Tuesday, December 14, 2010


It's wednesday again already!

Another from my archive, gifted wrapped for Abi

Saturday, December 11, 2010

open journal

I've thought of this blog as a kind of open journal. Usually I have a strong resistance to allowing people into my working process, I don't even like talking about it with my PhD supervisors. So perhaps this a kind of talking at a tangent? or a kind of talking where it's a monologue? But anyway one of the nice things about posting, specifically the Secret Glimpses post...

(want to increase your traffic? just add a couple of bathhouse scenes. This is an apparently "new reproduction" of Torii Kiyonaga- there are so many changes- change of colours (red door hanging, wood floors), and all small details, like the patterns of the women's yukatas and the peeping tom missing essentially only the broadest compositional elements are there, and only of a detail.)

... is that it has lead to an exhibition, and therefore an opportunity to make something instead of just mulling it over in my head. The delightful Rebecca Mayo is curating a project for Impact7 that will be in her Dolls House gallery. The house this time will be located inside the artist/designer run gallery: Hand Held. Each artist in the show (others being Rebecca, Heather Hesterman, and Richard Harding) will get a room of the Dolls House, the title is: Inside-out, Outside-in.

Without giving too much away too early in the piece ( I hate being held to account to an idea I leave behind) I'll be working with the amount of neckties I have amassed recently... Vintage Pierre Cardin anyone?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

more snow

Fuji 2 days ago- a winter wonderland from Fujiyama Journal.

I love the snow on the trees in the foreground. There have been a lot more snow falls since the first at the beginning of November and that the winter is really settling in and that snow is falling to the valley floor, so probably on the outskirts of Tokyo too.

the mountain feels very far away with the heat and humidity we are experiencing.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Cable car- Hakone

Starting a wordless wednesday thread.

From the archive: Cable car ride in Hakone, Feburary 2010

Monday, November 22, 2010

Postcard of 2 magnetic glimpses

I'm not quiet sure what or who Takananofactory is, but they have a blog that is a listing of exhibitions and other design events in Tokyo. They posted an image (in April) of the postcard they made using my the first set of the rubber stamps I made in Japan, in the exhibition, Tokyo Stories, at Tokyo Wondersite Shibuya. Thank you Takanano!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Out the window and on a screen

Two Shunga views
Kunisada "Playing cards"

One attributed to Toyoshige from an album of 12 lovers in front of decorative screens. This series has a wonderful scene within an scene framing of the screens- but only one of Fuji.

Both images from Ukiyo-e Gallery from thier shunga gallery. They have quiet a large selection of images- more available here than from some museum websites. Their descriptions of the condition of the prints can be quiet amusing such as this one for Utamaro, "The kiss":
Very Good. Excellent colors. Margins trimmed; very minor soiling.

or Kunisada II, "Two couples under a blue umbrella" :
Exceptionally clean for "shunga."

There is some information on each print but quiet enough, wiki commons also has quiet a lot of images but also not so much information. Anyone know of a good scholarly texts on this art form?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A secret glimpse

It's dangerous, but I have taken up op-shopping again. I have managed to break (or manage) my addiction for 4 years. But perhaps because I have the difficult job of writing my thesis paper, combined with a hard to find object (Ken Done for this project), coupled with a gamblers luck or finding some nice designer pieces (Dior and Ralph Lauren shirts, YLS, Hermes and Zenga ties), and the addiction is back in full swing. Yesterday when I was in a local op-shop sorting and scanning through the approximately 50 ties in the back for The Done when I spotted this odd design. It's not the sort of tie I would necessary buy- I am collecting stripes and checks at the moment, but it's odd set of colours and patterns, and unusual tag raised a question mark in my mind.

Fancy indeed! The label was making this it was an unusual tie- as the shape of the tag, as well as the name, was a little unconventional. As I was disentangling it from the masses of ties around it, I notice that the lining fabric was also a little out of the ordinary:

There appeared to be a drawing of a girl inside- a beek-a-boo tie. I have only seen one these type of ties- an American 1950's tie with a Alberto Vargas-esque pin-up girl, so thought it might have been a 'rip-off' with the lining badly placed.

