Necklace, urushi clay, made by Teruo Akatsu, Tokyo, Japan, 2005
Teruo Akatsu (born 1970, Tokyo) graduated from the Hiko Mizuno College of Jewellery, Tokyo in 1995. While still at college, he took part in several exhibitions, including Jewelleryquake, which toured Tokyo, Munich and Amsterdam, as well as Japanese Contemporary Jewellery in Ghent. His work has been in group exhibitions in Japan, Germany and in Contemporary Japanese Jewellery at the Crafts Council Gallery, London, in 2001-2002. For the Crafts Council Gallery exhibition, Teruo Akatsu prepared the following statement about his work:
"I use fragments of roof tiles, which I cut up or carve. When worn on the body, the finished work appears to be an artificial form designed particularly for human use, and its functionality seems to be the main source of its beauty. However, it soon becomes clear how much of the work is the result of pure chance. It is not initially designed to ornament the body; its creation depends much more on the texture and shape of the material. With the paradoxical nature of my work, I hope to question the true meaning of jewellery.
I aim to transform 'negative' jewellery into positive existence by accumlating dust over it. The use of dust is suggestive of the passing and accumulation of time. I collect dust from everyday places and thread it on to stainless-steel wires or incorporate it into sheets of material. The colours and nature of the dust play on important part in my jewellery-making.
The general conception of jewellery is focused on the fact that it adorns the body. However, this kind of understanding limits appreciation of my kind of jewellery. If we look at jewellery in terms of the relationship between the body and its surroundings, then we begin to see how we relate ourselves to objects, other people and our whole environment. With this in mind, the characteristics- including the advantages and disadvantages- of the materials themselves add meanings to my work.'
Jewellery art in Japan is mainly a twentieth century development. Traditionally women in Japan work kimonos and hair ornaments rather than jewellery, while objects such as beautifully crafted belt toggles, hair pins and fans were designed with a practical purpose in mind, being worn for social and religious occasions. The last few years a whole new studio-jewellery scene has emerged in Japan. Teruo Akatsu is part of Japan's developing studio-jewellery scene.
In the catalogue that accompanied the Contemporary Japanese Jewellery exhibition, Teruo Akatsu's work as described as follows:
"Collecting dust from a variety of domestic environments, (Akatsu) exploits its transient nature, supporting his fragile surfaces with stainless-steel cores. Gold moulds in the form of rings allow other fragments of dust to coalesce into a felted ring of near-impossible wearability. Exploring meanings attracted to and accrued by jewellery, he also excavates jewellery from fragments of traditional clay roof title, the structure of the tile defining by chance the final qualities of the neckpiece.'