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I've just returned from five heady weeks in Tokyo, soaking up life back in the old metropolis, the place I lived for nearly half my life. Every year daughter and I go back to Japan, usually in the summer, every year we return with new and unique experiences, the only constant being the humidity and the constant murmur of cicadas, though this year there were several unseasonably cool spells amidst the swelter.
It's wonderful to explore familiar locations, see old friends and family, but I also had a very busy schedule of preparation, culminating in a ten day solo exhibition at Space Yui in Aoyama, followed by another seven day show (currently still running as I write) at Yui Garden in Yokohama.
The front porch of Space Yui
No matter how many years go by my fascination with Tokyo remains undiminished, I try to be as busy as I can when we go back, it's a city that demands purpose and direction. As I no longer live in Japan I find that without such direction and with daughter mostly staying with her grandparents I start to feel an emptiness, ponder too deeply on the past and other topics best left alone. No, move on, on, always onwards! Like the city itself, my relationship with Tokyo is constantly evolving, the journey continues.
Hanging day at Space Yui with gallery owner Hideyo Kimura
It's been busy, inspiring and very encouraging. The exhibition, still on at Yui Garden, centres around original artwork from my recent picture book Stone Giant (Ishi no Kyojin in Japanese), from which visitors can order Neograph prints (giclée art prints overprinted with a fine silkscreen to prevent oxidation and deterioration ofcolour, rendering prints that are virtually indistinguishable from artwork). I also created several smaller pieces of original art specifically for the show.
Book of prints, and artwork from Stone Giant
Some of the smaller images created especially for the show
Wolves in the Forest
The gallery staff have been supportive beyond measure, Space Yui is a key part of my platform in Japan, the care and encouragement I receive there is inspiriting and progressive, all credit due to Kimura-san and her team.
Opening party, with guests including Komine Shoten editor Tsuyoshi Yamagishi (left) and picture book creator Satoshi Kitamura (right)
Opening party - with Togo Kasahara, designer Hiroyasu Murofushi (I & I Inc) and Takeshi Fujisaki
Opening party, with illustrator Satoshi Kitamura (background), curator Taiko Nakazawa, Tomoe Furuhashi and DJ Young Richard
The show at Space Yui began with a busy opening followed by a regular stream of visitors, I was quite overwhelmed by the large number of attendees. Signed copies of the Japanese edition of Stone Giant (Ishi no Kyojin) sold out within the first few days and had to be re-stocked by publisher Komine Shoten.
Signed copies of the Japanese edition Ishi no Kyojin
There were several highlight successes, the biggest being news of several competing offers for the Japanese rights to my next US book Crinkle, Crackle, Crack!. Written by Marion Dane Bauer (who also wrote the 2012 released Halloween Forest), the US edition is due for publication through Holiday House next year. I'll post more about the Japanese edition when details have been confirmed.
With art director Susumu Yamada (Tokyo Planet Design)
With members of SCBWI Japan
With Emi Noguchi
With my daughter and photographer Hitoshi Iwakiri
The exhibition is now on at the fabulous new gallery Yui Garden in Nakamachidai, Yokohama. In a building created by and for an architect's design office that overlooks Seseragi Park, the setting, interior and atmosphere is simply exquisite. If you're in the area before it closes on the 8th please do drop by.
Entrance to Yui Garden
The show at Yui Garden
It's been a wonderful summer. Many thanks to all the gallery staff and visitors to the exhibition!
Egyptian mummies continue to fascinate us due to the remarkable insights they provide into ancient civilizations. Flinders Petrie, the first UK chair in Egyptology did not have the luxury of X-ray techniques in his era of archaeological analysis in the late nineteenth century. However, twentieth century Egyptologists have benefited from Roentgen’s legacy. Sir Graham Elliott Smith along with Howard Carter did early work on plain x-ray analysis of mummies when they X-rayed the mummy Tuthmosis in 1904. Numerous X-ray analyses were performed using portable X-ray equipment on mummies in the Cairo Museum.
