Nama Āto: Japanese Outsider Art


Guest blogpost by Jennifer Gilbert Interview with the President of Atelier Corners - Takako Shiraiwa Makoto Okawa, born 1976, was eccentric but also so adorable that everyone wanted to hug him. At the age of 18 he joined Corners Workshop (the predecessor of Atelier Corners) but only started being creative artistically aged 29. This was when Corners shifted from manual work-based activities to art activities, aiming to expand individuals’ abilities and their dreams. Out of the various materials offered, Makoto became particularly interested in wool. One day, we showed Makoto the method of freely selecting wool and punching it with a needle. Makoto’s eyes sparkled as he held a piece of wool and started needle punching right away. At first, round shaped coaster-like objects were formed and gradually these objects grew legs and became octopus-like. After a month, hair appeared as well as noses and mouths. Half a year later, the doll form finally came about. tyfngyutjgf I was astonished whilst observing his process of creation. During production, he moved the needle up and down very quickly, putting life into pieces of wool one after another. His speed and use of color were magnificent and so unique. Since the beginning, he never copied from any kind of samples. Always producing original creations. The Makoot dolls continued to increase in their variety, with one even having a Christmas tree on its head! yasuyuki_ueno_0 Makoto seemed driven by pleasant and unpleasant emotions, with his artworks featuring not only anger and sadness, but also humour. However the dolls seem to make everyone smile. Over the year Makoto continued to enjoy creating with a serene expression on his face. On April 15 2016, Makoto was called to his heavenly home after creating over 200 Makoot dolls over the past 10 years. Each one of them might be his alter ego, but we will never know. tdjyfgmakoto_okawa_0 Makoto’s Makoot dolls and paintings can be seen exhibited, alongside two other artists from Atelier Corners, in Nama Āto: Japanese Outsider Art at Pallant House Gallery. The work then travels to Southbank Centre, London and Tramway, Glasgow as part of Unlimited Festival. The exhibition is supported by Unlimited, which is delivered by Shape and Artsadmin. Nama Āto: Japanese Outsider Art 3 – 29 August 2016 Pallant House Gallery, Chichester      

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