At Home with Kanoko and Sharon
“I moved to explore, to progress, to achieve something, and to settle down. Bali allows me to make a change in routine, take new chances, and make new friends.”
Bali is a city with a pulsating, ever-evolving rhythm. It is the home of historic culture that is imbued with the fast pace of a growing city full of life, smell and creativity. It’s no wonder that so many artists come to Bali to be inspired, and often never leave. This is true of Sharon and Kanoko, who both came to Bali from Java and Japan respectively. In Sharon’s words, “I moved to explore, to progress, to achieve something, and to settle down. Bali allows me to make a change in routine, take new chances, and make new friends”. Friends like Kanoko, who she describes as “very open, flexible, communicative, and optimistic. She always wants to put her all into the projects she works on”. They are neighbours, close friends and have a close working relationship too.
Sharon and Kanoko met at a shoot for a brand Kanoko worked for at the time, and Sharon was the photographer. Sharon remembers that Kanoko was absorbed in her props for the shoot, especially the Picture Book by John Derian. After that shoot, Sharon and Kanoko started working together more regularly for the brand as they collaborated as Art Director and Photographer. This working relationship naturally flowed into a personal one, and they became close friends and collaborators.
Although they have strong individual practices, their inspiration for their works are aligned. Both creatives are drawn to the essence of humanity - dynamic emotions, primitive objects and the abundance of nature. Sharon is particularly drawn to what happens to spaces that are left behind. As she says, “I feel like the way abandoned places allow people to engage their imagination is fascinating.”
“I really enjoy any process involved in making the visual connection between emotion, character and the location”
The manifestation of their works is like a dream coming to life. “I really enjoy any process involved in making the visual connection between emotion, character and the location”, says Sharon. For them both, there is the greatest release in seeing how their works are experienced by others, and the way it allows them to communicate their spirit. As Kanoko describes, “Sometimes I find things in the process that surprise me too”.
Part of Kanoko’s creative practice is the actualisation of life-like dolls, that she calls Kankan. As Kanoko says “ I feel like kankan is my friend, I really love them and they’re so cute!” The process begins through sketching and choosing the fabrications, from there Kanoko says she takes the cut out fabric to be sewn by a tailor, “sometimes the tailor would laugh, “what else does Kanako bring?”
“the Kankan figures represent Kanoko and her versatility as a person. She often laughs at how Kankan figures look, which reminds me of how she always laughs at herself too…”
The playful love Kanoko has for her Kankan is catching, and imbued in the beauty and fun of the life-sized dolls. More than that, they are the embodiment of Kanoko and her spirit. As Sharon puts it, “the Kankan figures represent Kanoko and her versatility as a person. She often laughs at how Kankan figures look, which reminds me of how she always laughs at herself too…”
The energy of their process together is dense with creativity. The evidence of the care they have cultivated in their work is in the final images, where you can see the curation of ideas and understanding in a joint venture of expression. In Sharon’s words, “We both constantly see things and easily get inspired by simple things that happen in our daily lives, most of these come from street scenes… We usually know very much what we want in advance. Kanoko sketches a storyboard to set the direction. On the shooting day, we let our work grow impulsively, as the spirit moves”.
“Sharon has an antenna for new concepts and ideas… she knows what she likes, what she wants to express and she has the soul to support friends around her”
It’s this spirit that Kanoko admires most about her friend Sharon. As she says, “Sharon has an antenna for new concepts and ideas… she knows what she likes. what she wants to express and she has the soul to support friends around her”. Moreover, Kanoko believes that “she really gets me and she knows how to make my work become more interesting”.
You can see the friendship in their work, and the support and trust that this takes is beautiful. Friendship and collaboration go hand in hand, and the result in this case is fun, free and almost child-like in its openness.
Photography by Sharon Angelina
Creative Direction by Kanoko Takaya