Claire Ishino is an Adelaide artist with a strong Japanese influence. Her work is absolutely captivating; beautifully and meticulously executed. I was able to visit her latest exhibition- Haru (spring) at Urban Cow studio.
Her colour works are spectacular; clean and crisp, they warm the eye and the heart. The styling of her work carries a myriad of influences; her background in jewellery design is evident in her balanced and geometric illustrations.
The theme she is exploring through Haru is also lovely, Springtime in Japan is one of great celebration as the cherry blossoms burst from their buds. People also burst forth from their winter hibernation. Cherry blossom viewing parties (hanami) commence and there is this symbolic sense of renewal and revitalisation that is celebrated in this ritual activity. Her latest exhibition began from the starting point of wanting to create a gift for a friend who was going through a challenging time; to bring them colour,hope and joy and show them like the coming of spring that everything would be better again soon.
A small painting for a friend grew into the series of works in her exhibition Haru (spring) in the hope that they would impart a sense of hope, life and positive change on the viewer. I urge you all to visit the exhibition- it is open until the end of August Urban Cow Studio, Frome St.
I was able to ask Claire a few questions.
Yes, I studied Jewellery Design at Uni SA but I also spent a year studying Graphic design after I graduated. In some ways my jewellery always had a 2 dimensional focus as I spent a lot of time creating small collages of paper that I would frame in silver or designing patterns to be pierced from metal. After becoming a mum, it wasn’t possible for me to make jewellery for a while but I continued to make little drawings and doodles in my sketchbook which later developed into more finished art works.
Could you tell us about your background, where did you grow up? How is it that you became interested in Art/Design?
I grew up in the northern suburbs of Adelaide and am the youngest of four children. My father is a cabinet maker and I remember my mother sewing Calisthenic costumes for myself and my two sisters so I was surrounded by a ‘making’ culture. My brother was good at Art and I remember admiring his drawing ability and I remember having a little sewing basket where I would keep little scraps of fabric from my mum and prized sequins I had collected that would be turned into my own little sewing projects. I became more interested in Art when I was in high school and probably sealed my fate when I dropped Maths as a subject in my final year of school to study Art instead.
I usually start with small thumbnail sketches of an idea I have in my head. Then I will choose one and keep working on it, changing the proportions and elements until it looks right. Each part, for example, each different flower or leaf, is then dissected and I work on the individual elements and choose the shapes or designs I like best. If it is a colour piece then I will usually make 3 or 4 more small sketches exploring different colour options. Finally I will draw up the design accurately on paper and then transfer to canvas or panel. I think I work quite similarly when designing jewellery or creating a painting. I like to have everything very well planned before the final piece is made and I strive to create the same accuracy and precision in my paintings that is required in jewellery making too.
What is the strongest memory of your child hood?
Difficult to pick just one! Spending time with my family, listening to ABBA records on Sunday afternoons when weekends seemed long. Swimming in the pool and laying in the sun in Summer (how times have changed). Traveling in my parents Holden on family trips sitting between my Mum and Dad where the only seatbelt was my mums arm flung across me if we happened to pull up in a hurry. Patterned wallpaper. Calisthenics on Saturdays. Playing outside. Reading great books. Christmas.
What is an artistic outlook on life?
I think it is a visual awareness, a way of seeing life with eyes open and taking mental pictures of the shapes and colours that surround us that we then process in our minds and respond to in some way.
What do you dislike most about your work?
Sometimes it feels really constrained and I would love to be able to create something more expressive without the need for precise lines, rulers and compass. I also have an inability to limit my colour palette – I am working on that!
Yes, I love wandering through the Art Gallery of South Australia. Sometimes, it isn’t about the paintings on the wall but more about imagining the lives of the artists and their stories, their struggles and their successes. It always feels really inspirational.
I was also privileged to spend 8 years living in Japan which has been an endless source of inspiration and I place I love to go back to when we have a chance. The culture, the people, the colours, packaging and attention to small details is just something I will always love.
Do you have any favourite Artist/designers that have influenced your work?
Yes. The list is long and continues to grow as I am constantly introduced to new artists from the present and past. I am a hugely inspired by the works of Paul Klee, Joan Miro, Kandinsky, Hundertwasser. I am particularly inspired by pattern designers such as Orla Kiely and Heather Moore and artists that design for Marimekko.
Having a shop on Etsy also introduced me to the work of Betsy Walton, Jennifer Davis and Janet Hill. Here in Australia I am loving the work of Inaluxe (Kristina Sostarko and Jason Odd), Kirra Jamison, and Stephen Ormandy. I love the woodblock prints from Japan and Japanese designer Kenya Hara. Completely amazed by the work of Lidia Groblicka and Dorrit Black. The list goes on ..