Layered Form: Taking the Shape of What Words Can't Express / TANAKA Tomomi

Tanaka Tomomi’s ceramic works are composed of the accumulation of myriad “laminations”, which are very small thinly stretched pieces of clay which she layers onto a body that she has sculpted. This process-- which takes an overwhelming amount of time for a single piece—which she describes as extracting, one by one, all of the emotions she has accumulated in her life, but which she could not (or would not) put into words. Therefore, she transfers them TO the clay. The quiet energy pulsing in her heart is vividly expressed in these works which are full of life and appear as though they are just beginning to ‘move.’

Because of the enormous amount of time required to complete a single piece, Tanaka can only produce a limited number of pieces in one year. Yet, in her twenties and thirties she has won several prestigious prizes as well as having received invitations to major exhibitions in museums. Tanaka is undoubtedly an important young artists who is commanding a considerable amount of attention in the world of ceramics for her talent and unusual work.

—FUKAI Keiko

My pieces are consisted of many lamellas of clay that are attached on the surface of the hand-built clay core.

One day, I was unintentionally pushing down the clay on the table with hands and tools. The flattened clay appealed me and the idea, using these lamellar for my works, came up to me, because I felt that the layers of lamella seem like the feeling piled up in my mind.

I tend to keep my feelings inside in order to be afraid of criticisms or isolation. Therefore, the feelings that weren’t spoken out are gradually building up in my mind. In the beginning, I got caught up in attaching the thin lamellas on the core, as if I was getting all my feeling out madly. In this stage, the cores were simple ball-like-shape and I didn’t think about the forms not that much.

However, in a meanwhile, my interest was shifted to create the forms that have beautiful curved lines, like waves, by layers of lamella. This was the second stage for my work.

The anger, happiness and other feelings are always mixed and whirling in my mind. Sometime, they are wriggling ominously in the bottom. I was thinking how I should express the movements of my inner feelings that exist inside me. As a result, I started to change the shape of the core. They were pulled or constricted to create the forms like limbs or waists, and then lamellas were attached on those surfaces. The shape of lamellas themselves was changed as well, and larger lamellas, like belts, were added on the surfaces. Now, I consciously create the pieces that are not only expressed my inner feeling, but also are born from me as new life-forms.

As I explained earlier, I can’t express my feeling well, but it means that I am not good at verbalizing myself in a short time. However, while I am creating the sculpture pieces, my feelings are marshaled over time and it becomes easy to express into my works. For these reason, the various processes of execution are necessary for me to face to my inner voice. I hope that the pieces created like that can talk and give some messages to the people who see my pieces.