I have been mapping where I wander in Tokyo in the small hours of the night, and documenting with photos. I use the word ‘wander’ as I do not plan my walks, just each night a new area.
Last night I was accompanied by Haruyuki Kobayashi san and a film crew from the Fuji TV morning show “Tokudane!” who are covering a story on visitors to Tokyo. I met them quite by chance whilst I was walking to Shinjuku. They were interested in what I do as an artist wandering about at night. Did I feel safe? What did my work entail? Yes completely safe, it is one of the best things ever, International Women’s Day every day, Women are safe to roam here at night without fear, I’ll repeat that, women can walk alone at night without fear of attack and then being blamed for being out alone… So I have been able work on a project in the small hours that may never have been possible in any other city as a lone female artist.
At night the regular building images take on a new perspective, with crisp clean lines, and block colour, stark yet beautiful in their simplicity and uniformity. Constantly repeating patterns within the towering heights. Japan has a way to make this type of architecture work, I think it is the cleanliness of the cities. So it takes on this Corbusier idealism, although incredibly densely packed it is minimalist (Or I am just talking twaddle as usual? I do that a lot). Even the old run down buildings keep their clarity. No piles of trash collecting in grubby corners of disinherited and unwanted buildings. At home in UK our governing bodies would rather you did not look, as they distract your attention away from uncared for and unloved areas to their shiny new builds, which no doubt have the same grubby run down future in store.
I love the atmosphere at night in Tokyo with many of these smaller areas feeling as if you have stumbled across some alternate reality that is a mix of J.K. Rowlings ‘Potterverse’ and Enid Blytons’ tales. The occupants of the buildings leave their bikes leant against railings with no worries it will be gone by morning. Yet this is in the centre of Tokyo, one of the largest cities in the world if not the largest.
Here most buildings, homes or apartments have people in, the lines and cables above the street connecting each. At night when it is so peaceful I wonder about the occupants of the buildings and how their daily lives play out. What is it like to be someone else? Something none of us will really know, but the lines continue connecting. So without really planning a set course of action it has happened. I just followed my gut instinct, the inarticulate mind. I found I was attracted to the really interesting architecture which I then focused on, once again the Corbusier crispness of the structures mixed with the masses of over head cables connecting each building. Connecting people in an abstract way. It struck me I have gone crazy with the colour, all my images becoming more and more vivid. I think it is related to how vibrant Tokyo is, I do not mean the neon lights or colour in a literal sense I mean how alive this place is and how it makes me feel, and that is expressed in the art I produce!
I am a 55 yr old emerging artist having finished my Fine Art degree in 2015 from Southampton Solent University with a 1st class Hons. Like so many in my age bracket I often have to deal with the prejudices against age in UK, as many opportunities for emerging artists is under 35 yrs old. The Turner Prize for under 50’s as an example. As if we older ones do not count, we have no future, so no point engaging with us. So again kudos to Fuji TV for not deciding to just approach young attractive women, but an older woman out at night with no make up and far from looking glam.