In 2007, I had to give up painting, which I had been engaged on ever since I was 10 years old; I gave birth to my third daughter. She had a severe congenital disease called ‘Spina Bifida’, and I had determined to face it. In order to deal with her life entirely, I was resolved to abandon my carrier as an artist, Ryuhow Shimizu.
My daughter was born and the days of struggle against the disease had begun. Time passed by in a blink of an eye.
In January 2011, when my daughter became 3 years old, medical specialists who can maintain her body in the best condition were gathered at last. Her utmost physical care was guaranteed for the first time, which brought me comfort and some time.
Immediately, I was thinking of what to draw in this short time.
There she was; I did not need time to think deeply about it. I started sketching my third daughter. Unsurprisingly, I had been unconsciously repressing my artistic desire for 4 years. I kept on drawing over and over again when I had the time. It felt incredibly great.
This was how the original sketch of mother was made.
At first, I drew her innocent and lovely expression, but her eyes seemed to be staring at something nebulous so I added a sphere; it looked like Earth. I had the impression that she was releasing energy from inside, her hair fluttering with her own power, seeing something which we cannot. It even felt that somebody was reading what she was seeing. Then I added machine tubes on her head that can convey her feeling to other people.
I was working on this piece just before the great 3.11 Earthquake.
She did not seem to be perturbed. I think she knew it all along, accepting it as a force majeure. I knew this because I had always been aware of my daughter’s powers, which ordinary people do not have. Some of her bodily functions do not work properly as they should; nevertheless, she has something special to make up for it.
She had prepared various things by herself before she was born; a special talent to move other people’s soul.
Our doctor, my family and people around us made every possible effort for this unborn girl with a serious disease. My daughter was born and 4 years had passed with the support of many people.
Each and everyone who has supported my daughter have become essential to her, and they became her “mother”, the title of this artwork.
The starting point of mother is love.
This girl could not make the most tender, innocent and affectionate expression like the child in mother if any one of her “mothers” are missed out.
The first two people who became “mother” were my real younger brother and my son, who only lived for 2 days in this world. My brother kept looking for a doctor that can deal with this disease so that my daughter could receive treatment as soon as possible, even though he was not convinced whether he could find such a doctor in Japan. Fortunately, his efforts were rewarded. He found the only doctor in Japan who could treat my daughter at last.
However I was perplexed: “Could I see him immediately?”, “Is he in Japan now?”, “Could my daughter receive her medical treatment?” I was at a loss as to what to do and just prayed and prayed in front of the grave of my departed son. Seeing my desperate struggle, helping hands spread from one to another, and I eventually succeeded in meeting the doctor my brother had found.
In that instant, I realized that my late son had been born in order to protect his soon-to-be-born sister by leading her to the doctor.
It was, perhaps, a revelation from god.
Now, 10 doctors take care of my daughter’s body. With even one of them lacking, her body could not maintain life. So as of now, these doctors are also her precious “mother”.
My daughter has a small machine implanted inside her head. It has improved a lot these days so that she can live comfortably, but it brought constant trouble several years ago. Her life depends on the performance of this machine. Also, her intestine is controlled by oral medicine. Her small body has been through a number of operations, maintaining itself as a half-artificial body.
However, this half-artificial body is stabilized thanks to the various medical studies in the past. There are people who face up to this disease seriously. There are also people who study about it. She is indeed a mysterious child undertaking the past, present and future.
A child protected by receiving people's love and passion.
That is my third daughter and also the theme of “mother”.
Mother was made to transmit this theme to others, as a starting point of my series of work that I am willing to devote my whole life into.
Well, what did I have in mind when working on mother? As I mentioned earlier, all the people supporting my daughter are her “mother”. Thus, mother was created so that people who appreciate it can also be part of “mother”.
“Mother” in the title mother refers to the case to protect the body, and “” refers to the three dimensional figure of a child. The health condition of  is stabilized and supported by a case called ‘mother’, which is like a womb that is never influenced from outside. The viewers take charge of ’s condition by looking at the electrocardiogram under the ‘mother’ case and find relief from the child’s expression. When the viewers feel its stability, they become the caregiver of ’s body.
The viewers thus become one of this work’s “mother”.
This mother series will be created, continuing as ..., along with my daughter’s growth. It will continue to represent her living history, together with the past, present, future, people’s love, society and this era she undertakes.
People today is able to enjoy pleasure and abundance, thanks to the history the past generations has made. My daughter is able to live her life because of this affluent society.
However, artificial creations may lead to tragedies such as man-made calamities triggered by natural disasters. The hopes of a brilliant future will come true if we, who are experiencing this era by living the present, live with love and sincerity. I hope that the future generations will enjoy pleasure and abundance and establish a flourishing age, rather than becoming the victims of us, the past generations.
This work includes such a message as well.
My daughter reminds me of the most important things in life that are missed because of the rapidly changing society.
And I have the feeling that I was destined to become an artist before her birth to pass this message on to the present and the future.
The importance of human life –we not only need to think about our generation’s life, but also that of people in the future. My daughter teaches me so, and I would like let people know about this through art. I truly hope that people would empathize with me and a new type of art will see the light of day.
When this work continues, let’s say, for 20 years, becoming ..., I firmly believe that this message shall be understood by everyone, without any words.