Welham Green contemporary artist Akane Takayama, has won an award for her public art sculpture DOGTokyo2017. The Asahi Shimbun Foundation Award comes from the most respected Japanese daily newspaper’s art foundation. Asahi Shimbun is recognised for outstanding journalism and coverage of the arts.
What is unusual about this award is that it is more usually won for Japanese traditional arts, institutions and organisations. To go to an artist, albeit of Japanese nationality, who is not resident in Japan is an accomplishment but to go to a contemporary artist producing a groundbreaking public art sculpture is highly distinctive.
In all of the negotiations with local councils, park authorities, education boards and local organisations the response was very clear; the work was a highly unusual thing to be seen in a Japanese public space. The backing of the Mayor of Meguro-City, Eiji AOKI and of his City Council was instrumental in the project development. Meguro City is one of the important borough councils in central Tokyo and to get their support was a serious accomplishment.
Obtaining strong political support was essential to see such a work progress and that support was enabled by the efforts and dedication to DOGTokyo2017 of Fujishige-san of the Aoiro Shinkokukai General Incorporated Foundation. The support and championing of the public artwork by such a well known and prominent man in the borough made possible the continued research and development over the two year run in period for the work.
When Takayama first began the project in 2015 there were many who felt it would be extremely difficult for an overseas artist, especially a contemporary artist, to produce such a work. The Asahi Shimbun Foundation Award demonstrates that Japan’s love of art is not in any way limited.