Guest Posts

Guest Post: Hirst, Hockney, Ballard-Wyllie And The Timeless Charms Of Cherry Blossom

By Eddie Saint-Jean

Two superstar artists, one aspiring contemporary artist divided on visual language but united by a shared appreciation of Japan’s national flower. The art world has suddenly gone all cherry blossom. And why not? Damien Hirst has gone from pickling sharks, and Swarovski crystal-studded skulls to painting blossoming flowers.

And not to be outdone, David Hockney’s cherry blossom efforts have also been in the news as he swaps paint for an iPad to capture the blossoming magic of spring at his Normandy retreat. London artist Denise Ballard-Wyllie claims she was there first, painting them since she was a child and this passion was rechannelled during a residency at Myddleton House Gardens in Enfield painting cherry blossoms and capturing the super-charged content of nature.

Continue reading “Guest Post: Hirst, Hockney, Ballard-Wyllie And The Timeless Charms Of Cherry Blossom”

Book Reviews

Ukiyo-E: The Art Of The Japanese Print Review: A Beautiful Book Filled With Exceptional Art And History

Ukiyo-e The Art Of The Japanese Print book.

When it comes to Japanese art, ukiyo-e (pictures of the floating world) are arguably the best representation. Often produced as woodblock prints, ukiyo-e have captured the imagination of people all over the world, providing a romanticised version of Japan that’s connected to ‘The Floating World’ of pleasure palaces, geisha, samurai and kabuki actors during the Edo period.

Frederick Harris’ Ukiyo-E: The Art Of The Japanese Print may well be the definitive version of Japanese woodblock prints. Filled with beautiful artwork and commentary on the greatest Japanese artists of all time, the book is a must-read for anyone who’s interested in art history and Japanese culture.

Continue reading “Ukiyo-E: The Art Of The Japanese Print Review: A Beautiful Book Filled With Exceptional Art And History”

Poetry

Great Wave

When Hokusai painted his Great Wave off Kanagawa

I wonder if he was painting what depression would look like for future generations?

Because that’s what depression is: a wave with claws

It rears up without warning

A tsunami of anxiety that swirls in the depths

A living, breathing thing as fathomless as nature

It crashes over you without rhyme or reason

It washes away everything you’ve built

And leaves you drowning in the wreckage

It casts you adrift on tides of uncertainty

Alone, even when there’s life all around you

The wave will come again

But you can ride it out with the people who know you best

They’ll be waiting with their lifelines

To pull you free

To stop you from drowning

To help you breathe again

The Kokoro Files

The Kokoro Files: Lily Greenwood

Feeling a connection to a certain place can be magical. It helps to broaden our horizons and see things from another perspective. Many people forge a connection with Japan. But that doesn’t mean you have to visit a country to feel an emotional response. Lily Greenwood hasn’t travelled to Japan, but the culture has massively influenced her work as an artist.

In this edition of The Kokoro Files, I talk to Lily about how she got her start in the art world, how she’s been influenced by Japan and what it’s like to be an artist while looking after young children! Continue reading “The Kokoro Files: Lily Greenwood”

Poetry

Ukiyo

It began with the spark of lanterns

Flickering in a city

That teetered on the precipice of change

A floating world,

Filled with the sound of artists calling to their muses

At teahouses passed off as pleasure palaces

Alive with gossip, giri and good times

Spilling out into streets

Heavy with incense

Geisha swayed amongst the fog

Kimonos bright with every colour known to man

Drifting between this life and the next

While chōnin rubbed shoulders with actors

Fresh from kabuki shows

Fantasy and friction

Danced at the table of progress every night

Until dawn’s light washed away the magic

For another day.