredible, everything is amazing'. I still love this environment but it's wearing off on me. It's hard to connect, of course, with language to the people outside of Green Valley and that is a little frustrating because I want to know about more things outside of art.

What is your favourite smell?
B: I'll go first. The smell of his (points at Kevin) cooking.
K: Aww thats nice.  I like the smell of rosemary.

How would you like your art to relate to Kamiyama and its residents?
K: I think in this case it does, and I'm happy about that. I don't know if it was a subconscious thing to make them into one long bridge but I think it's an interesting concept. We went out bridge hunting the other day and it's not only Kamiyama that has a million bridges, they are all over the place in Japan. They seem to instil a sense of pride or fascination with the people here. Each bridge looks different, people seem to appreciate them for different reasons. I don't sense the same fascination in North America: the bridges are very normal, very common. Hopefully, it will be something that is appreciated.

What is the worst thing you've ever made?
B: The worst thing I've ever made is a drawing of a dog with no arms.
K: I was pointing at Buckley but it was a joke!! Probably some food.  Hmm..
B: I know the worst thing you've ever made. It was a pizza with this weird sauce on it and it was all puffy like this high (indicates 15cm with hands), the size of a cake and I was sick when I ate it.
K: Yes ok. So Pizza.

What other jobs have you done and how does it inform your art?
K: I have been a woodworker making furniture and woodwork inside homes and so obviously it has helped my woodworking skills and my design skills. I've taught art, hopefully well. You want all of the jobs? I was a paperboy, I worked at a petting zoo! Most of my jobs have been art or design related and they have given me access to studios so I've been pretty lucky that one thing lead to another in a positive way, minus the paperboy job!

What do you dislike about your work?
K: I find it's like work. It's not enjoyable in the same sense that it was maybe 10 years ago when I was still discovering what I liked and what I was good at. Now, I feel like I obsess over details and things being realistic. It's frustrating to be pegged into this little way of working because I'd like to be more abstract, I'd like to be more free but I feel I can't be. It is either old age or being a guy, realism is what I am known for and what I actually create. It's sort of limiting in a weird way.

What is the worst piece of advice you have ever been given?
K: It's too personal!
B: I can tell mine
K: Did I tell it to you?!
B: No no no!
K: Ok!
B: When my French teacher tells me to stand in front a mirror and speak like a baby when I am learning French.

In your opinion, how important is art to society?
K: I think it's slightly more important than water and food.

What is your favourite sound?
K: A loon. A bird.
B: Mine is Cackawww! CACKAWW!

Who is the best artist/creator and why?
K: God?!

Can you describe Kamiyama in one word?
K: Gezus.
B: Sudachi.

What would you like for your birthday? (Please do not expect anything….)
K: A T-Shirt?
B: No, I don't want one of those.
K: Pokemon?
B: No, maybe the coolest Bionicle (from Lego) in the world

How do you feel when you present your work to the public?
K: Happy and proud but at the same time I don't enjoy the whole presentation/opening kind of thing. It seems a little weird. There aren't too many other occupations that celebrate finishing work in the same way and expect people to love what you do, for instance an accountant or something like that. So, I always feel a little self-conscious.

If you are a vegetable, what kind would you be?
K: A carrot.
B: Broccoli. If I was a fruit I'd be an orange.

Do you have a weakness?
B: Squash. I can't swallow it. Not the chips, just the flaky squash with all the strings.
K: I don't think I have any weaknesses!

Thank you to all the artists for their time.  Hopefully you feel these interviews have tarnished your reputation, but if not let me know and I'll see what I can do to remedy that.

Rufus 'Ru san' Ward



Itoi-san - Kanuma soil. Likes salmon sashimi, dislikes entrails of sea cucumber. Ru-san - Lancashire hotpot. Creative type. Likes being outdoors. Dislikes status. Together we are ITOI ARTS a project in divergent creativity in the mountains of Shikoku, Japan. 四国の山奥、多様な創作、アートとは。 //イベント時のみオープン// \\ふだんはただの家//

Articles by itoi+ru-san


  • an outstanding interview!!!

    10/14/2011 2:14 PM | 大南 信也

  • thanks! Two more to follow..

    10/14/2011 7:16 AM | itoi+ru-san

  • I really enjoyed the honesty.

    10/14/2011 9:15 AM | Sophia Kie

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