Akiko and Tim Krowther with their collaborative exhibition at Morri St Cafe. Photo: Sara Hollyman.

Akiko’s artistic anniversary present

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Akiko Crowther says her latest exhibition is a celebration of love.

For the month of June, Morri St Cafe is home to a collaborative exhibition from grand master calligrapher Akiko and her husband Tim Crowther.

Akiko is the only grand master Japanese calligrapher in New Zealand and, along with her Yorkshire-born husband Tim, runs the only traditional Japanese calligraphy school in New Zealand.

After her mother put her in calligraphy lessons at the age of five, Akiko says eventually she thought there were too many relatives doing the same thing.

“I love it, but my grandfather, mother, old uncle and two sisters are all calligraphers, so I decided to be a primary school teacher. Also, my first husband didn’t like calligraphy, so I stopped.”

Akiko continued to teach her son and daughter the art of calligraphy in her own home until 22 years later when she divorced her husband.

Just one year later she met Tim Crowther, who worked in advertising and they began moving around the world.

“First was Budapest, then Vienna and after we married in 1998, Prague. It was there I saw an ad for a calligraphy teacher at a local Japanese school and thought ‘why not?’”

Akiko says this exhibition is a celebration of her 20 years of marriage to Tim, who eight years ago suffered a major stroke.

“He lost the words but not the creative fight, art is great rehabilitation, but he concentrates so hard and gets very tired, so one piece can take a long time.”

Neither can agree on whose idea it first was to collaborate on the same piece of art, but Akiko says she never would’ve considered painting on canvas if it weren’t for Tim.

“Calligraphy is always done on hand-made paper so, for me, canvas was never even a thought.”

Gallery manager Eva Kerer says she approached Akiko after seeing her work at the Art Expo.

“We’re very privileged and blessed to have them exhibiting.”

The exhibition will run until June 30.