In Huddersfield, England, a half hour’s drive down the road from Yorkshire Sculpture Park, artist Yukihiro Akama fashions an whimsical, miniature world from within a furniture maker’s workshop. In his forthcoming solo exhibition at YSP—his largest to date—the artist presents 55 intricately carved wooden houses in Basho no Kankaku—A Sense of Place 場所の感覚.
Akama, who pursued a career in architecture while living in Japan, often relied on digital tools and felt disconnected from traditional methods of building and working with his hands. After he moved to the U.K. in 2011, he began to carve small houses that reminded him of vernacular styles, like stilt houses, that he would see on his travels around Asia. Inspiration also comes from Japanese temples and shrines, particularly elements from 4,000-year-old ruins dating to the Jōmon era.
Starting with a hand-drawn sketch, Akama allows intuition and the characteristics of each piece of wood guide the final design. Rough hunks of timber transform into elegant, low shapes or tall, spindly structures, with sizes ranging from a little bigger than a fifty cent piece—about 1.5 inches—to more than 40 inches tall. Sometimes the artist adds a cantilevered effect, occasionally sticking on pebbles and clay to add organic textures to the surfaces, then finishing with a dash of a blow torch before polishing.
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