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Makoto Kagoshima Japanese Animal Ceramics

April 24, 2015

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Makoto Kagoshima was born in Fukuoka, Japan 1967.

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After graduating from the art college, he worked in the Conran Shop in Fukuoka and didn’t become a full time potter until the age of 35.

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Nowadays, Makoto Kagoshima has been creating his art works, pottery, fabric and prints at his shop, Atelier de La Paix, in Fukuoka. He has a wonderfully quirky and bold style.

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His characters all speak of mirth and mayhem, as they frolic amidst his stylised gardens and undersea worlds.

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His work is all hand produced and every bowl is decorated by Makoto too.

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He shows us step by step how he creates a squirrel. Kneading and rolling the clay, using a template to cut out the sides and base. Softening edges, stamping the form, using different sized lightbulbs to mould and shape the form on the back. He then paints slip onto the edges, places both sides together and waits for this to harden before carving and making the join smooth and seamless. He lastly puts on the base, fires and glazes the piece… et Voila ! A squirrel is born : )

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For me his work is fresh, fun and a joy to look at.

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I’m really liking these little chaps too.

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Recently he had private exhibitions also in LA, Taipei and London. Makoto Kagoshima has already many fans all over the world. You can find more to see on the Doinel site. What do you think readers ?  If you enjoyed this you may also like the work of Makiko Hastings , Lisa Larson and Jonathan Adler.

Mid Week Mix and Colour Collective

April 22, 2015

Since about 2008, I’ve been collecting images from the internet that have caught my eye. Way back then, I wasn’t so diligent in keeping records as to where images came from, or who had painted, photographed, illustrated or indeed created the artwork in the image. So I apologise in advance for their lack of referencing, but to be honest, it was purely about seeing groups of imagery together, that for whatever reason, I enjoyed.

As I have managed to amass quite a few of these ‘collaged sheets’, I thought I would share them with you, in the hope that they may also provide some inspiration to you the readers, from their shape, colour, texture or out and out randomness : )

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Do let me know your thoughts and which images catch your eye for whatever reason.

Here’s a few more of the ‘#colour_collective’ series I’ve been contributing to on twitter. Every friday at 7.30pm about 80+ illustrators all tweet their colour inspired illustration together, from a shade that’s been decided upon the previous saturday. It’s open to everyone, why not check it out on Facebook or Twitter and have a go !

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The animals still manage to steal the show : )

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I’ll be in London for the next few days, soaking up some southern culture and having a well earned break from the mac screen. Unlike this little hound, barking up the wrong tree by howling at the Mac Moon ! : )

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Hopefully the prepared post for Friday will be delivered to you in one piece … flippers crossed !

See you all on Monday, have a great weekend.

Andrea Lauren Designer Printmaker and Fishink Dog Cards

April 20, 2015

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Andrea Lauren hails originally from outside of London, but when her family moved to the USA in search of a warmer climate, she caught the travelling bug and has moved around the US visiting it’s great cities and taking in the sights. Lauren has always been interested in printmaking and specialises in hand carved lino-cut prints and a little silkscreen printing too.

She begins with an idea and a sketchbook illustration. I asked Andrea a little more about her work and processes.

How important are sketchbooks in your process of working out how a design will look ?

I do keep a number of different sketchbooks but they are often very rough ideas for the finished pieces.  Sometimes they are ideas or themes.  Sometimes sketches giving a general guide for composition.  Imagining an idea as a relief print has become fairly fluent for me in the last year of concentrated practice.  Sketchbooks for me are also a great way to remember and revisit thematic material which was completed earlier in my development and needs another go.

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From the sketch, she duplicates the design onto lino that’s been inked with indian ink, in order to create a greater contrast when carving sections away. You can see how fine some of the carved details are, this requires not only sharp tools and a very steady hand but also a great degree of skill, dexterity and patience.

When you create a two colour print where one colour overlaps onto the first do you create one carving and then cut back into it for the second colour or create two separate lino pieces, one for each colour ? 

