I’ve seen several very beautiful pieces of shibori cloth lately – cloth whose resist patterns are made by areas tied or stitched and bound into the fabric before being dyed. Traditionally, all through the cold Japanese winter the ladies prepared the cloth… tying in the intricate and particular patterns of tiny knots and pleats and folds, waiting for the weather to warm up enough to get the indigo dye vats going. The time came; as the indigo brew breathed and came to life the cloth was immersed. Then, the cloth dyed, the design was revealed as the knots were released, their memory being held in the patterns of resist.
Walking down a Richmond alley – was the ground coated with a million grains of lapis lazuli nestling between the york slabs? Looking closer – no, that luxuriant drifting of blue dust was myriads of flowers fallen from a nearby ceanothus!
Another journey took me whizzing across South London, where from the train I glimpsed through the trees an unusually lush scene of prehistoric creatures emerging from the lakes of Crystal Palace park. They looked remarkably lifelike amongst their tropical island vegetation; a local blue plaque names the designer of these various ‘sauruses as Mr Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins.
My destination was the Barbican – full of treasures. The Bauhaus exhibition shows the extraordinary power of that remarkable group which in so few years had such a huge effect. This formidable creative community formed in 1919 by Walter Gropius was forced to dissipate only 14 years later; masters and pupils, parties and performances, together with serious work and innovation, textiles, graphics, typography, painting, architecture, artefacts, furniture, toys and games evolved constantly during the time. The daily reality held in their buildings went to the four winds; the individuals fled, many continued to work – influences to the present day.
Song Dong‘s exhibition ‘Waste Not’ is a tribute to the ability, the compulsion, to keep things together despite all. The disparate ephemera of his mother’s life is laid before us in the most touching way, turning domestic collections of the everyday – rags and slippers, bottle tops and carrier bags, patched chairs, and thousands more more more into works of art.
It makes my sister’s cartons of assorted plastic snakes, insects and amphibia – Hallowe’en party guests – look surprisingly modest and sensible!
And have you ever wondered about life from a frog’s point of view? My most favourite part of the Barbican estate is the residents’ lake. With your two feet on dry land you can step down into a sunken area from where the lake can be viewed as if you were a water-boatman. It’s a brilliant idea to have the surface of the water at eye level, peering between the reeds and flags to watch the ducks, insects and assorted pond life.
Some dates to note: my scarf-painting workshop at the V&A is now online for booking; it will be a 2-day course, 18th and 19th July. The workshop at the FTM is planned for August 4th, a Saturday, and will be in their next calendar.
And keep an eye on my website – my new greetings cards will soon be available to buy on line…