project corona... hana fujimoto
anxiety, productivity pressure
and art as a secret language
photo credit: @veganbones11th May, 2020
“This strange time has presented me with an unusual opportunity to make work again and has made me realise that it’s absolutely necessary for my happiness”
Hana Fujimoto is a Bristol based painter. She studied textile design at London’s Central Saint Martins, and describes her practice as abstract expressionist. Hana relies on intuition and spontaneity, heavily influenced by the Fluxus movement, to capture a free spirited expression often found in childrens art.
Hana was awarded first prize for the Mullenlowe NOVA award, with her graduate collection exhibited at London Design Festival and subsequently sold to The University of the Arts archive museum.
You describe your approach as ‘intuitive’, sharing similarities with the Fluxus art movement of the 1960s and 1970s. You look to emphasise the creative process and allow for mistakes. What could you tell us about both, and how they’ve informed your practice?
I became interested in the Fluxus movement when I first learnt of it around 10 years ago. It seemed so freeing as it abandoned rules of how art should be made and radicalised people’s perceptions. I felt empowered to make art even at a young age because I felt like I was part of a movement in the way I practiced. I would describe myself as an abstract expressionist, I am always trying to capture the rawness of emotion. For me this means something that is spontaneous, real and not contrived which is actually incredibly difficult to achieve as we are so conditioned. I am also inspired by art made by young children as they are free spirited and automatic in how they express things visually which is my ultimate goal.
Your Japanese heritage plays an integral role in your work. What’s your relationship with Japan, and do you visit often?
My Japanese heritage plays a huge role in my work and identity. I was raised by my Japanese single mother, speaking the language, eating the traditional foods and I often felt displaced growing up in London, as if I was living a double life when I would go to school. All my Japanese friends eventually moved back to Japan and I felt more astray from the culture which was so prominent in my childhood. I guess I use my work to express my struggle with this, and as a way to feel closer to my heritage. I visited earlier this year and plan to go back again next year to spend more time with my grandad.
You recently moved to Bristol. Having now settled, and with Covid-19 in mind, have you been able to resume your practice?
Yes. I abandoned making work since moving here six months ago as I became preoccupied with working to earn money. I have a love/hate relationship with my practice as it’s all or nothing for me. I find it very difficult to continue my practice unless I am fully immersed in it. But this strange time has presented me with an unusual opportunity to make work again and has made me realise that it’s absolutely necessary for my happiness. I have missed it greatly and plan to make time and commit to my development as an artist going forward.
What are your thoughts on lockdown, creatively. Do you think there are benefits to having such an amount of free time?
It’s a gift and a curse! It allows the luxury of having endless time to create. However, it can be tricky to feel constantly inspired and motivated when we are limited to our freedom and cut off from the normality of life. I think many people are struggling with their mental health during this time as the uncertainty and lack of structure can be very triggering. I have found myself having mood swings and anxiety about finances which can make it difficult to feel inspired every day.
You penned an honest and heartfelt letter on Instagram outlining art as an “inherent compulsion that brings you both joy and sadness”. It speaks of many relatable worries that surround a lot of young artists. Could you talk us through some of these anxieties, and how you’ve tried to combat them?
I am still learning and trying to combat this struggle every day. I find my anxiety getting worse the closer I get to 30! That sounds bizarre but I guess I feel more pressure to form a stable life as I get older. It is my heart’s desire to be a full time artist, but I haven’t been able to do this as I’ve had to find ways to make money which takes up time.
“I often feel like I can’t be fully open about what I’ve been through because it would push people away, and that they won’t understand what I’ve experienced. But I’m able to do that with my art“
I find it difficult to continue my practice when it feels somewhat aimless. I guess what I’m saying is, although I love making work, I am yearning for recognition and it’s difficult to persist when you feel like it will never happen and you don’t have the support or finances to make ambitious works.
Alongside both yoga and cooking, you’ve mentioned that art can be therapeutic. That it can help you to make sense of your feelings when words can’t. Could you explain this process?
I am a very emotional person and have a complex past. I often feel like I can’t be fully open about what I’ve been through because it would push people away, and that they won’t understand what I’ve experienced. But I’m able to do that with my art. It almost feels like my own secret language where I know exactly what feeling I’m portraying but it’s safe to share with the world and can be appreciated by others. That’s the beauty about visual narrative, it will mean something different to every person but can still communicate powerful emotion.
How do you plan on keeping calm and creative during lockdown?
I find that routine really helps me to feel normal. I am usually a very proactive and busy person so I need this to feel my best. Every morning I make a list of what I want to achieve on that day and if I can tick off just a few, it gives me a sense of achievement. I like to cook nourishing foods and do yoga everyday which helps me to feel grounded and take care of my body. I try not to watch a lot of TV because it kills creative energy and motivation.
photo credit: @veganbones
View, collaborate and learn more about Hana Fujimoto below:
www.hanafujimoto.com / @hana_fuji
words: patrick taylor / images courtesy of hana fujimoto, adam connett