Tuesday, 31 March 2009

At last, some textiles...

How weird, the date at the top of this entry says 31st March, but actually it`s 2nd April today!

Yesterday (April 1) we went to the Japan Folk Crafts Museum which offers an exhibition of around 17000 items all classified as "Mingei" by Muneyoshi Yanagi. This refers to handicrafts dating from pre-industrial times and to be called Mingei the item had to meet stringent criteria -it had to be the work of an anonymous craftsperson, produced in quantity but by hand, made to be used in everyday life, inexpensive - therefore accessible to all - and be representational of the region in which it was made. (Thinks : Harris Tweed would be classed as Mingei!) There was pottery, metalwork, lacquerwork, bamboo, stone, paintings, tone rubbings, sculpture, glass, leatherwork, straw work and dolls. It`s also the only museum I`ve ever been in where you have to take your shoes off to go in as the building is traditional Japanese. You get a pair of mega comfy leather mules which were far kinder to my acheing blistered feet than the sandals I had on. In fact, it would have been good to take their slippers and leave my own!

Anyone who may be contemplating visiting the JFCM - the directions in English on the web site - http://www.mingeikan.or.jp/ are good, but omit to mention that you have to leave the railway station by the West Gate. Go down the steps, under the tracks and then go on from then. If you get off the train at the other end and leave by the East Gate - well..... just don`t do it!

Of course my favourites were the textiles - both printed and woven. Here are a couple of little tasters. Photography is allowed, though not with flash.

Printed and embroidered kimonos

Woven hangings in silk

There is a lovely little shop at the museum and I could not resist a pocket size Japanese book of 800 pictures of various stripes and checks patterns dating back to the 1800s. If this doesn`t give me some inspiration for the loom, then nothing will! Also another really beautiful book about the work of Serizawa Keisuke who was awarded the title of "Holder of an Important Intangible Cultural Property" (also known as "Living National Treasure" for his development of the dyeing technique now known as kataezome.
The book looks totally awesome and will give me much food for thought.

Then, just to show that Japan lives in the present as well as the past, on the way home we called at Yoyogi Park where there is a stage and open air arena where musicians play concerts and gigs at weekends and, because it was school holiday time, during the day. Today we saw a fine rock band who had a loyal following and made a very pleasing sound. Rock culture is big in Japan and people enjoy seeing "lives".

Last night there was a huge thunderstorm over Tokyo that lasted for hours and was accompanied by torrential rain. Though this was not the right season yet, apparently it was almost a Typhoon - not good to be caught out without a brolly.

News from Japan

Here I am again. Arrived safely and jet lagged but thankful to be in such a wonderful place.

It`s cherry blossom time here - so here is a piccie of a bit of blossom at Ueno, where I was at the park on Sunday. People gather in the parks on cherry blossom weekend and picnic under the trees. The weather was glorious and a great time was had by all.

Off to the museums tomorrow, so hope to have some textile pics on my next blog.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Welcome to our first new arrival of the spring!

We are proud to announce the arrival of our first lamb of 2009. A little male who was born, with help, during a hailstorm this afternoon.

We moved mother and lamb to the shed and after a wee drink of milk from the bottle to help them on their way, both mother and son are doing well. Mum is experienced with lambs, having already had four, and being a grandmother as well so we think she will keep this little cutie safe.

Our original prediction was that tomorrow would be the start of lambing, so we were nearly right, but the ewe we thought would lamb first is still very much in waiting.
Tomorrow I am off on a jaunt to the other side of the world to investigate the world of textiles in Japan. It is a family visit too, but I am a little nervous travelling all that distance on my own. If you see anyone wandering aimlessly around CDG airport in Paris late tomorrow evening, it will be me, totally lost and only having reached France.....
Am hoping to keep you up to date with what I find and am also going to fly the flag for Harris Tweed.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

In the Nick of Time....

Well, amazingly I have finished my entry for the forthcoming exhibition at An Lanntair, Stornoway. The exhibition is called "Grinneas nan Eilean" and is open to anyone involved in artistic activity who also lives in the Western Isles.

My entry is a piece of hyperbolic crochet in a sort of pinkish 2/11 nm Shetland yarn. It started with a chain of 6 and I estimate that there is around 25,000 double or treble crochet stitches in it. I then put it on a card base and covered it all with a double layer of shrink film to give it a firm yet slightly squashy feel. Then to hide the card base I stuck a bit of felt that I'd made from some Carloway bits underneath. However, it still looked like a cauliflower, so I presented it in a shallow basket on a bed of carded Carloway yarn. Wondered if the organisers might think it was a bit peculiar to be included - but haven't heard from them despite handing it in on Wednesday.
I was a bit stuck for a title, so I finally settled on "Brain Coral" which is what it looks like.
Yesterday our guinea fowl suddenly went berserk - screeching, screaming and running around in the way that only guineas seem to be able to do. When we went out to see what was spooking them there was a great big Goshawk sitting up on a telephone pole giving all the poultry the evil (or maybe that should be "eagle") eye. It hung around for ages, flying from pole to pole before finally gliding off into the distance towards Kyles where Calana Crafts is based.
A few days before that we saw a golden eagle fly over coming from the direction of the Isle of Skye. Typical - just before lambing. Up in Lewis and over in Applecross in Wester Ross the Sea Eagles take quite a few lambs - and not just the weaklings either. We are waiting on our first lamb to be born. Will it be black? Will it be white? Will it be spotted? Will keep you posted.......