In Conversation with Kirico Ueda

Japanese artist Kirico Ueda moved to London in 2016 to study Fashion Communication at Central Saint Martins. After graduating, she was a resident at the Sarabande Foundation, a charity established by Lee Alexander McQueen to support emerging creatives. She is currently based at SET Woolich, a former office building in south-east London that is now home to 250 artist studios.

Kirico’s studio is on the seventh floor of the tower block and overlooks the River Thames. It is filled with interesting things: small, hand-crafted ceramic sculptures; a doll’s house that reveals only glimpses of a miniature world through its equally tiny windows; a hanging, mobile sculpture composed of metal faces and large, cut-out figures taken from a Chinese folk tale.

The key to Kirico’s art lies in its meaning, not its medium, as the artist meanders between printmaking, installation, photography, sculpture and photography. Yet, throughout her projects, the themes of mythology and folklore recur, as Kirico brings the stories, characters, and tools of her childhood into an artistic context.


Can you explain your creative process?

Kirico Ueda:  I like to collect stories from different parts of my life, whether tales from my childhood, a story I've heard, or something that happens to me in real life. Then, I’ll do some research around that story, or the themes evoked by that story, and build the visuals or the idea from that.

You produce beautiful hanging mobiles. Where do the ideas come from?

KU:  The mobile I am photographed with was inspired by the idea of combining kinetic sculpture with shadow puppets. I have made shadow puppets before, but I wanted to try and put them into a self-contained, moving sculpture, so I ended up making these faces that interact with each other but are all connected as part of a bigger structure.

What essential item do you always have on you?

KU:  I always carry a notebook with me so that I can write down ideas or do little sketches as I go about my day-to-day life. I also stick in bits of tickets and brochures from exhibitions that I’ve been to.


How do you escape from everyday life?

KU:  Sometimes I go for a walk along the River Thames as I live close by; it helps me to freshen up and reset.

How do you dress to feel comfortable?

KU:  I like to wear baggy clothes because they are more practical.

How will your life change as we enter the winter season?

KU:  I'm looking forward to reading more books. Reading also helps me escape and disconnect from my everyday life.

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