Mari Ishikawa interviewed by Marietta Kontogianni

Interview  /  Artists   MariettaKontogianni
Published: 07.11.2017
Mari Ishikawa Mari Ishikawa
Marietta Kontogianni
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The relationship with nature is always shown in Mari's creation, she tries to present the frozen moment through her jewellery and photography work. New solo exhibition Border will be shown in Munich at Galerie Scheytt during 2018 Schmuck.

Ελληνική έκδοση - Greek version      View / hide description

I met Mari Ishikawa in 2016 when she visited Greece for the first time as a guest artist of Popeye Loves Olive Gallery in Athens where she did a workshop about concept jewellery making called “Parallel Worlds / Double Negative” and showed her work in a solo exhibition. She was really happy for this event. So back then I had the chance to interview her and she introduced me with pleasure to her “Parallel”, full of jewellery “World”. A few weeks ago I contacted her once again and we talked about her new series “Shadow” that follows on from her previous work ‘Rebirth”, her future plans but also about her recent trip to Easter Island.
Mari Ishikawa, 12 rings: Shadow, 2017. Gold 750 (ring 7), silver 925 oxidized and diamond (ring 3), silver 925 oxidized, (rings 1,2,4,5,6,8,9,10,11,12).
Photo: Dirk Eisel

You are a Japan-born artist based in Munich. How Japan culture and German culture, which are totally different cultures, are mixed up in your work?
Growing up in Japan and during my education, I was naturally characterized by the Japanese culture and lifestyle. There are plenty of things from Japan which constitutes my nature. I’m not sure about which certain thing it is, but seeing my native country in a new perspective from a distance has a particular importance for me. In Europe, I found out that my life belongs to me and I started to enjoy it.

Mari Ishikawa, brooch: Landscape. Silver 925, Aluminium, Japanese lacquer (Urushi).
Photo: Dirk Eisel

Your jewellery seems to me steel and structured but yet fragile, grey tones and a small amount of colour here and there, mainly red. Why red? What does this colour mean to you?
I think red is a very unique colour among Japanese traditional colours. Japan does not have vivid colours in nature compared to the tropical countries. It might be because of the Japanese humid climate. However, when red is used, its tone is very strong and vivid.

Mari Ishikawa, brooch: Rebirth Red, 2016. Silver 925, Pearl, Silk.
Photo: Dirk Eisel

This red thread that you use for your creations, is it a special one? If I remember quite well what you’ve told me in the past, is the one used for sewing the Japanese kimonos and you buy it from the factory where kimonos are made?
For “Landscape” I use ribbon which is made by Japanese Kozo Paper + Urushi Lacquer. I bought this at a Japanese Kimono manufacturer, named “Hosso”.
For “Rebirth” I use red silk.
It is a powerful colour which gives different impressions depending on the situation. The profundity of the red colour attracts me.
The little strings of red are the symbol for a new life. In small sprouts, you can see a redpoint of the top. When they grow, the red colour will be gone.

Mari Ishikawa, Rings: Shadow. Silver 925 oxidized.
Photo: Dirk Eisel

Your new work is called “Shadow” and there is no red at all or other colour used this time. Why? What feelings do you want to express through this new work of yours? What is this work about?
This is a different concept and a different topic. There is no colour in shadows and in this work I am focusing only on the form.
Nothing that has appeared in this world can escape its ultimate destiny: to disappear.
The cycle of death and rebirth is wonderfully represented through plants. Plants are symbols of constant and inextinguishable renewal of life. I would like to show the frozen moment. What I’m trying to freeze is their beauteousness of its full cycle of life.
These are “Shadows” of life.

You talk about the cycle of life of the plants and the jewellery of the “Shadow” series are plants, while the jewellery of your previous collection “Rebirth” were plants (or flowers) as well. I believe that the cycle of life is wonderfully represented through these two jewellery series of yours. Does nature play a significant role in your work?
For me, the relationship with nature was always considerable. I found the contact to nature much easier in Germany. Only since living in Munich I integrated the nature as a component in my work.

Why did you find the contact to nature much easier in German? I‘ve seen so many beautiful Japanese gardens with blooming cherish trees on the internet…
Yes, there is a lot of beautiful nature in Japan. But this time I couldn’t find something which was special for me. The first time I could experience nature, I was in Europe which was exotic to me. Later I did find back to the nature of Japan.

