The Graf Building, North Osaka • グラフビル、北大阪

In Nakanoshima • 中之島 in Osaka, right next to the National Museum of Art is the Graf Building; cafe, salon, furniture and living showroom and shop, and the graf media gm gallery.

大阪の中之島、国立国際美術館のすぐ近くにはグラフのビル:カフェ、サロン、家具とリビング、そして『graf media gm』ギャラリー。

I've been to Graf a number of times before, but this time I was there for Agathe's workshop (you can see the related article here). The building seems to be a old building that's been transformed into a stylish new place. It's spacious and bright inside with lots of natural light. The windows on the far side of every room present a lovely view of the river as you browse the interior.

僕は何回も行ったことありますが、今回はアガットのワークショップのため行きました(read it here)。グラフのビルは古い建物をベースにして新しくてかっこいい所に変身しました。広々で明るいで、自然光は多いです。窓から川を見えて、中身をゆっくり見て回れます。

It's a nice spot for a lunch break if you're visiting the museum, and well worth the return visit for events at the salon and exhibitions in graf media gm.

国立国際美術館へ行くつもりでしたら、昼ご飯のおすすめでございます。サロンのイベントとgraf media gmの展覧会にはね、何回も行った方がいいと思っております。勝手に敬語。

As for an overview of the building; the first floor of Graf is the salon area, which can be anything from an exhibition to workshop area, and is constantly changing from one thing to the next. On the second floor is a casual restaurant called Fudo and on the 3rd and 4th floor are Graf's original furniture and living products. The 5th floor is graf media gm; shop, library, information, a mini outdoor garden and exhibition space all in one.

ビルの通覧:グラフサロンは1階でいろんなイベント、展示、ワークショップありまして、次から次から変わっていきます。『Fudo』というレストランは2階にあるで、3階と4階はグラフのオリジナル家具とリビングの商品。graf media gmは5階です:ショップ、ライブラリー、情報、ミニ庭と展示スペース、このことすべて。

The quaint outdoor garden was done by Namaiki, a foreign duo from Tokyo (designers into hard-core gardening). The pink rabbit is the give away, if you've seen their stuff before. Yes, I know that NOVA had a pink rabbit as well, but Namaiki is much more organized.


Inside the exhibition space is a small house constructed in the middle of the room. Works are also displayed inside, and personally I think it helps make the viewers feel a little more at ease browsing. There's more of a natural element. On the right as you enter is a large bookshelf with a mini library to browse (creative related books), and a resource of information on events happening in both Kansai and Tokyo. To the left is a small shop area selling all kinds of creative stuff.


When I was there this time Ai Sasaki, the featuring Artist, was holding an exhibition. I did a bit of research on her, and she's been exhibiting since 2000. I found her pictures to be bright with colours and simple with use of space and composition, not too much, not too little. There were quite a few birds in her pictures as well; perhaps she keeps one as a pet.


Lots of people visit Graf for a number of good reasons, and I'm very very sure that you won't have any problems finding one yourself. And it's right here in Kansai, smack bang creative central!


Glan Fabrique, Ibaraki • グランファブリック、茨木市

If you're ever in Ibaraki city in Osaka, you should drop by Glan Fabrique. It's a short walk from JR Ibaraki station, but you can also get there from Hankyu without any problems.


It's a lovely renovated old house, and a lot of the framework in the original building hasn't been touched. It still has creaky floors and stuff! There's a studio upstairs called Design Works who run and probably own the place, with Cafe Moka and La Galerie (a gallery space), on the 1st floor. The reason I went to Glan Fabrique was actually to check out the gallery. One of the featuring artists had exhibited at Itohen previously, so I picked up a flier from there. Keep your eyes peeled for gallery fliers, they're one of the only ways to find out what's going on where.

