Art / Design, England, Japan

Bank-note Incredible

Friends of mine at London’s ICN Gallery told me about this artist some time last year and I have been eagerly anticipating her arrival ever since. I hurried out briefly today, while Atsuko was distracted, to check it out before I lost the chance. Like Fukahori Riusuke, this is one of those unbelievable Japanese artists that make me so happy that I stumbled on the ICN Gallery.

I saw the work with my own eyes and met the artist today but I still can’t quite understand how she does this. Saya Irie ‘simply’ erases imagery from banknotes, with a typical school eraser, then blends the rubber-dust with a type of glue and reforms them into a 3D sculpture of the object or person they once were.

Elizabeth Fry, Charles Darwin, Adam Smith and others all appear out from the two-dimensional surface in minute, precise detail despite standing just millimetres tall. It’s astounding. And it really makes you take a second look at the bank-notes we use on a daily basis but never stop to appreciate their incredible beauty. “Every popular thing is beautiful” is open until August 10th; try to catch it if you can…

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Japan, Travel

侍 (Samurai)

It was snowing and freezing cold; walking around the dark castle in Matsue was an eerie experience. It always seems to be terrible weather when I go to Matsue-jo but walking up the tight steps through layers of history is an incredible glimpse into the past. Matsue-jo is one of 12 castles still surviving in Japan and one of the oldest and best preserved and can be seen from almost every part of town.

Full suits of samurai armour now sit behind glass yet they still seem somehow alive. The detail in the helmets, masks and body panels is amazing; beautiful and terrifying in equal measures…

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Japan, Travel

Frozen

Well as I am currently sat on a heavily delayed train out of London St Pancras this morning, with no access to my project files, I thought I would share a few more pictures. I was just day-dreaming about our most recent visit to Japan again; congestion and delays always make me think of our holidays, of open space and fresh air.

As we were heading to Miho Jinja, we drove along the Yonago coastline and just off-shore all you could see were fishing boats, each pointing in the same direction, frozen, presumably with their nets down. Atsuko’s sister could sense my fascination and stopped the car to let me take a few pictures although they don’t quite do the scene justice…

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Japan, Travel

やきいか

It wasn’t hard to decide what to eat, or where. The local speciality was yaki ika grilled squid, and the tough old ladies running the car-park where we left the car ran a small stall, which we were expected to stay loyal to. It’s a straightforward dish, fresh squid simply barbecued on an open fire, with a special spicy and fruity sauce. Once cooked and curled, cut roughly with scissors and served in a plastic bag, it was completely fantastic.

There should have been shots of us eating it here but it was just too delicious and capturing the moment went out of my mind completely…

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Japan, Travel

Miho Jinja

As we stepped from the car, across the harbour to arrive at Miho Jinja, a heavy snow shower fell to greet us. Although the structure looks similar to many others, I had never been to a coastal shrine quite like this before. The site is dedicated to 2 different gods, 三穂津姫命 (みほつひめのみこと) Mihotsuhimenomikoto, god of agriculture / cycle of life and ゑびす (えびす) Ebisu, god of fishing and business. Families living in this area have lives built around fish and the fishing industries, and they come here to pray for the well-being of those going out to sea and for the long-term health of the sea life.

A lot of ceremonies take place here through the year and it was a lively shrine with a welcoming atmosphere. Shinto priests and Miko-san wearing ceremonial robes hurried to get out of the snow. We paid our respects at the shrines and each of the sub-shrines and were offered sake and dried fish. It was freezing cold, and people huddled around heaters to read their omikuji fortunes. As quickly as the snow had started, it stopped. We wandered back down the steps to find something to eat.

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Instagram Confession

Considering I brought back well over 4,000 DSLR photographs (!) from our latest trip to Japan, it’s surprising I needed to take more pictures on my phone, I know. Sometimes though, using an iPhone is more convenient, less intrusive and, alarmingly I must confess, sometimes takes better pictures. Even though it’s now basically Facebook, I am quite into Instagram and used it a lot while we were away; I like the square format, the immediacy is good and I find it fascinating to see how others use the app because it is the one time you find yourself on a level playing field, having identical equipment to even the pro-photographers.

If you are also using Instagram, feel free to post your username below, you’ll find me filed under iikkyu

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Laughter

After ringing the bell at the local temple at midnight on New Year’s eve as part of a very nice countryside ceremony, we went to the beach on New Year’s Day for a long walk along the deserted sands.

It’s always joy to be with Atsuko’s sister, we all get on so very well and I have never seen two people laugh as much as they do when they are together.

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