Category Archives: Travel

New Favourite Book!

A couple of posts ago I wrote briefly about some japanese embroidery techniques which I found quite interesting – when I was in Otley this Saturday snooping around the eight million or so charity shops it seems to be endowed with I came across this book on Chinese folk embroidery and had to get it

It’s full of excellent photographs of examples and has a section at the back explaining the techniques

These animal designs are applique panels designed to decorate skirts

This guy looks a little like AN EXPERT!!!!

I love how naughty this last lion looks

I’m going to read up on some of the history of these pieces as I’m quite inspired by some of the designs, and am getting increasingly interested in embroidery from around the world now. When travelling in Asia I took hundreds of photographs of embroidered traditional Vietnamese clothing which I need to dig out, and I think I also took some in a museum in Borneo which would be equally cool to look back at now.

I have definitely always been interested in the use of animal forms in traditional art. I really want to get some books about North American mythology/art because its SO interesting, especially Inuit art – I’m not quite sure why I’m drawn to it so much but stuff like this is amazing

My other good book purchase that day was The invisible Man by H.G Wells for only 50p! My less successful purchase was that of some aquarium plants which unfortunately blew away in the wind. I was quite upset.

(In another way, the image of some one in Otley browsing the windows of a cup cake shop suddenly being engulfed in Amazon Sword made me quite happy.)

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Filed under China, Textiles, Travel

Satsuma Gift

I found this drawing amongst my things today – I painted this in Vietnam and it was sent back to York to be in an exhibition. The paper is from vietnam and the paint and paintbrush I used were from Japan. The subject however was inspired by a man we briefly encountered in China who gave every one in my tour group a satsuma while we were waiting on a station platform and then went on his way.

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Filed under China, Illustration, Japan, Travel, Vietnam


While we were in Beijing we noticed something present on all our maps titled ‘798 Art Zone‘. After we’d recovered from our hectic time tramping around Japan’s cities by replenishing (bloating) our weary bodies with depravedly large quantities of expertly fried rice, we thought we’d go and check it out.

On the day we chose to explore,  it took a while for us to reach the place as we were staying in the Dongsishitiao area and we needed to catch a local bus quite far out. (This part was quite confusing and involved a lot of pointing at maps and hoping people knew what we were getting at.) When we eventually found it however, we wished we’d set off earlier, and here’s why.

The Art District is quite a sprawling site made up of a wealth of disused state-owned factories, and is named after a particular ‘Factory 798’; originally an electronics factory. Since 2002 the area has been repossessed as studios, gallery spaces and work shops, and has become a hub of contemporary art, sculpture, architecture and the like. For these reasons it has rather an agreeable industrial, crusty, moss covered, salvaged, reborn atmosphere and is supporting an ever-growing artist community, who’ve propagated them selves with enviable books stores, bars, art shops and restaurants. The fiends.

We had a nice time wondering around some of the exhibition spaces – one of the halls was showing a collection entitled ‘Turn on, Tune in, Drop Out’ which displayed the video piece(s) ‘Luis, Lucia’ by Joaquín Cociña, Cristóbal León and Niles Atallah – a pair of fairly gothy children’s-nightmare-generating  whole room stopmotions, which some might argue are no more sensational than you’re average nisan micra advert, but which I personally am still pretty impressed with. This probably has more to do with the fact I could never be bothered to do it my self.
(watch them here)

The hall next door to this was also showing a large selection of the sort of grostesque, dreamscapey, animal infested painting/scuplture that you might expect to find if you took Matthew Barney’s head and shook it out over a nice white piece of paper.

I was kind of bemused as to why such a culturally important area had developed so far out of the city centre, but as it turns out, around the time that the factories were reborn as studio spaces, anything experimental or innovative being produced was generally frowned upon by the Chinese government. For this reason through-out the 80’s and 90’s beijing’s more avant-garde artists were clinging to the outskirts of the city, slumming it in run down buildings that they were inevitably evicted from, so the transition from here to the district of cheap cavernous workspaces of 798 must have been a no brainer.

