Saturday, March 31, 2007

In Search of Sakura

I set out in search of cherry blossoms today.

I fly home tomorrow, for a couple of weeks, due to my exhibition, which just so happens to coincide with cherry blossom season.

My third time in Japan and I am still yet to witness sakura in its full glory. However, I was fortunate enough to see the beginnings of the blooming beauty that captures a nation for a brief part of April each year.

They will most likely have fully bloomed and fallen to the ground by the time I return but I am thankful to have been able to get a glimpse of Spring today whilst walking through the grounds of Osaka Castle.

I feel all painted out. We had a preview of my works here this evening, which was nice. I feel a sense of achievement but also slightly exhausted. I look forward to putting my brushes down for a while and giving my mind and body a rest. Painting on unstretched canvas has some advantages but it has been cruel to my back. I miss doing yoga and would love to take it up again in the near future.

I feel a mild sense of anxiety about leaving here... or perhaps about going home.

I feel tired...and rightly so at this hour.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Please Explain

I just got back from a brisk walk though the tiny streets of my area.

I have been inside painting all day as it has been raining outside since early this morning. I needed to stretch my legs and thought I'd go for a walk to my favourite 100yen store to buy some embroidery thread for my work.

Whilst there, I wandered through the store curiously exploring, as I always do, and every time I discover something new...often useless, but usually good for a laugh. Today was no exception. As I walked through the kids toy section, I found something most bizarre. And whilst it has nothing to do with art, I thought it to be deserving of not only a purchase, but also photographic presence on my blog.

The only English to be found on the packet reads: inflatable wild swan.

Now the picture of the manga-esque girl in her ballet outfit I can understand. The man, however, I am having a little bit of trouble with...remembering that this was in the kids section.

Very odd.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Well Hung

I must say, it has been a different experience painting on unstretched canvas. It has pros and cons compared to working with stretched canvas. It's harder to get a sense of the final work without the neat edged frame that a stretcher provides. One of the good things about working on stretched canvas is that you can sit it upright, or hang it, whilst still painting to get a better look at the piece in progress as a whole. Looking down on the unstretched pieces is not the same...after all, a completed painting is ultimately hung on a wall not laid flat on the floor.

It has been nice to get them up on the wall in the apartment. Not only does the apartment feel a little more like a 'home' with my art on the wall, but it also gives me a chance to view them in a different light and perhaps get a better idea of how my exhibition will hang.

I feel slightly exhausted but I also feel as though I have accomplished a fair bit since arriving and setting up house in a new country. We are even planning on having a little preview evening in the apartment on Friday, for our neighbours and newfound art enthusiast friends. Technically - my first exhibition in Japan - ha! Even if it is for one evening only.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

I Felt the Earth Move

This time next week I am due to be home in Melbourne with my unstretched canvas works which I will take to get stretched the following day.

Yesterday, my father turned 74.

Today, in Japan, there was an earthquake.

The Japan Meteorological Agency originally estimated the quake's magnitude at 7.1 but later revised it to 6.9...still pretty high in my opinion and the after shocks, of which there were about 100, were spread far and wide. We had one here. I had just got back from a morning supermarket run and was unloading the fresh produce into the fridge when my partner, who was still in bed, called out to stand still for a second. "Can you feel the tremor?" he asked. I was in a squat position at the fridge, (as everything in our place is of small proportion), and stopped what I was doing, expecting I would have to 'try' to feel this tremor he had mentioned. Within seconds, the fridge was rocking and seconds later the whole apartment block was rocking, literally! We were both silent for most of the tremor's duration, which seemed to last a good minute, although it was possibly half that. It's funny, the silence was almost one of those, 'if we are really quiet and don't move it will stop' silences... not that silence has ever stopped a quake.

When the tremor stopped we began breathing again and I walked into the bedroom, where we both watched the light that was still swinging over our heads.

It was quite surreal.

We turned the television on afterwards and saw footage from a very shaky camera. We could not understand what was being said as everything was in Japanese but we got the general gist from a map of Japan that was being displayed, along with the Richter scale numbers of all the aftershocks. It said 3 for Osaka.

In later news it was reported that a 52-year-old woman died in Wajima, a resort and fishing town on the western side of the Noto peninsula, after being trapped under a stone lantern that toppled in her garden. A freak occurrence caused by a freak of nature.

