UPDATE – 30 May 2017
I’ve somehow almost reached the halfway point of my artist residency at Studio Kura. The last four weeks have really flown by!
Some of the highlights include visiting the incredible flower gardens at Nokonoshima Island (photos below), seeing fireflies for the first time, discovering hidden beaches, inspiring architecture, and of course getting to know the artists and local community.
One of my favourite pastimes here is cycling around early in the morning or at dusk and just watching the surrounding landscape move and change. It feels like every time I step outside the door I see something totally unexpected – flowers shaped like strawberries, a fluoro pink sun, an eagle swooping down to collect a crab on the beach or starfish making their way back to the ocean at low tide. The light is also really beautiful and soft at these times and I’ve become a bit obsessed with trying to capture the different shades of blue in the mountains, sky and ocean.
After I arrived at the studio, I started drawing and painting some of the windows in the house and studio where I’m staying. They create really soft and subtle gradients that partly show the environment outside. Throughout the rice and wheat fields in front of the house there are quite a few greenhouses too and this inside/outside architecture has become a focus for my main project. Each greenhouse contains different plants: tomatoes, strawberries, tulips and a whole range of other vegetables and flowers. A number of them also contain roses that have just started blooming and I really enjoy cycling past each day to see what has changed. The structure and transparency of the greenhouses are really interesting and I like the way they sit in the dramatic surrounding landscape.
Another project I’ve been working on is a kind of map of the flowers I’ve come across on my travels. I’ve been lucky to visit some incredible gardens during my stay so far and there are some seriously impressive flowers around. Some of them I have never seen before and taking photos of them has become a way of documenting each place. So I have started painting them all on roughly 8x11cm paper rectangles and will arrange them all together when they are complete.
Over the weekend, some of the artists staying at the studio held exhibitions of work produced during their stay. It was fascinating to see each artist’s work, and the variety in subject and medium and style. It has been wonderful getting to know each of the artists and I have learnt so much from them all.
So for the next month I’m going to continue painting, soaking up the surroundings, learning, talking to people, trying to improve my Japanese language skills and working towards my exhibition at the end of June. And of course eating plenty of delicious food!
I will post more images of the paintings I’ve been doing in the next update – a lot of it is still in progress 🙂 If you would like to receive updates about what I’m working on via email, you can subscribe here
UPDATE – 5 May 2017
This week I arrived at Studio Kura in Itoshima, Japan to start an 8 week art residency. From what I had read about the studio and surrounding environment, I thought it would be a great place to stay and learn about the area and the community and make some new work. But I was really unprepared for how stunning it is here! The photo above is of Funakoshi Bay at sunset as we cycled to grab some dinner.
This is also the mountain view outside our house from within the rice fields, it is pretty spectacular!
Prior to arriving here, I spent some time in Taipei, Tokyo and Kyoto to visit friends and see some really great exhibitions, gardens and national parks (along with eating some pretty amazing food)! So I haven’t picked up a paintbrush in a few weeks and I felt a bit rusty today, but it is really nice to get started. I’m just starting out with some quick paintings of the landscape around here before getting stuck into the project that will form my exhibition at the end of the residency.