Hai - The Culture of 'Yes'

As I prepared to leave the U.K. yesterday for my next project in Norway, the work I made in Japan arrived after its land journey across the world.

Miraculously, most of it survived, including some very fragile pieces.

Having described the journey of their creation in Japan in some detail it seems odd that this part has been shrouded in mystery and silence. But I like that.

In the interim I have had time to reflect on my experience. Initially this took a while to coherently form itself as I was barely conscious for the first few weeks of what I had undergone - it was so rich and detailed.

Several themes have since emerged which I will explore in the next few posts.

The overwhelming experience was one of positivity.  It was very unusual to ever be confronted with 'no'.

As I later understood more about the cultural emphasis on group harmony and the reasons why systems and infrastructure work so well in Japan - I could see why my own experience went so smoothly.

I was grateful for the quietly understated environment geared toward productivity.

This was evidenced by the dedication of the artists around me, many of whom worked around the clock to produce their work.

But also by the tireless efforts of the staff to support the process and find solutions. 

I also had a very strong sense of Japanese 'luck' - that somehow this positivity was rewarded by the gods.

On leaving I was given several gifts that symbolised this: an origami crane, a ceramic frog and the little wooden spirit of Jizou.

And when I returned to England I was able to make more sense of the nickname I was given by my Japanese friends:

'Hai! Hai!'


Packed in Shigaraki, collected at Patchway depot! 12 June 2017.


Everything had been carefully wrapped and placed on its side (smallest surface area) to prevent damage. Yoshiko gave me her collection of empty gift boxes which greatly helped. 


Every piece is now layered with the memory of how they were made.


This piece came from the wet day when the studio was closed and I sat on my own with the kerosene heater.


Finished works and sketches.