(This is the best site I have found for vintage beek-a-boo, scroll down to find your favourite Hawaiian, Irish red head, Leopard skin glad brunette, or Jayne Mansfield or this contemporary one where you can shop via tie design or model.)

Of course I bought it- that's my problem with op-shopping, anything I can't work out I have to buy. That way I can think about it more or show it to people. When I got it home I realised that the factory thread holding the 'top' of the triangle was still in place and when cut, the tie open to reveal:

It's quiet an erotic thing to part the flaps to get the view of your secret picture. I noticed that there was a view out the window behind the couple and when I turn the tongue almost inside out, low and behold Fuji-yama came into view.

When I first saw it I thought the figures a little clumsy, but anatomical correctness is not really a feature of shunga prints. On closer inspection there is you can see that there is quiet a bit of detail and that the hands are a beautiful shape and that her toes are curled in the conventional sign of pleasure. These things make me think that it is either copied from an existing shunga or that it has been drawn and designed by an artist/designer. I have searched for a print it might have come from but have failed to find something similar. It has some formal elements that make it like a modest bijin-ga by Hiroshige:

such as the patterns of the fabrics against a plain background, with geometrical furniture motifs defining the pictorial space. Although this peek-a-boo seems a bit too modest for a Hiroshige shunga woodcut- but then again the decorative pattern around the image on the tie is reminiscent of the border feature in Hiroshige shunga volumes.

Unusually for most of the peek-a-boo ties I have encountered in this research, this one also has an image in the tie small end.

This looks like it might have been copied from a Torii Kiyonaga bathhouse print, or influence by his “Women in a bathhouse”.

There are also versions of this print where the man peeping through the small square window on the left is not there- although the doorway and window remain.

This object is saying 'Beppu' to me.

I think it might have been made as a souvenir for American marines on 'R & R' in this onsen and 'comfort' city for the following reasons:

  • The ties overall shape and design is reminiscent of the American "Bold Look": wide, with deco patterning and the era when girlie ties became popular.

  • The colours and pattens are very similar to ties I saw in Beppu that where still in there wrappers in dusty old stores run by ancient women in the cities post-war covered arcades

  • The bathing and courtesan themes of the peek-a-boo, promote the two big industries of Beppu- hot springs and brothels.

  • Fuji, is this instance, symbolises Japan rather than indicates a location.

Fuji was in my room at Beppu anyway.

Visiting Beppu, and the Beppu Art Projects, was one of the highlights of my trip in March. Thank you Takayuki for sending me there!

In celebration of Japanese erotic bijin-ga check out my friend Fuyumi Namioka's show of Araki at Lugnao.

Update: Fuyumi's show is part larger group of exhibitions and events under the title of Nippon, which includes an exhibition of shunga - this is a link to a small pdf catalogue.
Update #2: Jane's Year of Denim is having a 'suited' return including a 70's beek-a-boo!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

First snow fall on Fuji for the season

Reposting the beautiful image from Fujiyama-journal.

Unfortunately the snow has also brought a climbing death. RIP Mr. Straka

Sunday, October 24, 2010

summer sightings

I had no luck seeing a summer blue Fuji, but this image of an August sunrise, from the blog Climb Fujiyama by gives you an idea about how magjestic a close up view would have been. I really like this blog. I get a buzz thinking about how the mountain looks like that today, on days when my checking matches a posting.

Just about everything is seasonal in Japan, from clothing to stationary, postcards, food treats and the wonderful wrapping cloths. The re-occuring images for late sticky summer where fireworks, dragonflies, fans, lanterns and Blue Fuji.