Most often the multiple color prints are done with blocks carved for each separate color.  Using a main block as a key for carving out the additional colors has been working pretty well, but I am always looking to evolve the processes and see what other potentials there are in this medium.  I have worked in reduction prints on the occasion, but would like to explore some transparent ink printing and build up that knowledge before diving back into those.

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What is your first memory of printing with lino ?

Thinking back about it, I remember just wading into carving and printmaking without too much struggle; it just sort of happened in a natural creative evolution of my work.  There is an intoxicating smell of ink, the care and attention of inking the plate, placing the paper down in just the right placement, and the excitement of pulling the first good print off the block that keeps me coming back again and again.  During some of my studies at Columbia University, I could always be found in the basement printmaking studio pulling prints from their Charles Brand presses.  The printmaking class was focused on many traditional mediums — stone litho, copper etching, aquatint etching, and drypoint etching — but I worked on additional linocut projects independently since it was something to which I was drawn instinctively.  The first prints were a series of musical instrument playing animals based on a collection of illustrations that was evolving at that time.  The carving was rough, the execution of the prints was not amazing, but it was a true joy nevertheless.

I really like the way that Lauren photographs her prints accompanied with the components that have made that design.

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Why do you think that you are so attracted to nature and animals in your work ?

Being connected is an overarching motivation for me as a person as well as in my work.  It is easy to see how disconnected one can become with the technology available, but without respecting and acknowledging the incredible natural world it would be a much less rewarding life to live.  When I am not working on a commission or personal project, taking walks to watch birds or just enjoy nature will be my choice for time well spent.

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What is the worst and nicest parts of the process for you ?

The most frustrating thing is when a design concept does not live up to my expectation in the finished print and execution of the carving.  Starting over after devoting a significant amount of time to an idea is quite hard for me.  On the other hand, there are very many enjoyable parts of every process of printmaking.  Creating imagery by hand, the meditative qualities of carving a block, the smell of ink and tactile nature of pulling prints are all traits that keep drawing me back to create more block prints.

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Who’s work do you most admire and who would you most like to spend a day with (alive or dead) ?

William Morris, as I mentioned before.  Also, Dahlov Ipcar is a fascinating artist and someone with whom I find a connection.

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Her work has become more and more detailed and has led her to think about all over repeat patterns.

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These Bees, printed in a gold colour on a darker background have also become all over repeats. Some fab designs here.

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Hunkydory Home and clothing and companies like Ponytail, Vivie & Ash and Graniph have collaborated with Lauren to bring wonderful printed garments into their ranges, incorporating her prints.

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How natural was the progression of your work into all over repeats and printed fabrics ?

Repeat patterns are a complete joy to create.  As in creating traditional relief carving art prints, designing a repeating pattern is a left and right brain process.  There are technical aspects for designing a seamless repeat as well as a aesthetic quality of flow or balance in a good design.  The work of William Morris has been a thread to which I would like to connect.  That turn of the century era of new industrialization combining a return to traditional techniques for creating work is something which mimics a bit of our current place in time.

Do you enjoy collaborating with other companies when you see your work come to life on a whole variety of clothing and household items ?

Absolutely!  I am not personally in the position to create product lines so it has been wonderful to see my work featured on a truly wide range of products.  It is an honor for me when a company wants to collaborate.

For the future, do you have any plans to produce more fabric or stationery ranges yourself ?

Nothing concrete at this immediate time, but it is a long term goal to print my own textiles — screenprinted by hand or block printed.

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You can treat yourself to some of Lauren’s designs on fabric over at Spoonflower or Woven Monkey. Or some of her block prints here. There’s a wealth of information about printing techniques and Lauren graciously shares with her readers what materials and basic supplies she uses when making her Stamps over on her blog.

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Beautiful work and more patterns here. Many thanks to Andrea for sharing her beautiful work and thoughts with us today too. What a lovely start to the week, don’t you agree ?

I’ve been working on some new cards and am selling them here on my blog.

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The designs are taken from a range of over 100 sketches I’ve been working on, so far all doggy related (sorry cat lovers !) and they are printed onto textured card and then cut out and placed on a sticky tab onto a card base, so that they become 3D.

