So after two relentlessly incredible years in Tokyo I’ve arrived back in London. This summer has been one of the best, creatively speaking very possible the absolute best, summers of my life. First the residency in Hida, followed by my time with Kengo Kuma and concluding with my residency in Hackerfarm. I will be preparing a full press release for the installation I built, but I wanted to record the time there and my leaving Japan a little for myself looking back.
I spent the first couple of weeks of the Hackerfarm Residency prototyping and preparing the site for the build, and the final one building a piece which I hope will be some sort of crystallization of my past years of research. Most days finished with a simple bbq of local veg and fish outside, before retreating into a tent to escape the huge, no one warns you about this, spiders and various other jungle size insects that can be found in the Japanese countryside, especially in Autumn. For the installation site I decided to use the same room that I spent a few weeks renovating last spring, an incredible 8 Jo tatami room in a beautiful old wooden frame building up on one the many mountains surrounding Hackerfarm. From this room you can hear no cars and see nothing except a wall of shivering green and gold bamboo. I’ve managed to get many of my favourite people to come out and enjoy this space with me over the last two years, so it’s filled with good memories for me. My good friend Elena came down from Tokyo to help me clear the room for the installation. We spent Saturday helping with the local rice harvest, and then headed up Sunday to get to work. Firstly we had to scare a very cute and bewildered looking bat out, then wash the wood and tatami down with hot water and vinegar. We wiped the windows and swept the wooden veranda, and cleared the outside view. We then indulged in an amazing herbal bath, throwing armfuls of mint, rosemany and shiso picked for the surrounding areas into a boiling hot old style bath at the back of the house.
The final week was incredible, going to the site meant a good hour and half hiking per day, often carrying heavy loads, I definitely gained physical strength from this time. As I had to go to sleep early, to avoid giant spiders, I rose early, and spent long lovely days working up in the empty house, seeing not a soul all day, meditating and working silently till the light began to fade. During this time I felt the force of how ridiculously lucky I am to have this time, to be able to build this concept, that I’ve been developing in my mind for around 5/6 years now, in a space that is everything I desire, away from distractions, in nature, enveloped in beauty.
To celebrate the finished piece some other great friends came down from Tokyo and we had a big bbq party at SDF, complete with moon viewing. The next day we all hiked up to see my work, then the photographer arrived from Tokyo, then returning to Tokyo to prepare for the move back to London. I was absolutely shattered both physically and emotionally.
Leaving Japan this time has been one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made, one that I currently have doubts about. Saying goodbye to certain people, and certain spaces like the room where I build my installation and my Shimokitazawa flat, was so painful I almost physically felt it. I am so excited to be back, to start my Masters at the RCA, which is something I’ve been planning on doing for around 10 years now, but still, saying goodbye this time around is harder then I expected, and I think, truth be told, I left my heart in Japan, it’s shrines and mountains and food and sake and… how long can I wait until I return? Not long I think.