Since then, many studies have been done worldwide, especially with the development of more sophisticated imaging techniques such as CT scanning, invented by Hounsfield in the UK in the 1970s. With this, it became easier to visualize the interiors of mummies, thus revealing their hidden mysteries under their linen wrapped bodies and the elaborate face masks which had perplexed researchers for centuries. Harwood Nash performed one of the earliest head scans of a mummy in Canada in 1977 and Isherwood’s team along with Professor David also performed some of the earliest scannings of mummies in Manchester.
A fascinating new summer exhibition at the British Museum has recently opened, and consists of eight mummies, all from different periods and Egyptian dynasties, that have been studied with the latest dual energy CT scanners. These scanners have 3D volumetric image acquisitions that reveal the internal secrets of these mummies. Mummies of babies and young children are included, as well as adults. There have been some interesting discoveries already, for example, that dental abscesses were prevalent as well as calcified plaques in peripheral arteries, suggesting vascular disease was present in the population who lived over 3,000 years ago. More detailed analysis of bones, including the pelvis, has been made possible by the scanned images, enabling more accurate estimation of the age of death.
Although embalmers took their craft seriously, mistakes did occur, as evidenced by one of the mummy exhibits, which shows Padiamenet’s head detached from the body during the process, the head was subsequently stabilized by metal rods. Padiamenet was a temple doorkeeper who died around 700BC. Mummies had their brains removed with the heart preserved as this was considered the seat of the soul. Internal organs such as the stomach and liver were often removed; bodies were also buried with a range of amulets.
The exhibit provides a fascinating introduction to mummies and early Egyptian life more than 3,000 years ago and includes new insights gleaned from cutting edge twenty first century imaging technology.
I'm currently in Tokyo again, preparing for my upcoming exhibition at SPACE YUI in Aoyama. The show runs from 21st-30th August, and will be chiefly showing original artwork from my recent picture book Stone Giant (Charlesbridge/Komine Shoten), plus there will beother original artwork on sale, copies of the book, prints and Tshirts. If you're in town please drop by the show! I'll be at the gallery from around 2pm daily.
Space Yui is open 11.00am-19.00pm daily (closed Sunday). Nearest stations are Gaienmae and Omotesando on the Ginza line. After the close of the show at Space Yui, the exhibition will be re-shown for another week at a new gallery Yui Garden, set in the relaxed environment of Seseragi Park in Nakamachidai, Yokohama. However I'll be on my way back to the UK by then so won't be in the gallery. Add a Comment
We seem to have had quite a lot going on lately. You know, when your head starts buzzing, because you have too many different things on the go? To be fair, much of it is good fun and hardly feels like work at all, but still - I reckoned we were ready for a few days off.
So, when John and I were invited to go and stay with my uncle and aunt in Beaconsfield (between Oxford and London) for a few days, it sounded like a grand idea.
It was lovely to catch up with my folks (and being looked after for a few days is always nice). We also took advantage of the location to visit some galleries.
We went to an exhibition at the Ashmolean on the way there, where I discovered (in my ignorance) a painter I hadn't heard of before: Chaim Soutine. I just loved his crazy, frenetic paintings of Ceret.
On another day, we visited the RA Summer Exhibition. I have not been for a few years. It's a mixed bag of course, but the wild variety of work on show is part of the appeal. I particularly like how it was hung this year, with paintings and sculptures reflecting themes and styles back and forth. There are always pieces to love and hate, but it's never boring.
We walked from the Royal Academy to Tate Modern. My Aunt and Uncle went to see the Matisse Cut-Outs show, but we had already seen that (wonderful by the way), so we pottered around the standing collection, which is always rewarding, as it's so well put together.
On Day 3, John drove us to the Dulwich Picture Gallery. I was desperate to see the Art and Life show, as I love the work of Alfred Wallis and Ben Nicholson. I didn't know Christopher Wood's or Winifred Nicholson's work as well, so it was a surprise that her work in particular really stood out. I think it was the most inspiring exhibition I've seen since the extraordinary Hockney show at the RA.
We spent ages inside the gallery, then I spent ages in the shop, deciding which book to take home with me, to keep the inspiration alive. The exhibition catalogue is really good, with excellent reproductions, so I treated myself.
