Category Archives: geisha

Entrance

“Entrance”
Coloured pencil drawing of Katsutomo. 370 x 460 mm. June 2017

“Entrance 1. the act or an instance of going or coming in; a door, passage etc. by which one enters; right of admission; the coming of an actor on stage.”                                        “Entrance 2. enchant, delight; put into a trance; overwhelm with strong feeling.”           (The Australian Concise Oxford Dictionary)

In September 2015 I took many photos of Katsutomo during her erikae (when she become a Geiko).  This month, June 2017, I have made my third drawing from this auspicious occasion.

Two previous drawings of Katsutomo …

A Reflective Moment
330 x 490 mm, 2015

Being There
365 x 510 mm, 2015

and when she was still a Maiko…

Here she is in my drawing “The Art of Elegance”, 2014

I have recently been invited to exhibit my drawings at Kidogo Arthouse – 7th to 20th September 2017 – hence a return to memories – and new drawings – of Kyoto.  My co-exhibitor will be Ceramicist, Stewart Scambler.  This is a Gallery East exhibition.

 

Fascination Finale

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Today, members of Perth Kimono Club visited our art exhibition “Fascination: Maiko, Geiko, Kyoto”.

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Outside it was an incredibly stormy day.  Only the bravest of the brave actually wore kimono as a strong bitterly cold wind blew non-stop while horizontal rain teemed.   Inside the gallery we sat and discussed maiko, geiko and Kyoto – interrupted at regular intervals by the front door blowing open.

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President of Perth Kimono Club, Izumi Woods, was given the task of randomly selecting the winner of 40 Caran d’Ache Luminance 6901 coloured pencils (held by Robyn Varpins) donated by Kadmium Art + Design Supplies in Sydney.  220 names were in the bag.  Congratulations Di Swain!!!

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After a group photo, people chatted and looked at the art.  It was a lovely way to finish off the exhibition.

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Matthew (my Better Half) was given the task of photographer.

Tomorrow people will come to take away the sculptures and drawings they bought.  And I will go back to being a person who works quietly at home…at least for another two years.

Thank you to EVERYBODY who took the time to visit our art exhibition over two and a half weeks.  Your interest, encouragement and support are hugely appreciated.

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Fascination:  Maiko, Geiko, Kyoto

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From September 17th to October 2nd 2016, Robyn Varpins and I open the doors to our art exhibition Fascination: Maiko, Geiko, Kyoto celebrating maiko and geiko (geisha) of Kyoto.

"Odori" by Robyn Varpins

“Odori” by Robyn Varpins

Maiko and geiko are practitioners of the traditional arts of Japan.  These are cultivated, refined and graceful women who not only perform art, but themselves become works of art.

“This has felt like creating icons, as maiko and geiko have an ‘other-worldliness’ that make them symbolic and able to be imbued with meaning” ( Robyn Varpins)

"Super Deluxe" Drawing by Julie Podstolski

“Super Deluxe”
Drawing by Julie Podstolski

In case you wonder, “But what do maiko and geiko actually DO?”, we are fortunate to have copies of “Geiko and Maiko of Kyoto” by Robert van Koesveld for sale.  This sumptuous photographic book, published this year, will answer many of your questions.

"Geiko & Maiko of Kyoto" by Robert van Koesveld.

It is our wish that you will find contemplation, inspiration and even a touch of enchantment when you visit our exhibition of drawing (by Julie Podstolski) and sculpture (by Robyn Varpins).  Our muses are mesmerizing.  Welcome to our fascination.

Artist talks at 1 pm Sunday 18th and Sunday 25th September.  We welcome questions and discussion on our exhibition subject, our art techniques, art materials and Japan.

I have a list of all my drawings in the exhibition on my blog page Fascination: Maiko, Geiko, Kyoto – an Art Exhibition

The exhibition will be open 7 days per week: 10 am – 4 pm.  Early Work.  Shop 9, 330 South Terrace, South Fremantle WA 6162

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Super Deluxe

Super Deluxe A new drawing for August 2016 in coloured pencils

Super Deluxe
A new drawing for August 2016 in coloured pencils

Word association:  the words on the taxi are a perfect description for maiko and geiko.  These practitioners of the refined arts of Japan are cultivated and rarified beings.   They are super deluxe.  The geiko in this drawing is Chisako; this has just been confirmed by my good Kyoto friend, Mima-san.

This composition was hidden inside a very ordinary photo which I took last September. While examining the photo, it was seeing the words on the taxi which piqued my interest.

Here is the source photo for the drawing "Super Deluxe".

Here is the source photo for the drawing “Super Deluxe”.

