Yuki Miyake of White Conduit Projects and I will be travelling to Japan this November 2017 to meet artisans and friends in Tokyo, Kyoto and Okayama.
Although I often use the news to announce exhibitions I think it is important to highlight that research drives all my projects. I am now developing new work and learning how to work in different ways with Japanese friends, artists and artisans.
In conjunction with White Conduit Projects, I have been awarded a Daiwa Foundation Grant and the Great Britain Sasakawa Grant in order to research Japanese traditional lacquer, screen and furniture craft creating new presentations of two Japanese bodies of work, Monogatari and Karyukai for a temple display in April / May 2018. Tagen Kobayashi, an artist monk has invited me to make new work for a solo exhibition at Oba-in Temple in Kyoto (one of the sub temples of Daitoku-ji). The surprise news is that the Nishieda Foundation has awarded us another grant to cover production of work by Japanese artist Shiho Kito and me to be displayed at their premises in Kyoto in Spring 2018.
University for the Creative Arts (UCA) have also awarded a research grant to explore and develop new links between photography and Japanese traditional crafts. I feel very honoured and happy to find the funding to continue developing projects in Japan and collaborating with Japanese artists.
I have been travelling to Japan since 2012, feeling an urgency to do so as so many of my students in London have been Japanese. The series Monogatari is a continuation of an exploration of non-western cultures focusing on Asia and the ideas that underpin these majority cultures. Asians make up 60% of the world population. Not to engage with these cultures as an artist would be very short-sighted and prejudiced.
I chose Japan because of its thread to India through its reinvention of Buddhism which started in Northern India, was brought to China by Indian monks and travellers and changed as it mixed with Taoism. It became Chan Buddhism in China and when it travelled to Japan became Zen Buddhism. I had photographed many Hindu temples in India for my series India Song and became curious about the overlap and the differences between India and Japan concerning Buddhism and its various schools. My journey in Japan has only just begun. I wish I had a cat’s lives. I need nine lives at the very least.