Fine artist Sachiyo Nishimura is drawn to the visual language of industrialisation; power lines, train tracks and telecommunication cables. Using the medium of photography, Sachiyo transforms these elements into a new abstracted landscape with a highly graphic feel. Our design team have been framing the artist’s work for several years and caught up with her in the midst of her latest exhibition at Anise gallery ...
Q) When did you discover photography?
A) While I was doing my BA in Fine Arts in Chile I became interested in the possibilities of graphic media that produce multiple variations of a single matrix. After experimenting with screen printing, etching and photocopies, I came across photography as another medium that requires a single matrix (film or digital data) and can develop multiple copies and several variations on its reproduction. The plasticity of the photographic medium has fascinated me ever since, so much so that I've carried on working on photography until today.
Q) Your work predominantly focuses on industrial structures. How do you select these scenes?
A) Industrial landscapes, rail stations, and public wiring are the three kinds of images that I've been focusing on during these past years. What I'm always looking for are urban spaces and objects with this particular anonymous and ambiguous profile; images that anyone can be familiar with and can easily recognize what they are (a rail station, an industrial chimney, a wire) but whose exact location is difficult to pin down. From these spaces, I select the ones that bring out interesting compositions within the unique and beautiful graphic abstraction of the photographic medium.
Q) Do you utilise any unusual equipment or techniques in your creative process?
A) What could be unusual about my creative process is that I - being an artist working with photography - spend very little time taking pictures compared with all the time I spend on the post-production process, which includes loads of operations over the photographic image such as cropping, scaling, overlapping. This post-production process usually requires some precise grid schematics and geometrical sketches that look more like a technical drawing than an artistic drawing. My creative process is based on precision and calculations, so this might be an unusual feature as well.
Q) Where do you find your inspiration?
A) To live in an urban environment and to see different cities has been my main source of inspiration. I've had the chance to see different urban environments from an early age - my family is based in Santiago de Chile, and my extended family is based in Japan, so I travelled quite often during my childhood, and later during my adulthood I have chosen to live in different cities and travel as much as possible. This close observation of varied urban settings has inspired me to try and figure out what a city is made of, something that I still find very fascinating and inspiring enough to create my own artistic versions of it.
Q) Do you have a piece of work which stands out in your mind as something you are exceptionally proud of or that is particularly important to you for emotional or sentimental reasons?
A) “Landscape/Fiction 8” and “Distant Landscapes” are two works that I made during my first year in the UK while I was studying an MA in Fine Arts at Central Saint Martin’s. With these works I won two prizes and got selected for several exhibitions during my first couple of years in the UK, hence I could get started with an artistic career in this country, which makes me really proud. Both works were made of a mixture of images from Chile and the UK, and on a personal level that reflected my circumstance of leaving a place behind and moving into a new city, so these works are also emotionally important.
Q) What are you looking to communicate to the viewer through your photography?
A) What I aim to communicate through my artwork is a different way of seeing and understanding the urban landscape and the photographic medium. By pushing the boundaries of photography, I'd like to be able to transmit in a beautiful way the fascinating anonymity and ambiguity of certain urban spaces and objects of which we have become oblivious.
Q) Which contemporary artists (specialising in photography or otherwise) do you find particularly interesting and inspiring?
A) Among other things, what I really like about contemporary art is the ability to make crossovers between different disciplines, such as science/art, or within different artistic media, say sound/image, painting/drawing and so on. Sol LeWitt's work is a great inspiration for me as he brilliantly brought together the intuitive media of drawing and a rather rational/mathematical/scientific process. Gerhard Richter also does an interesting and very inspiring crossover between painting and photography with a very sensitive and unique approach.
Q) You are currently exhibiting alongside Fergus Heron at Anise Gallery. How did this opportunity come about and how do you feel your images work together and communicate in this exhibition?
A) I met Fergus a few years ago and we both agreed that we should do a project together as our work is connected in many ways. Besides the fact that we're both interested in photography as an artistic medium, we've also been working on very similar subjects. The sort of spaces we've photographed (motorways, railways, rivers and the sea) can be seen as infrastructure that activates the trading pulse from and towards different cities. We developed a bit further on this idea and put together an exhibition proposal which we sent to Anise Gallery. They liked it and invited us to do this exhibition.
Q) What exciting new projects do you have on the horizon?
A) At the moment I'm working on my “Lines” series, which is a more abstract body of work. It is based on photographic images of lines, close-ups from different sorts of public wiring you can find hanging overhead (electricity and telephone lines, tram and rail cables, and so on). The resulting images are just dark lines against an empty bright background, which makes it very abstract, and closer to hand drawing rather than photography. I plan to exhibit some of this work at the London Art Fair in January with Sarah Myerscough Fine Art.
Q) Is there a particular space or location where you like to relax and unwind when you’re not working?
A) Just a walk around the city does the job. As well as enjoying staying at home with a good TV series.
Q) Do you think framing plays an important role in the final presentation of your work?
A) Both framing and the finishing of the artwork are extremely important and it has been a long journey of experimentation to find out what works best. Finishing must be impeccable and the framing must be neutral yet visibly clean. During the past few years, I've been able to experiment along with John Jones for large scale projects such as the artwork for Derwent London's Angel Building and a couple of private commissions. We've been trying out different mounting processes and framings, which has been great and definitely a huge benefit for the final presentation of my work.