すてきな改装されたお家、元の下部構造は変わってない。キーキーいう床もあるで!上の「Design Works」と呼ぶスタジオは経営をして、1階には「Cafe Moka」 と 「La Galerie」のギャラリースペースあります。ギャラリーを調べるために行きました。そこの特徴画家さんはいとへんで先展示をして、フライヤーをもらいました。ギャラリーフライヤーは目を皿のようにして探してね、「何」と「何処」を調べるためにフライヤーしかないんだ。

Gardens surround the premises, giving the place and inviting feel. To one side of the building there is a stone garden, and there is also a very Japanese garden out the back. The gallery has a window facing the garden out the back, so there's lots of natural light. I wasn't allowed to take pictures, but you get that sometimes; it's normal.


Nice place to visit for those who live between Osaka and Kyoto!

Night Market, North Osaka • ナイットマーケット、北大阪

Near JR Fukushima station there's a nice little chill-out spot called Night Market. It's not quite a cafe or a restaurant; it really is more like an indoor market. There's a bar and 3 stalls selling food, all of which are independently operated. The friendly staff there come and take your orders and bring you what you want. I think it could seat about 40 people. There's a gallery on the 2nd floor (see the pictures below). Open till the early hours of the morning.

JR福島駅の近くに『Night Market』と呼ぶ chill-out spot • リラックスできる地点 があります。カフェもレストランでもない、屋内のマーケットと似ている。バーがあって三つの屋台が単独で食べ物を用意しています。スタッフは友好的でテーブルまで注文を持ってくる。40人ぐらい入れると思います。2階にはギャラリーあります(下の写真をご覧下さい)。早朝までやってはる。

Expect it to be a little busy on Friday Saturday nights! Another cool place to hang out in Osaka. I couldn't find a website, but the address is 大阪市福島区福島7−22−13 (ph: 06-6451-0301).

金・土 忙しくなるって思って下さい!大阪でカッコいい入りびたるとこだ。Webサイトを探せなかったが、住所は大阪市福島区福島7−22−13 (ph: 06-6451-0301)です。

On the second floor there's a gallery called the Barn Gallery.

Cante Grande, North Osaka • カンテグランデ、北大阪

If you're, as the Japanese say, kuwashii • 詳しい you'll probably already know that Cante Grande in Nakatsu is where the Urufurus • ウルフルズ worked part time while they were starting out. Apparently this still attracts people from all over Japan, but it's not the only reason to visit Cante!


There are quite a few stores in Osaka, but Nakatsu is where the honten • 本店 (head office) is. It's in the middle of the mini jungle pictured above, on the B1 floor, so when you enter, you descend into a nice quiet place. Cante serves indian food, and the curries are kickass.


I was introduced to Cante through a good Tsunagari • 繋がり (connection), and happy to find a great place in Osaka to just chill out and enjoy green stuff.


36 Eyes Exhibition, Itohen • 『三十六の瞳』の展、いとへん

A couple of months ago now, I got myself to Itohen just in time for Vol.2 of the 36 Eyes exhibition, showcasing a selection of independent artists in the Kansai area. And even on a weekday afternoon I was able to meet some of the artists participating in the even and ask them a few questions.


Interesting collections of objects imprisoned inside glass cases; not seemingly because they were fragile, but more so because imprisonment seemed the objective of the pieces by Megumi Yamamoto San.


Masato Takeichi San said that he spends the greater part of the day on a single of his artworks. He draws what appears to be mechanical contraptions with no apparent functionality. The details in his drawings are so fine that you can't see the pencil lines, and the shading is meticulous! Personally, I'd get a headache doing these types drawings, and Takeichi San said he spends a lot of time on them.


A collection of interesting shapes and gradients of colors seemed to give depth to Yusaku Kubo San's work. With the work below it was like looking at a jungle, or a machine, bronzes and silvers, flowing lines that fill out into hard shapes.


