Latest project is Shrines, an exhibition of my artworks and photographs open from 17 September until 3 November at Upfront Gallery, Nr Hutton-in-the-Forest, Penrith, Cumbria CA11 9TG.
Painted images and photographs of a journey around Japan visiting beautiful and mysterious Shinto shrines – the greatest, the oldest, and the newest, enshrining a sun goddess, a mountain, a fox, the mythical founders of the nation and heroes of national modernisation. This journey along with conversations with Shinto priests, historians, ultra-rightist activists, atom bomb survivors, old friends and strangers on the train amongst others, presented me with an opportunity to observe the country as it commemorates 150 years from its opening to the west and greets a new era. This exhibition is timed to cover the final ceremonies of the ascension of the new Emperor of Japan to the Chrysanthemum Throne.
I first arrived in Japan in 1972 and set up a studio in Tokyo. One evening that hot summer I was invited to a class for the study of Japanese ink painting. In the windowless basement the master and her assistant, both in immaculate kimono, loaded brushes with sumi ink and set about creating images of the Four Friends. This artform, based on the action of ink meeting paper, has the intimacy of drawing, revealing origins and intentions, and its immediacy and candour captivated me. From then on, I began my lifetime’s involvement with these methods and aesthetics, incorporating them into my own distinctive style. It is this attitude and approach,with my study and experience of Japanese traditions but also alert to contemporary perceptions, that I bring to my portrayal of Japan at the start of the Reiwa era under the reign of the new Emperor.
The exhibition is open from 10am until 4.30pm daily except for Mondays when the venue is closed. There is a cafe serving delicious vegetarian home-cooking at Upfront which also hosts a theatre with a lively programme of puppet plays and musical events for all ages.