Donko Projects

Mothership for exhibitions and events.

Donko Projects is working on Shrines which includes a body of my artwork and the publication of a book by Don Sanderson. The opening exhibition of my sumie-e paintings and photographs occupied the main in-house gallery over the autumn of 2019 at the Upfront Gallery, Nr Hutton-in-the-Forest, Penrith, Cumbria CA11 9TG.

These paintings and photographs were of a journey taken in the summer of 2018 around Japan visiting beautiful and mysterious Shintō 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 Shintō 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 commemorated 150 years from its opening to the west and greeted the new era Reiwa. The exhibition was 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.

Upfront is an arts charity that hosts a variety of events for all ages at its venue in the countryside north of Penrith, Cumbria. In addition to a large gallery there is a theatre with a lively programme. The café serves delicious vegetarian foods reflecting the ethos of their practical approach to social issues important for the sustainability of the planet .

Donko Projects received funding for this initial exhibition from the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation

Logo of the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation

Shrines was an endorsed event for the Japan-UK Season of Culture 2019-2020

Endorsed event for the Japan-UK Season of Culture 2019=2020