Yoshida Hanga Academy (1990-1992)

I moved to Japan in 1990 to study woodblock printing at the Yoshida Hanga Academy, a small atelier inside the family home of Toshi Yoshida. Here three generations of the Yoshida family lived together creatively. The atelier was also the production and publishing base for valuable prints by Toshi Yoshida and his father Hiroshi Yoshida.

Everyday Life (1990-1996)

I lived in Tokyo on and off through the 1990s, with time away in Kyoto and Osaka and England. Over these years, I produced a small series of genre prints of scenes in Tokyo that amused and surprised me.

Everyday life in Japan often appeared eccentrically different. I loved to watch small events unfold daily on the streets. People rode bicycles everywhere, sometimes with a 'pillion' passenger standing on back-wheel footrests. Bicycles were untidily parked near shops and overground and subway stations from where the riders would board trains and pass into the city network. The trains were packed to bursting, with a whole culture of travel inside. In the mornings, masses of behatted small children were conveyed to school. Older children, brimming with energy, got themselves to school. Old ladies twisted right down by their widow's humps moved painfully up and down the streets leaning heavily on wheeled shopping trolleys that doubled as seats.

Dog-owners were forced into some un-Japanese behaviour by their charges. A dog could not be compelled to obey human codes of behaviour. A walk could involve embarrassing moments of sudden defecation, sniffing or worse--rutting! Nevertheless, whether the pet was mongrel or pedigree it could be turned out well-brushed and groomed, and even sporting a raincoat, headscarf or spacesuit!

Twelve-year Animal Zodiac (1994-2006)

Over a decade, I produced a series of nengajo--new year prints of the 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac, beginning with the Year of the Dog in 1994 and continuing through to the Year of the Cock in 2006. Designing and producing the cards was an interesting yearly task.

shinjuku train