15 December 2017

Snow on woodblock prints

Hasui Kawase, Zojoji Temple in Snow, 1922 (via)
Hasui Kawasi (1883-1957), Snow at Tsukijima, 1930
(via, which has more of his snowy images)
Shiro Kasamatsu (1898-1991)
Shimano District (In the Snow), 1964 (via)
Raizan Negoro (artist's name of Kawatsura Yoshio) (1880-1963)
Asakusa Temple in Snow, 1922 (via)

Takahashi Biho (b.1873), Sparrow in Snow, 1930s (via)
Iwao Akiyama (1921 – 2014)
Monk in Snow, 1988 (via)
Image result for japanese woodblock prints snow scenes -pinterest
Kyoshi Saito (1907-1997), Shovels (via)

Kamisaka Sekka (1866 - 1942)
Tomoe no Yuki (Monk in Whirling Snow), 1901 (via)
That's enough for now - there are so many more, including by Hokusai and Hiroshige and other ukiyo-e artists.

14 December 2017

Poetry Thursday - Microbial Museum by Maya Chowdhry

Gas bubbles in Antarctic ice. Photo: NASA
"reservoirs of extinct creatures" (via)
Microbial Museum
April ship sets sail, sea freezes ripples, leaves Rothera
behind. One hundred and fifty thousand years of snowfall in
cylindrical samples, bubble-wrapped, boxed in styrofoam,
cores wrenched from ice caverns to Immingham.
Drill incises annulus ice cuttings spiral surface. Statistics
held in water vapour measure up to eons of weather.
Blueprints of other lives, the oldest ice sequesters
reservoirs of extinct creatures resurrected.
Suspending cable sonars frozen microbial cells
immortal bugs from bacteriasicles emerge, grow, divide.
Prehistoric pestilence thaws, allows ancient genes to mix with
modern ones. Skiing genotype slaloms through DNA markers,
mutating the ocean, creeping into the unsuspecting cells
of species climbing the ladder to life.
The future is thawed, dispatched into a white out.
- Maya Chowdhry (via)

"Finding the poetry in scientific vocabulary, this work is alive to the marvels of its discoveries as well as the ecological peril it reports" is how the Guardian, where this poem appeared, sums it up. Here, Carol Rumens gives background and gently unpicks the poem, helping us make sense of the terse style (like a scientist's notebook). The comments from readers, at the ed of the article, often take a poetic route themselves.

Maya Chowdhry devotes her recent poetry collection, Fossil (2016), to investigating, "with wit and precision", unusual geological phenomena and the life cycles of various species, but her larger goal is public and eco-political. Her recent work explores the juxtaposition and conflicts of new technologies with the ‘natural world’ - she uses film, text, animation, photography, augmented reality and the web. Her work has been exhibited in and around canals, in public gardens, theatres, galleries, the web and on television. See some of it here.

13 December 2017

Latest enthusiasm

Continuing with the "overlapping people" idea - playing around to see where it might go....

Possibly the first attempt is the best so far - and I've now abandoned my "no peeking" rule to try to place the components "interestingly", based on what's gone on in the "blind" versions - contrast of scale, for one thing ... and it helps to have arms and legs visible.

That latter has led to concentration on the sports pages, which often show the whole body, in action - so the shapes are interesting, arms and legs all over the place! Spot the footballers here, and spot the politician -
This morning I leapt out of bed, in a hurry to get on with it -

Layering up tissue paper and cutting out shapes from the newspaper. Tissue paper to see if there were interesting colour blends in the overlaps ... no, not transparent enough - it might work with colouring in the drawn shapes with watercolour, or (on fabric) thinned acrylic.

Pastel colours? for sports"men"? I kinda like that....

I also like the idea of fitting in a bit of "footballer's dream" glamour ... add some more contrast ...
These shapes would all be intersecting black outlines (the glamour girl in white?) or else pastel solids, overlapping. Maybe. If it ever gets further than this initial enthusiasm ... if I can continue to focus on it for a bit. 

