Akiko Hirai, Punctured Heart, 2022
12 versions in various glazes, stoneware fired, reduced
Approx. dimensions: 7 x 10.5 cm
Unique sculpture in a series of 12 works. Purchases are limited to two ceramics from the series per buyer. Multiple purchases in excess of this will be refunded.
The Hepworth Wakefield has commissioned the artist Akiko Hirai to produce a series of unique ceramic sculptures. Inspired by the work of Barbara Hepworth, and in particular the motif of the pierced for which Hepworth first explored in the 1930s, Hirai has crafted 12 small unique hearts, each punctured with a small hole through which the viewer can look.
Hirai was inspired by the smooth and non-confrontational forms she admires in Hepworth’s work, creating something that is designed to be held in the hand, to stroke and comfort.
In conceiving the work, Hirai was also thinking about the condition of Broken Heart Syndrome, a physical and psychological response brought on by extreme emotions. In an accompanying text, Hirai describes the way in which an intense focus on a painful situation can make the pain more acute, instead we must open our eyes - and hearts - to the broader picture.
Each unique, Hirai has use different combinations of stoneware and earthenware clay and porcelain bodies with various glazes including tin and wood-ash to create these special sculptural objects.
'When you see the world through your punctured heart, through a little hole, you can only see a fragment of the picture. It may be only her/his face, or a piece of something, or a part of something or a situation.
You have to move your whole body to see the whole world, but you do not realise it is only a part of it that you are looking at. You become static and fixated through the hole as if that is the only world you are living in.
A large surge in adrenaline and noradrenaline temporarily stuns the heart and give rise to chest pain, fluid in the lungs, shortness of breath, and heart failure.
You cannot breath.
It was only a part of it, but you were not aware of it. The only thing that you had to do was take your eye off your punctured heart.
Why can’t we see this?
Sometimes the world that is seen through the punctured heart is sweeter than anything else and you do not take your eye off it.’
Akiko Hirai, 2022
Japanese born Akiko Hirai now lives and works in London and was shortlisted for the LOEWE Foundation Craft Prize, 2019. Hirai makes practical ware using the Japanese tradition of allowing the clay to show how it wants to be fired itself. Her work also allows the viewers to find out the language of the objects in their own ways. She focuses on the interaction between objects and viewers. Her unique approach to ceramic work has had much attention and praise and her work is in demand from commissions in England and worldwide.
The Hepworth Wakefield houses Wakefield’s art collection, an impressive compendium of modern British and contemporary art. The collection includes an ever-growing number of ceramics from artists such as Lucie Rie, Hans Coper, Walter Keeler, Bernard Leach, Jennifer Lee and Magdalene Odundo.