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Overseas Member Spotlight with Patrica Hiramatsu

Although I have been living and working in Japan since 1982, I first heard about CWAJ in 2008 in London. Hely Norton (a longtime Overseas Member) talked to me about it when I was interviewing her for an art magazine. Later that same year, back in Japan, I visited the Print Show, loved it, and immediately inquired about joining the organization. I then became involved in the Print Show from 2009 until 2015, in several positions, and I have also volunteered on Scholarship selection committees.

Due to my husband’s work, we relocated to India (2016-2019) and then Spain (2019 onwards), but our home country is Japan and so I shall return to CWAJ as a Japan-based member in the not-so-distant future. But the overseas member status has allowed me to see CWAJ from afar. 

Indeed I haven’t yet found another organization, either overseas or in Japan, as lively, dynamic, and engaging as CWAJ. Although we may encounter limitations as we get involved in its volunteering activities, CWAJ members are always creative, motivated and strongly driven to push through and keep the organization vibrant and alive. I love how CWAJ manages to cope and adapt to the changing times and is quick to react to unforeseen events, as it did during the 2011 East Japan earthquake and tsunami, and also during the more recent Covid pandemic. 

 In 2021, as an overseas member, I was very happy to join the first online YPA selection committee, which brought together both overseas and Japan-based members. Nothing beats seeing the artwork in person but thanks to technology and the effort of the coordinators who had to set virtual meetings across several time zones, this was a rewarding and refreshing experience. We all agreed that it felt like walking through the galleries of the Machida Museum, closely examining the prints, and then afterwards joining a lively discussion with old and new friends at the CWAJ Center in Meguro – and yet we were all working from our desks at home in Sweden, Italy, Spain and Japan. The only significant difference was that we had to provide our own snacks, something that always seemed to materialize at any CWAJ gathering in Japan…

When our youngest daughter was in high school, her Business Studies teacher encouraged her to write a paper on CWAJ as a case study. I think he found it intriguing and fascinating that members of a thriving volunteer organization were happy to pay a yearly fee to belong to this organization that encouraged them to work hard for free! 
I guess he wished to find some hint or clue to a new labour strategy that could also be applied to large-scale businesses. Alas, no hint came out as a conclusion, other than that CWAJ’s “mysterious formula” is nothing more than the magic and chemistry that all of us, its fabulous members, create.



Note: Patricia has given us her favourite Print Show committee photo (2014), courtesy of official PS photographer Lindy Kerr. The print she has included is Kobayashi Keisei, Sunrises Again – space wonder Land 2015A.