Just after I arrived in Tokyo in January 1987 I bought a number sketchbooks of various sizes and spent a lot of the first year in particular being the sketching tourist, drawing, painting and photographing downtown Tokyo, the people around me, the whole experience of being in Japan. I didn't think any sketchbooks from early days in Japan had survived, I had a series of major purges for one reason or another over the 21 years I was there, the biggest down-size being at the very end when I left most of my belongings behind and threw away much of my commercial illustration artwork.
These two sketchbooks survived because I brought them back from Japan in the early '90's after buying a house in London, they stayed there until I later gave up the house, then found their way with a few other items to my dad's loft.
|Iidabashi, 6th May 1987. This old building stood near the West exit of the station (the Kagurazaka side), and was I believe demolished in the early '90's development of the area. pen & ink.|
|Street vendor's cart, Yotsuya, 6th May 1987. pen & ink|
|The office, waiting for permission to leave, 17th June 1987. ballpen|
Because I was under-employed (and yet tightly under the watchful eye of the sponsor), I leaped on any opportunity to slip out of the nicotine stained office in Iidabashi and study Japanese in the quiet of the British Council building, or go walk-about in downtown Tokyo. When I eventually found my own place to rent in Yanaka and parted company with the sponsor these sketchbooks were both a comfort and way to come to terms with Tokyo, it's architecture, atmosphere, details, all things that would serve me well later on.
|Roppongi, 18th April 1987, ballpen|
|On the Hibiya Line, 8th October 1987. ballpen|
|Mishima village near Sendai, painted during a volunteer weekend with UNICEF, Summer 1987. watercolour|
If there's anything these old archive things has taught me though, it's that on the whole change is generally good, provided you establish a goal that's just out of reach. Provided you maintain this goal and keep pushing towards it, things will most definitely get better!