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Japan Sketchbook

Toji - in gardens, Kyoto, 2006
Ink and watercolour on Japanese paper
25cm x 430cm

Background and description

This "concertina" sketchbook when extended, unfolds to show a long panoramic image of the gardens at Toji- in temple, in Kyoto, at the beginning of the autumn. The image was made from right to left, and shows a series of connecting views of the Japanese garden from a seated position. The first images were made on the spot in pen, sumi ink and watercolour, at visits to the temple gardens over November 2006. They have been continued on my return to make a 360 degree view of the gardens.

On my first visit to the garden in early morning, I was directed to the tea house. As the paper screens were opened for me, the light streaming in and the sight of the immaculate cultivated garden was literally breathtaking. I set about using the panoramic format of the Japanese sketchbook to reflect the wide angle vista of the view of the garden from the tea house. The experience of the view was almost like looking through a Modernist picture window or at a cinema still.

I have tried to echo this filmic quality through the series of watercolour studies circling the garden.

In front of the tea house was a pond dominated in the middle by a mound of strange, manicured, bobbly bushes, which were repeated all round the garden and in the reflection of the water.

The series of paintings try and capture these highly stylised shapes and the changing colours over a series of visits to the garden.

The success of the show led to the work being invited to tour further venues in Nara and Fukuoka in 2005 (see exhibition details).

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