MPavilion (24 01 24)

MPavilion 10 Ceramics Commission

MPavilion 10 Ceramics Commission




For MPavilion 10, we have commissioned artist Yoko Ozawa to create a site-specific ceramics installation that responds to Tadao Ando’s vision for the Queen Victoria Gardens.

Born in Japan, Melbourne-based artist Yoko Ozawa has been making ceramics for over 20 years. Her practice is deeply influenced by the Japanese notion of よはくyohaku (blank space) — which she views as a space of great potential.

As we prepare to stage Yoko’s installation at MPavilion 10 between 58 March, we visited the artist in her Brunswick studio to see her in practice and to ask her some questions about this year’s Ceramics Commission.

MPavilion 10 Chair Commission: Victorian Landscape by Marie-Luise Skibbe.
MPavilion 10 Chair Commission: Victorian Landscape by Marie-Luise Skibbe.
MPavilion 10 Chair Commission: Victorian Landscape by Marie-Luise Skibbe.
MPavilion 10 Chair Commission: Victorian Landscape by Marie-Luise Skibbe.

Q&A With

Tell us about how you began your career as a ceramicist. 

I started my ceramics practice about 20 years ago. I can’t exactly remember how and when I started, but I have been doing it continuously since then. I started selling my ceramic teapots about 15 years ago, when I gallery reached out to me and wanted to support my practice.

You made the switch to ceramics after studying Japanese paining. What was it about ceramics that drew you in?

The shift was naturally occurring. Ceramic materials are similar to Japanese painting — crash shells, rock oxide, amongst others. I like the circular nature of a ceramics practice. For example, clay can be recycled over and over again until it is fired, which means that a throwing practice can continue endlessly.

Your practice is deeply steeped in the Japanese notion of yohaku (blank space). What does yohaku mean to you, or what does it represent?

The concept of yohaku underlies all my work. In general, yohaku represents stillness, but in my opinion, it is not just a blank space. There is an empty space and objects in between, and these elements interact with each other through unstable weather changes, seasonal transitions, temperature, force, attraction, light and shadow. Although we cannot see these natural phenomena, I can still illuminate their existence in this world through my own experiences. I try to be attentive to this discovery in my ordinary everyday life, and that motivates and inspires me to create.

For MPavilion 10, you have been commissioned to create a response to Tadao Ando’s design. What ideas or concepts are you most excited to explore during your upcoming residence at the pavilion?

This year’s MPavilion building designed by Ando is exceptionally unique. It’s a half-closed room with concrete walls, but you can still feel the breeze and hear the sounds of the birds when you are inside. I particularly love how you can see the greenery from the gardens while you’re inside, through the gaps that contract with the solid concrete walls.

I am interested to see how I can situate my work inside the building, and how I can respond to the atmosphere. In a way, I will try to emphasise the negative space, yohaku. All the elements within the space — the wind, the lights, the shadows — will allow me to explore my lifelong interest in observing and responding to natural phenomena.

How do you see the Ceramic Commission enlivening Ando’s vision for the Queen Victoria Gardens?

I hope my program will create a moment of peace for people who visit MPavilion. A moment to breathe and to take in the natural landscape, and to observe Ando’s structure within this environment.

A Victorian Landscape will be exhibited as part of the MPavilion Ceramics Commission on 5–8 March. Learn more here.

Wominjeka (Welcome). We acknowledge the people of the Eastern Kulin Nation as the Traditional Custodians of the land on which MPavilion stands. We pay our respects to their Elders, past and present – and recognise they have been creating, telling stories and caring for Country for thousands of generations.

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