Yuko Obe is a creator and artist producing complex print installations incorporating a range of media including painting, drawing, illustrations, and photography. Originally from Japan she has spent time in China and France, and is currently based in UK. Her work is strongly influenced by these cross-cultural experiences and show a rich creativity with sharp and original images. The themes tend to address common contemporary societal issues with broad mythological symbolism. Our life looks like patchwork and there is no perfect world. She has a strong interest in colours both for how they interplay, but also how they interject different moods into her work.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Based on experience, I knew that my best ideas came from time spent in libraries and going to the museum. I changed spent less library time than previous but still researched there for symbolism, and animal and mythology images. My current work needs many images and drawing so the time spent was useful but requires still more. In addition, the inspiration comes from friends and familiar surroundings such as work. I observe changes in the environment and social issues on a daily basis.
Can you explain how you use mythology within your practice and what it means to you
Mythology contains ideas on the wisdom of life among other things. Even though it is difficult to do on a daily basis, when one takes time to reflect, one can find the connections. I grew up in an area of Kyoto where Buddhist and Shinto mythology formed an integral part of my life. When I moved to the West for study I felt drawn to its own mythology perhaps to find familiarity. The symbolism behind the myths resonated deeply with me and I focus on the natural fusion and fellowship of the two very different cultures. This is useful for various things, especially looking at myself.
As your work commonly focusing on societal issues, how do you usually approach a design and what kind of research is typically involved?
This is very difficult. I want to convey my ideas to many people without them feeling infiltrated. Usually when I change location, such as returning to Japan, I notice and explore the changes in temperature, the movement of nature, the tendency of insects, etc. Socially speaking I am from a tourist destination, so I am also considering what’s going on there. After that, I spend a lot of time reading newspapers and books, interpreting the effects of pollution and natural disasters. Only then do I move on to the design of my work.
What are your plans for the future?
I will continue to work on social and environmental issues. What I have learned through this collaborative experience is that I would like to continue to collaborate with people who can sympathize. I am interested in bringing something closer to many people through public arts, workshops and markets. Of course, if there are opportunities to work with a gallery where I am able to co-create something that would be welcome.
Please can you explain the meanings and concepts behind the designs submitted for the collaboration?
Even though they are environment and social phenomenon, every disaster has something to do with our lives and every one has to think about this relationship. I want to convey that there is connectivity in everything.