12 December 2017

Drawing Tuesday - Tate Modern

The day started, for me, with a quick look into the Soviet exhibition ... it needed more time than was available, so needs going back to; it's on till 25 Feb.
Postcards in the "Red Star over Russia" shop
 I settled down in front of this "pavilion" by Cristina Iglesias -

My drawing was about figuring out the structure and guessing the words...
 Jo found a tee-shirt in the Soviet shop intriguing -
 Carol gathered glimpses of the area around the Tate -
 Joyce found a work by Louise Nevelson -
 ... as did Judith -
 Janet B was intrigued by a floating sculpture and its shadow ...
 ... which was tonally reversed in her photograph -
 Mags had been to a nearby textile exhibition, A Sense of Place, and brought along the booklet
 ... and showed the work she's doing in her current painting course -
 Carol's extracurricular activity was a tiny felted pot -
 Janet B brought along the drawing she did in Dundee last week -
 Several of us had used the same leaf-rubbing technique at various points ...
 Several of us went along to the textile exhibition, by ViewSeven - here are some general shots.

 And the gallery floor was fascinatingly patched!

11 December 2017

Upcoming textile exhibitions

The latest issue of Art Quarterly (winter 2017) has an article about upcoming textile exhibitions round the UK.

Norwegian weaver Hannah Ryggen is at Modern Art Oxford till Feb 18. Living in a village, she was self taught: "Weaving belonged to a tradition which came from the culture of farms" (via). Her 1930s works are very political; she's speaking out about her experience: "the works have a very immediate message, but they're done with this incredibly slow, careful medium [tapestry]."
Hannah Ryggen: jul Kvale, 1956 (via)
If you went to Entangled Threads and Making exhibition in Margate, you would have seen her anti-fascist tapestry 6 October 1942 there, and Ann Cathrin November Hoibo's response, two woven panels. 

(This art-magazine review of the Entangled exhibition, also by Hettie Judah, puts the show into more than one context:
"[Christine] Löhr’s [fragile structures] occupy a sphere of making that ‘Entangled’ embraces quite unequivocally: craft is presented here – as per Bauhaus philosophy – on equal footing with art: specifically those practices that are awake to the possibilities of hand production (and which, of late, have drawn heartily on craft traditions including tapestry, embroidery and ceramics). This, today, is a more politically audacious move than the decision to dedicate the show entirely to female artists. But, given that it opened a week after women all over the world took up their needles and knitted pink pussy hats as an act of protest, you can’t fault the timing.")
Anni Albers ("long overshadowed by her husband Josef") gets a mention in the article, partly as a segue, via the Bauhaus, to the work of Harriet Wallace-Jones and Emma Sewell - they collaborate as Wallace Sewell, "painting with yarns" and designing fabrics, and have a show at the Fashion & Textile Museum, London, to 21 January. If you've travelled on the Bakerloo Line recently, you'll have sat on their moquette, showing the London Eye and Big Ben.
Wallace Sewell cushions and blankets
Wallace Sewell's designs are woven in Lancashire (via)
Dovecot Gallery, Edinburgh, is showing "Daughters of Penelope" till 20 January, celebrates the work of artists and makers working with the gallery. Dovecot Studios wove Paolozzi's The Whitworth Tapestry (1967; part of the Paolozzi exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery earlier this year) and Chris Ofili's The Caged Bird's Song (2017), recently shown at the National Gallery.
Paolozzi tapestry at the Whitechapel Gallery
The Whitworth Tapestry, by Eduardo Paolozzi (via)
"The quality of human time is embedded in tapestry" (via)
The Edinburgh show includes Finnish weaver Aino Kajaniemi "whose tapestries appear loose and even fragile through the use of yarns as fine as fishing line alongside bulkier linen textures. Many of these portray women and children in rural and domestic settings" - and also American artist Erin M Riley, who uses tapestry "to explore charged issues in the fast-moving online world." Both artists also featured in Tapestry: Here & Now at the Holborne Museum, Bath, which unfortunately has been and gone.

