When Kaori was little, her family moved from one place to another due to her parents’ work. Every time she had to adjust and familiarise herself with a new home, school and friends. Sometimes a box or two of her stuff went missing during the move and she would lose a whole lot of things suddenly. All this meant that she become increasingly unattached to objects. She found that it was her recollection of childhood which became more palpable and concrete instead.
Her memories often do not involve particularly significant events. Many of them are featureless everyday observations like remembering the pattern of a stone pavement on her way to school or the silhouette of a light bulb hanging from the ceiling of her grandmother’s house. She still feels an acute affinity with these small scenes. She unwraps them slowly in her mind and inhabits, even smells them.
Kaori uses clay as a device to make fragments of time visible. She wants to preserve the intimate and transient recollections of our lives and seal them in the clay like a fern petrified into a fossil. Firing changes soft, malleable clay into hard, breakable ceramic. As clay loses its organic life in the firing, it allows time to become encased. The nature of fired clay incorporates both fragility and permanence and it is this which enables the material to record elusive things like memory.
Kaori traces everyday objects in clay like an old pair of shoes, a girls camisole or a discarded box of buttons – the sort of bits and pieces you might have owned once but forgotten all about. Through looking at her work, you are led back into those tiny, quiet recesses of your past.
Born in Arita, a small village in Japan renowned for its fine porcelain, Kaori Tatebayashi grew up in a family who traded in pottery. She studied ceramics at Kyoto City University of Art for a Bachelors and Masters in ceramics during 1991-97. During the initial year of her Masters degree she became London’s Scholarship ceramic student at the Royal College of Art, and in 1999 participated in Japan’s 6th Ceramic Biennale. In 2006, Kaori won the Crafts Council Development Award and set up her workshop at 4011⁄4 Studios in Wandsworth, London. She has widely exhibited throughout the UK and Japan and her exhibitions include, two years at Chelsea’s Craft Fair – winning the Design for Scandinavian Award in 2004, three years at Origin, London (2006-08) and has exhibited for two years at Ceramic Art, London (2005 & 07).