This week we talk to Seiko Kato, a collage artist based in Brighton.In a very exciting new blog series, we are catching up with Seiko Kato every 4 months to explore how her ‘Artist Journey’ progresses. We have the opportunity to catch up with the artist regularly as her work and life evolves, so this is an ever-developing piece of writing as an archive of her changing world. At the moment she is embarking on selling almost everything she owns in order to move to Japan.
Seiko Kato’s work embodies her sense of being an “avid collector of found objects and ephemera, finding particular inspiration in Victorian medical books, old Victorian etched drawings, encyclopaedia of things and Victorian paraphernalia” (Posterzine, Issue 26). Her work “shows a fascination with the macabre and surreal, mixed with playful elements that explore life and death.” The environments she makes of detailed cut outs create other worldly environments that play with colour, scale and space.
Creative Practises Informing A Way of Life
As a successful collage artist, Seiko Kato always enjoyed the mediums’ playfulness: each object takes a new form in the surreal landscapes she creates. Structure and scale become elements for her to play with. The nature of collage that she employs hinges on the fact that it is mischievous, unserious and as a creator you have to be open to exploration. Moving away from collage, Kato feels as if she has learnt everything she needed to learn and now applies these lessons to her life. She employs playfulness, being open to new mediums, places, experiences, creativity, moving things around and seeing what fits. She is openminded and unsure of how her new life will take it’s shape. Stick with this blog and you’ll be able to see how things development.
Why are you selling all of your belongings?
In my early 30s I thought I’d stay in Brighton forever, I think it’s the best place and I love living here. Then I had a lot of realisations, revaluating myself just before the lockdown last year, March 2020. Being stuck in one place in the lockdown created quite a nice introspective time. I was enjoying my own company, taking the time to understand who I am. The lockdown also allowed me to connect with nature more. When I go back to Japan, I often visit my friends and some of them live in rural areas, living mostly self-sufficiently. I resonate with their way of living with the seasons and connecting with nature. It’s simple and it means that you don’t need much: you wake up and look after your vegetables and do whatever you want to do, eat, sleep. That’s what I want.
If I let everything go, I can go anywhere. That’s quite a freeing thought and the question of “how will I pay rent?” is less of an issue. My stuff is a collection of 20 years of my life, so it takes a long time to sort through. It’s taken so long to get rid of my belongings. When I started doing it, I had no idea how long it would take, but I really want to go back to Japan by April. I just thought I’ll enjoy this process of letting things go one by one – to show appreciation to each individual piece and find a good home – it’s for me to say goodbye to this English life thing.
The process of saying goodbye is not SAD at all. It’s just a passing on. It served me well during my time and I can see if there’s anyone else that can use it. I’ll take all of my original artwork, favourite books, some clothes, some kitchenware. That is everything. The rest I can just shift.
Whilst living in the UK, I have been visiting Japan for 4-6 weeks of the year so now it will just be the other way round. Japanese summer is quite intense, and a British summer is my favourite season, so I may come back to see friends then.
What does success mean to you?
The definition of success is different to everyone – the typical artist is not something I intend to be – it would be nice for my work to be shown somewhere but I’m not going to try to do that either. At this point I am not forcing anything. I will be researching and approaching things at my own pace.
At this point, I am not even drawn to labelling myself as an artist. I will just be. I will find a way of expressing myself through other types of making, there is creativity in any way of living. Now I don’t want to try to be a successful artist, I want to do whatever I fancy. It’s okay to feel a bit ‘meh’. I think all creativity, making, art, is hands on. Anything is art really. I could start weaving baskets, doing pottery or painting. I am totally open to exploration… maybe I will be making things more practically so that I can use them. A huge part creativity is being self-sufficient and inventive. I will enjoy the process now rather than live in the future outcome.
What’s next for you?
After 14 years of being consumed by creating intensely detailed things, it was so labour intensive that my body eventually just said no. I love it and I loved it but because I did it so intensely, I feel as though that process is over and I’m not looking back. When I leave the UK, I will end this way of expressing art, as I have gone through all of that and I am now open to the next thing. I have no regrets as I’ve learnt a lot from collage.
I used to be a control freak. I wanted to make things to perfection. But it wasn’t healthy, it was just tiring. I dropped the whole concept of precision and now I’m enjoying it so much more. I would rather not sit in one creative category. My whole perspective has changed. I learnt different ways of viewing things through collage. You can’t stick to one definition of a thing: you must change it’s meaning and mix it up. Images could become a body, a landscape. Things lose the definition of what they are. You must be open to a more exciting way of looking at things, pulling them apart. Looking at things more, in an exciting way, not too seriously. You can say this about life too. You don’t need to see things as one way, so many people have different viewpoints and opinions and its all valid too… it’s good to just open up and be looser about the ideas of things.
I am excited about the unknown. I tried to plan everything and needed to know all the steps but now I am like ‘no.’ I don’t know what I’m doing next week and that’s fine. Sharing skill is always exciting, it’s nice to give an experience and gain skills from it by your own hands. I might start online workshops and enjoy creating things on the move.
Thank you for the wonderful insight into your life Seiko, we can’t wait to see how your journey develops.
Be sure to check out Seiko’s Instagram to see more of her work. If you are a Brighton based artist,we’d love to see your work and grow our community. Get in touch and see if you can use our studios for your latest projects.Visit our website to see our availability and rates card.