-- When I read the afterword, it seems that a lot of the influence or inspiration comes from your memory about your family when you were a child. Can you comment on that?
Yes, my family did have a strong influence on my art. I don't stitch on the pre drawn designs or sketches; I do it spontaneously. This might sound too grandiose, but the driving force behind my stitches could be something like "Love and Death." While I was stitching, I might have been thinking about my family, like, "I want to see my deceased mother again," or "I would probably not be doing this if she were still alive," or "I always had a falling out with my father, but maybe I am the most like him in the family," and so on. Then I realize that the stitches have piled up to be my work. I get similar inspiration from people and cats that are around me. Maybe my fancies, hatreds, whims enable me to move my hands to create my art. I feel there is a gap I have to fill in, and once I start, I hear my inner voice saying "Keep stitching! More stitch! MORE!" I feel that I am compelled to stitch!
-- Where did the title "Punk" come from?
I got the inspiration from a female writer who came to my exhibition. She looked around and bursting with excitement exclaimed, "They're so punk!" "Er... punk?"
I said uncomprehending. She said with finality, "Definitely punk" and she bought a brooch of mine as a token of "fellow punk." I didn't know much about "punk" at that point, but her words gave me the feeling of something being ignited deep inside me. I tried to find out what the word meant. I found out that Johnny Rotten (the lead vocal of a famous punk band, Sex Pistols) once said something like "Punk' is to be true to yourself." How I regretted I did not know about punk when I was in my teens and my twenties. But at the same time, I felt I was lucky enough to come across "punk" in my fifties. I was struggling to find a title for my book then and I knew it had to be "Punk." "Punk," in my understanding, is not just fashion on the surface. It is a pride and self-respect that people have deep inside them whether or not they seem to lead a sensible social life. It includes the will to protect something that truly matters to you and the will to never give it up. I sincerely hope that this book reaches the "punk" people in this sense.
-- Some people are amazed that such a luxurious book is being published. It is sized A4, 256 pages all in color, thread bound, in a fine indigo box with gold plated title. The whole book is a work of art. How do you feel about that?
It feels like a miracle especially at a time when most books are required to be made as fast and cheap as possible. Yet, this book was given far better treatment; I could devote a year and a half to complete it. Maybe that was "punk." This book validated my decision to continue making my art works. I am truly happy if this book is read by people who have ever threaded a needle or have the spark of any passion in their hearts.
In 2002, Junko Oki began designing original embroidery works using various materials her mother had collected. Her high-density unique embroidery attracted the attention of fashion designers, photographers and other artists. Ms. Oki has had several solo exhibitions at ARTS & SCIENCE Aoyoma, Gallery Feve, DEE'S HALL, COW BOOKS and other cutting-edge galleries. These exhibitions have resulted in a hail of praises for her unique style. She has published several books privately, including "Poesy," "Culte à la Carte." All have been rapidly sold out and now they are regarded as legendary private books that many fans are eager to find.
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