Mari Ishikawa, Rings: Shadow, 2017. Silver 925 oxidized.
Photo: Dirk Eisel

What led you to the jewellery filed in the first place? What does jewellery mean to you?
I worked as an interior designer in Japan. It was quite interesting, but the boundaries I could act between were too narrow.
Jewellery gives me more artistic freedom. At the same time, the relationships between me, the object and the person who wears it, are more personal and more intensive in jewellery.

Why? What is for you the relationship between your jewellery and the wearer?
The specialness that I discern in the wearers of my jewellery consists in the fact that there is no one for whom this jewellery typically fits. A new story begins at the moment a piece of jewellery changes owners. The jewellery becomes part of a unique attitude towards life and an individualized world of emotion. Precisely that event recurs what first fascinated me about jewellery in the beginning.

Mari Ishikawa, brooch: Rebirth, 2015. Silver 925, Pearl, Silk.
Photo: Dirk Eisel

You recently showed your work at Tresor in Basel/Switzerland with Galerie Spectrum (21-24/09/2017). What other fairs/ exhibitions are you going to show your work in the future?
During the Schmuck week in March 2018 I have a solo exhibition by Galerie Scheytt in Munich.
Border” will be the title of my exhibition. I will show new photos & pieces of jewellery. jewellery can be same: making borders – between the wearer and other people, and breaking borders – as a connection and attraction in between.

You are a photography artist as well. What does intrigue you about taking photos and what is the relationship between jewellery and photography?
The world we see is only a part of the entire reality, which is composed of many worlds existing simultaneously, side by side.
You can see whatever you want to see. We can find “Parallel Worlds” whenever we open our eyes and hearts. They are always with us.
My general topic is “Parallel Worlds”. I’d like to show what I’ve found. With my photography, I have a possibility to show pictures in the way I find it. With my jewellery work, I try to make people feel my world and also let them make their own story with it. I’m hoping…Jewellery creates “Parallel Worlds”.

Border, photo: Easter Island, 2017.
Photo: Mari Ishikawa

I bet you had the chance to take amazing photos during your recent trip to Easter Island. Describe me in a few words this trip. Would you recommend someone to travel there and why?
I was giving a workshop at Walka Studio in Santiago de Chile for the 3rd time. Claudia Betancourt from Walka was giving me many fascinating pieces of information about Easter Island during my stays in Santiago. After this year's workshop, I finally went there together with Claudia.
Easter Island is an isolated Island, 4000 km far from the next mainland, but you could find many symbols similar to other cultures, which is very mysterious. You could recreate many stories about this. The landscape there is amazing as well. You could feel direct the scale of the Earth. I cannot inspire emotions that I have not experienced by myself. Experiences are therefore important to me, and for that reason, I want to try to find something new.
Where does a parallel world exist?
Can one discover this world through time travel?
Is it perhaps possible to see this world in a dream? 
Or does it only exist in one’s heart?
I will show the Easter Island stills at the exhibition “Border” by Galerie Scheytt in Munich.

About the Interviewee

Mari Ishikawa is a multi-awarded jewellery and photograph artist based in Munich, Germany. She was born in Kyoto. She studied Art, Interior and Sign Graphic Design and jewellery making in Japan. She worked at first as an interior architect and design. In 1994 she went to Munich and enrolled in Professor Otto Künzli’s jeweler class at the art academy “Akademie der Bildenden Künste München” ( Munich-Academy of Fine Art, Germany), from where she graduated in 2001. Since 1994 she has been showing her work in solo and group exhibitions all over the world. Her work can be found worldwide in the public collections of some of the most important museums, as well as in private collections.

About the author

Marietta Kontogianni is a Greek journalist based in Athens.
In April 2016 she founded JEWELRYbox Magazine on Facebook that aims to network with the people involved in the jewelry world. She has been working as a journalist for more than 20 years in newspapers, magazines and TV channels. Meanwhile, she had been creating fashion beaded jewelry herself. When the newspaper she was working for since 1995 bankrupted, she decided to found the bilingual (Greek-English) FB magazine
JEWELRYbox to keep on working as a journalist and to express her passion for jewelry.
Up to now, she interviewed almost all of the prominent artists that showed their works in Athens and attended all the lectures given by the renowned artists/ gallerists, curators in Athens since 2016.
Moreover, her
JEWELRYbox Magazine was a media sponsor of both Greek jewelry platforms: A Jewel Made in Greece 2017 and Athens Jewelry Week 2017. Her future plan is to have a website built dedicated mainly to the Greek jewelry world.