Artist talk: My Primal Memory by Nao Matsunaga

Artist talk: My Primal Memory by Nao Matsunaga

This talk will be given by the artist of My Primal Memory, Nao Matsunaga, and Abraham Thomas, Curator of Designs and Lead Curator for Architecture at the V&A Museum.

In the exhibition My Primal Memory, Nao Matsunaga responds to his ideas and experiences of dual cultural and national identity, reflecting on his formative years growing up in Japan, and the latter part of his childhood in England. Matsunaga cites Japanese American artist Isamu Noguchi as an inspiration, as he dealt with similar tensions in his lifetime. Matsunaga explains ‘I feel I have a somewhat romantic view of Japan and its culture – it is a place I know from childhood and from holidays, so it holds a sense of nostalgia to me… I think this will be a starting point for further investigations into my identity.’ By creating work using primal materials and tools, he connects on an emotional level with cultures from eras passed, and shows that there are certain constants in human behaviour that have not, and will not change.

Although this is a deeply personal investigation, his work references ancient universal themes concerning the human condition. With a sense of longing for a solid identity, Matsunaga attempts to find his way through the two cultures that make up his personality, taking advantage of both and responding to subconscious, primal drives, in order to find a unifying whole.

About the contributors

Nao Matsunaga, seminar contributor

Nao Matsunaga

Nao Matsunaga was born in Osaka in 1980, graduating with an MA in Ceramics and Glass from the Royal College of Art (2005–7) and he has exhibited internationally ever since. He has been presented with various awards and scholarships, such as the Jerwood Makers Open 2012, Cove Park Residency, the Anglo-Sweden Society Bursary and the Leverhume Trust’s grant. His works are in the public collection of the Crafts Council.  He is represented by Marsden Woo Gallery, London.

Abraham Thomas, seminar contributor

Abraham Thomas

Abraham Thomas is Curator of Designs and Lead Curator for Architecture at the V&A. He is the curator of the recent V&A exhibition, ‘Heatherwick Studio: Designing the Extraordinary.’ He also curated '1:1 - Architects Build Small Spaces' (2010), an exhibition which involved commissioning seven international architects to build full-scale structures of retreat and refuge in various spaces around the V&A. He is currently writing a book on the V&A's collection of fashion drawings and photography (forthcoming, 2014.)

Artist talk details:

13 November 2012
Event time: 6:00pm – 7:30pm

Drinks reception from 8:00pm

Daiwa Foundation Japan House, 13/14 Cornwall Terrace, NW1 4QP, Nr Baker Street Station

Organised by the Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation

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Exhibition information:

19 Oct 2012 – 13 Dec 2012

My Primal Memory by Nao Matsunaga

In this solo show, Nao Matsunaga responds to his ideas and experiences of dual cultural and national identity, reflecting on his formative years growing up in Japan, and the latter part of his childhood in England. Although this is a deeply personal investigation, his work references ancient universal themes concerning the human condition.


Legs series (work in progress), 2012, black ceramic and porcelain © Nao Matsunaga and Marsden Woo Gallery, London

Legs series (work in progress), 2012, black ceramic and porcelain © Nao Matsunaga and Marsden Woo Gallery, London

Peaks, 2012, glazed ceramic © Nao Matsunaga and Marsden Woo Gallery, London

Peaks, 2012, glazed ceramic © Nao Matsunaga and Marsden Woo Gallery, London

Horn, 2012, ceramic © Nao Matsunaga and Marsden Woo Gallery, London

Horn, 2012, ceramic © Nao Matsunaga and Marsden Woo Gallery, London