nahoko kojima cuts out swimming polar bear from washi paper
nahoko kojima cuts out swimming polar bear from washi paper nahoko kojima cuts out swimming polar bear from washi paper
oct 11, 2013

nahoko kojima cuts out swimming polar bear from washi paper

nahoko kojima cuts out swimming polar bear from washi paper
image © solo kojima
all images courtesy of nahoko kojima




depicting a life-sized swimming polar bear, this weightless sculpture by japanese artist nahoko kojima is suspended from the roof of jerwood space in london. ‘byaku’, meaning white in japanese is cut out from one sheet of 3m x 3m washi paper that the artist imported from a paper mill in japan. before she started to cut the animal figure, she crumpled the paper by hand to give it an uneven texture, creating a more faceted form than the smooth surface would have allowed.


the artist revealed to designboom that she, ‘chose this particular washi because it has less then 100% kouzo content and this means that it subtly turns warmer in colour over time – this mimics the fur of the polar bear which based on my research goes through a similar change over the span of its life.’


the delicately crafted ‘byaku’ has many hidden elements that help to enhance its appearance of moving under water. the fur ends are cut to sharp, tapered points and also visible forms of carp and waves of water accentuate the polar bear’s sense of motion. an overhead spotlight casts a striking shadow onto a plinth below, revealing a swirl of patterns associated with water reflections.



paper cut sculpture – byaku (2013) swimming polar bear
video courtesy of solokojima



‘byaku’ depicts a swimming polar bear and is cut out from a single piece of japanese washi paper



nahoko kojima with byaku at jerwood space, london



nahoko kojima walking beneath the delicately hand cut ‘byaku’ in london



shadows are cast onto a plinth below that look like water reflections



detail of the patterns that are cut out to enhance the swimming polar bear



byaku detail



overall view of byaku (2013) by nahoko kojima



byaku at pier arts centre in orkney islands, UK



nahoko kojima hanging byaku at pier arts centre in orkney islands, UK



designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.

  • Absolutely and incredibly beautiful! The mythical animal is again alive.

    Ben says:

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