Artist Interview – Haruyo Morita “just couldn’t ignore Art”
Haruyo Morita is a contemporary Japanese artist who began her study of visual arts at Tajimi Technical High school, Japan, in 1994. Morita’s passion for art soon took her around the world to further refine her style at the National Art School in Sydney and at the Villa Bastille Patric Fouilhoux Art School in Paris. Although now she can’t imagine her life without art, there was a time when she was afraid to follow her dream because she thought she’d disappoint her family. We caught up with Haruyo to find out more about her journey to becoming the artist she is today.
What’s your background?
I was born in Japan in a small city called Gifu. I chose to go to Art high school when I was 15 rather than going to normal high school. In 3 years I learned the basics of many different types of art. From traditional oil painting, Japanese painting, sculpture, print making, pottery, space design, industrial design and so on… I think going to Art high school was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life! I stopped Art when I graduated high school. My parents didn’t want me to continue art so I got a job. But 1 year later I went to Canada to study English for a few years, then came to Australia in 2003. I picked up the paint brush again because I just couldn’t ignore Art anymore. I went to a few short courses at the National Art school in Darlinghurst. I don’t have any degree or diploma in Art.
Have you always know you are a creative person?
This is me 2 years old. I started drawing around this time. I sat on this chair and spent hours and hours painting and drawing. My mum said she was a bit worried because I was quiet and just didn’t stop drawing. One day my uncle gave me a box of his old crayons. I still remember how happy I was. It had more than 12 colors! I couldn’t feel the time passing while I was painting. I was so focused. Even now I get goose bumps and feel extremely happy and centred when I’m painting. I can only feel this when I’m creating Art. I think everyone is creative in different ways, but for me I always think creativity is a connection to my true or higher self.
What is your favourite medium to work with and why?
Nowadays I work with many different mediums, but I like using traditional Japanese painting materials the most. Japanese calligraphy ink, Washi paper, Japanese mineral powder pigments, oyster shell powder etc. I learned calligraphy for 10 years in Japan. Ink is probably the most comfortable medium for me to use. While I was learning calligraphy, I learned to relax and meditate. Calligraphy brings peace of mind and I was always ‘centred‘ . The aroma of Calligraphy ink helps me to be in that state of mind. Although I left Japan long time ago, so I think using traditional mediums keeps me connected to my roots.
What jobs have you done other than being an artist?
I worked for an aromatherapy company for 6 years. I was using beautiful essential oils to heal people. Each essential oil and the life stories of clients inspired my works. I learned Reiki, traditional energy healing, while I was in the job. After that I became more and more aware of ‘energy’ and ‘vibration’. I think my art has changed a lot since.
How has your practice changed over time?
My painting changes often. What I see, who I meet, where I travel… it all affects my work. Between 2009 and 2011 I was only painting Magnolia flowers because I was seeing them in my dreams. I didn’t want to paint anything else. While I was painting Magnolias, my focus was to paint the flower’s ‘personality’ rather than how they actually look. I was trying to extract the essence of the flower and it was more important than accuracy of the shapes.
I did a range of European landscapes between 2012-2013 and they were the same. This time I wanted to capture feelings of myself in the view I saw. Since 2014, my painting has changed again, but deep down my practice is still the same. I practice to portray something I feel rather than what I see.
What memorable responses have you had to your work?
It was one of my first piece from the ‘Magnolia therapy’ series. This old lady who used to be a painter was looking into my painting for quite a while. Then she said to me, ‘I don’t care what’s happening around the world, right now I’m so calm and peaceful looking at your painting.’ I was really happy to receive that feedback because that’s exactly how I felt while I was painting.
Can you tell us about the first piece you ever created?
This is the first ever piece I created when I came to Australia. The place I lived had very big walls and I decided to fill the apartment with my paintings. This was for the bathroom. I stopped painting because my mother didn’t want me to continue art so I was very nervous picking up the paint brush again. However, I decided to paint her favourite flower with her favourite colour as background.
What’s your studio like?
Recently I moved into a smaller space, but this was my studio when I came back from France last year. I liked the natural sun light and energy of this space. It’s hard for me to work in a messy studio so I try to tidy up the space as much as possible.
Do you exhibit your works? If so can you tell us about a past exhibition you enjoyed?
My first exhibition in Australia was at a small coffee shop in Parramatta. I painted a few flowers for the apartment and it was becoming too much so I decided to exhibit. I had 12 small to mid size paintings. I sold 11 of them. I was very happy. After the show I wrote a letter to my mother telling her I’m painting again and I had my first show. I was extremely nervous telling her about it. I received a letter a few weeks later from her saying she is happy and proud of me! So since then I feel like I’m allowed to paint, even though I know I don’t need anyone’s permission to create Art. I think It was one of the most important experiences for my art career.
In July I exhibited at the Japan foundation office gallery in Sydney. This year Japan foundation has moved to their new location. This was another amazing experience for my career.
Name something you love and why.
I love Art. Without it I don’t even know how to be who I am now. I was always thinking that Art is my religion . A strange things to say but I always feel connected to who I really am while I am painting. Through my art I’ve met many friends. I’ve learned to see beauty in every one and every thing. It’s made me a happier and better person. And I know Art will take me to amazing places in the future.
You can buy Haruyo Morita’s art online at her gallery page here.