in the details exhibition

I’m taking part in a group exhibition in Tokyo, in 2 weeks time, and am trying to finish a few prints to show there. I’m also going to show a few of my older prints, both etchings and mokuhanga.

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Here are the details for the show:

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Hope you’ll make it to the opening if you’re around! I’ll be there to meet you.

sketch night

My lovely friends Courtney and Mike arranged a sketching get-together while I’m here in San Francisco. It’s so nice to catch-up and paint at the same time! We swapped drawings/paintings and experimented on each other’s work. Here’s a little picture I started of some houses, on top of a paint swatch that Courtney made…

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…and here’s the finished picture.

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Here you can see the wonderful paint palettes of all three of us!

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Niseko visit

We spent an incredible few days in Niseko, Hokkaido, between Christmas and New Year, staying with friends in their beautiful house in the snow.

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We did go outside, even snowshoeing (!) but most of our time was spent cosy inside, looking at the heavy snowfall, and I did lots of sketches of the wintery landscape.

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It was a real challenge for me to draw this sort of view, as I’m not used to it, but I enjoyed trying to capture all the different types of whites and blues…

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I’ve never seen this kind of soft powdery snow, it was magical…

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The sky changed constantly, from pure snow white to brilliant blue, and the trees were sometimes silhouettes and sometimes full of vivid colour.

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I’ll always remember the softness in the air, that made everything dream-like…

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A very happy new year to you all, may 2019 be full of magical things!

happy christmas!

This year my Christmas card illustration was based on my family christmas tree, in our London home. We have a fir tree up to the ceiling, covered with lights and decorations.

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Our fairy, always sitting on top of the tree, was made by my grandmother in the 1920’s. We all adore her, she even has tartan bloomers on underneath her dress!

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Here are some of the baubles I illustrated for the card. The post-box is new, but the birds are Victorian, and there are many of varying ages in between…

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Hope you all have a lovely, warm, and cosy holiday season, wherever you are!

Peak Tram Christmas campaign

This year I was commissioned to create the illustrations for the ‘Winter Fest’ Christmas campaign for the Peak Tram in Hong Kong.

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The illustrations were used on the facade of the Peak Tower, and throughout the interiors of both the Tower and the Lower Peak Tram station.

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I drew the Peak Tower itself, the Tram, and people enjoying carol singing and writing Christmas letters to their loved ones…

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Unfortunately, my hand-lettering wasn’t used in the final designs, but I guess that happens a lot to illustrators!

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I hope the illustrations make all the visitors to the Peak feel happy and Christmassy!

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London

I’ve spent the last week in London, visiting friends, seeing family and having an early Christmas at home. I even managed to see several exhibitions. The Yayoi Kusama at the Victoria Miro Gallery was fun (I really love her infinity rooms), and I especially enjoyed the Oceana show at the Royal Academy. So inspiring!

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I wandered the streets looking at the sparkling Christmas lights everywhere around town…

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and then got my usual cold, and spent alot of time at home on the sofa with hot lemon and ginger drinks. Sigh…

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London is so pretty, whatever the season. I always enjoy my visits!

BEYORG Christmas campaign

This year I created the illustrations for BEYORG’s Christmas campaign in HK. BEYORG is an organic beauty product company, and wanted to encourage their customers to ‘turn organic’.

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I drew a woodland filled with animals, all turning to face the viewer, to signify them ‘turning organic’. The illustrations were used in a variety of ways. Originally designed as a window treatment, they were adapted for use instore too, where there weren’t many window surfaces, eg inside shopping malls…

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The BEYORG website currently also features the campaign…

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I’m really happy with how the illustrations look on the special Christmas paper bags and boxes!

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The little details make this a coherent and fun campaign throughout the brand. Hope you’ll pop into their shops to take a look!

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matcha teatime

I had a lovely cup of matcha tea and sweet dessert at the Tokyo location of the shop sousou recently.

