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Chitchatting with Friends: Rose Blake

A brief chat with the author behind an astonishing Nanban's tenugui and some of the most beautiful illustrated books of recent years.

by Nanban

Where does your passion for drawing come from?

I wasn’t particularly interested in drawing as a child; both my parents are painters, so I suppose I rebelled against visual arts.
But as I got older I couldn’t resist; I took Art A level, and then just found myself applying for an art foundation course.
For me, drawing is the most succinct and direct form of communication. I have always found it much easier to express a thought or idea through a picture, rather than words.
I love playing with colours, and the balance of an image, almost more than the act of drawing itself.

What are or have been your work's reference points?

I just keep my eyes fully open, and try to notice all the little details of life. I also read a lot.

Where are you going now?

My mantra for this year has been to go sideways rather than forwards... trying to explore the edges of my work rather than rushing to the end of everything I do.

In the actual day to day: this evening I’m going to choir practise, tomorrow I’m going to watch the Spice Girls at Wembley Arena, on Saturday I’m driving to Corsham to pick up a beautiful turquoise Danelectro guitar I bought for cheap in an auction, and on Sunday I’m taking my Dad out for lunch.

What's your connection with Japan?

I was recently living in Hong Kong while doing an artists residency, and visited Tokyo for four nights: I don’t think my senses have ever been so stimulated, I took about a million photos and filled a suitcase with purchases! I almost burst into tears in a supermarket because of how beautiful the packaging was. I drank in tiny jazz bars, and ate delicious soba. I went to watch Paul McCartney play at Tokyo Stadium. I visited amazing markets and museums and I caught up with old friends. I ate the most delicious rice ball of my life. I spent about three hours on Kappabashi street admiring the plastic food. I’m so desperate to visit again for longer.

How important is music in your work? what are you listening to right now?

I listen to music all day at work, quite obsessively really. I suppose it doesn’t directly influence my visual practice, but it definitely keeps me going. So I would say it isn’t that important in my work, but it is hugely important in my life. Right now I am listening to ‘Memory Of A Free Festival’ by David Bowie.

A secret wish.

To work with Ali Smith… and visit Japan again!