Last year, when I was on a residency in China, I made a series of fifty water-based woodblock prints (mokuhanga prints) which ended up becoming an animation called Smiley Rock.

Smiley Rock still frame

The technique of printing successive thin layers of watercolour is called bokashi and some of the frames for the animation were made from progressive stages of the printing process. I took photos of the print, while printing fresh layers of colour, so that you can see how the colour builds up. I edited the piece in the Royal Academy Schools in Piccadilly, London, and talented musician Eliot Kennedy made the music for me.

Smiley Rock frame being photographed for the animation

The animation is currently being shown in West Yorkshire Print Workshop, as part of their group show called Japan, until 1 September. Read about the show here or at


Smiley Rock is also coming with me to the IMPACT conference in Santander, Spain next month… I’ll be showing the animation alongside some of the frames. Watch this space!


You can watch the animation here or go to


HAppy NEw YEar!

Here’s wishing you all a year of fun and frolicks!

I love the double chance at a New Year. Fresh starts, shiny behaviour, aspirational goals… This year 2014 started with a celebration in Japan, one of the places I feel most at home, where I spent a few weeks seeing friends, making prints and reconnecting with the country.


The streets on the way to the Meiji shrine were lit up with fairy lights and flags, and Asakusa was filled with people who’d come to pray for good luck and happiness in the year to come.IMG_2781_e

Of course no national holiday would be complete without a spot of shopping, hanging out with friends and eating fun things…



I had a chance to visit a few artists when I was in Tokyo: firstly Asaka Motoharu who is a traditional Japanese woodblock carver who has been working for over 40 years without (he claims) making a single mistake… Here is one of Masami Teraoka’s prints ( a riff on Hokusai’s Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife) that he carved and printed.


Traditional tool shops still exist: this one specialises in knives and woodblock tools


Arts Space Chiyoda is a maze of galleries, residency spaces and craft outlets in a converted primary school; this is where the Mokuhanga innovation laboratory has its headquarters. I was so happy to see the work of one of my students, Mareike Besch, on the walls there!


After a night bus ride to Kyoto I was shocked at the cold temperatures, but the river view was the same as I remembered, bright and full of eagles.



The annual coming of age ceremony was on so I got the chance to see the kids in their finery

IMG_3082_e IMG_3062_eI spent almost two weeks in Kyoto carving wood


IMG_3281_eVisiting temples


and my old university: Kyoto Seika: where woodblock is still going strong

IMG_3189_eeating some more


enjoying the gorgeous landscape


and last but not least….. admiring the loos…

IMG_3344_eNow I’m back in London, let’s see what the Lunar New Year brings!