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They are priced at £3 per card or £10 for four cards (mixed pack of designs) with a £1.50 charge for postage in Europe or £3 overseas. Payments are dealt with securely by paypal, so please drop me a message craig @ and I can pop some fresh designs in the post today !

Emma Carlisle Illustrating paper, clay and wood.

April 17, 2015

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Emma Carlisle has recently finished her MA in Children’s Book Illustration at Anglia Ruskin University, under the watchful eye of, (amongst other acclaimed tutors) Martin Salisbury, who has a new book out that I reviewed on Monday this week.  I caught up with Emma to ask a few questions about what she is working on now.

What made you take up illustration and where has the path led you since graduating ?

Illustration wasn’t something that I’d even heard of when I was at school, my GCSE art teacher once said that I had a “cartoony style” which at the time I was a little offended by!  I was more interested in painting realistic portraits – not that I was very good at it.  I went onto Hereford College of Art where I studied a National Diploma in Art and Design, this is where I started doing more illustrative work, but even when we started to apply to universities I was still looking at doing Fine Art courses, it wasn’t until one of my lecturers said “Have you thought about Illustration?” that everything seemed to click into place, the prospectus’ were exactly what I was looking for.

It seems strange thinking about how clueless I was, as I think being an illustrator is now a better known career. Even my 5 year old niece says she wants to be an illustrator and work with Auntie Emma when she grows up.  After graduating from my BA in Plymouth, I thought that I’d only just scratched the surface in something I was really interested in – children’s books.  So I applied for the MA in Childrens Book Illustration, which was highly spoken of by my tutors in Plymouth. I couldn’t believe the amazingly talented tutors who we were taught by and I had the best year and a half studying with like minded people. Whilst on the course I was lucky enough to sign a 2 book deal with Macmillan Childrens Books and my first book, ‘Lion Practice’ , will be published by them this July.

Great news Emma, Well Done !

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What did you think of the course and would you recommend it to other artists who may want to go into Children’s Illustration ?

I would 100% recommend it! It was the best year and a half, I learnt so much and gained so much experience, skills and contacts, I couldn’t sing it’s praises any higher! I had a year out between studying on my BA and MA and for those studying now I would say to consider taking that year out to save money and decide if it’s the right step for them. Doing an MA is a massive financial commitment as there is no funding for the course fees or accommodation.

Do you have subjects or areas of illustration that naturally attract you to draw them and equally are there projects or topics that you perhaps wouldn’t find so interesting to illustrate ?

When I was on the MA I was really interested in the cross over between imagination / play within children’s books, so my sketchbooks are full of story ideas and sketches based around this. My ideas come from real life so if I overhear a conversation on a train or see something that interests me I’ll draw that, but it’s mainly cats, I love drawing cats!  Topics I wouldn’t want to illustrate is a hard one, I don’t like drawing horses so maybe that – but weirdly I can draw Unicorns fine : )

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I see your work has diversified into illustrating on clay and wood, can you explain how this progression came about ?

I met my boyfriend Ben last year, he’d been painting wooden badges for years and sold them alongside his comics at fairs. He had some of my cat shapes laser cut for me and he helped me make them into badges, I listed the original 30 on Etsy and they sold within a few days, which neither of us were expecting. From there I designed more and more badges and decided to bite the bullet and apply for a table at Renegade Craft Fair.  I had an intense month of hand painting and making wooden jewellery and in the end took along 500+ badges and necklaces.  Ben jokes that I took something he enjoyed doing and multiplied it to a mass produced scale, but he’s so supportive and I would have never done it without him.

I’d always been really interested in working within ceramics, my friends and I used to sneak down to the ceramics room at University and see what the students had been up to. It was always interesting seeing an idea sketched out and then made into a 3D object.  So when I saw that the art college I used to study at was having a 10 week evening class I jumped at the chance.  After the course was over I was hooked.  I went on to do 18 weeks at my local charity funded art workshop, which is where I really experimented putting my illustrations onto the pots I was making.

