Artist likes to think big

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Motoko Watanabe with the inspiration to craft large artworks.

Watanabe came to New Zealand from her native Japan in 1998 and now lives in Dunedin. The birth of her daughter was the catalyst for her change in art style, she said.

The fabric artist was in Gore last week displaying five gigantic artworks at the Eastern Southland Gallery.

Watanabe was formerly a pastel artist.

“I studied my art in Japan. It was traditional Japanese painting,” Watanabe said.

“I was just going to pursue it and become an illustrator,” she said.

When her daughter was born, she decided she needed to concentrate solely on being a mother, she said.

It was when her daughter went to kindergarten she began to explore other art forms, Watanabe said.

Basket-weaving captured her interest initially. As a child in Japan she and her mother made baskets.

In Japan basket-makers had to buy materials.

But in New Zealand she could gather materials from the bush.

“I didn’t need to buy anything.”

She then discovered fabric art.

Her new art interest incorporated basket-making skills.

When she started experimenting, she found she could create almost any art form she desired, she said.

The works were like large sculptures, she said.

She could use fabric in ways similar to moulding clay, she said.

The advantage of fabric was it did not have all the mess of clay, she said.

All the shapes she made with fabric were inspired by the material used, she said.