In her solo show Losing Home, Finding Home, Mika Nakamura-Mather examines both the fragmentary nature of memory and the quest for belonging. Her wooden sculptures, a kind of 3D collage, often resemble abstract cities or topographical maps. For the artist these works track both the persistence and the erosion of memory. “They are incomplete and have large swathes of information missing as I can no longer remember clearly things I once took for granted,” Nakamura-Mather says. “But if I was to return to those areas the basic information stored in the maps would still be enough to guide me to my destination.”
Nakamura-Mather says that using wood helps to underline her interest in both memory and home. “The natural appearance of wood in some way evokes nostalgia in everyone,” she explains, “even people who grew up in apartment blocks.”
Born in Japan and based in Brisbane, the artist has experienced a contradictory feeling of belonging simultaneously in both places and in neither, a feeling that may be familiar to many migrants. Even after living in Australia for 15 years, she says that on a recent trip to the country of her birth, “I was conscious of how much easier life was for me in Japan… cultural nuances and references made sense and didn’t have to be examined or questioned.” Speaking about Brisbane, Nakamura-Mather referred to it as ‘coming home.’ As she explains, “I think this is one of the reasons I am so fascinated by the fluidity of memory and the role it plays in our understanding of home and belonging. From my own experiences I think it’s possible to hold seemingly opposing views of ‘where’ home is, and even ‘what’ home is, but maybe not ‘why’ home is. That’s what I am interested in examining in my work.”
This article was originally published in the January/February 2020 print edition of Art Guide Australia.