I’m Noriko Matsubara – I’m a mum, artist, and children’s book author.
I practice a traditional Japanese art form called chigiri-e, in which pictures are created from hand-torn Japanese paper. My Japanese heritage influences my work, but the material used is newspaper; adding a contemporary dimension to the work. I use no paint, no scissors, just newspaper torn by hand. Find out more about my chigiri-e here.
Alongside chigiri-e, I write and illustrate picture books about a pair of socks. “Bocchi and Pocchi: A Tale of Two Socks” is my first picture book. The ‘Bocchi & Pocchi’ series has been published in the UK and translated into six languages including Spanish, Catalan, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and Japanese. You can see my children’s books here.
When I began creating children’s books, it was simply to make me feel happy. When I was doing my master’s degree in Fine Art, my work focused on issues surrounding nuclear power (View my Nuclear Project). I’m from the area in Japan where a nuclear waste reprocessing plant was being built and its landscapes were rapidly changing. I felt compelled to face the nuclear issues through my art. But this nuclear theme started weighing heavy on my mind and made me feel depressed and powerless. I felt I needed to shift from it and create something lighter and simpler I can feel at peace with. So I began writing and illustrating children’s book – a tale of two socks.
Now I’m a mum of two children, I believe in power of children’s books. I love reading to my children at bedtime. It helps us unwind and deepen our bond. I hope my books will offer toddlers and young children the experience of kindness and warmth and foster awareness of caring for the world.
I have recently started cartoons to document my family’s experience during COVID-19 lockdown. I thought this is the best time to start cartoons because I’m with my children at home 24/7, which may be a once in a lifetime opportunity. Instead of struggling to find time to work, I decided to incorporate my children in my new creative project. I post them regularly on my blog. You can also see them in the cartoon section.
When I’m not working in my studio, I love working with people sharing my stories and skills. All my workshops are suitable for both adults and children. Many parents and children have enjoyed my workshops together. I have worked with various organisations as well as individuals to help them explore Japanese art and the world of picture books.
I give talks and workshops in libraries, schools, festivals, galleries, and other venues. Below are the services I offer:
I spent much of my childhood daydreaming about imaginary worlds and doodling in notebooks. When I was in Year 3, I drew cartoons in my ‘homework’ notebook and submitted it to my teacher everyday (although I stopped it in Year 4 when my teacher told me to do ‘actual’ work rather than cartoons). While art was my passion, I became a Japanese language teacher and taught Japanese in Lebanon, Canada and the UK. A consequence of my travels was my decision to follow my passion, and I went on to study visual arts at Memorial University of Newfoundland in Canada and completed a MA in Fine Art at Central St Martin’s College of Art and Design in the UK.
I currently live in Consett, County Durham with my husband and two children.