I use a technique in which clays of two or more colors (made by mixing in pigments with the clay) are kneaded together, to form internal patterns. This technique, called nerikomi in Japanese, is similar to the millefiori technique used by Venetian glassmakers. As with the Venitian glass, I then slice the clay in cross-sections — but very thinly — afterwhich I produce it in the form that I image.
The thin slices of clay dry rapidly, creating the risk of cracks forming at the junction with the main structure. Resolving this problem requires careful drying over an extended period of time. It is a very laborious process and, I must say, one that requires considerable patience.
My works always revolve around the theme of life, or living creatures. I find Nature’s creations fascinating and beautiful things. They are sometimes woven into what appear to me as fantasy worlds. My works are an attempt to express there worlds in a way that only ceramics, with its colors and textures — and clay, with its sense of realness — can do.
My study of life forms often focuses specifically on plant life. Many people forget that plants are living creatures, because to most of us they are things that neither move on their own nor have feelings. We generally encounter plants in our use of them as tools, whether it be to beautiful our daily lives with them, to eat them as food or for other utilitarian purposes.
What about plants that are both mobile and have feelings? Perhaps they are no longer plants, at all. Yet, it is these plants, these living creatures, that are the subject of my art.
The plants that are my artwork are creatures that exist beyond the realm of what is normally considered to be a plant. They appear as figures who, perhaps, had been moving around independently only moments before, whose breathing is almost audible. I hope that through my art the viewer will look afresh at plants as living creatures.
When I create my plants, I imagine something that all living creatures in the world having in common — their cells. The shapes and colors of cells are the foundation upon which I envision the patterns that I knead into the clay.
I constantly seek, in all of my works, to generate a kind of anima. Envisioning my plants, down to their very cells, is the technique I use to breath life and spirit into them.
— Aya Murata