Aki Moriuchi / Off the Beaten Path




The works shown here are fragments of memories and findings, of my personal journey through landscapes, both urban and in Nature.

Each piece is unbound but collaged to connect together to give a sense of freedom and openness as a whole.  They are incomplete, growing, imperfect, fluid…much like life itself.

(Installation with loose and stretched canvas, paper, found object -mixed media with oil, pigments, marble dust, sand, plaster, oil bar, charcoal and others)


You are talking about the notion of time, growing, imperfection,  fluidity.  Do those aspects come from your close relationship with Native Americans?

I can only say that my attitude towards life and thought widened after I got to know about a certain Native American world.   Though it happened unexpectedly, I learned many things by travelling on their lands with the help of Native American friends, and on my own. I also learned from their everyday life, by sitting at the kitchen table, eating together and so on.  One time I set myself a personal project and wrote out interviews with more than 30 Native American people, some famous, some not and of all ages from different reservations. I compiled these as Collecting  Voices .   All the experiences helped me think and see things from a different perspective than before.

Can you please expand on the process of layering which would appear to be present in both your ceramics and painting practice?

For ceramics, I created layers of surface by the repeated process of multi-glazing, multi-firing with sandblasting between and after firings – sometimes as many as 5-6 times.  While I developed the technique and though my work is in a much tinier scale in comparison, I realised it mirrored Nature’s process of weathering that I took special notice of in my travels.  Fragile, yet surviving to show its strata after a long period of time, weathered surfaces on rocks and stones always attracted me.

Later, when I started painting, I was a blank canvas myself, and intended to be free from any preconceived ideas or even from any of my previous experience in ceramics.   It took some time before I realised that I was layering paints over and over again, often scraping off, sanding off and applying another paints on top of already applied layers.  The process usually looks like nothing

but messy trial and error, until I come to the moment of  ‘this may be it! ‘ (Only if it comes!!)

The final surface may bury almost all that’s underneath, however, through uneven paints or scoured surfaces, sometimes revealing history.

Layers to me, means passage of time.

What does “landscape” mean to you?

Landscape to me is not only the one you can simply see, but rather a spatial extent in mind.

This concept came after my own experience of walking and driving through

huge tracts of lands over the years, when I visited remote historical sites as well as

natural wilderness.   It is not vacant.   Landscape gives me a sense of belonging to a certain

space and connection with people of past and present.

I also hope my landscape will connect to your own landscape.  Everybody should have their own internal landscape.

Did  collaboration with 139 Artspace bring anything new to your art?

It was such a great and refreshing experience – different from any other exhibitions I have ever participated in!

Planning to install the works was hard to imagine in my studio until the very last minute of  bringing the pieces  in, but once I was in the 139 window, I found myself enjoying doing it.  When I finished and looked at the window from outside in an early December dusk, my window installation of  ‘PATH OF MY OWN TIME AND SPACE’  also reflected  houses across the road.  All became one image.   It was surreal.  Most of my pieces were inspired by landscapes far from England, (I have devoted feelings to each place), but the London landscape fit in perfectly.  Gaps of time and space were gone.  It was a magical moment.

What is my art?  I often wonder.  What do I want to do with art?

If an artist sells lots of work, does it mean it is good art or she or he is a good artist?

There might be different answers to the questions, and I am not arguing here.  However, I would like to believe my art is not merely a commodity.   While I was in the middle of installing, two passing men stopped and gestured thumbs up to show that they liked it.  We smiled at each other.

I loved that moment.

I was searching for somebody who could speak the same  ‘ART LANGUAGE’ with me , and

I found them at 139 Atspace .

Thank you!

(Copyright by Aki Moriuchi)

interviewed by Marketa Senkyrikova





About the artist

Born in Tokyo, Japan, Aki Moriuchi came to London via Siberia in the 1970’s travelling around Europe before reaching the U.K.  It included a short stay in both East and West Germany, during which time the Berlin Wall still existed.  She has lived in the U.K. since then.

She started her career in 1992 as a potter/ceramicist after completing two ceramic courses in London.  She was selected in 1993 as a Fellow of the Craft Potters Association of Britain (CPA) and a full member of Contemporary Applied Arts (CAA).

Her ceramics were distinctively recognisable by their weathered surfaces resembling old stones and rock formations.  They are in many public and private collections in the U.K. and worldwide including Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Having developed a strong interest in Native American life around 1995, she attended the MA Native American Studies in 1998 and 1999 at the University of Essex.  She travelled extensively around Native American reservations and the surrounding areas in the USA and Canada over two decades, visiting numerous historically significant sites, many of which are located in remote areas away from ordinary tourist routes.

Her perception of time, space and Nature which had inherently been there as a Japanese, was further reinforced by developing a relationship with the Native American people and landscapes, and continues to inspire her work to this day.

In 2003, she moved from London to Cornwall but returned to London 4 years later, boldly ending her long established ceramic career which was still flourishing at the time.

Changing media from clay to paint happened unexpectedly, but she is finding that paint, like clay, can create certain surfaces and textures, similarly tactile in both works.

They all reflect the slow but gradual passage of time.

She currently works in a studio in Hackney Wick, and also helps as a volunteer in an art class in North London for people with disabilities.


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