Kumiko Hattori

(Japan 1960 – )

Fish plant

Not on display
Further information

Hattori's whimsical, humorous image is an imaginative and modern interpretation of the bonsai theme. Born in Tokyo and educated at Tama Art University, Hattori now resides in Hyogo Prefecture.

Fish are a recurring motif in the arts of Japan, appreciated for their aesthetic and symbolic as well as their epicurean worth. Traditionally the fish has been employed as a symbol of wealth and abundance, and diverse types of fish, each with their own symbolism, are used to celebrate specific occasions. Examples of symbolism associated with fish are the motifs of a pair of fish, and a carp. A pair of fish is the symbol of connubial bliss and hence appears often on ceramics, textiles and anything associated with a wedding. The carp, because it swims upstream against the current to lay its eggs, is the symbol of perseverance. Accordingly, on the 5th May each year, for the boys' festival, huge carp made of paper or cloth, are attached to poles outside each household that contains a boy, as an auspicious allusion to this perseverance.

Hattori was inspired to do this print after musing if there could be such a tree as a fish plant. In her use of bright colours and fairy-tale characters she seems to be drawing on the popular culture of children's books, cartoons and the mass marketing of the cute ('kawai'), to create her delightful equivalent of a money tree.

Jackie Menzies, Contemporary Japanese Prints: The Urban Bonsai, 1992, pg. 32.

Place of origin
Japan: Heisei period 1989–
60.0 x 80.0 cm image; 65.0 x 85.0 cm sheet
Signature & date

Signed l.r., pencil "Kumiko". Not dated.

Gift of the artist 1993
Accession number