newtown store
134 King St
Newtown NSW 2042
ph. (02) 9550 1663

Koloman Moser

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

I have been inspired lately by the work of Koloman Moser, an Austrian artist who rose to prominence in the early Twentieth Century as a founding member of the Vienna Seccession and has had a lasting influence on the rise of graphic art. Alongside work in design fields as diverse as architecture, furniture and jewellery, Moser also designed incredible graphic wallpapers and textiles which remain modern even now almost one hundred years after his death. These wallpaper and textile patterns often feature recurring motifs and combine colours in a way that still seems radical and fresh.

The repeating patterns and use of colour in Moser's work first caught my eye because they reminded me of Japanese textile design found in kimono. In fact, this is not a coincidence, as Moser was inspired by Japanese design at the turn of the century and this is seen throughout his work.

Moser also designed furniture and objects including glassware and jewellery. I encourage you to look into his body of work for inspiration!

Shomei Tomatsu

Thursday, July 11, 2013

I have recently discovered the work of the Japanese photographer Shomei Tomatsu who died last December aged 82. An influential photographer of the post-war era, he is famous for documenting a changing Japan, faced with the devastation of World War II and the effects of growing exposure to the West. He was a founding member of a photographic collective in the 1950s who together tried to use photography to explore Japan's modernisation process. His distinctive surreal aesthetic, as well as his collaborative practices, mean he is regarded as one of Japan's most respected photographers.

His work has a grainy and raw quality appropriate for his often heartrending subjects. His most famous photograph Melted Bottle Nagasaki 1961 looks like a skinned animal but it is actually a beer bottle distorted by a nuclear burst in 1945. With this image Tomatsu confronted the horror of what had happened in a city that was desperately trying to forget. The twisted muscular form of the bottle is a horrifying reminder of the destruction of war.

My favourite photograph is of a prostitute in Nagoya in 1958. I love her strong eyebrows and very graphic yukata as well as her fixed stare at the camera. This photograph encapsulates the old world of Japan as it meets the demands of modernity.

Japanese robots

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Japan is famous for its long-standing love affair with robots and all things mechanical. I only recently learnt, however, that this tradition stretches back much further than I could have imagined with its beginnings rooted in the the mechanical dolls of the Edo period (1603-1868).

These incredible wind-up dolls are still made in the traditional methods today and are works of art. Known as karakuri ningyo, these dolls rely on gears and clockwork mechanisms to propel them and generate movement. They began to surface not long after clockwork technology and other western inventions reached Japan and by the Edo period these dolls had become hugely popular for their natural movements and human expressions. 

I love seeing the robots' inner workings as you can see the incredible skill that goes into creating the delicate wooden gears and mechanisms. Some of my favourites include the dangaeri ningyo which walk down stairs in a series of backflips and the chahakobi ningyo which dutifully serves tea when a teacup is placed on the saucer he is carrying before turning and shuffling back with the empty teacup.

This video below really demonstrates the level of craftsmanship involved in creating these beautiful and endearing dolls.

Of course today Japan is known for its obsession with robots and I have to say my love of Astroboy makes them very dear to my heart as well. If you, like me, are robot-crazy you should also check out roborigami, an incredible collaborative project between a designer, artist and robot engineer to create large scale origami robot exhibitions. Their works have personality and charm while also exuding an understated elegance.

Closer to home, there is also a video installation by a Japanese artist involving these mechanical dolls as part of the International Symposium of Electronic Arts at the Powerhouse Museum on now - be sure to go and check it out if you live in Sydney!


Incredible India

Saturday, February 23, 2013

I've travelled to India many times over the years and often experienced fascination and frustration in equal parts. And with India being such a vast and diverse country, you really cannot talk about it as a whole. Each state and even every town has such a unique character.

In January I went with my daughter, touching on a few places in Rajasthan. Travelling overland by car (time was short and train booking procedures bureaucratic and looong) meant that we got to see a lot of the countryside. Both of us animal lovers, we were enthralled by the sheer volume and variety of creatures who play such a big part in the everyday life of the people, villages and bush of rural India.

We saw herds of camels, goats, cows, pigs, deer, sheep, monkeys, elephants, and a dog asleep on every sunny corner, flocks of birds and a snake. Admittedly the snake was a cobra coming out of a basket swaying to the music of a snake charmer. And despite being charmed at the time, I've since learned that for our amusement, the snakes suffer the removal of their fangs, and that animal activists are trying to get snake charmers retrained to relocate dangerous snakes from populated ares. I also didn't know that snakes are actually deaf, so the cobra weaves about following the visual cue of the charmer's pipe, and only emerge from their basket in response to the vibrations as the owner taps their foot on the floor. At the time we knew it was touristy, yet somehow also quintessentially, magically Indian.

Add to that the amazing people, everywhere. So many people, mostly kind-hearted and outwardly always so polite, but also sometimes tough and shrewd. Then top that off with squats and palaces, lakes, temples, huts, trucks, cars, motorbikes, trolleys, pushbikes, and the incessant tooting and blaring and blasting of horns (our driver was particularly good at this) and the effect is colourful, vibrant, magical, noisy, chaotic, surprising, overwhelming, and yet, delightful.

