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Robin White: A Postcard from Japan

Aomori Contemporary Art Centre (ACAC)

May 2024

In early April 2024 Robin White travelled from her home in Masterston to Aomori in Japan where she is taking part in an artist-in-residence (AIR) program at the Amori Contemporary Art Centre (ACAC). ACAC is a regional art centre with a focus on residencies, exhibitions and education. Alongside the AIR program some of Robin’s work is being exhibited at the ACAC in the exhibition titled currents / undercurrents: Bringing together the endless flow.

Last week we received a ‘postcard’ from Robin, filling us in on her time in Japan so far, which we are thrilled to be able to share (with Robin’s permission):

‘I arrived on April 9, in Aomori where I settled into the residential hall at the ACAC. Aomori is in the far north of Honshu and was apparently considered the back of beyond, the whoop whoops. It’s a fabulous part of the country. In the past the folks of Aomori were looked down on by their southern Samurai masters and were denied access to the fancy goods. But they are resilient folks and have been gloriously creative  with what was available to them and have produced things of great beauty. I feel very much at home in Aomori.

It was very cold in Aomori to start with and that was a surprise. But it didn’t take long for the last patches of snow to melt and the view from my room became completely transformed. The bare trees produced blossoms. And no sooner were the blossoms in full bloom than they began to fall and I could see a constant trickle of petals. Now all is green and the forest is full of bird song. I occasionally hear a busy woodpecker drilling away at a tree trunk.

I’ve  been focusing on Munakata Shiko (a native of Aomori, famous for his woodcuts) and have been learning from his attitude and approach. I thought I might invest in some top quality woodcut tools but have decided to stick with what I have always used - cheap kids tools! They’ve done me proud in the past so why not now. As for sharpening stones, some kind and generous folks here have offered them to me so I’m all set. And in the studio facility there is a very well appointed print room. 

I’ve also been exploring other things relating to Aomori traditions and the ACAC staff have been taking me on outings to various places, including an indigo dyeing workshop in Namioka, and visits to art museums in Aomori and Hachinohe. 

On May 8 I took time out from Aomori, travelling on the Shinkansen with my friend Hannah Sawada to Tokyo where we meet up with Mike, Junko and Gaylene and we all visited the Maruki Gallery the next day to view (and film) the Hiroshima Panels. Hannah returned to Hirosaki (where she lives and teaches at Hirosaki Uni) and the rest of us headed to Hatsukaichi to meet up with Ogawa Taeko. From Hatsukaichi we visited Hiroshima and then off to Kochi which is famous for its paper-making. While there I visited the most extraordinary artisan paper-making family business high up in the hills of Kochi and spent a small fortune on glorious paper that I shall, over the next two months, try my best not to desecrate with my efforts in the printing room at ACAC.'

Image: One of the printing presses at ACAC, courtesy of Robin White 

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