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9 March – TOKU CHAN LIKES TO LOOK UP @ Coexist Gallery, TAP

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Toku chan likes to look up is a new exhibition by artist Lee Baker, presented by Metal at Temporary Art Project (TAP) the new artist-led gallery and studio complex in Southend on Sea.

Toku chan is an anime character created as the alter ego of the artist. It is through Toku chan’s eyes that we are presented with lush visuals, animation, music and toys in a multidisciplinary, colourful display that is the result of a life long fascination with Japanese art and its ability to simultaneously influence and absorb western culture. Toku chan inhabits an exclusively positive world populated with brightly coloured thoughts.

Japanese culture has been a fascination for Baker for many years, from Utamaro Hiroshige and Jakuchu, with their influence on C19th European artists, Art Nouveau, Manga, Japanese film, Textile Design, Graffiti, British Engraving and Pop Art all find their way into his work,  as well as influences from modern Artists such as Takashi Murakami and Yamaguchi Akira.

Working outside his established discipline of music composition and production (he is best known for his production work with James top 10 album ‘Hey Ma’, 2008 and ‘The Night Before’ release date April 2010) Lee has been supported by Metal, to develop his ideas visually, and present them within a gallery context for the first time.

Exciting collaborations with award winning animator, Kidda and costume designer Holly Murray have resulted in specially commissioned contributions to the exhibition.

Lee Baker
Best known for his work in music, Lee has produced the last two James albums – ‘Hey Ma’ in 2008 and ‘The Night Before’ due to be released in April this year. He has written with a diversity of solo artists including national beatbox champion Beardyman, and break beats artist Kidda. He is currently working on a solo project with Rose Dougall from the Pipettes.  He has composed music for television, with credits including the rebranding of ITV2 and the BBC’s award-winning Arena documentaries.

Prior to this he made his mark as a scenic artist working at both the National Theatre and the English National Opera. He designed the sets for several of the late Ken Campbell’s solo shows, most notably The History of Comedy part 1 – Ventriloquism, performed at the National theatre in 2000.

An acclaimed animator whose work, ‘Teddy Bear’, is currently on tour with the British Animation Awards 2010, Kidda has been collaborating with Lee to produce a short animation which takes place in Toku chan’s synthetic world. Titled ‘Toku chan likes colour’, this short will be set to a piece of music created by Toku chan himself.

Holly Murray
For this exhibition Lee is also collaborating with sculptor and costume designer, Holly Murray, to re-create a Toku chan as a soft sculpture. Holly has previously created numerous costumes for contemporary dance, opera and theatre, including work with Glyndebourne, Oily Cart Productions and Liz Aggiss.

The exhibition runs from 10 – 26 March at Coexist Gallery, TAP, Old Essex & Suffolk Water Building, North Road, Southend on Sea SS0 7AB

For more information about the artist, CLICK HERE.


  1. Urbanallstar says:

    Good looking work with a definte manga twist 2 it. Nice.