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“I respect animals and appreciate their beauty”

Mio Hashimoto

Interview with Mio Hashimoto, artist and sculptor

 By Jaqueline B. Ramos

When art speaks out for respecting all forms of living beings, the experience of sensing it is unforgettable. And kind of speechless… But to try to put on words the reasons behind the beauty, I talked to Japanese artist and sculptor Mio Hashimoto, who is famous in her country and abroad for her astonishing animal sculptures, and also for teaching and sharing her techniques in books and workshops. Yes Mio san, when you recreate the creatures untouched, people are moved. Thank you for that!

What’s the main motivation for your work of animals sculptures? How long have you been doing it?動物の彫刻家として働くことの、最大の動機は何ですか?動物彫刻家としてのキャリア期間はどれくらいですか。

Since I was a little kid, I liked animals. I wanted to be a vet someday. However, things changed after the Hanshin Awaji Earthquake happened. I was 15 years old. A lot of animals disappeared. And I heard about the deaths of a lot of animals. That was my experience of “the sudden disappearance of beautiful lives I love.” Medicines never help them get their lives back. What I loved about animals is the beautiful forms of lives in front of me.  I wanted to keep the forms as they were. I wanted to touch them again. That was my reason to be a sculptor who could create them as they are.I became a professional sculptor when I was 26 years old. That was 12 years ago. I started sculpture when I was a student, 18 years old.  That was 20 years ago.

A lot of animals represented in the sculptures have their names presented. All of them are/were animals that you live/lived with. What about dog Tsuki, was he your pet-friend?展示されていた彫刻の多くには名前がありました。全て一緒に住んでいたのでしょうか。月くんを飼っていたことはわかったのですが。

Those sculptures have models. They were pet dogs of somebody else in Japan.  They were stray cats.  Some of them live in zoo. One thing in common is that they were loved by somebody else and they have names. The only pet I lived with is Tsuki.

About the apes/monkeys presented on your exhibition, are they animals you observed in zoos or sanctuaries? Can you tell about your “relationship” with chimpanzee Max, mandrill Manjuro and orangutan Kyu, for instance?展示されていた類人猿や猿は動物園や保護区で観察したものですか。例えば、チンパンジーの「マックス」やマンドリルの「マンジュロー」、オラウータンの「キュウ」とあなたの関係性について教えてください。

Max and Kyu are in Tama zoo, Japan. Kyu is the son of Gypsy, the oldest orangutan in the world. I communicated with the keepers and I tried to recreate them as loyal as possible. I support Borneo Conservation Trust Japan, and I am especially focusing on making orangutan sculptures. Manjuro lives in Higashiyama zoo. I talked with the zoo director in order to put even Manjuro’s personality in it.

Do you believe that your work can help general public to realize and get aware about sentience of animals/non-human beings, their beauty, complexity etc?あなたはあなたの仕事によって、ヒト以外の動物の感性や美しさ、その複雑さを、一般の人々に対して伝えることができると信じていますか。

Yes. I respect animals and appreciate their beauty. I believe they are more beautiful when they are untouched (as they are). So I believe that if I recreate them as they are, it conveys the excitement or certain impression to general public. I hope that when they see my sculptures, they could be moved as if they see the real creatures.

To know more about Mio Hashimoto’s work – http://kirinsan.awk.jp/pages_english/pages_e/home.html

Mio Hashimoto’s exhibition in Yamazaki Mazak Museum, Nagoya, Japan (2018)

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