Friday, 7 February 2014

My Own Journey Through the Floating World

Looking for the bloghop and giveaway? Click here.

There is a very special exhibition on in Tokyo at the moment called "Ukiyo-e: A Journey Through the Floating World". It covers the Edo period in japanese art (pronounced ed-oh and not ee-dough like I keep saying) which went from roughly the 17th to the start of the 20th Century and was formed from, initially, hand coloured woodblock prints before later incorporating more modern printing methods. Probably the most famous of this style is one I am sure you are already familiar with.
This is "The Great Wave Off Kanagawa" and despite the number of times I have seen this image, I don't think I ever noticed Mount Fuji there in the middle, behind the second boat. What I didn't know until today is that this is from a series by Katsushika Hokusai called "36 Views of Mount Fuji" and that each of the views is an equivalent masterpiece. You can see them all on Wikipedia here. What I also didn't know is that although this image and others like Red Fuji (second in this series and below) are so iconic, this style of art was restricted to actors and beautiful women only until the Edo period was almost over - this series is from the 1820's. Landscapes were real late comers on the scene.
The majority of the exhibition was therefore people and, this being polite japanese society fodder, there was none of that enormous phallus type stuff the dastardly europeans put in their exhibitions. Therefore this exhibition was really delightful from beginning to end. There were more than 300 pieces on show so I've picked a few artists and images out that I made a note of as I went round.

Kaigetsudo Ando 

This gent painted rather than doing woodblock prints.

This is of a courtesan but the one I saw was called "Beauty in the Wind" and you can see it here. He really captured the movement of her silk kimono in the air.

I couldn't help noticing that all the figures in these early pictures have either no or rather flabby chins. Proves my theory that flabby chins are the most beautiful. Moving on.

Isoda Koryusai

As I was walking round the exhibition I found myself wondering whether, when so many pictures are available online, exhibitions like this are becoming unecessary. But then I look at this and remember what it looked like in person, and realise that I am a muppet for even thinking such a thing. The texture of the paper and the ink just doesn't come across, or the delicacy of the print or the colour.

It is rumoured he was a samurai who gave that up for art. Can't help wondering what his parents said.

Kitigawa Utamaro

This is the guy who influenced the french impressionist painters and is generally considered one of the all time greats of the genre. There was a rather sweet statement introducing his section of the exhibition, saying that he managed to capture the different facial characteristics of women of different classes!

This is "Three Beauties of the Present Day". I became incerasingly fascinated by the hairdo's as we went around and that crossed swords in the backcombed fringe thing of the one on the left is something I will be attempting shortly.

Toshusai Sharaku

He was a great creator of portraits of Kabuki actors of the age, who were always pictured in make-up for a specific role. These were often available at the theatres - possibly a bit like flyers or perhaps more like a souvenir program. When first published his portraits upset some people as they were realistic rather than showing a more photoshopped view of the actors.

Like original Shakespeare, female roles were (and in fact still are) played by men.

Hashiguchi Goyo
My final selection was one of my favourite pictures from the whole place. Possibly because it is something I seem to spend a lot of time doing as well as for its beauty.

This is called "Woman in Blue Combing her Hair" and was created in 1920 when Edo was coming to an end as the style changed and became more realistic.

Pooch claims that I have too much time to think now that I'm not working. I suspect this has something to do with my telling him at some length why he was like a cat, and how that explained why I liked him.
"Smart" Muta
However, as I walked back to the station (and shortly before getting on the wrong train again) I did think about how a lot of my favourite paintings feature women with long, dark hair, like what I have. Would this be something true of most people? That they prefer art that reminds them either of themselves or people they care for. Or am I just a real narcissist? The colour course I am doing at the moment is talking about the emotional response we have to colour. I suppose it must be easier to have an emotional reaction to an image you can relate to rather than one you can't. For instance, I've never really felt anything about Marcel Duchamp's "Fountain" but then I've never used one. All in all, I might spend a bit more time pondering that one. Although not thinking about urinals in particular.

(All the japanese images in this post are from Wikipedia and are licensed under creative commons. Although I now see I've screwed up the linking thing that makes the creative commons thing valid. God. I can't be bothered going back and linking them all. Take it from me these were all on wikipedia under the various artists' names and this isn't me trying to do dubious things.)