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I sat with a friend and enjoyed the calm, and the Autumn-themed persimmon postcard and did a little sketch of my own.

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Thank you Lara for the photograph of me drawing!

Enoura Observatory

I went to visit the Enoura Observatory, an art/architecture space in Odawara, just outside Tokyo last weekend. It was an amazing discovery. A truly beautiful place, on a cliff overlooking the sparkling sea, it made me slow down and thinking contemplatively about time and humanity…

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There were large vistas and intimate spaces and I especially enjoyed all the many doorways and windows showing borders between places.

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There was a lovely bamboo grove to wander through…

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…with sculptures in amongst the trees.

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And my favourite were these three little wise men, sitting calmly watching people go by.

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I really recommend this as a day trip from Tokyo. I’m still enjoying the memory of the air and the tranquil pace now…

tori no ichi festival

This year I went to the tori no ichi festival at Otori Jinja in Asakusa. It’s observed every November in Tokyo, in order to pray for wealth and good fortune in business, for the year ahead.

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Those coming to pray for good fortune line up and take turns to ring the bell at the shrine. It was so crowded, even though we went in the daytime!

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There were kumade, decorated rakes, everywhere, so many different kinds and different sizes. The rake is meant to symbolise raking in good fortune.

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I even bought my own, the littlest and cutest one I could find, all hand-made from paper. It has a crane, the Japanese flag, some red snappers, mochi, and Ebisu, one of the gods of fortune. They did the clapping ceremony for me, and I hope my business will prosper this coming year!

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World Tsunami Awareness Day

November 5th is World Tsunami Awareness day, and to commemorate, the UNISDR has launched this free booklet which I illustrated, to educate children (and adults!) about tsunamis.

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You can download the free booklet in PDF form here. Please share it with everyone you know! The more people who know how to recognise a tsunami, and how to be prepared, the better.

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The booklet contains simple facts, history and advice about tsunami preparedness, and also a fictional short story featuring the COPE squad who get caught in the Japan 2011 tsunami.

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I worked closely with Martha Keswick, the writer of the story, Tim Sim, the editor, and also Sandy Lui, the graphic designer. I really hope that this book will help to save lives.

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There is a new website here for the COPE series of books. If you would like to help us find distributers/partners, or have any good ideas, please contact us here.

HK x Japan toile

I was commissioned by the HKTDC to design a special version of my HK toile pattern, for a special gift for participants to the ‘think Global think Japan’ event in Tokyo this year.

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I added my favourite Japan icons into my existing HK pattern. Here’s a little promotional video they made, showing the icons from the two places and how I mixed them into the design. This was shown at the presentation before dinner at the main event.

I was honoured to be invited to the formal dinner at the end of the event, and saw the boxes with my teacups at the dinner tables.

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There was a little silvery booklet to go with the teacups and saucers…

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…which explained the design of the pattern, and its meaning.

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It was one of the most surreal moments of my life, to watch Carrie Lam, the current Chief Executive of HK, talk not only about my teacups, but about me, and how I represent the wonderful relationship between HK and Japan.

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I loved making this design, to celebrate two countries that are such a big part of my heritage!

Chichibu - Saitama

This week I went for an overnight stay at an onsen in Chichibu, in Saitama, a few hours train ride away from Tokyo. It always amazes me that it’s possible to get away to the real countryside so quickly…

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We stayed in a lovely little ryokan that was over 180 years old, with thick wooden beams and a wonderful rotemburo.

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There was a beautiful temple nearby, part of a pilgrimage route, with hundreds of stone buddhas, all covered in moss.

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The leaves were just starting to turn orange and yellow, and the air was full of a fresh Autumnal feeling…

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Near Chichibu train station we also visited Chichibu Jinja, a much larger shrine, over 2800 years old, and recently awarded UNESCO World Heritage status. There were incredible wooden carvings in the roof, and I loved the famous owl carved at the back of the roof.

