Another artist asked me this question at my exhibition in Japan: What does Stars & Stems mean – or should I say, Hoshi to Kuki?
From 2006 to 2008 I spent eighteen months living and working in Japan. During that time I tried to learn some Japanese, but I also didn’t want to forget my other languages. And so I read an Italian language book – as you do! – Io Non Ho Paura (I’m Not Scared) by Niccolo Ammaniti. I’m still reading the book incidentally, but I did pick up plenty of new words. One of them was steli, meaning stems, and together with the word for stars they made a pleasant alliteration: Stelle e Steli. It sounded fine in English too – Stars & Stems – and so I choose it as the title of my exhibition in Japan.
Stars are what we aim for, our dreams and ambitions. Stems keep us nourished and grounded – health, holidays and more.
Naturally when I picked it I didn’t bargain for it sounding completely different in Japanese: Hoshi to Kuki. It didn’t have the same ring, although the kanji characters are pretty: 星と茎. The professional artist who asked me about the exhibition title spends a lot of time in Venice. And luckily he spoke Italian very well, so he understood how it sounded once I said. Caught on the hop, I explained my reasons behind Stars & Stems. And maybe being put on the spot is the best time to make some decisions, because they still rind true ten years later:
Stars are what we aim for, our dreams and ambitions. Stems, meanwhile, keep us nourished and grounded – health, holidays and much more. Hopefully I can put across a bit of both in this blog.
By the way I did learn a respectable amount of Japanese, enough to have some straightforward conversations. Apparently I spoke it with an unmistakeable Italian accent!
Speaking of Japan, while this won’t be a “Japan blog” there will be plenty of posts relating to my time there, plus the influence it had on my art. And when I was there I did write a blog. But with that time receding ever faster into the distance much of the information isn’t current. Instead I will dip into my memories and places that inspired me, providing any updated information when I can.
Likewise, although Stars & Stems is primarily an artist blog, I will be writing about other things that inspire me such as yoga, music, fashion and travel. On the whole though expect to read about my art, the creative process, materials I love using as well as other artists and exhibitions.
Stars = What I create.
Stems = What nourishes that process.