Profile (ENGLISH)※



I am a British sumi ink artist living and working in Nara, Japan.

Whenever I begin a painting I feel as if I’m in a void – as if there’s nothing under my feet. I tend to compound this fear by increasing the unpredictability of the painting process. At the start I pour, dribble or splash the sumi ink. I sometimes fold the paper itself and the initial outlines of the design are often done with a thin bamboo stick or torn pieces of paper. From this state of unknowing and lack of control I slowly build up patterns, textures, rhythms and washes to create a whole. My inspiration is the natural world and its patterns, energies and movements.

By the time I finish, I have created a whole which I recognize – even though parts of it feel alien. The paintings are simultaneously ‘out there’ and of me. As a product of my interactions and experiences of the natural world they embody what I do not understand and can’t control and also what I do.
Stylistically the paintings have ranged from impressionistic to completely abstract. Sumi ink is a versatile medium and allows for a wide variety of expressions, from deep black washes to delicate, dry line work.  Papers and sumi ink vary tremendously, I have a few favourites but I often experiment with ones I don’t know.
I also use script: English, Japanese phonetic script and Chinese characters. For me, text is another form of patterning. Living in Japan I am surrounded by a substantial amount of text I do not understand. It is foremost a visual impression and linguistic and cultural meanings come second. Recently I have been using texts to explore my relationship to the culture of Japan and my roots in Britain.
The paintings are mounted in either East Asian or Western formats – vertical hanging scrolls, or panels and frames. I often work in series and I sometimes use hanging scrolls in sets of two or three.

Besides painting, I make artwork in a variety of media: collages, small sculptural pieces, photography and moving images.
Parallel to my studio art, I research and write about the sumi ink arts. I published a book “Japanese Calligraphy: The Art of Line and Space” in 1999 and “Sumi Workbook” in 2014. I regularly write articles for culture and calligraphy magazines.

1977 Graduated Durham University. UK. Philosophy/Psychology Joint Honours
1978 & 1986 Colour theory and practice at Richmond College under Paule Le Breton
1982-92 Japanese calligraphy under Seika Kawabe (Mainichi Calligraphy Organization)
1999-02 Chinese ink painting with Chinese painter Li Geng, Kyoto University of Art and Design
2002 MA in Art Education, University of Surrey Roehampton


Solo and small group exhibitions include
1988 Solo exhibition. La Pola, Osaka.
1991 ‘Responses’ The Small Mansion Arts Centre. London. Japan Festival 1991.
1993 Solo exhibition. Gallery Nakai, Kyoto.
1994 Solo exhibition. The Roof Garden, The Lyric Hammersmith, London.
Solo exhibition. The Staircase Gallery, Kew Studio, London
Solo exhibition. Kyoto International Community House. Kyoto.
1997 Solo exhibition. Osaka Contemporary Arts Centre. Osaka.
1998 Solo exhibition. 5th Space, Kyoto. Supported by the British Council.
‘Drawing Tea’. Six Women exhibition. Honen-in, Kyoto. Festival UK 98.
2000 ‘Ex-Isles’. Six Women exhibition. Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation, London.
2001 ‘Five Views of Japan’. Five Women exhibition. East Asian Art Museum, Bath. UK
2002 ‘Paths in Japan: Five European Artists’. Gallery Saoh & Tomos. Tokyo. Europe Week
2003 ‘Mosaic’. WAA exhibition. Kyoto.
Solo exhibition. Wall Gallery. Osaka
2004 ‘What draws Us’ Five Women exhibition. Honen-in, Kyoto.
‘Drawing the Line’ Selected group exhibition Orleans house Gallery, London
2005 Collaboration exhibition with Chinese artist Li Geng, ‘Sumi Time’. Wall Gallery, Osaka
2006 ‘Stretch a Point, Draw a Line’ Five Women exhibition. Honen-in, Kyoto
2007 ‘Space Shifts’ Two person exhibition with Hiro Sato, Wall Gallery, Osaka
‘Drawing East’ Five Women exhibition. Gallery Saoh Tomos, Tokyo
2007-2013 Sho to Hisho no Kiwa (On the border of Sho and non Sho) JARFO, Kyoto
2008 ‘Being Here’ Two person exhibition with Hiro Sato. Gofusha Gallery, Nara
‘Continuum’ Five Women exhibition. Honenin, Kyoto
2010 ‘Sumi²’ Two Women Exhibition with Penny Robertson Sugihara, Space Kagiya, Kyoto
‘Wind and Rocks’ Two person exhibition with Hiro Sato, Lotus Roots, Osaka
‘Revisiting the Tradition’ Two person exhibition with Hiro Sato, Art Promenade Nara 1300, Gofusha, Nara.
2010 – present Kyoto Contemporary Ink Painting Exhibition
2011 ‘A Turning’ Solo Exhibition, Gallery Den Mym, Kyoto
2012 ‘The Grain of Nature’ Two person exhibition with Hiro Sato, Gofusha, Nara
2014 ‘Wordsworth and Basho: Walking Poets’ Wordsworth Museum and Gallery, UK
2015 – 2018 Light Up Show The old Soukoudou Iga Ueno, Mie
2016 5 Person Exhibition Gallery Denmym Minamiyamashiro Mura, Kyoto
‘Wordsworth and Basho: Walking Poets’ Kakimori Bunko, Osaka
2016 – present Twelve Person Exhibition Takahama, Fukui
2017 ‘Encounters’ Four Person Exhibition Gallery Space Kagiya, Kyoto
Collaboration Exhibition with Traditional scroll mounter Shousaku Yoshimura Gallery DWS, Nara
2019 Lacquer Exhibition Imai Cho, Nara, Invited Artist
Solo Exhibition Okagero, Ikoma
2020 Kyoen:International Artists inspired by Kyoto The Terminal, Kyoto
Gakuenmae Art Festa Gakuen Mae, Nara
2020 – present Sho to Hisho no Kiwa (On the border of Sho and non Sho) JARFO, Kyoto


