artist mami yamanaka

It is just over a year since an earthquake and tsunami hit north-east Japan, obliterating the landscape and causing widespread destruction. While Japanese artist Mami Yamanaka has been living in Melbourne for more than a decade, the disaster has affected her work. "After the initial shock, my internal life went back to normal, but subconsciously it created a large shift within my psyche," Mami says. "My works for this show express my own contemplations - they are meditations towards my own internal landscape and the patterns that I see within." Her latest exhibition "Silent Yesterday" will run from April 17 at the Flinders Lane Gallery in Melbourne.

Which five words best describe you? Unique, quiet, loyal, complicated, dedicated.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I was a writer and editor in Japan. After migrating to Australia, I realised I couldn’t work in that profession here, so I decided to follow my other passion seriously. I applied for a fine art course in a university in my 30s. I stayed in the uni to take an honours year and a masters course. I developed one large installation work for the master course and the segment of installation won an award. The director of the gallery that currently represents me saw the work and approached me. I have developed my work since by exhibiting mainly through the gallery and other venues.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? I need a lot of time to do unorganised, unproductive activities away from my art practice in order for me to naturally form what I want to create. I feel sometimes wasting my time, but those times are actually very important for my art practice. I am observing and contemplating a lot in the process. Once it’s set inside, my working process is usually very intense and fast. The process and the outcome is the most important aspect of my art practice.

What’s your proudest career achievement? When my teenage son said he loves my work the most.

What’s been your best decision? To become a mother.

Who inspires you? People around me who are dedicating their lives to create amazing art works and being sincere in what they create.

What are you passionate about? Try to find a beauty (in my own terms) in every situation or environment, even from ugly ones. Try to be honest.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? I have tons of artists, writers, musicians, film makers, scientists, philosophers who I respect and admire, but I can’t think anyone particular that I want to meet in person at the moment. I would like to meet ordinary people with amazing life stories.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? To create better work than before - each time. (So my dream continues.)

What are you reading? The emperor of scent by Chandler Barr

images courtesy of mami yamanaka and flinders lane gallery