Fuji is of course everywhere- although the season on billoards seems to be always early or mid Spring.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

No glimpse shinkansen

late blogging of an August 1st glimpses

The only chance I was thinking that I would get to see Fuji, on this August trip, was from the Shinkansen heading to Nagoya. I could see on the morning of my departure from the hazy view of Tokyo from Andre's balcony that it was not going to be a great Fuji viewing day. But I was still pretty surprised at how invisible the mountain was, as it is pretty in your face last time I took the train south.

I consoled myself with a shinkansen snack-

The cheese was indeed crunchy, like it had been freeze dried, and very salty. It would probably be really good with a glass of beer instead of a mid- morning snack.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Was I blind??

On my first trip to Tokyo, about five days after I saw Fuji for the first time, I went to meet Andre in his part of town- Ilabashi. We walked around and visited some temples, and he took me to his local Buddhist temple. I said some prayers there and on my way home to Sydney, three months later, it was the place I said my last prayers too. On both of those occasions I don't remember seeing a golden Fuji in front of the box where you chuck in your coins so I was completely surprised when I went to say my prayers on my first day in Tokyo, on this second trip, that I was facing a very large golden Fuji.

I had to take this image from afar as you are not allow to take photos in the temple.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Arrival #2- air Fuji

I have been going over in my mind whether it would be possible to see Fuji this trip. I considered a trip to the Five Lakes National Park, but knew I really wouldn’t have time. So I was beginning to settle on one possible sighting, cloud and humidity haze dependent, from the Shinkansen.

When I was last in Japan I asked people where their favourite view of Fuji was and a lot of them said from the plane. I had struggled quiet a bit with my fear of flying last year and so I ruled that view out. I couldn’t imagine myself taking a cheap Japanese flight to the south of the island.

I have been feeling fine though these last months and unusually for me was happy to sit near the window and even look out and take photos. As I was thinking about whether I should fly to Nagoya to get a chance to see Fuji, the Captain came on over the PA system and announced that Fuji was visible.

How I love this mountain. It was just so incredibly beautiful to watch the mountain come closer as we tracked towards Tokyo.

And then just disappears when we descended into the haze. It was amazing and I feel very satisfied with this view, so now I can relax and just concentrate on finishing my work for Aichi.

Monday, June 28, 2010

magnetic glimpse- enoshima

magnetic glimpse- enoshima, originally uploaded by raquelmonkey.

I have been spending the day editing out cars and people from the background video for a new work that I am going to show at Aichi Triennale. Watching all those cars disappear made me wonder whether I really should have been adding them in..

This is the first time I have blogged a video over from flickr it seems to have compressed a bit- I just tried to view it in full screen and that was better. click here to view at flickr

Any helpful advice bloggers? Lucas?

Install in Toyko Stories

Just got some install shots off TWS- the table got nicely stamped over time.

The top detail photo is of my Fuji siting at Oi Yacho Koen.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


When I got back from Brisbane a package had arrived from Tokyo with the first six stamps I have made in the series- when I look at them them now, some of them I am happy with and some I think need a little tweaking.

As an aside the installation of the Asia collection at QAG is absolutely fantastic at the moment. Great Ai Wei Wei pieces rubbing up against ancient Chinese and Japanese pottery, an exquisite Japanese screen with large areas of gold leaf clouds with green pines framing a shinto shrine, and mostly pleasingly: turn of the century woodcuts, although non of Fuji. I did however buy a couple of books in the shop: the Hokusai you see above and a small book of meisen kimono patterns in 50's and 60's.

Reading the Hokusai and finishing the work I install at Uplands and Milani, has me excitedly looking forward to going back to Japan! hurrah! - but not long to go arh!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Stillness and movement- Sarah's soles

Bought at ABC Mart in Tokyo, Sarah's shoes are the largest men's size. She said a shop assistant ran from the Shinjuku store she was in, a couple of blocks and back to bring her the right size. I love the concentric circles round the sun.