I of course loved visiting anything to do with fabric and India has the most amazing fabrics and extraordinary handiwork. We visited a little town called Pipar, which seemed populated by twice as many goats as people. The goats were sitting or standing languidly in doorways and on the road. In Pipar, we also visited a block-printing factory which, having been owned and used but the same family of artisans for generations, boasted a large and beautiful collection of patterned blocks. 

I think it is impossible not to be profoundly moved by the experience of a visit to India.

'Style Has No Age Limit'

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Joan from WA, visited the store with her daughter on the weekend, I couldn't help but take a photo of her. She had such a fabulous spirit and looked great in our 3/4 Denim Pants (P056) and Seersucker Top (T765).

Style has no age limit!

Meeting Joan on the weekend led me to look at a blog called Some absolutely wonderful stylish people in the blog. Very inspiring! 

Recover a Lampshade: Craft Workshop with Karie Soehardi

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Karie, from Ella and Sofia, showed how to give new life to those beautiful fabrics tucked away in our drawers. Explaining how to choose interior textiles, that work together without being too ‘garish’ and coordinate with your existing furnishings. The attendees created some gorgeous lampshades, take a look at the photos and see for yourself.

Look on our Facebook for more photos and comments. Also, we will hold our next workshop on November 4th, join Hazel Lacey to 'Create a fabulous appliqué using manual techniques'. 

Furoshiki: The art of wrapping

Thursday, October 25, 2012

When I'm in Japan, I love how everything is so beautifully wrapped and how the sales assistant so gracefully comes from behind the counter and presents the package to you.

'Wrapping or tying has a special meaning, in the context of Japanese ritual and belief, signifying not only enveloping something with a covering but demarcating it as special and sacred'. The Japanese Forum website has great information on the art of wrapping, Furoshiki.

On October 13th, Yoshie Kumagie ran our first workshop on wrapping cloth and the attendees really enjoyed it. Look on our Facebook for more photos and comments. Also, we will hold our next workshop on November 4th, join Hazel Lacey to 'Create a fabulous appliqué using manual techniques'. 

Shintennoji Temple

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Im just back from Japan and for the first time stayed in Osaka for a few days. Enjoyed the 

lights and energy of Dontonburi, the incredibly tasty food and a visit to the oldest Buddhist 

temple in Japan. Shintennoji temple is over 1400 years old with a raked garden and ponds 

full of tortoises.

Im always fascinted by Jizos and there are hundreds of them at Shintennogi. Jizo is a

bodhhivisatva loved in Japan .Traditionally seen as a guardian of children particularly of 

children who died before their parents .The statues are sometimes seen wearing childrens

clothing put there by grieving parents in the hope the Jizo will especially protect their child \ 

or as a thank you for saving their child from serious illness . 

Jizos are also seen as saviours of souls who have to suffer in the underworlds , protector of 

travellers and also fire fighters !!

Japanese Paper Dolls

Friday, October 28, 2011

Japanese Paper Dolls by Futami Isogawa; now in store 


Exclusive to Yoshi Jones!
Come in to the Newtown store to see Futami Isogawa's beautiful Japanese Dolls.
These exquisite sculptures are available to purchase from $50-150




Japanese paper, or washi, is perhaps most famous for its use in origami, a traditional Japanese art of paperfolding. The Japanese paper dolls on display in this exhibition are hand crafted using authentic 'chirimen' paper. Chirimen paper is preshrunk and hand made with a luxurious feel.

The dolls are imbued with a sense of movement and natural feminine grace, and each pattern carries a unique meaning. They would make a striking addition to a sophisticated interior space, and are ideal gifts for friends and family.

Amy Jones' Art Featured in Our Window and Shop

Saturday, September 17, 2011


I immediately responded to the work of Amy Jones (no relation!) when I went along to her exhibition at Chrissie Cotter Gallery in Camperdown.

Amy used fabric from my Vintage Kimono collection to construct beautiful artwork; when I saw it I knew that her work would look so fantastic in the Newtown store.

It is excellent timing to display her work as Spring is traditonally an important time in Japan to celebrate new beginnings, it's when the cherry blossom trees come into bloom for a fleeting week; the hanami season. The store is buzzing with new season energy and we are very excited about the new stock which is arriving every week!


I am so pleased to feature Amy's work as she is a Newtown based artist whose paintings and craft based works are influenced by the Japanese landscape. Jones has particularly responded to the deliberate manner of planting, and the sculptural nature of Japanese garden design, seeing an echo of the artistic process – selection and discernment of colour, composition and form.


Jones’ Installation “there are no birdies in my garden”, is a response to inner city life – attempting to recreate part of the whimsical beauty of a garden, whilst surrounded by a concrete jungle.

The sculptures are available to purchase for $19-45 in our Newtown store.



Jones currently teaches painting and drawing classes privately, and at the Hazelhurst Gallery in Gymea.