It took me a few months to see the potential for a piece of art hiding inside my hastily taken photograph.  That is the exciting thing about candid photography on Kyoto streets – one never knows what treasures lie within the copious material brought home.  What a bonus to have captured the reflection of the lantern in the taxi’s shiny paint.  I loved drawing this.

 

 

 

Kimihiro and Kimitoyo

A touch of Klimt; surely the obi on the right was influenced by the Viennese artist.

A touch of  Gustav Klimt; surely the obi on the right was influenced by his art.

Three weeks ago today I happened across the Erikae of Kimihiro of Miyagawa-cho.  Here are eight of my favourite photos from this most fortunate of spontaneous photo-shoots.

I took the top photo during the Erikae walk.  I was one of a hoard of photographers.  But then it was all over.  The photographers dispersed.  Half a dozen of us remained, chatting, deciding what to do next – when Kimihiro surprised us by coming back out of her okiya.

Kimihiro steps out of her okiya.

Kimihiro re-emerges.

Kimihiro’s sister, Kimitoyo, appeared; I don’t even remember where she came from. Perhaps she also came out of the okiya.  It is all a blur in my mind.  They delighted us by posing with a baby.  Possibly the baby was related to them or she could have been the neighbour’s baby.  (Yes, the baby’s mother was there too, standing to one side.)

Kimihiro with her sister, Kimitoyo and a baby.

Kimihiro, Kimitoyo and the baby.

Kimitoyo and the baby.

Kimitoyo and the baby.

It was such a happy time of posing.  How often have I seen a maiko holding a baby?  Never – until that moment.

Kimihiro outside her okiya.

Kimihiro outside her okiya.

Three is a GOOD crowd - Kimihiro and Kimitoyo are joined by Fukutomo.

Three is a GOOD crowd – Kimihiro and Kimitoyo are joined by Fukutomo.

Fukutama can't help but smile at the celebrations.

Fukutama can’t help but smile at the celebrations as she passes by.

I like this photo because of the delicate hand movement of Kimitoyo, reminding us that these young women are ARTISTS.

I like this photo because of the delicate hand position of Kimitoyo, reminding us that these young women are custodians of traditional Japanese PERFORMING ARTS.

I was over-the-moon to be able to photograph the small ‘happening’ after the erikae walk. Occasionally I will know in advance that an erikae or misedashi will be on while I am in Kyoto but I didn’t know about this one.  What a gift!

Related post:  Sisters (my first post about Kimihiro and Kimitoyo)

Hurry Up!

"Hurry Up!" is drawn with coloured pencils on Arches Aquarelle smooth. 250 x 305 mm. June 2016

“Hurry Up!” is drawn with coloured pencils on Arches Aquarelle smooth.
250 x 305 mm.
June 2016

I may be nearly 57 but my eternal inner child is alive, well and as insistent as she was when I was actually her age.  A fortnight ago we travelled to Kyoto together.

“Hurry up!” she implored on each of the three nights we stayed out to photograph maiko and geiko.  “I’m bored already.  We’ve been out all day.  I’m tired.  I want to go back to my room.  I want to eat.”  And – “Buy me a macha ice cream”.  [I did.  It was delicious.]  “My feet hurt.  My knees, back and shoulders ache.  I need a bathroom.  I need a bed.”

I had to be firm.  “Just another half hour”, I replied.  “Wait until I get a couple more photos.  I tell you what, after the next maiko or geiko shows up, then we’ll go.  Just until 9, 9.30, just until 10.”

So the internal dialogue continued.  Adult Julie simply HAD to hold out; resist the whine from within.  This was a small window of opportunity (three days and nights) to acquire new source photos to draw from.  I couldn’t waste precious time by giving in and going back to the hotel.  I MUST HAVE PHOTOS!  (Or to quote a famous lady, “I must have my share…”)

We agreed on one thing; when maiko and geiko appeared, enabling us to get photos, both adult and inner child were exultant.  “YES!”

Maiko and geiko finally came out of various ozashiki and dashed in the rain to their next appointments.  The drawing’s title refers to their speed as they hurtled (with grace) past one another beneath red umbrellas.

Hurry Up!” is a drawing about movement; an impression of speed.  Plus the title acknowledges Inner Child.  It reminds me of our nightly reckoning as we endured mind-numbing boredom and fatigue on the dark wet streets of Gion – waiting interminably for a few quick bursts of elegant action.