If you have never been, the Dulwich Picture Gallery is a fabulously green and calm oasis, tucked away in the midst of the busy, grubbiness of South London. It was a beautiful day too, so we had lunch outside then I sat on the grass and did some quick paintings.
It was a good thing the exhibition was so brilliant, because the drive back to Beaconsfield was diabolical and went on for ever, through rush-hour traffic (poor John was a quivering wreck).
On our last day, we all went out for a lovely walk in the sunshine, along the bank of the Thames, out near Cookham (Stanley Spencer country - another of my faves). It was fun eyeing up all the mega-expensive houses on the far side of the water.When we came across these cows cooling themselves in the river, I had to ask people to hang on for 10 minutes, while I did a quick sketch:
Our wonderfully relaxed walk ended up by chance at a village show, where we had an ice cream and watched the dog show: always good for a giggle. And then, all too soon, it was time to start for home.
Thank you so much to Bill and Anne for putting us up, feeding us and generally making our stay so lovely.
Some of my sketchbook characters decided to spend the month in a wonderful cafe called "Ninas Café Klatsch" here in Hamm, Germany. I took them there last night so they can watch Ninas guests having delicious cupcakes and soups for the next 4 weeks.
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On Sunday I woke up to glorious sunshine. Despite that, the edges of the pond were frozen and the wind was really cold. I was (rather selfishly) glad it wasn't too nice, since I was spending a chunk of the day indoors, as one of the judges helping select artwork for this year's Great Sheffield Art Show.
The exhibition is 25 years old this summer and shows a massive variety of work. Professional artists with a large body of work can rent a space, but the main body of the hall is giving over to the 'open show: a great opportunity for emerging artists.
The selection process is really interesting. It's done at the weekend, so the organisers can borrow a local school (it needs an awful lot of room). Would-be exhibitors deliver their artwork first thing. A team of volunteers carry it all into the school hall and prop it up against the walls, or on chairs and tables, so everything is visible, but anonymous. When it's all set up, the judges walk round and colour-code the work as 'yes', 'no' or 'maybe'. We work in pairs, starting at opposite ends of the room, so that, when we cross over in the middle, we can moderate the other pair's decisions, drawing attention to anything we strongly disagree with and nudging their 'maybes' one way or other.
Once we have finished, the organisers go in and do a count-up, with an eye on the numbers they need to fill the exhibition space, adding back any extras they think might be especially saleable or popular with the public.
Once the selecting is finalised, we all get treated to a lovely buffet lunch (and a naughty, lunchtime glass of wine): a great opportunity to have a good natter with like-minded people. Last year I stayed and helped al
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It's been a few weeks since I've stopped by here..! I've been busy organising work for several upcoming exhibitions, the first of which is "SAIL". It's taking place over a couple of weeks in May at galleries in both Cirencester and Cheltenham. There will be a huge variety of different creatives exhibiting and should be an exciting show! There will also be plenty of art works, prints and cards avaliable to buy if you wish! If you live locally, please pop by and say hello!
My poor little blog has been rather neglected of late. I do have a good excuse though; I have been very busy. Last weekend I was exhibiting my work, along with some other local artists, as a part of the Derbyshire Open Arts weekend. It was a great weekend.
We turned Catriona's little barn into a lovely exhibition space, sent out the invitations and waited to see if anyone would turn up.
I was amazed by how many did. A huge thanks to everyone who went off the beaten track to find us. They came from far and wide (hey Louisa!) to see the arty loveliness our little barn had to offer. I'll post some photos when I get them back from Snappy Snaps.
Before the event I assumed I'd have three days to do lots of sketching. But, no chance. We were busy throughout which was great because there's nothing that makes me happier than sharing my sketchbooks with people.
You know up until quite recently the only artistic community I've been involved in is an online one. Being a part of that community has been amazing, and life changing, for me. It has enabled me to set up a blog, encouraged me to keep drawing, supported me in becoming a professional illustrator and always been there for advice on all sorts of things.