The Great Wave off Kanagawa 神奈川沖浪裏 Kanagawa-oki nami-ura, certainly the most famous of Hokusai 36 views. I read somewhere that it's beauty is based on the balance of the movement of the waves against the stillness of Fuji. It's funny but I can't ever remember seeing Mt Fuji in the work until I saw in in Tokyo. Although this might be because I haven't really been much of a Nipponofile until going there and certainly wasn't interested in Fuji. I like the literal translation of the title suggested at Wikipedia, it seems to fit the image of Sarah's shoe well. "Off Kanagawa, the back (or underside) of a wave."

Enoshima (Kanagawa) waves where pretty low the times I was there but the water was still full of full body wet suited surfers. They where on sitting on their submerged boards, looking out to sea. From a distance I though they where flocks of cormorants.


After a very exciting weekend at the 7th printmaking symposium I got onto the blog printeresting, thanks to the beautiful Rebecca Mayo, they also have a little story about the Great Wave shoes.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Installation Photos?

Does anyone have some images from the show in Shibuya? or of the stamped postcards?

Here's my address is you want to send me one:

12 School Pde
NSW 2203


While at the sand onsen Takegawara in Beppu I saw a old fuzzy black and white postcard that pictured a light mountain shaped like Fuji-san with the city of Beppu at it’s base, with plumes of steam rising from the city. As the mountain was light in colour, I had assumed it was snow covered. But that didn’t really make sense because the taller mountains in the back ground where not snow covered. The shape of the mountain, plus the print in my room, made me think that it was a Fuji look-a-like.
On my way to Hololand mud onsen (which I recommend that you DO NOT visit) the bus turned a corner and I got the above view of a strangely barren hillside. It looked as though it was a field that had been harvested, but oddly only to the ridge. I can’t imagine what you would grow on such a steep hillside. Young bamboo for the local wicker-work?
Nori-mono for Fuji look-a-likes is as hard as trying to capture Fuji from a moving vehicle.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Surprise Fuji

On the way to Nikko National Park- but not Nikko itself. It was a fantastic clear day, the first one since I returned from Nagoya and Beppu. I wish I had had time to go up the Government Towers to the viewing platform, but that view was not to be this trip to Japan. I did however get to add this surprise view. Surprising because this must be the furtherest away I have seen Fuji and although it was one of the "suggested views" I didn't think I would have a chance to go to Nikko. It's barely a white outline in this last image. The weather had been so bad in my last weeks I was giving up hope of seeing Fuji one last time.

I knew to watch out for Fuji on this train line, as Sarah had mentioned seeing it from the train on the way to Nikko.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Fuji is with me all the time

I often exchange it for lunch or paper and pens. I love the pattern and detail of the border and "negative" space.

Friday, March 26, 2010


Heading back to Tokyo, today was sunny with clouds, so was not sure how Fuji will appear. But as there is still probably a fair amount of snow on the peak I thought it would most likely be shrouded in clouds, but as I had never seen this view I was pretty excited about being close enough to get that vista.

The first shot is of one of the rivers on the edge of Nagoya so you can see how the sky mostly was that day and appreciate the micro climate that Fuji produces with its height and snow expanse.

Asakusa onsen

I haven’t blog about this Fuji experience yet. And rushing now to get out the door of the couch surfed place so will update… yes yes…

Monday, March 22, 2010

stamp 2

Takao-san- I still owe the entry for this one

first drawing for rubber stamp

As you can see refers to my arrival. They are getting made at Federal in MArrickville- Federal are cheaper and faster than rubber stamp makers here in Japan.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Fuji is in my room in Beppu

and there is no way you can see it from here. Although there is a Fuji-look-alike here- I only just worked that out this afternoon in an onsen selling Beppu postcards- I will have to find some more out- there is no mention in my hiking book. Any ideas or local knowledge out there?

UPDATE: I there is a look-a-like in Beppu but this view is probably of Fuji- or another look-a-like.

UPDATE #2: The title of this print is: The lake of Hakone in Sagami Province, and it's one of The 36 views of Mt Fuji by Hokusai.

