Today the exhibition at Space Yui finally ended after a very hectic week. I can’t say exactly how many people came to the show, 117 people signed the guest book, but many others left without signing, so perhaps something in the region of 150-170 visitors in total perhaps.
If anyone who attended or helped to promote the show is reading this, a very big THANKYOU!
For me personally the exhibition has been a great success. This was the first time I’ve held a one-man show since 2002, and it was in one of my favourite Tokyo galleries. The illustrations were somewhat of a break from my usual style, although this is something that has been simmering away for a very long time indeed. Thanks to the publishers Hyoronsha, finally I was given the right project, with the inspiring text of Hans Christian Andersen and a free hand to interpret for a “mature” readership. I was let loose to do almost anything I wanted within the realm of the text.
And boy, what inspiring writing! It was for me as if the flood gates were suddenly opened, and the words on the page electrified my imagination. It was as if Andersen himself had raised the stakes, and thrown down the gauntlet – “rise to the challenge Shelley!” I was commanded. And so I did. It just goes to prove the point – the better the text, the better the illustrations. I don’t make any claims that the work in this show is to everyone’s taste, but for me at least I feel I’ve broken new ground within my own work. The fact that the show consisted of work for a single project also gave it a strong continuity.
The creative fraternity has an understandable tendancy to pigeonhole artists, and for many years my reputation in Japan has hinged on colourful bold commercial work on the one hand, and intuitive warm children’s illustration on the other. Although I love both of these genres, with this exhibition I wanted to make a clear statement that there is another side to my technique, a style that challenges my technical ability and my vision. I believe the message hit home. I don’t usually exhibit artbook from every book I illustrate, but these four volumes were a very clear exception. They simply HAD to be exhibited.
Thankyou again to everyone who helped to make this show such a memorable event.