Photobombs on the streets of Kyoto

When one is trying to photograph maiko and geiko on Kyoto streets, one is certainly not alone.  Cars cruise by while dangerously-speeding taxi drivers blare their horns at straying pedestrians.   Delivery boys on bikes whizz and a constant stream of cheek-by-jowl pedestrians wander willy-nilly.  Huge whale-like tourist buses haul themselves down narrow Hanamikoji-dori. (Why, oh why, are buses allowed on such a narrow pedestrian-filled street?)  On every trip I get many photos which are severely compromised by other people’s body parts or rushing traffic.  I usually delete them but I thought you might like to see some from this trip.  It can be quite entertaining to see what turned up in one’s photos, often not realised until one is examining them back home.  (Click on each photo to enlarge.)

A very common situation - another person walks into my picture frame. (By the way, the girl at the back is a shikomi; if she makes it through her shikomi year, she will become a maiko.)

A very common situation – another person walks into my picture frame. (By the way, the girl at the back is a shikomi; if she makes it through her shikomi year, she will become a maiko.)

"Dear Shikomi, one day in the future you may wear clothes like those whose bags you are carrying, but for the moment, you spoiled my obi shot".

“Dear Shikomi, one day in the future you may wear clothes like those whose bags you are carrying, but for the moment, you spoiled my obi shot”.

Sometimes it is the people behind your subjects that spoil the shot. No offence to them to them personally, mind.

Sometimes it is the people behind your subjects that spoil the shot. No offence to them personally, mind you.

Another person walks into my picture frame.

Another person walks into my picture frame.  Because I always stand and photograph quite far away from my subject, this often happens.  I never want to loom in a person’s face.

Drats!

Drats!

In this case I was the photobomb. The lady you see taking a photograph of this wedding couple kindly asked me to move. (I quickly did so.)

In this case I was the unwelcome addition to a photo. The person you see taking a photograph of this wedding couple kindly asked me to move. (I quickly did so.)

Fast action on the part of the photographer who jumped in front of me.

Fast action on the part of the photographer who jumped in front of me.

The ubiquitous elbow photobomb as its owner takes a photo of Kimihiro.

The ubiquitous elbow photobomb as its owner takes a photo of Kimihiro.

Look at me! I was in the view of all these guys (sorry guys!) just as they are in my view.

“Look at me!”  I was in the view of all these guys (sorry guys!) just as they are in my view.

Another 'drats' moment.

Another ‘drats’ moment.

There is that rotten bus. Such a huge vehicle should not be allowed on this tiny street. Plus a small example of the billion school children who I saw over my three days on Hanamikoji-dori.

There is one of those tourist buses.  In my opinion, such a huge vehicle should not be allowed on this tiny street. Plus, a small example of the billion school children who I saw over my three days on Hanamikoji-dori.

Nothing wrong from in front of this maiko. But the guy in the black face mask pretty much bloops the photo from behind.

Nothing wrong in the foreground.  But the guy in the black face mask behind the maiko is the spoiler.  And the car doesn’t do any favours either.

I would just like to point out how NOT to photograph maiko and geiko. Here is poor Sayaka having her personal space totally invaded by a woman. Meanwhile the woman's partner waits right at the entrance to Ichiriki, where Sayaka will enter, to accost her again. This is terrible behaviour by tourists.

I would just like to point out how NOT to photograph maiko and geiko. Here is poor Sayaka having her personal space totally invaded by a woman. Meanwhile the woman’s partner waits right at the entrance to Ichiriki, where Sayaka will enter, to accost her again. This is utterly insensitive and predatory behaviour by tourists.

As opposed to the previous photo, these tourists, while they also wait at the entrance to Ichiriki, they look on with admiration and respect.

As opposed to the previous photo, these tourists, also at the entrance of Ichiriki,  look on with admiration and respect; completely non-threatening.

And finally, if you have read and looked this far, not every photo is bombed or blooped.

And finally, if you have read and looked this far, I am happy to say that not every photo I take photobombs out!  Here is Fukutama.

 

 

 

Sisters

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I made a spontaneous visit to Kyoto last week.  As far as I knew nothing was happening; no erikae or misedashi (debuts).  I planned to walk and photograph for three days and hoped that I would find some good material for drawing.  Imagine my surprise when on the second day I walked into an erikae!  It was the erikae of Kimihiro of Miyagawa-cho.  I was incredulous and gobsmacked!   But there was no time to be a stunned mullet.  I gathered up my wits and got straight to work with my camera.

Today I have been sifting through 800+ images from my three Kyoto days and printing a great many of them. The top photo moved me to stop what I was doing and quickly write a blog post.  The photo is of Kimihiro and her younger sister, Kimitoyo.  I don’t mean just geiko/maiko sisters but REAL sisters.  Kimitoyo looks so proud of her big sister.  You can see there is love, respect and admiration between these two girls.

