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japanese bondage live drawing

Monday at the London Festival of Japanese Rope Bondage, something of a quieter day for all of us finished with John – Nawashi Murakawa arranging a life drawing class. His performance on Sunday night, a striking and beautiful Japanese theatre set piece, and talk earlier Monday on his pilgrimage to Japan for me made him one of the most interesting people I saw around the festival.

His long history as an illustrator and artist with a high sense of aesthetics and beauty showed itself in how he prepared the area under the mezzanine for the evening. Chrysanthemum blossoms in the ropes, a single light source like a heavy rising moon, implements and tools of drawing scattered across the rostrum, a woman in Kimono playing a Shamisen. John at first tying one woman in the dim light as a group of artists and photographers gathered around, drawing supplies littering the stage. After an hour or so in two poses, she departed and Dasniya came to the stage.

I seldom see her being tied, most often in the role of teacher or self-suspending or tying others (or me), her attitude noticeably shifts when it is her inside the rope. John strung her up under her elbows with bamboo, breaking the line of her body by pulling one side higher, her turquoise hair against the pink of the blossoms, one of the few colour photos I took.

I’m still enjoying limiting myself to using the 1:1 ratio and shooting in black and white. In some of these, I locked the exposure closer to the light source, so the background becomes almost black, sometimes it works, sometimes everything becomes too dark.

I tried drawing also, black pen on paper. I used to draw all the time, thinking of living in Auckland, using pencil and water colour because oil and canvas was too expensive and finding it a medium I liked better, even though it is a poor child in the western art world to proper painting. And I lamented also how much I have forgotten, how I used to be able to draw hands with such detail and expression and now they become unformed, misshapen clumps at the end of approximations of arms. Something I would like to return to, drawing, pen and ink, paper. So much time in computers and even cameras, the ease with which I can make a portrait, even though I do study and experiment with my camera, it is measurably easy to compose this way than to painstakingly draw. Of course I am also attracted to the meditation through time of drawing.

Some photos then…