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Melbourne-based artist Yoko Ozawa began practising ceramics in 2003, whilst working as a graphic designer in Tokyo. Born in Japan, Ozawa formally trained in both Fine Art, with a focus on Japanese painting, at Musashino University, Tokyo and Graphic Design at The Japan Design College. Upon relocation to Australia in 2012, Ozawa established her own studio. She has since exhibited around the world, with solo exhibitions and numerous group shows throughout Australia, Japan and England. In 2019, she was a finalist of both the Manningham Victorian Ceramic Art Award and The Victorian Craft Awards, alongside reception of the biannual Clunes Ceramic Award. In 2019, Ozawa curated ‘余韻 (Yo-in) Afterglow of Japanese contemporary ceramics’ at Mr Kitly Gallery, a prestigious group show exhibiting two further Maud & Mabel gallery artists - Kenta Anzai and Toru Hatta. In 2020, Maud & Mabel presented a highly received solo show of her work to a London audience during Craft Week, while 2022 saw Ozawa exhibited at our Collect art fair debut, alongside a collection of works now residing in private collections showcased in Tsukimi: Moon Viewing later in the year.
Ozawa’s work displays a pervading exploration of the Japanese notion of yohaku, meaning blank space. Ozawa was introduced to this concept while studying Japanese painting. Translated into her ceramic works, yohaku defines the space and stillness surrounding objects. For Ozawa, the notion of the space inside her works holds possibility and meaning, not simply ‘nothingness’. In this way, they engage in a dialogue with the concept of yohaku, resulting in an enhanced apprehension of the world and our own mind. Conversely, the surfaces of her work are not blank at all. Yoko Ozawa’s work is heavily informed by a sustained interest in the natural world; seasonal transitions, temperature, light, shadow, fog, rain and snow. Her Japanese teapots, often inspired by the moon, are spherical forms with a rich and ambiguous quality. Their simplistic but harmonious shapes are realised in subtle tones and intricate crackle glazes which draw on the textures and tones from her upbringing in the Japanese countryside and the Australian landscape she is now surrounded by. Texture is created through sporadic application of slip and ash glazes, rejecting outright uniformity and perfection. The resulting works are unique and unrepeatable, sharing overt similarities with arid mysterious landscapes, resonating with the notion of wabi-sabi - that the beauty of the natural world cannot be replicated.
“I have always been interested in natural phenomena…articulating almost invisible forms in my work and praising simple, yet deeply rich ‘in-between’ spaces. I like navigating the subtle, shifting balance between perfection and imperfection.” - Yoko Ozawa