Katsushika Hokusai and ‘The Great Wave of Kanagawa’

I never get tired of this image. It is exquisitely beautiful, otherworldly, but also perfect in its representation of the ocean and the land. I know it but it’s ‘not from here’. It’s the ocean in another place, another time, another culture, another way of seeing and knowing. I remember it often and find new inspiration in it each time I see it.

The Great Wave of Kangawa by Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai (1760–1849) is from a series of 36 paintings of Mount Fuji and lives at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. I can’t wait to go and see it one day!

I’ve often thought of the ways that waves and mountains converge and link as shapes, objects and possibilities, and in the ways we imagine and experience them. The first time I moved out of home I was terrified of how I would manage to live away from the ocean, but I found solace in the snowy mountains of my new home. I recognised their form and the ways I moved amongst them – snow, rocks, trees, winds, challenges and rewards. Being in those places is always similar for me and this image reminds me of that.

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