In 2010 it occurred to me that Kyoto might be the Paris of Japan. In fact it was my drawing “Confection” which gave me the thought. It has a sort of Belle Époque feel to it.
Even before “Confection” the drawing “Illuminating Dusk” made me reflect on Paris. I can’t quite say why it had this effect. Something about the architecture?
As I mulled over these ideas, it never crossed my mind that I would be going to Paris in late 2010 for a month!
Two of our three daughters were going to be in Paris for Christmas. My husband and I simultaneously thought ‘let’s join them’. We set off for our first European winter experience with our youngest daughter. Our whole family would be together in Paris!
One month prior to that trip I was visiting Kyoto. Across the street from my hotel there was an exhibition of Parisian photos by famous French Photograher, Willy Ronis. Wandering in awe around the exhibition I could not help but think ‘It’s a sign’.
Certainly I hoped that I would find inspiration in Paris as I was looking for a new subject after studying and drawing Kyoto for several years.
With my eyes wide open and my camera ever-ready I made the most of my time in Paris. Using the minimum of public transport and the maximum of leg power I explored at every opportunity. I got up before dawn plus I made sure I was out during dusk to get maximum opportunities from the transitory light conditions. It was absolutely freezing but I was hooked.
Back home, the Paris drawings poured forth. I was anxious that I might not be able to keep up the immediacy of feeling; that the Paris experience would fade and I would lose focus. Fortunately that did not happen. I had enough material to keep drawing for 16 months until the next trip; April 2012. The culmination of 20 months of drawing was my solo exhibition “Paris en hiver” in September 2012 in Perth.
Recently I was telling an artist friend that all my drawings are of other cities, as opposed to the city where I live. I said that while I am drawing, I am once again in those places, breathing the air whilst recreating the atmosphere and experience. He suggested that the drawing process therefore serves as a portal. Yes, I think he is right.
Working on subject matter which is a mix of the foreign and familiar (after all, I was there) makes an intoxicating and delicious cocktail. Each drawing satisfies but the thirst to do more remains unquenched.
After my “Paris en hiver” exhibition, I returned to Paris in October 2012 and April 2013 for more exploration, photography and simple inhalation of that city.
January 2016: In turn, my Paris drawings are influencing the way I am drawing Kyoto. Hence, Kyoto to Paris – and – Paris to Kyoto.
December 2016: When I finished my 2016 art exhibition, “Fascination: Maiko, Geiko, Kyoto” – totally Kyoto subject matter – I returned to Paris for two weeks of photography. Now I am using those photos to do a new body of Paris drawings. What goes around, comes around: Kyoto-Paris-Kyoto-Paris.
Related page: Work in Progress3: Quiet