An Interview with Justin Lee

This is your third time to Studio Kura, right? Why did you choose to come to Japan again?

This is my third time coming to Itoshima, and I still feel like I have a lot to explore in Itoshima. The first time I visited, everything was new to me. It was my first residence ever, and the environment and people were all new to me. The second time, it was the Itoshima Arts Farm and I did a performance and art installation. Of course I took some time to explore more in the near area, and the city.


From the first time around, I knew Hiro does a lot of workshops with children. I work with Children a lot too, and therefore I wanted to come back again and try to do an interactive installation for children. In Singapore, I have a upcoming project and it is to create an “ideal home” installation at the National Museum of Singapore. I am here to find some new ideas and inspiration, and hope to develop it with my current work.

The ideal home?

In Singapore, I got commissioned by a museum to do an installation and to build an ideal or dream home for the children season theme. The dream house is to inspire people with creativity to build house with carton board materials. But when I am in Studio Kura I wanted to do something different. I had this idea about transforming Studio Kura into a playground. I will get children do a big drawing on a blackboard with chalk and to express themselves with their own imagination and creativity. My idea is not to educate the kids but to inspire them and to understand art in different approach.


I also look forward to see their reaction by asking kids and adults to vote their favorite art work in term of an abstract painting, a realistic or a graphic form. This voting is an interactive way to see how kids react to the thing they see and want they want as a creative person. After the voting, they will get candy in return. I want to see what the world of art means to kids. Of course, adults are welcome too.

My goal is to push the boundaries of art, and inspire them.

You are going to need to paint a lot of pictures!

I can paint very fast. Sometimes it takes less than 10 minutes, the faster you paint, the more fun you get, and this is because you can do it instantly without much concern about scales and proportion.


How do you feel about the environment here?

Moving around in Itoshima allows me see a lot interesting places and the old tradition house of Japan, and it inspire me with develop my art making. I am planning to make a house in Singapore that is much bigger than what it was made here. I have been thinking about what an environmental space would be best for a community to live in it here. I did cycle around and notice that all you discover are clinic, school, grocery shop, and a hardware shop would be all you need.

An onsen too!

Of course! We will need an onsen too. It’s a must for good health and relaxation.


Do you have any advice about how to make Studio Kura a better residence program?

Simplicity and originality, that’s what I like about Studio Kura. You don’t need to have too many facilities. Don’t try to make this place into a heaven. This is already a heaven to me!

Thank you for that. Last time when we were to a bar together I asked you about your lengthy art career. How do you keep with it after so many years?

You can’t give up the spirit of creativity. It’s a lot of hard work but you have to remember about your initial passion toward what art is about. It’s the passion that never dies.


Even if one doesn’t become a famous artist, maybe one can inspired others who will become famous. Likewise, many artists are inspired by one another too. It’s a long journey.

Thank you for your time

Thank you too!

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