Agathe de Bailliencourt • アガット ド バイヤンクール

Agathe is still in Japan until the middle of April sometime. Just as she was wrapping up her installation in the open space at OOO, I squeezed in an interview in her hectic schedule. I was lucky; after 3 weeks in Osaka, she was headed to Tokyo for a month, participating in an overnight art project in Roppongi Hills then headed back to Osaka for another week or so to create and installation at YOD gallery. Keep your eyes peeled for that.

アガットさんは4月まで日本にいるんです。OOOでインスタレイションがおしまいにする前忙しい日程にインタビュウをお願いしました。僕運が良かったほんまに、彼女は大阪で3週間のあと東京で1ヶ月ほどいて、六本木ヒルズで展示をして、そして大阪へ戻ってYOD galleryでまだ展示をする予定。スゲ〜。YODの展示に目を付けていておね。

Agathe had always wanted to be an artist. "But it's not something you become, it's something you are. There comes a point in your life where you can't avoid what you are." She certainly lives out this philosophical point, she's constantly painting colours and sketching, writing or scribbling in her notebook. She kept a visual diary of her time in Japan, and every day was a collage of notes and colours all mixed up with a progression or logic which seems to depend on how she's feeling at the time.


Agathe has a very broad range of skills at her disposal. She studied at the legendary Beaux Arts in Paris, and then after that she studied furniture design at Ecole Boulle. "I also did a lot of film making, and I learnt how to use all the software. I still remember all this as well", she says, standing in all her paint covered gear. When I asked her about the software she uses, she mentioned that she uses Photoshop the most at the moment. The last job she had she worked on a branding export job for TV.

アガットは幅広い経験ありますよ。伝説的のBeaux Arts(パリ)で勉強をし、またはEcole Boulleで家具のデザイン。『映画制作も結構やって、その関係のソフトの使い方も習いました。それもまだ覚えてますよ』って服に飛び散ったペンキのままで教えてくれました。どんなソフトを聞くと今ほとんどPhotoshopなんです。一番最近の仕事でテレビのブランド輸出をやてました。

She has enjoyed working here. This is actually her 5th time to Japan, but the first 4 were all in Tokyo. "It's hard to explain, but it's a very funny country. I'm never bored because everything is so different: basic sensations like sight and sound are filled with totally different things". She described Kansai as drastically different. "In Tokyo, there's a crazy rhythm, but in Kansai, people are more relaxed, people seem to enjoy life more". Damn right! She also said the amount of nature in Kyoto was amazing. It's the first time she's seen a green Japan.


See, it's true. Kansai is just better all round. 

Staying at the Air residency out at the Creative Centre Osaka (you can check the blog here), she was the only foreigner amongst the Japanese. "It was a very Japanese way of living. Like a collective life". Even without the ability to communicate in English, they showed her how to cook eggs, japanese style. Agathe said 'eggs', but maybe they showed her how to make dashimaki. Dunno, I forgot to ask.


What's the most useful Japanese Agathe knows? "Sumimasenn and Arigatougozaimasu are imperative over here."

一番いい日本語は?『日本で すみません と ありがとうございます が必要。』

It was wonderful having Agathe here, and though I missed a chance to go and get drunk with her, we might be seeing her before long. 5 times to Japan is enough to warrant a 6th I think.


Don't forget to check out her website here!

The following is an almost finished photo of the installation at OOO. Below that is Agathe's work on canvas (she asked me to mention that these aren't the finished pieces).

Must blog! Must blog! • ブログしなくっちゃ!ブログしなくっちゃ!

Woe is me!

Tied down with life's seemingly endless things to do, the also seemingly endless list of creative places to blog about starts piling up as well! As you can see from the picture above, I was busy spending the weekend basking in the warmth of the sun, and doing a little gardening. You can also see my pajamas hanging up to dry. And too busy (enjoying myself) to blog, of course.

And not only was I busy, but I've been doing some deep thinking too. Some soul searching. and I've decided to go bilingual again.

Who cares if it's crap.