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This interaction came when the official erikae walk was over.  Kimihiro went inside her okiya and at that point most of the photographers left.  I was chatting to a friend when, surprisingly, Kimihiro came back outside with Kimitoyo.  Only a handful of people witnessed this sisterly scene.   There was much posing, chatting and laughing – and happily for me, tolerance of the photographers.DSC_0610asmall

Related post:  Kimihiro and Kimitoyo  more photos from the Erikae of Kimihiro

Speed of Life

"Speed of Life" Neocolor II and coloured pencils on Arches Aquarelle smooth. 285 x 415 mm. June 2016

“Speed of Life”
Neocolor II and coloured pencils on Arches Aquarelle smooth.
285 x 415 mm. June 2016

For the past fortnight I have been working on “Speed of Life” – a title I borrowed from David Bowie’s album “Low”.  (Thanks again, David Bowie.)

I caught this magical moment when Satsuki dashed across Shijo-dori with a big smile (as she recognised a friend) on the night of her Erikae last year.  I wanted to show Satsuki’s energy, vibrancy and speed.  (Maiko and geiko are ALWAYS rushing!)

I had wanted to draw this for months but the original source photo had so much road surface in it that it put me off.  Also, the light behind Satsuki cut off part of her nose.  It was only recently I realised that I had other profile photos of her which I could refer to, enabling me to give her a nose.  And then – those lights behind … I complained to Matthew, “You won’t be able to see her face because of those bright lights”.  We had a discussion.  He convinced me that the viewer wouldn’t really have to see her face as the title (which I’d already come up with) suggested to the viewer that he/she was looking at the whole figure moving at speed.  OK.  Matthew convinced me so I was prepared to give it a go.  (Thanks again, Matthew.)  In the end, you can see the face pretty well after all!

The original source photo.

The original source photo.

Even though I cropped the composition so that I didn’t have too much road surface to cover, it was still a considerable amount.  The first layer of colour I put on the paper was with Caran d’Ache Neocolor II.  Having this crayon as a base then made it much easier and faster to cover and build the road surface with pencils.

Not all maiko and geiko are as great as Satsuki.  No wonder I want to keep drawing her!

Below are the other drawings of Satsuki which will be included in my September 2016 exhibition.

Oh! You Pretty Things

Oh! You Pretty Things

Coiffed

Coiffed

Jewel

Jewel

Diamonds (Satsuki on the left)

Diamonds
(Satsuki on the left)

Finally, a photo of  the night I gave Satsuki her portrait.  This was taken 48 hours before I took the photo which I used for “Speed of Life”.

Artist and Muse

Artist and her muse

 

Ephemeron and Ephemera

Ephemeron A soft-focus drawing of Mameyuri 170 x 260 mm. May 2016.

Ephemeron
A soft-focus drawing of Mameyuri
170 x 260 mm. May 2016.

Ephemera Mameyuri and Katsuyuki 170 x 260 mm May 2016

Ephemera
Mameyuri and Katsuyuki
170 x 260 mm
May 2016

Ephemeron (singular) and Ephemera (plural) mean ‘short-lived’.  The titles refer to the transitory state of being maiko in particular, and to youth and beauty in general.  Both maiko in these two small drawings; Mameyuri and Katsuyuki, have long ago given up this traditional life and are fully back in the modern world.

The photographs which I used as source photos for these drawings were taken by Lucy, my youngest daughter, in 2007 when she was 13 years old.  We joined a photo-shoot in the streets of Gion and decided to hang in there unless somebody told us to go away.  Nobody did so we took many photos of Mameyuri and Katsuyuki.  Lucy can still remember my telling her not to delete ANYTHING off her camera – including blurry photos.

Lucy, aged 13, in 2007. She was my partner-in-crime in Kyoto, helping me to gather photographic material.

Lucy, aged 13, in 2007. She was my partner-in-crime in Kyoto, helping me to gather photographic material.

Below is another drawing I did (in 2010) from the same 2007 photo-shoot.  It is also drawn from one of Lucy’s photos.  We sure had fun together, Lucy and I!

Kyoto a la Mode Coloured pencil drawing of Katsuyuki and Mameyuri.

Kyoto a la Mode
Coloured pencil drawing of Katsuyuki and Mameyuri.  2010.

It seems like just the other day that Lucy and I were photographing in Kyoto together, yet she had barely entered teenage-hood.  Today, a young woman of 22, she is the age of a geiko and is pursuing her own artistic career in Sydney.

The two little drawings side by side.

The two little drawings side by side.

Related page:  An Exceptional Day in Gion

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