I had not, however, been involved in a local community of artists. In fact, for a long time, nobody even knew I was drawing like a maniac at home. It was my exhibition in Buxton, last summer, that brought me to the attention of a local audience and then everyone knew. Joining Sketchcrawl North a little while later made me realise the great things that come from being part of a group.
Exhibiting with this group of talented and generous artists over the weekend was a joy. I'm so happy that I've connected with a local arty community because you get good things from being with people. People who share your passion. So reach out because we are, after all, just chubby babies floating in a sea of tissue paper.
Check out the amazing work by my exhibtion mates; Catriona Hall, Sandra Orme and Rob Wilson. And a big big thanks to the photographer, and my friend, Lynne McPeake for everything she does.
They've had a big change-round over the last few weeks. By coincidence, both the editor of picture books and the pre-school editor left within a couple of weeks of one another, so Egmont took the opportunity to have a rethink. Instead of 2 parallel editors, managing different titles, they've rolled the 2 lists into one under the control of a new Editorial Manager, who works to assist an equally new Publishing Director.
6 Comments on Meeting my Publisher, last added: 6/24/2012
We had our private view last night for the Harmony exhibition in Cheltenham. Here are a few photos from the evening, we had a great turnout! You should also check out the lovely Liz Clayton's blog for more photos. The exhibition will be staying open daily 10-5 until Tuesday 17th July.
The GradGallery exhibition is currently open at The Gardens Gallery, Cheltenham. There's a variety of work on show, ranging from illustration to photography. There are originals and prints for sale and lots of lovely greetings cards and postcards to purchase.
Thank you to everyone who has visited so far, we have had some great comments and met some lovely people! Please pop in and say hello if you are in the area. I'll be there most days, we are open 10-5 until Tuesday 17th July.
Yes, following on from the regularSketchCrawl, then ourSketchJamidea, weSketchCrawl Northsketchers have coined another new term: theSketchDrool. It combines two of my favourite pastimes - drawing and eating!
Last Friday night, despite unbelievably torrential rain, a small group of us met up to go to the preview of a new exhibition of screen prints by Mick Marsten, at Pete McKee's A Month of Sundays gallery in Sheffield.
It was really nice stuff. We thought that the foul weather might put people off though, but the show was packed. It was nice to bump into several people we knew and chew the fat over a glass of wine and some nibbly things.
Afterwards, we crossed the road to Otto's restaurant, where we had booked a table for a drawing evening. I took along my Inktense watercolour pencils, my trusty waterbrush and just a tiny A6 sketchbook. I managed to grab one sketch for each section of the meal.
Serious food-sketchers, like sketch-buddy Matthew Midgley, did their drawings before they ate, but I couldn't resist getting stuck in while it was hot, and only stopped to draw half way through.
As soon as my main course arrived, I realised that mushroom risotto was not the wisest choice...
It tasted delicious but was mainly white, not to mention consisting primarily of impossible-to-draw rice! I was happy to stop and sketch though, as it was very rich and I was getting seriously stuffed.
While we waited for our food to settle, we had some more wine and moved places, so we could chat to new people and have new angles to sketch from. This is Moya, who I met at my clay modelling evenings:
After a bit, the waiter came to try and tempt us with the desert menu but, though puddings might have been fun to sketch, we all groaned and took the sensible option of ordering coffees instead.
It was great fun to try something a little different and worked especially well for having a combination of stalwarts like myself, Andrea Joseph and Matthew, but also some first-timers. It was a lovely evening and an idea I'm sure we will repeat.
Last year, I was invited to create a small piece of artwork for a charity auction and exhibition, Stars on Canvas, in aid of the fantastic Willow Foundation. They sent me a little blank canvas last December but, since they didn't need it doing until June, I tucked it away on a shelf and... you guessed it: completely forgot it was there! They emailed me a couple of weeks ago and I felt really guilty, but luckily it turns out I am not too late.
Last time I did one of these, I had a bit of a disaster, because pastels don't really work on canvas. I ended up using oil pastels, but it was still not ideal. As it happens though, I recently bought myself some acrylic paints: I've been fancying having a go for a while.
