At first glance, this print shows chefs in a traditional Japanese restaurant. But the context of superficial traditions can be deceptive: the print is based off an observational drawing of chefs in a Japanese restaurant in an American-style shopping mall in Hong Kong. The man on the left wears the jumper of an American university, the woman on the right carries a Singaporean shopping bag and a smartphone manufactured in China.
For better or worse, we live in a world where the cultural traditions of single nations are spread beyond a nation’s rigid borders, to be enjoyed and celebrated by individuals, or subverted, packaged and sold by multinational corporations.
I was born in Cambridge and moved to Aberdeenshire at the age of six. Despite having spent almost all of my life here, I am still rarely seen as “Scottish” by my peers. When, several years ago, I lived in Hong Kong, I saw that postcolonial globalisation had vastly multiplied the complex cultural identity of the city and its residents beyond anything I’d experienced myself. The print represents the complexity of that cultural cross-pollination, as a loud, vivid, and entirely tangible and enjoyable fact of our shared contemporary culture.
A Japanese Restaurant in Tuen Mun, Hong Kong, reduction Linocut, 60x30cm