Friday, 9 October 2009

Introducing... Kyoko Osato

It's Friday again, and this week meet textile artist Kyoko Osato. Hailing from Japan, Kyoko is a master of felted wool and her delicate scarves, neckpieces and wraps mimic the soft movement of marine fauna such as seaweed and the like. Based in her home studio in Melbourne, Kyoko weaves on a floor loom and felts with a pair of trusty yellow gloves.

You may remember Kyoko's recent enCOUNTER exhibition Handwoven that took place earlier this year (click here to revisit it). We also have a whole range of Kyoko's scarves in stock at the moment and with the cold snap that's going on at the moment, you'll definitely be needing something warm and soft to snuggle up against.

Happy Friday everyone! See you at Craft Hatch tomorrow.

What prompted you to move to Melbourne to pursue Textile Design at RMIT?
I lived here a couple of times before I came to study at RMIT. Every time I live here, things go really well and I get a good vibe from everything Melbourne offers. When I was thinking what I could do to live in Melbourne, I found this Textile Designs course at RMIT. I applied and got accepted.

Why Melbourne?
I liked a photo of a tram, old green and yellow one, in a guide book when I first decided to come to Australia with a working holiday visa back in 1994.

After completing your studies you then moved to the UK for two years. What was that experience like?
I did some markets in London and Edinburgh. Not only people living in UK, but also people visiting UK from all over the world who visit markets. So many people gave me their honest feedback, all sorts of feedback, and told me if my work would fit into their own countries or not. For me, having a stall at a weekend market in London and at Edinburgh Fringe Festival were the best places to do some research. Living in UK for two years gave me a huge confidence in what I make and made me decide to be serious about it.

What brought you back to Melbourne?
From the beginning, I wasn't going to stay in UK for more than a few years. After staying there for two years, I was ready to come back to Melbourne to settle down and concentrate on my weaving business.

What encouraged your interest in textiles?
My mother is a dressmaker so I grew up with sewing machines and fabric. A fabric shop for me is like a bookshop for some people. I still spend hours in a fabric shop. Before I started studying at RMIT, I was more into making things on a sewing machine such as my own clothes and bags. I always liked textiles. When I learned how to weave at RMIT, I really enjoyed the whole process. In my second year at RMIT, I started using feltable wool for the first time for some of my weaving projects and slowly learned what I can do with the feltable wool combining with weaving techniques. I haven't stopped using it since. I try to use something else but I keep going back to feltable wool.

Could you tell us about your design approach and inspiration behind your work?
I tend to choose some organic names but I don't start from choosing a name or theme and start working towards it. I start from thinking about different weaving structures I can do on the loom and how they turn out after felting process. All my designs start from sampling and testing these structures. I always try to achieve something more than a flat piece of fabric which traditionally the weaving loom is used for.

I get inspired by shapes and abstract images found in natural objects. But I don't try to design towards them. I think the images stay at the back of my mind and when any of the samples meets the images, that's when a scarf is born and I give a name for it.

How do you think textiles is approached differently here in Australia in comparison with Japan?
It’s a difficult one to answer because I wasn't interested in the making side of textiles before I came to Australia. From what I can see, in Japan it looks like textiles influenced by the Japanese traditional style is still very strong, especially in weaving.

Tell us about your studio space…
My production work, weaving and felting, happens in the studio at the back of my house. We use it as a studio space but actually it's a garage. I share this studio with my housemate who is an artist. I weave and he paints, he's a great company to share the space with. Having this studio outside the house, even though it's only six steps away from the house, helps me focus when I am in there. Especially when I'm busy with orders, I pack a bag with enough materials to work with for a day, such as yarn, so that I don't need to go back into the house except when I make a cup of tea or lunch. I do my computer work and preparation for weaving in my bedroom which gets a lot of natural light.

How do you overcome creative obstacles?
While waiting, do anything creative such as sewing and cooking to motivate myself or go through weaving books, pick a traditional weaving structure I've never tried before and weave it for fun.

And last but not least, out of all the designs you’ve ever made, is there a design that is particularly special for you?
The lattice scarf (pictured above, in 'seaweed'). I made this scarf for one of the projects at RMIT. Some people including teachers bought the scarf. This is also the scarf which was chosen to be used for the brochure image for the Scarf Festival 2004 at Craft Victoria. This scarf woke me up to what I do now and still keeps bringing in new smiles.


james donald said...

How fantastic to read about you and your work! It was so nice to meet you when you were in Edinburgh! Hope all is going well ... it looks as though it is! James or

Unknown said...

Awesome Kyoko! Great to see you are doing what you love. Still love your work.

grace said...

Wow - lovely work, really must pay you guys a visit at Hatch, thank you!