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Roger Ackling: Between the Lines


Naoko Mabon has been invited to contribute to Roger Ackling: Between the Lines, the first comprehensive overview of the work and teaching of the late British artist Roger Ackling (1947–2014). Edited by Emma Kalkhoven, published by Occasional Papers.

The contribution was based on Mabon’s interviews with eleven Japanese art experts, who in the past came across, supported and/or worked with the artist during his distinctive, long-term relationship with Japan since 1982. The interviews were conducted either face-to-face, over the telephone or via email, with the following individuals:

– Takeshi Sakurai MBE (Director, Contemporary Art Museum, Kumamoto)
– Junichi Shioda (Director, Niigata City Art Museum)
– Yasuyoshi Saito (Professor, PhD, University of Tsukuba)
– Takashi Suzuki (Artist)
– Kazuo Amano (Director, Amano Gallery, Osaka)
– Junji Teraguchi (Deputy Director, Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art)
– Kimio Tsuchiya (Artist)
– Takushi Hamada (Deputy Director, The Museum of Modern Art, Wakayama)
– Hisami Ueno (Curator, The Museum of Modern Art, Wakayama)
– Toshio Nakamori (Director, Temporary Space, Sapporo, Hokkaido)

– Atsuo Hukuda (Sculptor / Director, Concept Space, Shibukawa, Gunma)



Over the course of this interview project I have learned much about who Roger Ackling was, how his work was introduced to and received by a Japanese audience, and how he himself may have found Japan. But we should probably bear in mind that what we hear now are people’s interpretations of Roger’s experiences in Japan. In my interviews, I heard many philosophical reflections on how Roger’s work sits with the Japanese sensibility, and also a wide range of stories about Roger’s time in Japan. However, we do not have a first-hand account from Roger himself to add to this, and there is much we still do not know about what he actually felt and experienced during his time in Japan.

I would like to give my sincere gratitude to everyone who so kindly supported me to make this project possible, especially Emma Kalkhoven and Occasional Papers for giving me this wonderful opportunity, all the interviewees for their time and responses at such short notice, and Dr Leslie Mabon, a social scientist and my husband for his knowledge and ability to make sure the project and my translation didn’t go off the rails. Thank you, also, and most importantly, Roger-san and Sylvia-san.

Naoko Mabon, Independent Curator


For more information on Roger Ackling: Between the Lines please click here.