Earlier this year I invested and bought a kiln (as I’m moving next month and struggled to find a kiln that I could rent locally.) I really did my research into different kilns and firing temperatures, I spoke to lots of people and went up to Pottery Craft who showed us around the workshop and told us how the kilns were made.

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What has been your favourite work to date ?

Illustration wise it has to be my first book, which is out in July, I’ve been working on it for two years so I can’t wait to see it on the shelves in a few months time. But I really love creating something new within ceramics and thinking  “I made that”.  I think my most recent pots (cats and birds) that have come out the kiln are my favourite right now.

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Who are the artists who most influence your work, or those work you find most amazing to look at ?

I love scrolling through Pintrest and Instagram to find new artists to influence my work. I love that social media makes it so easy now to contact artists that you admire! I ‘met’ Emily MacKenzie via instagram and we now trade pieces of work – I own two of her screen printed cushions that I LOVE !  I’m a huge fan of her work so to find out that she likes mine too is amazing.  Another persons work that I love to look at on Instagram is Polly Fern, her ceramic pieces are incredible, as are her illustrations.

Where do you see your illustration heading in 5 years time ?

More picture books.  Also I’d love to illustrate something a little longer for an early reader audience. I have so many story ideas, I’d be very excited to see them come to life over the next few years.

Pop over to Emma’s Etsy Shop and pick up a pooch today !

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I love the animal broaches and jewellery, where did these shapes and characters spring from ? How much does working in your sketchbook influence what cats and dogs go on to become 3D ?

The fronts of my sketchbooks are book ideas and the back of my sketchbooks are 3D ideas. Sometimes I’ll just draw pages of dogs or cats or foxes and then choose the best ones, scan them in and send the appropriate files off to the laser cutters. Sometimes I’ll look at my stock and think “hmm I’m really missing ____” and then design something around that.

Just before we were going to Renegade last November, I realised I was lacking in anything other than animals, so I put out an instagram post asking for what non-animal designs people would like to see, I had a huge response and some really wonderful ideas. This year I think I’m going to narrow down the collection – a great excuse for me to paint more cats !

You can also find lots of other images on Emma’s Instagram page or on her agent’s site Elizabeth Roy . Well worth a wander.

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Thanks Emma for sharing your lovely work and thoughts with Fishink Blog. Good luck with everything  and we love the cats and dogs too !

York Open Studios and the Mid Week Mix

April 15, 2015

Emily Sutton and Mark Hearld will be opening their York home as part of York Open Studios, starting on Friday the 17th April.

Opening hours will be Friday 17th April 6-9pm, Saturday 18th April 10-6pm, Sunday 19th April 11-5pm and then the following Saturday and Sunday. The address is 104 The Mount, York YO24 1AR.

Here’s a selection of the beautiful work that will be on show.

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Thanks to Simon & Angie Lewin’s Blog for the reminder and for the use of some of Simon’s images too.

Since about 2008, I’ve been collecting images from the internet that have caught my eye. Way back then, I wasn’t so diligent in keeping records as to where images came from, or who had painted, photographed, illustrated or indeed created the artwork in the image. So I apologise in advance for their lack of referencing, but to be honest, it was purely about seeing groups of imagery together, that for whatever reason, I enjoyed.

As I have managed to amass quite a few of these ‘collaged sheets’, I thought I would share them with you, in the hope that they may also provide some inspiration to you the readers, from their shape, colour, texture or out and out randomness : )

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Do let me know your thoughts and which images catch your eye for whatever reason.

Martin Salisbury’s 100 Great Children’s Picture Books

April 13, 2015

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Good Morning everyone, I hope you had a great weekend and are raring to get stuck into the week ahead ? … No ?… well perhaps this post will help sort out your Monday blues, because once again I’m delighted to bring you another stunning publication from Laurence King.

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I couldn’t be more excited as the author is a man I’ve admired for a long time now, a certain Martin Salisbury.

Martin is not only an illustrator himself, but the Professor of Illustration at Cambridge School of Art, Anglia Ruskin University, where he designed and leads the UK’s first Masters programme in children’s book illustration. I’ve heard great things about this MA course and if I had the finances right now, I would choose to be on it myself. I’ve a post from one of his recent students for you at the end of the week.