Unfortunately I couldn't leap into action when I got my e-nudge from Willow: I was still frantically trying to get my Swap!artworkdone, ready for Gullane to present at Frankfurt. That deadline has now passed and, though I am still working hard to get the rest of the artwork finished ASAP, I was able to steal a day this week, to get my little canvas done:
I chose an illustration from Class Two at the Zoo, as I thought that, since that book's been around a while and been on telly a fair bit, on Bookaboo, it might just be an image people would recognise, and so maybe fetch a bit more money at auction.
I decided to use the edges of the canvas to let people know what it was all about, but I have to say, painting the lettering took almost as long as the picture!! The project was really handy for getting a feel for acrylics though - it's my first try with them.
The idea is to sign the canvas and they sent a black marker pen, but I didn't want to put a great ugly signature across the front, so I initialled it in my normal way and signed the top edge instead. Hope that'll work for them.
There will be around 300 canvases in the auction, not just by artists and designers, but also by well known faces from the worlds of sport, music and entertainment. Bidding will open on 22nd November and closes on December 2nd (good timing for interesting Christmas presents perhaps..?). The auction culminates in a public exhibition at Maddox Arts, London W1, from November 29th until December 1st.
This is the 3rd Stars on Canvas auction. The first 2 events raised over £100,000 towards providing memorable experiences for people living with life-threatening conditions, such as cancer and motor neurone disease.
I'm finally back home after a successful show at Space Yui in Tokyo.
Japan was wonderful for both daughter and myself, though it was very much a 'working holiday' for me. For the first month I was largely focused on meeting deadlines, producing work for the show and other such business, so not so many opportunities for socialising and enjoying the summer break. However the hard work was all worthwhile in the end, the exhibition at Space Yui was a tremendous success. My deepest thanks to Kimura-san and all the other staff at the gallery.
Setting up the show in the gallery (photo courtesy of Space Yui)
In addition to the artwork from 'Jack to Mame no Ki', limited edition prints and the original images drawn for the show, Space Yui also produced some T-Shirts from the unfinished artwork to my next book The Stone Giant. Although the artwork is yet to be painted in colour I had some scans of the ink drawings in black and white stage, which were perfect for the T-Shirt and made a very big impact on the show attendees.
In Space Yui Gallery modelling the t-shirts produced for the show
One of the numerous drawings developed from sketchbook images sold during the show
Legendary zoologist, TV personality and author Mutsugoro (Masanori Hata)
I didn't take many photos, but I've posted a very few snapshots of the attendees and more of the displayed work on my Facebook feed
Finally the exhibition was over and daughter and I were able to finally relax. Straight after the exhibition we were invited by my editors at Fukuinkan to the Nagano mountains to stay in a Besso (country cottage) and research our next book. It was a wonderful tonic after the stifling heat of Tokyo!
Seren in Kobuchizawa with Roa and Yuriko
Finally back in Tokyo I was just in time to enjoy the release of Jack to Mame no Ki on 10th September!
Fukuinkan section in the Tama Plaza branch of Yurindo Bookshop. Jack gets centre stage!
This lovely image is the poster for an upcoming exhibition I'm involved in this May entitled BLOOM. The show is taking place at the beautiful Gardens Gallery in Cheltenham, where I have previously exhibited with the lovely GradGallery collective.
The exhibition will showcase the work of five creatives including myself, Sophia Bloxham, Liz Clayton, Emma Ridgway and Katie Thomas (who designed this fabulous poster!). Please click on their names to visit their websites/blogs to check out their work. There will be a variety of illustration and design on show and, as always, there will be lots of lovely prints, originals, postcards and greetings cards for sale!
Hope you can make it along to the exhibition, please pop in and say hello if you are in the area!
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Well, after much deliberation, I am finally ready to announce the winners (drum roll.....)
First Prize goes to Eloise (who is just 4 years old!) for Rose the Monster Princess:
I really like all the details, especially the pink hairspray and the green, slimy hand-prints on her pink dress from her green slimy hands. I think a monster princess is a fabulous idea and a great character for a story.