Thursday, 6 February 2014

She Who Sews Blog Hop and Competition

Thanks to Carla and Mdm Samm for hosting this bloghop! We were challenged to use a particular range of fabric, which you can see here, and make whatever we chose with it. I got hold of one of the panel pieces and a half metre of the print you can see below with it.
Choosing what to make caused me a real problem! The fabrics were not speaking to me at all and I was quite put off by the large size of the panel units - I'm much more used to EPP shapes rather than big panels. After weeks of thought and much mulling over my Pinterest Boards I decided to see how a modern spool looked (tutorial link here).
She Who Sews Thoughts
I was on to something! Much cursing and digging through scraps later and I came up with this rather wonky cushion cover. The spool on the far left uses scraps from the Nancy Drew hop last year!
She Who Sews Cushion
My spools were each a tad too big but the business of the prints hides it unless you look very closely. Maybe!
She Who Sews Cushion
I chose the ladies with dark hair (like me) and one with a knitting quote, since that is my first love! It looks rather nice on the sofa and is very comfy.
She Who Sews Cushion In Situ

Before the giveaway, those of you who follow this blog know that I temporarily moved to Tokyo for my husband's job last year and am now exploring the delights of Japanese crafts (I know - I am one seriously lucky woman!). I got to go to the Tokyo Quilt Fair last week and the photos are available for anyone to look at on Flickr in case you are interested in what is going on with Japanese quilts. I am really falling for the traditional colourways that I haven't seen elsewhere.
Japanese Colours

For the giveaway I have all the other ladies in the panel to give away! They just did not speak to me so I cannot imagine myself using them in the future - but I'd love it if you did. Just tell me what you'd do with them in a comment. I will post internationally and the giveaway is open until midnight JST on Sunday 9th.

Now please go and visit the other people in today's hop and go here to see the full schedule of this and the doorstop hop. Thanks for visiting!

Monday, 3 February 2014

Unexpectedly Chocolatey

I love it when you're out and about and you come across a luxury chocolate festival. This one happened to be on the 11th floor of a department store next to one mother of a craft shop, but more of that another time. I'm just going to let the pictures speak for themselves...and these represent just a selection of what was on offer:
Cat with Glasses
Russian Doll
Bear House
Chocolate Planets 1
Mmmm, chocolate planets... And what did I come home with?
The Gift of Nothing
Zip, zilch, nada, nix etc.

Man, I'm getting old. 

Sunday, 2 February 2014

In January...

In an effort to be more conscious of what I am making and both the quality and quantity of it, I am going to try this monthly review. Here, then, is some of what I made in January.
January Makes
It also serves to remind me that there are lots of things I have part made or even finished that I haven't included or photographed. What we have here is (left to right, starting at the top):

  • March's block for the I Love Lucy Bee (in the sidebar). I've also started Feb's and made another 4-5 of my own red and white ones. 
  • Immense bag for the sewing room swap. 100% not my taste but fits the recipient's inspiration mosaic.
  • WIP - EPP Pouch swap. This is the unpicked version of square 7, which was a finished object except it was fugly!
  • Finished second EPP pouch, also for the swap. I think this is very cute although again, not really my taste. 
  • Amazingly busy Tokyo Quilt Show. I've started a design for an EPP quilt inspired by what I saw there. 
  • She Who Sews hop cushion cover. My day is coming next week for the proper reveal. 
  • Pouch mentioned above in 3.
  • Pooch's jumper from The Killing which was for his birthday.
  • Jasmine's ill-fated dress. Never make a dress for a baby you have not been given the measurements of, relying on it being for the 12-18 month old when she's only 8 months old. She's one big baby. 
  • The hot water bottle cover I knitted and forgot to photograph. 
  • Multinomah Shawl which was a late xmas present. 
  • Cast on and finished sock one of a pair using yarn dyed in the colours of cats. This shade is 'calico' - bought long before I knew of the existence of the Calico Cat Cafe
One of the things I have noticed since getting more into patchwork is how much pressure bloggers put on themselves to achieve goals and then catch up when they fall behind. There is immense peer-pressure to take part in sew-a-longs and bees and various other events. Then when they inevitably over commit there is an annual finish-a-long for which bloggers also set ambitious goals, while also signing up to new challenges, which just adds to the air of constant pressure. I don't think I've ever noticed that with knitters and the knitting blogs I follow are much more relaxed. 
knit morning
Pooch has noticed my lack of planning and every morning asks me what my schedule is for the day, before expressing concern at my lack of one. Beyond remembering which days the various recycling goes out and ensuring the whole flat is cleaned once a week I have no other commitments other than a fortnightly knitting group - which makes me one lucky lady, I know. In keeping with this I am not setting any goals for February. Things will be sewn, knitted and ripped as becomes necessary!

Neko Font

I am utterly destroyed by the end of The Bridge. I console myself with Neko Font.
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