Miyako Terakura’s First Exhibition in Taiwan |"Fairy Whisper" Interview

Whitestone Gallery Taipei held a duo exhibition by Miyako Terakura and Huang Pin Tong entitled "Fairy Whisper" from September 3 to October 15, 2022. Both artists create sculptures that feature toddlers and children as their motifs, with Terakura using a combination of handbuilding and slip casting techniques to create porcelain sculptures. In this interview, we ask Terakura about her thoughts on her first exhibition in Taiwan, her motivation for creating art, and how her work has changed through the pandemic.

Art = A Vessel that Carries People's Thoughts

ーMost of your sculptures use infants and children as motifs. Is there a reason for that?

Terakura: I believe that art can act as a vessel that carries hopes and feelings. Infants and children are a symbol of innocence, and every being brought into the world began as an infant. I see them as an unique stage and aspect to our lives that imparts a sense of naivety where we can entrust our uncluttered thoughts and hopes, which is why I chose them as my subjects.

If you’ve noticed, they have a smooth quality that makes you want to coddle them, and it's got an intriguing charm that’s sure to make the heart melt. Expressing this adoring softness associated with children in a contrasting medium such as the hardness of porcelain is what I find interesting to explore.

"Fairy Whisper" exhibition installation view

ーDo you have models for your sculptures?

Terakura: When I create my sculptures, I don't have a real child model. I try to figuratively express the "child" inside my heart. I'm often told that the faces of my sculptures resemble my own. Though it's not something intentional, I might be projecting it onto my sculptures subconsciously since I see my face every day.

Miyako Terakura creating her sculpture in the studio

Choosing Ceramics as a Form of Artistic Expression

ーYou graduated from the Tokyo University of the Arts in 2017, and finished the university's Master's Program in ceramics in 2020. What made you decide to be involved in ceramics?

Terakura: The Tokyo University of the Arts Department of Crafts has six courses: Metal Carving, Metal Hammering, Metal Casting, Japanese Lacquer Art, Ceramics, and Textile Art. Students first choose three courses to gain experience then decide on their specific course of study in their second year. I chose ceramics readily because it instinctively felt like the right course for me.

Looking back in my childhood, I enjoyed not only drawing, but creating and molding things with my hands. I was part of my elementary school's paper clay club where I made various small objects. For my high school graduation project, I created a sculpture from stone powder clay. I've always liked the soft feeling of clay in my hands, and the ability to create whatever it is that I wanted. When it came to choosing my course of study, I already knew that ceramics was where I could create the forms and textures I wanted to express.

Exhibition installation view of Miyako Terakura's "Moon and Rabbit" series

ーThis exhibition features many sculptures you made between 2020 and 2022. Did the COVID-19 pandemic change how you created art and what subjects you chose?

Terakura: The virus took the lives of many all over the world, and caused various restrictions in our lives. In the midst of those uneasy days with an uncertain future, I felt even more strongly that the children are our hope for the future, and I found more motivation and a deeper meaning in making sculptures of children.

At the same time, the passing of time creeps by quietly and death inevitably comes to all living beings. This inspired me to create a vessel in which the soul goes beyond the physical in life and death.

Miyako Terakura "The Little Fire Leading My Heart" (2022), 32.0×28.5×62.0cm, handbuilt clay

Fairy Whisper: First Exhibition in Taiwan

ーWhat are your thoughts about your first exhibition in Taiwan?

Terakura: I visited Taiwan once several years ago, and it was a really wonderful place. I also have a good friend who is of Taiwanese descent. So I'm very happy for this opportunity to hold an exhibition in a country which I feel an attachment to.

It's also my first time to hold an exhibition in a gallery with a large space so I challenged myself in using full-fledged handbuilding to create large-sized sculptures that I've never done before.

The "Kid of the Stars" and "Moon and Rabbit" series of sculptures which I made in 2022 have the general theme of being "a fantasy voyage", and I created them based on characters that appear in bedtime fairy tales for children.

The "Tamayura" series which I made for my graduation exhibition in 2020 has a special meaning to me, and will be the first time that I’m showing this work in Taiwan as an installation. It's truly unfortunate that I’m unable to visit the exhibition, but I have entrusted my hopes and feelings in my creationsI hope that there’s an opportunity for people to come meet them personally.

Exhibition installation view of the "Fire" series created using handbuilding techniques

Miyako Terakura "The Kid of the Stars" (2022), 11.5×13.5×30.0cm, slip cast porcelain clay/gold luster

Exhibition installation view of Miyako Terakura's "Tamayura" series

ーThis duo exhibition is entitled "Fairy Whisper". The sculptures by both Huang Pin Tong and yourself visually feature the cherubic nature associated with children. What are your thoughts about Huang Pin Tong's works?

Terakura: Huang’s sculptures feature infants and children, which symbolize the beginning of life, fused with natural objects such as cactuses and other succulent plants, seashells and rocks. I can feel the love for vitality and a deep reverence in the mystery that is nature.

Coincidentally, for my high school art graduation project, I created a sculpture that uses an infant and succulent plant as the motif, which marked my start as an artist. Since then, most of my sculptures have featured babies and young children, but in my former years, I’ve often created figurative sculptures of chubby baby bottoms and feet fused with organic shapes. So our works seem to have a lot in common, and I feel a connection with her.

Exhibition installation view of Huang Pin Tong's "The Tree of Life" series

ーLastly, what are your plans for the future?

Terakura: Until recently, my main technique for creating sculptures has been porcelain slip casting. But for this exhibition, I used handbuilding techniques on pottery clay for the first time. Making the sculptures was a lot of fun, but I also realized that I still have much to learn, so I’d like to continue exploring handbuilding techniques in the future. I’d also like to continue being honest with my feelings and create whatever it is that I feel like making at that moment in time.

Exhibition installation view of Miyako Terakura's "Moon and Rabbit" series

Using the image of children who symbolize innocence and the beginning of human life, Terakura’s art speaks to the hopes and feelings of many. Viewers are able to see the softness and innocent quality expressed in her sculptures as a feeling of kindness and purity. We invite you to visit the gallery or view the online exhibition to experience the sculptures which you will definitely want to see in person.

View Exhibition Details

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