Born in Kawasaki City, Japan in 1973, Hiromi Ashlin is a “Ju-Dan” level Japanese calligrapher and origami master. She creates remarkable works possessing a Zen-like quietude within organic environments of powerful movement and color transitions. Hiromi’s works require the assemblage of meticulously-folded Japanese papers, calligraphy painting, stippling and washes. She also makes and uses her own handmade papers to mount and embellish her origami designs. Her signature block is the Japanese rendering for “Happy Bird”. Hiromi’s artistic talent was recognized early-on by her parents and others. She began studying art in earnest as a teenager in the early 1990s, initially focusing on oil painting, drawing & design. In the mid-90s she relocated to Tokyo and began working at the prestigious Tokyo Game Designer School.
Inspired by its rugged natural beauty, Hiromi spent nearly a year (1996/1997) traveling across Australia, learning about this vast country’s indigenous cultures, its history, and about its diverse inhabitants. She married her husband, Brent Ashlin, in Perth in 2000, and they permanently relocated to Broome in 2005. Broome is situated in the remote Northwestern part of Australia’s Kimberley and has the indigo-blue Indian Ocean as its western border. Hiromi and her husband quickly became part of Broome’s vibrant, laid-back art scene. At the time, Broome was a small resort town gaining worldwide recognition as a trendy art enclave. The town’s flourishing travel and tourism economy was growing by leaps and bounds by virtue of its propitious location as a major stopping-off point for international cruise ship travelers.
Shortly after arriving in Broome, the Ashlins, who had three children by then, set up housekeeping while Brent was busily occupied working and traveling in connection with his duties in the aviation industry. In 2005, Hiromi opened a small merchant’s stall in Broome’s Courthouse Market and began selling assorted arts and crafts she had started making at home from Japanese washi paper.
The word “washi” comes from “wa”, meaning ‘Japanese’, and “shi”, meaning ‘paper’. Characteristically, washi is produced from the bark fibers of the gampi tree, the mitsumata shrub, and the paper mulberry, all of which are indigenous to Japan. Washi paper is tougher and more resilient than ordinary paper, which is generally made from wood pulp. As a consequence of its durability, washi is well suited for use in many traditional Japanese arts, such as origami, and has been used for over two thousand years as ornamental and decorative media for all kinds of Japanese artwork.
She soon affiliated with one of Broome’s most innovative and visionary gallery owners, Lachie Fraser, at his 9 Farrell Street Broome Factory Gallery, quickly garnering an international following for her beautiful & delicate origami paintings. In 2010, seeking deeper spiritual inspiration from its beautiful rain forests and beaches, Hiromi and her family traveled to the South Pacific Ocean nation of Vanuatu. After nearly two years abroad, and with her children’s education in mind, she and her family returned to the mainland in 2011, settling in the Trinity Beach environs of Cairns, Queensland, Australia, a major jumping off point to the Great Barrier Reef and a perfect location to focus on her family and thriving art practice.
About Hiromi Ashlin