"Alice Kettle: Threads" is at the Winchester Discovery Centre till 14 January, and she is collaborating with groups of refugees, till autumn 2018, on the "Thread Bearing Witness" project, which will be exhibited at the Whitworth, Manchester, from Sept 2018 till February 2019.
"Sea" is 8 metres wide and was designed in response to harrowing
stories of migration across the Mediterranean (via)
So far the focus of the Art Quarterly article has been on weaving (is that the form of textile that most nearly approaches art?) ... but now we come to embroidery, in the form of May Morris, daughter of William, who put her in charge of Morris & Co embroidery department in 1885 when she was just 23. "She was recognised as a leader in the field of embroidery during her lifetime" - but her reputation has been neglected because "the fragility of the embroidery itself has played a role in keeping May's work out of permanent museum displays." See her work at the William Morris Gallery, Walthamstow, till 28 January. (Interestingly, this exhibition needed crowdfunding to make it happen.)
Worked by May Morris around 1900, displayed in Edinburgh (via)
Watch out, also, for Tate Modern's exhibition of Anni Albers' work, 11 October 2018 to 27 January 2019. Her choice of textile as a medium "was forced somewhat by the Bauhaus school's bar on women studying in departments such as painting and glass." As she later observed, "when a work was on paper it was considered art, but when it was made with threads, it was considered craft." (Plus ca change?)
Anni Albers, Design for Rug, 1927, Harvard
Design for a rug, 1927, by Anni Albers (via)
Finally, are textiles coming closer to finding a place in the art world? As Hettie Judah says in the Art Quarterly article, "Within the art world there has been a marked resurgence of interest in the idea of an artist as a direct maker of objects. A central theme of this year's Venice Biennale [was] the relevance of textiles and hand-making in a digital age." 

But it seems to me that handmade=craft, in the eyes of the status-conscious art world, and that the "making" parts of art are less prestigious, eg carried out by artists' assistants and technicians. I think we shouldn't let ourselves be sucked into this bit of territorial defensiveness (or in-fighting), but just get on with doing what we need to do in terms of our "art making" - and being thoughtful and/or clear-sighted and/or open-minded about it all.

10 December 2017

Staying focussed

I've been dipping into a book called Organizing for Creative People (by Sheila Chandra) - yes, yet another of "those" helpful books; if only we could actually follow their good advice, instead of flitting about with our ideas and getting more disorganised and feeling bad about ourselves and our work habits, or lack of them. 

On p118 the section heading is "The importance of focus". She says:

Perhaps the biggest difference between what you do as an artist and other kinds of work is your level of focus. Long-term consistent focus for big projects. A complexity of thought that maintains the quality and depth in your work. A career-long perspective on how you want to grow as an artist, and maybe what you'd like to be able to tackle in ten years' time.
Focus is the key to what you do because you need your subconscious mind to feed you ideas. This means that, day to day, you have to practise not getting distracted. You need to train your mind. Everything in our world ... seems to be encouraging us to turn away from anything that isn't "exciting" and to slice our attention span into smaller and smaller pieces. If you're a creative person this just won't do because you need to be able to concentrate on creative problems for long periods in order to get results. It can be boring, but it has to be done.

If your problem is that you just can't focus on the number of ideas you have, then you must focus in the long-term sense. ... Pick the most important idea. I mean it. Pick one. ...choose the project most likely to get you need in your career right now. The more this project scares you, the more you'll resist this. ...some of you will rebel right here. It feels too scary to you to let go of other ideas, because you want to achieve "everything". In fact that is simply a way of not committing. Those artists you admire ... undertook each project as it came and evolved accordingly. 


If  concentration or procrastination is a problem for you, experiment with various working methods and times. 

Aha, working times, that most certainly rings a bell! The most useful nugget of advice that ever came my way was from Barbara Lee Smith: "Do the most important thing at your best time." I was musing on this ... wondering what that important thing might be ... while walking in the snow and slush today, and not long afterwards, happened to open that book to the "focus" section. Coincidence? ... or, the finger of fate?

To stretch the point (and segue to the photos): walking in slippery conditions requires a modicum of focus in itself ... and with a camera along you get focus automatically! I did find a few things to photograph during the day and especially the walk, starting with the surprise discovery -
Waking up to snow


Very slushy on Parkland Walk
(Note the importance of a bit of red, as a focal point) -
Willow, Finsbury Park 

Oak tree, Finsbury Park

The inevitable ... and nicely positioned