Second prize goes to Emmy for the Purple-Lipped Snapper Firetail:
What a great character and so unusual. I like the colours: the blending to create the fire
1 Comments on Children's Illustration Competition: Winners..., last added: 11/28/2011
Sadly, my one man show in Salford, Llamas in Pyjamas, has come down now, but the mixed show, Picture This!, has just openedat Gallery Oldham - hurrah! Things have been so crazy-busy that I haven't been to see it yet, but Anna, the curator, has sent me a couple of photos of the huge, vertical jigsaws they have created from a couple of my illustrations.
Saturday was the official opening day of the Picture This! show at Gallery Oldham. I am so proud to be part of this show and so impressed with the job curator Anna Simms has done. The shiny, ultra-modern space is great to start with, but her design and colour choices have made it even more gorgeous and they set off the work perfectly.
People sometimes ask me when I am doing events which are open to the general public, rather than in schools. Well, I have several coming up really soon: on Tues Feb 21st in Oldham, on the evening of Fri Feb 24th in Batley, and two on Sat Feb 25th: in Holmforth in the morning and thenHuddersfield after lunch.
At 1pm in Oldham Library, I will be giving a 1hr lecture, 'A Life in Pictures', on children's book illustration and how I starting out. I'll also look at some of the other illustration work I've done before finding my way to books, and look in detail at my recent book Bears on the Stairs. It's like an extended version of the short film on my website.
This event is linked to the exhibition of children's book illustration currently in Oldham:Picture This!If you would like to attend, please contact Oldham Libraryon 0161 770 8014.
SWELL Sculpture Festival at Currumbin Beach celebrated the unity of nature and art under a shining Sun.
September 18th 2010.
Spread wisely along the Currumbin Beach, the contemporary visual arts exhibition of sculptures, by artist from around Australia, is rapidly gaining huge popularity among Gold Coasters and tourists from all over the world.
This was my first visit and I can only thank my friend Olga for inviting me there. The frustration of being unable to find a parking place was a clear sign of the growing popularity of the SWELL Sculpture Festival that started seven years ago.
The impact of each unique sculpture integrated into the natural landscape is a quite powerful experience. Nature seemed to like it too, with the Sun shining down and a friendly breeze from the blue Pacific Ocean seemingly inviting viewers to stroll along the beach from one sculpture to the next.
My favourite was #02 by John Dahlsen from NSW.
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I keep having this ideal for my blog, that every day I should post a new drawing. It's tricky, when I spend all day drawing stuff my publishers don't want me to show you yet. But here we go, a pub drawing from last night. Viviane Schwarz did the bottom half, and I did the top half, upside-down.
Viv and I met at St Pancras station and walked over to the new Central Saint Martins art college building. It's ENORMOUS. High ceilings, vast slabs of concrete, reclaimed brickwork, huge panes of glass. You can just see it in the background here, behind Viv swinging in this rather quirky little pavilion in the middle of the Kings Cross building site.
Here's a little peek at the page for T; Viv and I got a laugh from T is for Trepanning. It took us awhile to remember where we'd seen that carved wooden tiger mauling the colonist. I thought it was at the British Museum, but in the back of the book, it says it's Tippoo's Tiger at the Victoria & Albert Museum. Ah yes. And it's from 1793. If you've been to London, you'll undoubtedly recognise the art museum at the top of the page. The others are harder to guess: Trinity Buoy Wharf Lighthouse in Poplar, Temple Church in the City of London, oh, and there's a tourist in the corner.
At the party, we got to see his original lino cut prints on display, so lovely! It's a great conversation piece, trying to guess all the letters. This book will make a perfect London souvenir for people visiting London, a Londoner's gift for friends abroad, or a book for a Londoner to have on a coffee table to give everyone something to talk about at awkward dinner parties, ha ha.
I just had to get a photo of these lovely chappies. There were more than a few excellent twiddly moustaches present. (I have no idea who they actually are. Chaps, if you read this, please identify yourselves!) :)
Besides the alphabet, Chris gives us, in the back of the book, a big of a description and photos of how he set about making the prints. I'm itching to do a book of lino prints, starting with the trees in Greenwich Park, but I don't want to approach a publisher about it yet because I want it to be something I do for the pure enjoyment of it, not be freaking out about a deadline. Because making lino cuts