There were also giant rubix cubes, giant gorrilla/man sculptures, trees cocooned in wool, a huge bird cage set up for people to picnic in (below), and a hell of a lot of other great stuff which I didn’t bother to photograph because I was enjoying my self too much.

Anyway, it is a historically interesting sight,  an incredibly good idea and I am very jealous of every one who has the pleasure of practicing there. If you are in Beijing, Go and see it.

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Filed under Community, Friends, Travel

Kyoto International Manga Museum

Back in England!

Today I am e-mailing the Kyoto International Manga Museum about an exhibition of Japanese Folklore I saw in August while we were there.

Japanese Folklore is heavily influenced by Shinto and Buddhism, as these are the two main religions in Japan. It features some of the most surreal characters and story lines I’ve ever come across, and I got particularly excited about some of the ‘Yōkai‘ or monster spirit characters, as they have the ability to shape-shift, have supernatural powers and tend to be pretty irritating – for example, there is one character who hides in trees above paths that travelers often tread,  transforms him self into a giant disembodied head, and falls out of the tree infront of said traveler to terrify him. There is another character who has a giant eye instead of a bottom, and uses this to terrify people in a similar fashion by pulling down his trousers when they least expect.

Often these characters are a mixture of human and animal, and some can originate from as exotic locations as ‘The Capital of The Moon’ so there’s no end of fun to be had reading  about them.

This is ‘Kappa’; a kind of humanoid child sized amphibious river spirit. Kappa inhabit ponds and rivers in Japan and like to fart loudly and look up lady’s Kimonos. Kind of looks very similar to ‘Ponyo’ from Miyazaki’s new film of the same name, but where as Kappa are quite happy just being Kappa, Ponyo is a goldfish who wants to be a human girl. (Sigh, awesome)

I was really impressed with the KIMM – not only does it have an absolutely phenomenal library of Manga new and old, it has a complete history of how it developed and a tonne of interactive  stuff like this:

You can also enjoy a beer outside on the astro turf – complete with fake dirt!

Want to go back to Japaaaan.

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Filed under Folk Lore, Friends, Illustration, Japan, Travel

The Norman Rae Gallery presents: “As is Painting, so is Poetry”

Tomorrow (The 25th of January, ’10)  is the opening of “As is Painting, so is Poetry” at The Norman Rae Gallery, Langwith College, York University – ‘ A showcase of work by ten sets of british contemporary artists exploring the relationship between written word and visual communication.’

Some of my illustrations from my last six months travelling around South East Asia will be displayed alongside work by some awesome artists; Amelia Crouch, Jon Owen, David Steans, Hardeep Pandhal, Kirsty Noble and Gareth Durasow, Nous Vous Collective, David Prosser, Lucy Cheung and Sarah Dee Barrett.

Plus it’s free, and there’s wine.


In other news, I’m currently in Kuala Lumpur, waiting for the Hindu Festival Thaipusam on the 30th of this month. More on that later…

We visited the Kuala Lumpur Art Gallery today, and I was very much impressed with a painting by Zhang Zhengmin, featuring a man covered in pig stamps throwing up over a bird.

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Filed under Exhibition, Friends, Illustration, Travel


Hello there. I’m in Vietnam, spending lots of my hard earned Dong.

I drew this in china but had to use it as an emergency tip money card for our ‘tour guide.’ Who knows what she will have thought of it… it is a drawing of ‘Pixiu’ the Horse Dragon; he is very lucky in China as he has a huge fat behind which means ‘nothing is getting out’ i.e, none of your money is going any where it shouldn’t.

I am currently drawing a lot around South East Asia and hope to do some more scribblings in Borneo in the new year…

Hopefully some of this should be shown in January in an exhibition starting the 25th of January. I hope! hope hope!

What else?

No, I don’t know either.

overandout xxx

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Filed under China, Folk Lore, Illustration, Travel, Vietnam

Time to meet your designer maker

Afernoon. This ‘blog’ is going to document creative stuff and impending trip to Asia, along with stuff what I think is good…I think? Yeah lets go with that for now.

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Filed under Friends, Illustration, Leeds, Travel