I can't even begin to imagine the devastation and panic caused by the Great Hanshin Earthquake disaster in Kobe, in 1995, which killed over 6,000. When I visited Kobe in 2005 it was hard to believe that only 10 years prior that city had suffered such a disaster.

The earth is a bizarre place.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Reclaiming the Rooftop

I ventured up to the rooftop today, for the first time since my unsavoury experience. I have reclaimed it as my own! As my studio under the sun. The weather has been uninviting this past week and even though I was disillusioned recently, I would have ventured up there sooner had the weather permitted. Despite a determined wind, that I have battled with several times already today whilst applying a layer of collage, the sun is shining, and I am more determined than any breeze.

I am using the rooftop and the 'tiny' studio today, which involves lots of running up and down stairs, so in a sense, I am getting my daily exercise in as well...something I have neglected a little of late. When I first arrived, I was walking approximately 6km every day. That lasted for around 2 weeks. The past two have seen a steady decline in any physical exercise. The weather in uninspiring and my painting takes priority.

I still have much to do before flying home for my exhibition in April.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Recurring Dream

Today, I found this in a 100yen shop.

I thought it was rather fitting. Not only the sentiment, but the fact that it was a pencil case; the pencil being just one instrument that can help project and develop my creative dreams and ideas. A dream storage case. That thought, and 'it', made me smile. really is the little things...and from little things, big things grow (again).

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Living in a Box

I despise this feeling of complete vulnerability.

At this very moment I feel like a shadow of my former self, and that former self was right here only 48 hours ago. Now I feel she is staring at me through the rear view mirror, wondering what the hell happened.

Dramatic words, perhaps, but I have been emotionally effected in a way I have never been before.

The sun is out today, yet I feel too anxious to venture on to the roof top. I have no desire to step outside and I am searching high and low for the desire to paint. I know I need to.

I feel like I can see everything but cannot touch it.

I do hope this subsides. I need to make friends with time.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Monsters and Angels

It's amazing how less than 48 hours after having a wonderful day in Osaka and writing about how much I love Japan, one arsehole can flip my whole perspective on things.

Yesterday, for the first time since arriving, I just wanted to go home. What's worse, is that it totally effected my creative drive and production today, to the point where I wanted to slash my unstretched canvas and pack away my paint and brushes.

I felt as though my dream, and with it my inspiration, was ripped out of my guts and squashed on the pavement of a nearby district. One I had to walk to yesterday to collect a parcel I was looking forward to receiving. One I never want to set foot near again. One where I encountered a horrible incident, perhaps one of blatent racism. An incident that made me feel completely helpless and threatened. Fearful even.

I feel disappointed, even a little angry. I feel uninspired artistically as I feel like all that has inspired me in recent times has just let me down.

I was however fortunate enough to encounter two angels. Their goodwill could be something I can hold onto in order to restore my faith and hopefully my inspiration. I should not let the actions of one take away all that is good in others, or crush my dream, or erase my inspiration.

Actually, I am really fucking angry, and grateful...for very different reasons.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Spring is in the Air

Today was a glorious day in Osaka. The nicest day weather wise, by far, since I arrived here on February 10th.

I had planned to spend the day painting, but like most people in Osaka today, the weather persuaded me to spend some quality time outdoors. I almost felt guilty for it until arriving at the grounds of Osaka Castle and seeing the splendid plum blossoms that have begun blooming.

My day quickly became a day for sourcing inspiration, and inspiration flowed like sake and plum wine from the cups of the lovers sitting under the blossom trees.

The walk to the grounds was also full of inspiring aesthetics as temples and shrines were stumbled upon, bringing back memories of my visits to Kyoto.

I often get asked, as an artist, why I am so influenced by Japan. It is sometimes a difficult question to answer without rambling or going off on some kind of dreamy tangent that perhaps others find hard to follow. I guess one would have to come here to experience Japan for oneself to truly understand it's appeal and unique charm. It is quite possible that there are people who visit here and form no particular attachment to anything about the place, I am not one of those people, and it's days like today that re-enforce the fact that I am the complete opposite.

Japan continues to delight and inspire me.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Maintaining My Dreams in the Tiny Studio

The wind has picked up over the past couple of days so I have limited my time on the rooftop due to the fact that I have not completely warded off this cold. I have been painting mostly inside for the last 2 days, in my 'tiny studio'. I just stepped out to get some groceries and came across this little face washer, which I had to buy, for all of 60 yen, as it sums things up perfectly.