As prescribed by Paulina Constancia

KOZUE YAMAMOTO’s Snail Drawings 1: Q & A with a Visual Poet

Welcome to a new week here on DDoA! This week I bring you the snail illustrations of a young and passionate Japanese visual poet by the name of KOZUE YAMAMOTO
I have to admit that I myself was not really that interested in snails until I accompanied my 3 year old son to watch his first movie ever – “TURBO” in an actual movie theatre. However, my interest intensified when I met up with Kozue recently when she visited Singapore. She showed me her latest book of snail illustrations and I just had to do this feature of her creative journey and poetic portrayal of snails.
Today we’ll get to know this week’s featured artist Kozue Yamamoto. In the succeeding posts, we will look into some fascinating facts about snails accompanied by Kozue’s beautiful illustrations, or visual poetry as she prefers to call them.
The young & passionate visual poet


DDoA: Tell us a little bit about yourself.(whatever you want to share: everyday life, family, education) あなたのことを教えて下さい。(日常、人生、家族、学歴など、あなたが話したいことについて)
KOZUE: I learned Aesthetics and Art history in undergraduate and master course. I’m devoted to the French poet, Jean Cocteau and both of my graduate thesis are about his works.  I lived in Singapore between the ages of 11 and 16 because of my father’s job. Living in Singapore had a big impact on the development of my personality.

DDoA: When and how did you get started with art? What inspires you to draw/create? いつ、どのようにアートに関わり始めましたか?あなたにインスピレーションを与えるものは何ですか?
KOZUE: My parents and grandparents like Art. They frequently go to exhibitions and do oil paintings. So the interest in Art started in my childhood. When I went back to Japan from Singapore at the age of 16, I couldn’t get accustomed to Japan and I needed some kind of outlet to express myself. Then, I started to write poems and draw. 

DDoA: What inspired you to draw snails? なぜかたつむりを描いたのですか?
KOZUE: My grandfather was a professor of plant pathology, specialising in potato diseases. He influenced my great interest in plants and animals. I had planed to draw butterflies because I like them. However, as I did my research at the library I changed my mind when I found the books about snails next to the books on butterflies. 


DDoA: What do you find most interesting about snails? かたつむりに関して、一番面白いと思ったことはなんですか?
KOZUE: I am very interested in Sinistral snails”.  
In Japan, most of the snails are dextral(right-coiling) but sometimes sinistral(left-coiling) snails are born.  Sinistral snails cannot find partner. They remind me of people who are too sensitive to get along with anybody. I can say I feel a kind of sympathy for them. They also remind me of the great writer, Kafka.


*Learn more about sinistral snails, read these articles:
“Left turn saves snails from snakes” by Joseph Milton on NATURE
DDoA: Tell us about your show POÉSIE which runs Jan 9th to Feb 3rd at Hyakujitukou in Tokyo. 東京の「百日紅」で1/9から2/3まで行われている、あなたの個展“POÉSIEについて聞かせて下さい。
KOZUE: “Poésie” is the only thing that inspires me. I call it Poésie – the power to make something come into being. Poésie is the awesome energy that can be found in a certain presence, substance and act. In this exhibition, I want to show my source of inspiration, I live for Poésie’s sake and make artworks (which I’d rather call ‘poetry’) for Poésie to be embodied.
Snail illustration 1.1 by Kozue Yamamoto
Snail illustration 1.2 by Kozue Yamamoto
Watch this video of “Snails Pace: A funny kid’s song by Bob Brown” and learn about the curious life of snails.

Everyday this week we will also feature a Haiku by Kobayashi Issa, a Japanese poet and lay Buddhist priest of the Jōdo Shinshū sect known for his haiku poems and journals. He is better known as simply Issa, a pen name meaning “Cup-of-tea”. He is regarded as one of the four haiku masters in Japan, along with Bashō, Buson and Shiki“The Great Four: Basho, Buson, Issa, Shiki”. In his lifetime, Issa wrote over 50 haikus on snails.(some sources say 54, others 56)
Snail Haiku of the Day
ashi moto e itsu kitarishi yo katatsuburi

at my feet
when did you get here?

Translated by David G. Lanoue via haiku guy

“This haiku shows a very common scene of surprise when one finds a slow snail very close to oneself. Adding to that, when we learn that Issa was attending to his dying father, our appreciation of this haiku may advance farther. We must learn how many things are left out from the haiku and yet, or therefore, so many things are expressed.”- Comment by Shinji Ogawa via haikuguy

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This entry was posted on January 13, 2014 by in Communicate, Create and tagged , , , .
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