Sculpture and jewelry by Yu Hiraishi


What do you plan to do when you are 60? 70? To regret the old good times? To sit calmly in your garden and observe the clouds? To watch TV? To refer to your knees as good and bad instead of right and left? Name it yourself, but it is not what my hero of the today’s interview is doing. I am so grateful she could find some time to answer my questions among her countless travels all around the world! Yu Hiraishi, a Japanese jeweller and sculptor. More than 130 solo and group exhibitions and events (only in jewelry, not counting sculpture!), 1 museum and 17 public and private collections, 5 awards all over the world, 39 books and catalogs on jewelry! A wife, mother and a successful artist – all in one!

For the first time I discovered her work when I came to live in Montreal, in 2013 or 2014. It was that gorgeous exhibition, organized by Musée des Beaux Arts and Galerie Noël Guyomarc’h. And I was completely stunned by that awesome big red geometric necklace!

So, long story short, I finally have some awesome pieces by Yu and I am even honored to know her!

Chaos necklace

When and how did you start to create jewelry? What do you particularly like about it?

I was born in the Aichi Prefecture, in Japan. I studied for 4 years metal craft at the Musashino Art University in Tokyo. After I graduated in 1970, I started to create sculpture and jewelry at the same time.

Katuragawa Sea Side Hotel Garden

I discovered the world of contemporary jewelry in 2004. There is a couple of events in this sphere that I really enjoyed – “Schmuck 2006” exhibition in N.Y. and “Schmuck 2013” International Trade Fair (Munich/Germany).

I like that my jewelry is small sculpture. You can wear it as if it is a big art work. This art moves together with the person.

Border line necklace

What are your inspirations?

My biggest inspiration is simple, strong and clear matter in life.

As for the materials, it is brass/stainless steel/metal wire/silver/paint. I also create everything within my sculptural system.

A lot of inspiration also comes from my family. My husband is a sculptor. He is also dancing together with my daughter Kaori Ito who is a contemporary dancer and choreographer, she lives in Paris. It was Kaori who discovered the Galerie Noël Guyomarc’h for me during her tour in Montreal. My son Chihiro Ito is a painter.

Moving line brooch

What does your ordinary workday looks like?

Since I am a sculptor and a jeweller, I am usually thinking and creating both things every day. To prepare for work I like to go to a museum or an exhibition and simply to walk.

I am always trying various ways of processing the material and the ways to use it in a more sustainable way.

Countryside studio of Yu Hiraishi
Tokyo studio of Yu Hiraishi

Tokyo studio of Yu Hiraishi
What advice would you give to a beginner jeweler? How to find the personal style and on what to focus the work?
You need to ask yourself some questions. What would you like to express? What matter in life is the most interesting for you?
Next you have to think how to realize your idea – materials, technology, etc.
You have to find the only one original method to express yourself!
Gallery Natuka, 1996
Kansaigaikokugo University, 2002
How would you describe contemporary jewelry? What is it for you?
These both arts – sculpture and jewelry have fundamentally the same value for me. It is thinking about how we are living towards death, about the significance of the human existence.
Toyohashi Open Air Exhibition, 2008
Gallery ATELIERE.K, 2008
Bank Art Studio, 2015
Gallery SPC, 2016

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