1990 Osaka Governor’s Prize in Calligraphy School Exhibition.
1992 International Cultural Association of Kyoto. Essay Prize.
2010 24th Kyoto Art Festival International Exhibition of Art and Design, Chinese Consulate General Prize
23rd International Kakyou Calligraphy Exhibition International Prize
2012 Kyoto Contemporary Ink Painting Exhibition Fujinami Prize
26th Kyoto Art Festival International Exhibition of Art and Design, Kyoto Newspaper Prize
2013 27th Kyoto Art Festival International Exhibition of Art and Design
Kyoto City International Foundation Prize
26th International Kakyou Calligraphy Exhibition Kyoto City Mayor’s Prize
2014 Kyoto Contemporary Ink Painting Exhibition Ouka Prize
2015 Grand Prize Kyoto Contemporary Ink Painting Exhibition
2015 28th International Kakyou Calligraphy Exhibition Special Art Prize
2019 Grand Prize Kyoto Contemporary Ink Painting Exhibition


1991 Alfred Plaut Co. Ltd., London.
1999 Design for stained glass window in St Philips and All Saints Church, North Sheen, London.


West Middlesex Hospital, UK
Sunderland Art and Design University, UK
JARFO Kyoto Society for Inter-Art Exchange Japan
Private Collections in Japan, UK, France, USA, Israel

and Essays

1994 ‘Land of the Waning Moon’ in ‘Essays on Japan III,1988-1992’ Kyoto Intl. Cultural Assoc., Bunrikaku Publ.
1999 Japanese Calligraphy: The Art of Line and Space’. Osaka: Kaifusha Publ. Supported by grants from the Japan Foundation and the Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation.
2001 ‘The Rise of Avant-Garde Calligraphy in Japan’ in ‘Spring Lines: Contemporary Calligraphy from East and West’ exhibition catalogue. Ditchling Museum, Brighton. April-June
2003 ‘Sumi’ in Letter Arts Review, Vol 18 #1.
2004 ‘Fude’ in Letter Arts Review, Vol 18 #4.
Illustrations Phantom City a CDRom of poetry by Jonathan Brewer
2005 The Four Treasures’ in Kyoto Journal # 61
2007 ‘New Directions in Japanese Calligraphy: A small survey of independent and semi-independent calligraphers’ in Letter Arts Review Vol 22 # 2
2008 ‘Kanteiryu’ in Letter Arts Review Vol 23 #1
2009 ‘Tsubasa Kimura’ in Letter Arts Review Vol 23 #3
‘Japan-Belgium Letter Arts Exhibition: Line and Spirit’ in Letter Arts Review Vol 23 #4
2010 ‘Ishikawa Kyuyoh’ in Letter Arts Review Vol 24 #4
2011 ‘Seal Carving in Japan’ in Letter Arts Review Vol 25 #3
‘The Restoration and Conservation of Japanese Calligraphy’ in Letter Arts Review Vol 26 #1
2013 ‘A Family of Mounters’ in Letter Arts Review Vol 27 #3
2014 The Nature and Experience of Sumi ArtsKyoto Journal #81
Sumi Workbook’ Kaifusha Publishing Company. Supported by Boku undo Sumi Manufacturers

Related activities include

1991 Sumi Workshops. Asahi Culture Centre, London. Japan Festival 1991
1993-03 Member of Women’s Art Association. Kyoto.
1996-2009 External examiner for the International Baccalaureat examination in art and design
2004 Invited tutor ‘Breath, Spirit, Energy’ Writing Symposium, Sunderland, UK.
2004-present I hold sumi ink workshops regularly in the UK and Japan.

Reviews and Interviews

2008 ‘Inking her own mark’ from The Japan Times 29/6/2008

‘Kiraku’, Vol 17 11/12 2008

2011 The review ‘A Turning’ by Patricia Fister  ( International Research Center for Japanese Studies)  ⇒ read review
2013 ‘Nara: Ancient Echoes 1,11’ produced by Hiro Minato, Design Work Studio, sponsored by Nara Prefectural Government
2014 ‘Wordsworth and Basho: Walking Poets’ exhibition catalogue
2014 The Unexpected Delights of Brushed Black Ink’ Michael Lambe, Kyoto Journal #81
Christine Flint Sato Sumi Workbook Review in Kyoto Journal #81, Deep Kyoto
2015 At Play with Brushed Black Ink’ Michael Lambe, Kansai Scene #177 p 23
2014 A Sumi Journey’ Alice Miyagawa, Kyoto Journal #79
2016 Nara NHK TV “Nara Kore” Feb 3rd
2018 ABC TV “Cocoro” Oct 25
2019 Ikoma City Newsletter May 15 p36
Kyoto Journal #94
2022 Sumi Symposium produced by Nara SDGs Study Trips
‘Historical Nara and its diverse calligraphic culture look to the future’ (2022 February 17th) Invited Artist and Speaker
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