There was a mural that I couldn’t forget once I saw it. I thought to myself, “Why is that person’s work here, and why is it on a mural? I asked myself. The mural was related to the founding of the school and its philosophy, and was very important. Even after 45 years, the mural had not lost its vividness and was still alive as the school’s philosophy. I talked to a person who was involved in the mural at that time.
The original picture of the mural is a part of Ay-O’s masterpiece “Nashville Skyline”.
I selected two of the ten prints of “Nashville Skyline” to make one mural.
The person who worked on Ay-O’s prints is Mr. Kenryo Sukeda.
Mr. Sukeda received an order from Ay-O and actually made a rough sketch with the prints.
ーCan you tell us why Ay-O chose “Nashville Skyline” as the subject of his wall painting?
Nashville Skyline” is an original print that Ay-O made inspired by the “American Naive Painting Exhibition” held at Mitsukoshi Department Store in NihonbashiMitsukoshi in 1970. The “American Naive Painting Exhibition” was an exhibition of works from the time when American artists with no names were painting simple but attractive pictures. Ay-O even wrote his own article about this exhibition and other naïve art in the art magazine “Mizue” in the same year, titled “At any rate, let’s throw away seriousness.
Just around that time, we were invited by Mr. Kimizu to talk about the mural painting at the Special Needs School attached to the University of Fukui Faculty of Education.
Mr. Kimizu was working on a project where children could freely draw pictures according to their hearts, and he called for “drawing pictures as children draw. Ay-O must have sympathized with him, and his longing for naïve art must have coincided with that. He decided that “Nashville Skyline” was the best choice.
ー Do you know how the mural was installed?
It’s a long, long story to explain. Mr. Kimizu started with the idea of building his ideal school and that a school should be artistic.
It was not easy to gain understanding of the cost and production, but various people were involved and the project was completed in 1975.
ー Was it your plan from the beginning to recreate or implement it with tiles?
At the time, I couldn’t find any other way to do it. After the original picture was made, I decided to implement it with tiles, but first I consulted with Mr. Yoshinori Hirako, a friend of Mr. Kimizu’s who was working on Seto ware. Ay-O, Mr. Kimizu, and I went to the site and asked him to make color samples. However, it was difficult to reproduce Ay-O’s idea of the rainbow purple color on the tiles. The red color was also difficult. The color might have been affected by the temperature of the firing process, the temperature, and the soil, but it didn’t work out too well.
We consulted with the Tokyo-based Modern Mosaic Co. This company came up with the idea of combining pre-made tiles so that they would appear to be one color when viewed from a distance, using the optical illusion that each tile would have a slightly different color and appear blue from a distance. We accepted the proposal and decided to commission Modern Mosaic.
ー It is still very vivid after 45 years. The tiles don’t seem to be peeling off.
The mural has been burned by the sun, so it’s not exactly as it was. It’s certainly beautiful even now. The reason why the tiles are not peeling off is because the groundwork is solid. Kenji Mizuyachi, the photographer, said, “We have to make the base solid,” so he made it.
After the completion, Ay-O came to see here. I think it was in July of 1975. The children sang welcome songs and organized events, and he was very moved and pleased.
ー As a printer, what did you think of the completion?
I was overwhelmed by the size of the painting. At the special needs school, education was fostered based on this picture.
As for me, I was proud that the work I was involved in was completed as a wall painting. To be honest, I wasn’t satisfied with the color of Ay-O’s work, but I think it’s a mural that he did his best with the technology available at that time 45 years ago.
The rainbow is a symbol of respect for diversity. It is a symbol that it is better to have many different things.
ー Please tell us what you feel in front of the mural.
The work of Ay-O, who is called the rainbow artist, is symbolic. The rainbow is a respect for diversity. The rainbow is a symbol of respect for diversity; in other words, it is a symbol that it is better to have various people, things, and things. As this mural tells us, we should be cheerful, free, get along with each other, encourage each other, and live happily and with full strength,” is what the teachers hope for in “Peace in Paradise.
To a school life that is upbeat, smiling, and positive!
Shinichi Mizukami, vice principal of the school, said, “Actually, I came to the school this year. I didn’t know about this mural until now, but when I first came here, I was amazed at how vivid and beautiful it was. Just by looking at it, you can feel excited and think positively,” he said smiling.
Ms. Yaeko Yoshida, the principal of the school, responded with enthusiasm.
Every morning, the children walk past this mural to enter the school building. At the field day, we made the entrance gate based on the animals in the mural. In 2021, the school celebrated its 50th anniversary, and although it was in the midst of the Corona disaster, they also celebrated in secret.
Ay-O “Paradise of Peace
Size 5 meters×11 meters
Hard porcelain colored tiles, mosaic finish
Total cost 3 million yen (at the time of 1975)
Completion date: March 1975