30 October 2008
Thanks to Julia I have copious sketchbooks, to which I refer often (isn't it interesting how one's early themes keep coming back?). One of my favourites started with her postcard of two huge jars at Knossos and developed into a series of embroidered felt pieces about "old pots"- this one was shown in one of the "Cloth and Stitch" exhibitions that Julia masterminded while at City Lit.
We met on a train once, going north - she was going to Leeds to give a talk and I was going to Halifax to see a Quilters Guild exhibition at Dean Clough, 7-8 years ago - and we had a congenial journey, sitting and chatting and stitching, and exchanging threads. Here's a detail of the piece I was working on -
Julia's thread is the pale green used for seeding on the left. Seeding - that's so appropriate for her role in my creative life.
29 October 2008
Nearby is this signpost for the Capital Ring walkway - 15 miles east to Woolwich foot tunnel and 28 km west to Richmond Bridge -Underfoot are various leafscapes -I couldn't resist taking some of the large leaves home and doing some quick prints on scraps of fabric -
28 October 2008
Now it's "Starting to Fall into Place" -I'm "Getting Ready to Play" -
Looking forward to release! "Out of the Box 1" -Hoping for an explosion of creative opportunities! "Out of the Box 2" -
23 October 2008
Yesterday morning it was all pieced and ready to be quilted and put together; I had the entire day free.... Somehow the quilting, handles, and lining took 4-1/2 hours - I was determined to get it done and dusted, but was amazed at how long it took, and that has made me wonder just how long the cutting and piecing had taken, and what the wage-equivalent value (and possible commercial value) would be.
Of course that's not the point - it's the enjoyment of the making, isn't it?
But sometimes you do have to ask yourself: is the really the best use of my time.
22 October 2008
Since then I've been collecting spooky forest pictures and thoughts.
And this little "forest" quilt is based on an etching by Australian landscape painter Fred Williams, seen in a book - a couple of years before my trip to Australia.
21 October 2008
At the Knitting & Stitching Show, Hilary gave workshops on her darning technique - these samples encapsulate it -
18 October 2008
That led me to wonder exactly why or how they could be nonsense, and to a week's intensive Mandarin course at City Lit - after which I had some idea of how the writing system works, and which left me wanting to be able to read Chinese. Well, first you have to be able to speak it and understand it... four years of classes and several years without have left me with fading traces of the language, and the ability to recognise only eight or so characters. Maybe in "retirement" I can get back to this; it certainly keeps the mind nimble.
Back to Xu Bing. He started with the woodcut, and had some wonderful work in the British Libary's "Chinese printmaking today" exhibition a few years ago. His "Book from the Sky" offended a lot of traditionalists when it was first shown, and he now lives in the USA, where he's done more exciting work using language and script, including "New English Calligraphy" - making English words look like Chinese ideographs.
17 October 2008
Years ago, visitors left lovely red leaves in the lamp above my dining table. A nice touch.
16 October 2008
and back -
Its title might be "Going round in circles" - or it might be "In the pink" ... or maybe "Giant gooey marshmallows"? ... there's still a bit to stitch and the edges to finish.
His 1998 book "The Maker's Hand: a close look at textile structures" is based on the objects he collected during 35 years of weaving life. Sometimes he just had to acquire something so he could decipher its puzzling technique. He says: "Although structure is all-important, the physical characteristic of an object is naturally also influenced by the material used in its making. The resulting interaction between material and structure is an absorbing study.
"Studying traditional objects in detail, not just admiring them, brings to light the ingenious ways in which their makers exploited the possibilities and overcame the limitations of both material and structure. Behind my magnifying goggles, looking closely, I feel I have made journeys into the minds of these skilled anonymous makers; journeys which have greatly increased my respect for them."
Page 104 shows "probably what is still my favourite textile"; he says: "Eating in his tent in the Jordan Valley in 1950, I only asked the Sheikh Abu Achmed Mansour where a woven hanging was made. I carefully did not admire it. But even so he signed to his son, who whipped out a knife, cut it down and placed it rolled up in front of me."
He has also written books on sprang and on tablet weaving. Here, he talks about split-ply braiding, "a technique originally tied exclusively to camel trappings" and there are photos of completely new interpretations building on this technique.
As with so many craftspeople and artists, there is no page for him on Wikipedia.
15 October 2008
"Churches, competing for more members during a time when nearly half of American adults switch religion affiliations, are turning to corporate marketing strategies such as focus groups, customer-satisfaction surveys and product giveaways.
"And pastors hire "secret church shoppers" to report on what they find during their undercover visits. Did someone greet them when they arrived? Were the restrooms clean? Was parking adequate? And what about the sermons?"
That's an excuse for a picture of some stained glass by Chagall at Tudeley:
Secondly, language, and how categories underly reasoning - the Japanese classifier hon "is normally used to mark nouns in the category of “long skinny things”—pencils, candles, hair, rope, and so on. This classifier also applies to nouns that don’t objectively fit that model, but which have some indirect connection. A volleyball serve is hon, for example, because the trajectory of the ball is long and thin; a roll of tape uses this classifier because it’s long and thin when unrolled; telephone calls are hon because they are made using wires, which are long and thin; and TV shows are hon because of their similarity to telephone calls. There are many other examples, but what [Berkeley linguist George] Lakoff wanted to show was that even though a volleyball serve, a roll of tape, and a TV show share no objective quality, Japanese speakers automatically group these things together because of a mental category that depends on metaphor.
"Even in English, we implicitly group words in classes. For example, Lakoff points out [in his book "Women, Fire and Dangerous Things"] that we put time in the same category as money—it’s something that can be “spent,” “saved,” “earned,” or “wasted,” even though time is an abstract concept that doesn’t have any objective characteristics in common with money. Recognizing these unconscious connections can lead to rethinking one’s assumptions about the way the world works."
One of the fascinating things about learning Mandarin is this kind of insight into the underlying reasoning in a very different culture. (Another is the way that language, and its writing system, has evolved without any input from other languages.)
While looking for a "hon"ish picture, I came across a blog from Japan written in English but with a long post in German. Well German is my mother tongue and it's good to use it now and then (my vocabulary is mostly stuck at the childish stage) so here's a list of words from that blog post that might come in useful some day: kommunkationsunfreudig, Stoffrausch, Suchanfrage, Naehblockade, Handarbeitsinsel, Stofflager, wuehlen.
And the concept of "herbst"ing ("es herbstet" - it's becoming fall/autumn) is timely - today the wet streets and pavements are covered with golden leaves.