Toshiko Oiyama


Born in Japan and trained as a graphic design in the United States, Toshiko Oiyama had a long design career in the States, Holland, Indonesia, Singapore and New Zealand before coming to Sydney in 2001. In Sydney she changed her direction and studied fine art, obtaining two masters degrees and a PhD from the University of New South Wales while developing her art practice. 

Having lived in many countries and criss-crossed the fine and applied arts fields, she has a special interest in cultural interactions in visual arts. In her own art practice, she draws inspirations equally from the outback of Australia and the ancient pilgrimage trails of Japan, science, philosophy and poetry. She exhibits regularly, and has won prizes and grants including the Tim Olsen Drawing Prize and a residency in Paris. Currently Toshiko divides her time between her art practice and teaching at the UNSW Art and Design.

Artist Statement

As the mist moves in, the clump of trees I know well recedes and becomes something unfamiliar. Time passes. When the sun takes over, the trees have changed somewhat and so have I. It takes so little to make one realize that all is passing, transient. 

For me, drawing is a way to ask questions. One question I have been asking is what it means for all things to be in the state of transience. Observing the mist, rain, hail, fog, snow and ice, I draw and experiment to ask that question. 

The multi-panel format that I am using is one such experimentation. Drawings turn into something different visually in response to the adjacent drawings. It is as if by juxtaposing unrelated drawings one can start a conversation between them.

The sudden blocking of an image with a black panel is another. The abyss, or the possibility of another world, another way of seeing, is always with us. Mixing charcoal and ink, the figurative and abstract, large and small, I invite happy accidents while experimenting. I draw and ask my question, in search of the answer that is not likely to be found.