Updated: May 10, 2021
Photo credit : Maciej Komorowski
We want to share with you a new series of International Isolation Interviews. Lockdown is easing but international travel is still a distant dream, so we have asked our artists based abroad to share their studio practice with us. To kick off this new series we go to Tokyo to see what Ewelina Skowronska has been up to.
SEAM: Do you have a daily routine in the studio? How do you get into the creative process?
Ewelina Skowronska: My studio I quite far from my home, 1h by bike or train (it’s funny that it takes the same amount of time), so I usually have some structure in my head before I come the the studio. But what I do in the studio varies depending on what I am working on at the certain moment. Sometimes I do research siting downstairs - I share studio with 3 other creatives, so we have great library and space to think. When I am producing I am completely in my own
world, messing around in my studio. So I think in a sense, everyday is a bit different. But I
have to confess that afternoons and evenings are the best times for me to fully dive in to
creative kind of work.
SEAM: You’ve recently begun producing ceramic sculpture as part of your practice, what was the inspiration behind that? Which discipline or material do you find yourself coming back to? What would you like to try next?
ES: I started working with clay when I moved to Japan, a place with amazing tradition of ceramic art. For me working with clay was a huge discovery. My practice was always connected with 2D work on paper, so working in more dimensional way opened up many new doors. With this came interest of working with more installation based ideas, combining 2D with 3D or even with moving images. So, I also learned After Effects to be able to create my own animation and moving images. I am interested in the marriage of traditional techniques like printmaking or ceramics and new technologies.
SEAM: Is there an element of self-portraiture or real-life reference in your figurative work or do
you approach it from an abstract angle?
ES: Before I start working I usually sketch and draw, but not so much in details. Just enough to
have some idea of what the next work is about, as with printmaking you need to plan ahead. But I never use real life references or photos. However, my process depends on the technique I use. When I work with intaglio the process very often makes decision for me. I really like that, this uncertainty. Recently I have been using airbrush a lot, and this is very different approach for creating - everything happens very direct, and very fast, and I love it.
SEAM: As a Polish artist who has lived and worked in London, Tokyo and America, do you find
the city you find yourself in has an influence on your work? How does your routine differ?
ES: Living in different places makes you realize that at the end of the day your life is your life,
doesn't matter where you are based. Small routines, things you like, people you making
friend with - all these are the mirrors of who you are. But of course our surrounding have a
huge impact on us.
The colours in LA looks different than in Tokyo or London. So, for sure being in Japan influence me and broaden my horizons, because being foreigner in every place push you to go out of so called - comfort zone. It also helped me to realize how much Polish I am, and where I am coming from, what my roots are. And I am sure this is also reflected in my work.
SEAM: Can you tell use about the SAPPHO series of prints sold through SEAM and what inspired these?
ES: I learned about Sappho few years ago, mostly by writings by Anne Carson. I was super interested in her work, and life, her history. When I read book of her poems - just fragments, as most of her work didn’t survive until our times, it felt that trough this broken language and lost text I am somehow connected to her. I reflected about language as being a shared thing, but also as being something very personal, especially that on the everyday bases I don’t use my native language. It made me also think so much about generations of women before me, including also my own female ancestors, who were creating a world for their own, full of imagination, love and sensibility, and somehow fragments of them are now part of me. So, this body of work is a reflection about the belonging and the separation, about what fragments create our own stories.
SEAM: Can you tell us about your most recent exhibition, ‘Time will tell’ at Tetoka gallery in
ES: This new body of work was inspired by Freud’s theory of the “Family romance” and my
December trip to Poland to look after my mum who was very sick due to Covid19. Coming
back home, seeing the reversed mother-daughter relationship (as this time I had to look after her, not the other way around), seeing my mum ageing triggered in me certain thoughts and thinking processes that connected so much with the readings I consumed around this time. Like “Family romance” for instance, a theory that explains that each of us have a constellation of sexual personas that we “carry” from childhood to the end of our
life. This determines us through the whole of our life span. So, again all these created certain emotional tension in me, and usually when it happens, the best way for me to process it, is to make work. During the show I presented prints and ceramic, but also for the first time some drawings. That was very new experience for me, as my drawings are usually more private thing for me, they function as a diary or journal.
SEAM: Is there one artist in particular who inspires you?
ES: My inspiration changes together with things I am interested in. But I can definitely say that
work of Louise Bourgeois, Huguette Caland, Marlene Dumas, Helen Chadwick, Tracy Emin are always something I am coming back to and always learning something new.
SEAM: Can you tell us a bit about the art gallery scene in Japan?
ES: Art scene in Tokyo is quite small. Of course there are some big galleries but market is not as big as in Europe or US. But what I like about Tokyo is that there is many smaller galleries, showing interesting local artist, some crazy ideas and approaches.
SEAM: What food have you discovered in Japan that you now couldn’t live without?
ES: Japan has a lot of great food and I discovered a lot of great stuff. I have to admit that with
some food it took me some time to actually like them, for example nato - it is fermented soya beans eaten usually in the morning with rice. In the beginning I hated it, as it is sticky and smells funny but now I love it. I don’t eat meat so especially in Japan options are limited, but sashimi and some nihonshu is always a great choice.
SEAM: Thinking of your work outside of the gallery, where would you most like to work or who
with? Be it a residency, company or space to exhibit in?
ES: I actually have been thinking about this recently quite a lot. I think my work could fit very
well as a part of the set design, so I would love to work with a team on some stage design,
using video projections or physical elements. Following this I am sure it could expend to be
use for any spaces, like windows display or hotel lobby. To be honest, I am in the process
of working with one hotel in Tokyo on their lobby wall, so fingers crosses that this will go
I am also open to work with other artist like dancers or musicians to create work that brings
different experiences together like sounds, visuals, movement. I hope I will be able to expend my work out of the gallery thinking.