Project Japan 2019 – So long!

Kaoru Higashi, me and Ritsuwo Kanno

I packed up my prints and latex tests and said a fond farewell to everyone at Atelier Outotsu on Friday 16th August. It’s been a warm and welcoming place to work, learn, meet some talented artists and nurture new friendships.

Thankyou Ritsuwo Kanno and Kaori Higashi for the opportunity to come to Atelier Outotsu, you have been extremely kind and generous.


Thankyou also to Wales Arts International for supporting this research trip.


For Paul Hazel’s response to the trip read here – it’s a good read and a different adventure!

Watch this space for what comes next!


Project Japan 2019 – Aichi Trienniale

Izuru Mizutani, Director of the Art and Mind Center invited us to Nagoya on Tuesday , 13th August. The main focus was the Aichi Triennale, a large international art festival spread across multliple large and small sites. We were in the Aichi Arts Center for most of our day and saw a really diverse collection of works which appear overall, to value difference, freedom of expression, endeavour and humanity.


Examples that celebrate these values are evident in for instance, the delicate spatial drawings on layers of glass and paper by home grown artist Yukari Bunya; the sensitive telling of a life lived 1200 years ago by Claudia Martinez Garay and the extraordinarily labour intensive screen prints of Yohei Imamura.

Claudia Martinez Garay


There is a dark side to these themes, bringing into focus anxieties about freedom and control, privacy, safety and belonging. For example, Heather Dewey-Hagborg’s Portraits created from the DNA of found material such as chewing gum and Tanya Bruguera’s work which forces us to cry (due to menthol fumes).

Heather Dewey-Hagborg


The pseudo forensic approach of Kyoto based Hana Sawada’s work is extremely amusing as her research results in an absurd 3-D model. However, the message also has unsettling undertones and implications.

Hana Sawada


There were so many great pieces of work on show that highlight current concerns, but ‘After Freedom of Expression’ caused the biggest furore, with anonymous threats of arson. It was withdrawn from the exhibition and other artists subsequently withdrew their work in protest.

After Freedom of Expression


Thankyou Izuru for a wonderful day!



Project Japan 2019 – Kyoto Arts Center

On the last day of our exhibition in Kyoto, we ventured forth to the Kyoto Arts Centre to see the work of Marcos Avila Forero. ‘Repeated Trace’ was a collection of 4 films . The work revolved around collective endeavour and some awesome outcomes resulted from collaboration.

One film documented a percussive work devised, practiced and performed in an Amazonian river (I think). The energy, focus and enjoyment of the individuals involved was infectious, all waist deep in the water, using their hands to create an array of wonderful sounds in a complex rhythm.

Another film involved a small group of men dragging a life size plaster boat on a journey which took them up hills, through towns, day and night across all sorts of terrain in Algiers. It was clearly a struggle and it left it’s mark; a continuous white line along the road as the boat slowly diminished, worn down. It was a very poetic work which reminded me of Werner Hertzog’s film: Fitcaraldo which also featured the extraordinary feat of pulling a steam boat over a mountain.


Project Japan 2019 – Kindai University Hospital visit

Paediatric treatment room; woodland, magnetic animals and hearts. Watch the film here…

On Friday August 9th I was invited to Kindai University Hospital by Artist and Arts in Health professor Yutaka Moriguchi. The main purpose of the visit was to attend the opening of a recently completed project and meet the people involved in it. In this context, I was also invited to speak about the importance of Arts and Health, especially in a healthcare environment. Watch the film here….




The project was a collaboration between second year students at Kindai University and designers at Fuji film who created all of the detailed artwork from student sample boards and sketches. Hospital managers, clinicians and nurses were involved in planning and selecting the theme and imagery for a paediatric treatment room, which was stark and clinical prior to the project. The outcome is a 360 degree digi – mural which flows across different wall and cabinet surfaces. In keeping with the animal theme, there are some footsteps leading into the room and several animals (and hearts) are magnetic so that children can interact with the space.






Project Japan 2019 – Test Strip

Test 1

I have twenty latex strips to work with on return to Wales. However, I couldn’t resist doing one test strip whilst in Osaka with graphite powder to see what properties were revealed and eliminated as a consequence.

Test 1

There are possibilities for transfer and printing.

Test 1

Most exciting and unexpected for me is the transformative effect of the latex on the subject; changing hard, unforgiving road surfaces into something soft and indulating.

Test 1


Project Japan 2019 – Dotted line


Collecting trace material inside the Atelier Outotsu building was easy.  When we (me and Paul, my trusty helper) embarked on the rest of the journey in the evening (when it was a little cooler), it got a bit more complicated. In hindsight working in the dark was probably a bad idea – possibly arousing suspicion.

Paul applying latex

Our dotted line had reached Kusugawa station when the police arrived. It was quite an entourage; cars, motorcycles, 6 immaculately dressed policemen (with guns). The language barrier made it quite a tricky situation to deal with, I was ordered to remove the latex and told not to do this anywhere in Japan. I’m sorry we didn’t get further, the floor surfaces are varied on this short walk and there are so many interesting man-hole covers.

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Police visit