How have your recent travels to Japan influenced this new series of work? Were there any other significant influences which lead to the conceptual development of this body of work?
When I travelled to Japan last January, I had been researching ideas and collecting objects for “Cherish” for about twelve months. I decided to go to Japan after reading Barbara Nemitz’s fabulous book “Pink: The Exposed Color in Contemporary Art and Culture”, as it draws a number of important connections between the colour pink and Japanese culture.
Japan was an important influence on the “Cherish” project in two key ways. Firstly, it was an overwhelming affirmation of the value of the colour pink. Pink is the favoured colour for Japanese girls, and the main shopping districts in Tokyo such as Shibuya and Ginza have department stores filled with clothes and accessories, aimed at a young female market, and predominantly pink in colour. Pink heaven!
The annual “Hanami” (cherry blossom festival) underlines the importance of pink as a cultural symbol of beauty and transience. Japanese paintings are filled with pink cherry blossoms. Japan literally overflows with pink, yet with this excess, there is an exquisite restraint. Visiting traditional Zen gardens in Kyoto, and seeing a perfectly formed stone or tree carefully placed in a wide expanse of white gravel raked into delicate linear designs, was influential in my decision to present the objects for “Cherish” floating on a pure white ground.
While researching “Cherish” led me to visit Japan, the original inspiration for this project was my son’s childhood phase of loving pink. This started at around four years of age and continued until his eighth birthday. In a department store he would immediately gravitate to the shelves displaying pink clothes, toys and accessories. Now that he is nine years old, he has succumbed to peer pressure, and decided that pink is only for girls.
As my son grew out of his love for pink, I noted with a considerable sense of loss that he was also rapidly shifting out of childhood and the world of imaginative play he had inhabited for many years. I started to collect his pink cast offs as mementos. These formed the beginning of my pink collection for “Cherish”.