A speeding Bullet-

heading for Hiroshima. After staying up the whole night to pack up my flat and studio, I made a dash for the last possible connection to make the first Shinkasen for Hiroshima. The idea was to maximise my chances to see Fuji. It was pretty early and probably half an hour more would have given bluer skies but here is a lot of cloud around today so later might have been worse- I think the guessing and acquiring of the viewing knowledge is what fascinates me about Fuji –viewing.

Not far into the trip- just after the official announcements- one being that you could use wireless on the train- the first views of Fuji appeared after coming out of a tunnel.

I was so excited about the wireless, that I could blog seeing Fuji in the moment, that I almost missed the first viewing point. As it turned out you needed a Japanese account to use the internet- and I was so cross eyed with tiredness that I had to sleep.

The second view is again coming out a tunnel and the mountain profile at this point immediately reminded me of this Hokusai print- Fuji in the spring breeze (?) Not sure will have to look it up and correct this.

I didn't know that Fuji had a hump. One of the mysterious things about Fuji is its hard to orient where you are in relation to it, from it's profile- maybe this is just because I don't know it.

Pretty sure the last point is disappearing into a tunnel too- although I was pretty delirious so who knows.

Update: the Hokusai print is called Red Fuji or Mount Fuji in Clear Weather .

Monday, March 1, 2010

Oi Yacho Koen- third trip

Spent windy cold Sunday at Oi-Yacho Koen, a nice day including meeting new people and seeing lots of ducks, including the Common Teal and Tufted Duck.

Out the way out Masa told me you could see Fuji-san from the walkway bridge over the rail line. When I saw it I clapped my hands and squealed like a ten-year-old girl who has been told that she is going for a pony ride. I still don’t understand the pull it exerts over me. Even this pollution hazed view was exciting.

I have started to think about collecting views of Fuji has a work and see if I can meet any Fuji-san enthusiasts.

Grey Kamakura- missed nori-mono

I started the day at Kenchoji, which is the oldest Zen temple in Kamakura and an impressive wooden temple complex. The trail started up behind the temple climbing steeply straight away via a long sequence of stairs to a temple which had a lookout to view towards Fuji-san. As you can see the day was pretty clouded over and I only got glimpses of the very base at points during the day.

The hike was a good long walk with some steep climbing. It was mostly through deciduous forests, so lots of bare trees. The trail gave fantastic panoramic views of the coast (which photos don’t quiet capture). That coastal view made me think of home and I thought about lots of people as I walked along. At one point I got a view toward Fuji with just the very base visible below clouds. I didn't think to take a photograph because at this stage I didn't realise the turn my work was going to take- collecting the variety of views and moods- also with so many clear January days I had no idea of the grey that was coming...

I have found that the weather forecast changes pretty rapidly here. Rain was forecast for Friday- which was why I had headed out of town on Wednesday and Thursday. It held off till I got to Zuisenji and then started to come down pretty heavily, making me head off before I wanted to really. It poured the whole way back to town and meant I took pretty straight route and didn’t see that many temples.

Of course half way back to Tokyo it cleared and the sky cleared as I passed Yokohama and I got a view of Fuji-san from base to top, much like the blue evening view the day before. Little did I realise on that day, that it would be my last view of Fuji in the afternoon and that it was going to take another 6 weeks before I would get a chance to photograph the mountain from the Yokohama JR line.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Kamakura afternoon

It was my first time to this edge of Tokyo and I gotten pretty disorientated by taking a long way around to get out of Tokyo. Also it had been cloudy on the train out to Kamakura so by the afternoon when I got on top of the ridge behind the Great Buddha- Daibutsu, I was completely surprised by this view of the blue mountain. Just as I was snapping away in ecstasy one of Tokyo's hiker pensioners came by in very clean, high tech, light weight, walking gear. I pointed and exclaimed "Fuji-san", he just grunted and stepped around me not pausing or breaking pace.