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It was so easy to get to from Tokyo, I really want to visit more countryside places now!

monogatari zine

I was invited to create an illustrated story for the new zine produced by ToCo, on the subject of a ‘thing’ or ‘mono’ in Japanese, and as I’m not really a sequential artist, I had to think quite hard about what to make. What story did I want to tell? I’ve been drawing a lot of food while I’ve been in Japan, and decided to do something based on that.

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I drew up sketches of a story without words, about using your own chopsticks, and taking them with you to eat out. I wanted to show that this works for every type of Japanese meal and then we don’t need to use so many disposable chopsticks.

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For the final artwork I painted with black ink and drew with a fine black pen, and really enjoyed the monochrome process.

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An exhibition of the artwork for the zine was held in Roppongi at Tokyo Chapter, and I framed up some digital prints of my illustrations.

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Something about food in black and white really appealed to me and I’m thinking of doing a series like this…

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Hope you’ll consider taking your own chopsticks too, next time you go out for Japanese (or any Asian) food!

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Okinawa

I’ve just spent eight glorious days in Okinawa for the first time. It was the perfect moment and place for a break from work. We landed in the wake of a typhoon, which meant the days to start with were a little grey, but the sun soon came out, and the seas turned their famous turquoise blue…

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We stayed in two beautiful airbnb places, both lovingly made of wood, to fit into the landscape, a mix of Japanese and Western aesthetic.

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We visited the huge aquarium, and I loved seeing the weird and wonderful sea creatures, but am at the same time upset by seeing the larger fish, like whale sharks and manatees, in such confined spaces. Somehow it seems wrong…

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I absolutely loved all the local food we tried, the shaved iced with tropical fruits, the ‘seagrapes’ that burst in a savoury tingle in your mouth, and the agu okinawan pork dishes.

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I sketched here and there, taking in the glorious skies. This is the famous ‘heart rocks’ on Kouri Island. I’m not too sure they really look like hearts, but still liked them anyway!

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I loved watching the sea and the sky changing …

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I definately want to go back. Maybe next time to visit some of the outer islands and reefs, and do a little more looking at fish, but this time out in the wild.

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Izu visit

Last weekend I took a trip to the Izu peninsula, not too far from Tokyo. It was a perfect day for a cable car ride to the top of a hill to look at Mt Fuji in the distance.

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I did a quick sketch and had an icecream and enjoyed the wonderful sunshine.

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We stayed overnight in a ryokan, and they offered us a private onsen rotemburo, which was wonderful! And then we took the little train past the rice fields the next day on the way back to Tokyo…

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exhibition - artists books

I have two pieces in the show ‘Reading Between the Lines’ that’s opening tonight at the Launch Pad Gallery in Yokohama. I’m an honorary member of the Art Byte Critique group, who are holding the exhibition. I’m showing my first artists book ‘The Perfect Cup of Tea’, which is made of a long 12 block mokuhanga print, in an accordian-fold book.

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I also have my mokuhanga piece ‘into the garden’ on display, waving slightly in the breeze.

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There are so many lovely books to look at! I do hope you’ll manage to pop down and take a look.

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Weekly Affirmations

My illustration agent Marlena Agency made a little book called ‘Weekly Affirmations’ with 52 positive affirmations left by Buddhist teacher Trime Lhamo. I was asked to do the lettering for the cover and inside headings.

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Each affirmation is illustrated, and I chose to do this one with my peony etchings and hand-lettering.

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At the moment it’s not a book that you can buy, but if you manage to get hold of one, hope you enjoy it and get the benefit of these mindful and thoughtful teachings!

Hong Kong

On my way back to Tokyo I stopped in Hong Kong for a few days of work, and spent alot of time looking out at the rain from buses, trams and taxis, going from meeting to meeting...

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I was happy to see my HK toile products at HK airport, and also to sip tea from them at my friends house.

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When it wasn't raining I enjoyed walking around Sheung Wan...

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...and when it was, I sheltered in various places, like the Man Mo temple.

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Even in the summer rain, I love Hong Kong!