I have already purchased three of Martin’s earlier books, all of which are absolute gems in their own right ( two of them are also published by Laurence King). Basically anyone who wants to know anything about children’s picture books, need look no further than the information in these publications. It’s clear, concise, informative and creatively displayed. I can give them no greater praise : )

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One of my favourite mid-century illustrators Helen Borten, just happened to send me an email letting me know that Martin’s book was featured by The Guardian on the very morning that my copy arrived !  I’m hoping that Helen’s books will be gracing our book shelves once again in the next few years, but I’m sworn to secrecy about the details … so watch this space.

Here is Helen’s page from Martin’s new book, alongside many artists I’ve featured on my blog already like Bernardo Carvalho,

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Gerald Rose and Charles Keeping,

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Laura Carlin and Beatrice Alemagna,

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and the wonderfully colourful Kveta Pacovska.

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Along with so many new names like 2012 illustrator Marta Altes, or Tom Gentleman and Betty Swanwick both working in the mid forties.

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Michael Foreman and Emanuele Luzzati from the sixties.

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Or Max Velthuijs and William Stobbs from the Seventies.

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As the title of this book suggests there are 100 author / illustrators inside, so many many more well known and continental names to feast upon. Celebrating the best designed and illustrated picture books from around the world, over the last 100 years. This books selection is compiled with good art and design in mind first and foremost and with over 200 pages to ponder and sigh at, what’s really not to like !

I’m sure some of the inspiration will be filtering into my blog before long. Many thanks to Laurence King Publishing and to Martin Salisbury for creating such a piece of wonderfulness : ) Go and grab a copy today.

As an afterthought from this article, I will be building up a new section on the left of my blog under the heading


You can see that I’ve started already. This will list those mid century artists who’s work I’ve spoken about, who largely can’t be found via a website.

It suddenly struck me that even artists like Helen Borten, who I’ve written numerous posts on, can’t be seen on my blog unless you enter her name in the search box or scroll back through my posts. Of course by going back through my posts, you will discover a whole host of goodies but you would even need to be aware of who Helen is to search for her in the first place.

This way you can hopefully discover new illustrators, sculptors, ceramists, graphic artists etc that you may not already be aware of. Do let me know you’re thoughts, and I’m always looking for suggestions of mid century people who’s work fits the Fishink bill, so please let me know those too.

Happy reading : )

Charlie O Sullivan Paintings to wander into

April 10, 2015

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Painter Charlie O Sullivan has mastered the art of telling a visual story through her paintings. She says “Painting is a very solitary activity and my paintings become a conversation with myself. So it’s no surprise to me that an odd figure, an upside down house, a strange dog or teapot appears in my work……its only a reflection of my thoughts and memories.”

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I have a wealth of experience, although not all artistic in themselves they all feed and seep into my paintings in one way or another. As well as a personal reflection I find that I also incorporate the narrative of others which I trip over either in person or through the media. “

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Originating in Scotland, Charlie now lives and works a mile from the Devon coast at Bigbury.

“The studio is where I retreat to work…… though it is also somewhere I need to escape from, at times when things just don’t seem to be going the way I intend. So then the beach is where I head to…… walking and talking through my thoughts which tumble in my head not always about work but also about decisions of the day to day, which I need to resolve before I can paint.”

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“Living by the coast for the last two years hasn’t turned me into a seascape artist. Rather it has influenced elements, like colour and scale, but most importantly it has given me a place to clear my head and restore my thoughts both before and after painting.” 

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Here’s Charlie surrounded by a tide of paints in her studio. What a lovely light space to work in.

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Just for fun, I tried working sections from Charlie’s beautiful paintings, into some textile repeats. Her rich painted landscapes are full of textures and minute details that shout out for attention, to the eyes of a textile designer like myself : )
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I love her aerial views and hidden (or more obvious) figurative elements. Sumptuous colours and a visual weave of pathways, ensure that Charlie’s paintings are a pleasure to gaze upon for long periods of time. Incredible work. Which one is your favourite ?

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Here’s a fab video to give some further insight into how Charlie works.


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