Merry Christmas

Hi everyone,

I would like to apologise for the lack of new posts here in the run up to Xmas. We will try to get back to normal in the New Year.

Merry Christmas from Cornwall.

Wishing everyone a safe, happy and prosperous 2013.

All the best

Wai-Yuk and Alex

A recently completed textile brooch

A recently completed textile brooch

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Cornish Sunrise

The recent cold dry weather has brought the return of some spectacular sunrises in North Cornwall where I live. Here are a few new pictures on an old theme of mine.

Click on the images to view full size

A painted sky

A painted sky

Morning mist

Morning mist

A gentle dawn

A gentle dawn

Cold morning

Cold morning

Behind the hedge

Behind the hedge

Painted sky with frozen pond

Painted sky with frozen pond

Clouds over Dartmoor

Clouds over Dartmoor

Hard frost

Hard frost

Frozen pond

Frozen pond

Breathtaking!

Breathtaking!

More Museum Favourites

Here are a few more of my favourite objects in the wonderful British Museum.

There is no story here, just images that excite me, selected more or less at random. – Or if there is a kind of general story, it is just about what various creative people have done using stone, metal, wood or clay.

The great treasure-house that is the British Museum

The great treasure-house that is the British Museum

Weighty majesty - from Greece

Weighty majesty – from Greece

Flowing movement in stone - also from Greece

Flowing movement in stone – also from Greece

Chinese  jade  ritual blade - just a polished bit of stone?

Chinese jade ritual blade – just a polished bit of stone?

Fish-shaped ritual headdress, with beautiful shadows - Africa galleries

Fish-shaped ritual headdress, with beautiful shadows – Africa galleries

Shiny piece of abstract metalwork - Bronze age gold brooch

Shiny piece of abstract metalwork – (European) bronze age gold brooch

More bronze-age metal - corroded Chinese bronze vessel

More bronze-age metal – corroded Chinese bronze vessel

Metal blade in the form of a bird - Africa galleries

Metal blade in the form of a bird – Africa galleries

Practical metalworking - Chinese finger-nail protectors

Practical metalworking – Chinese finger-nail protectors

Exquisite modelling on a Chinese phoenix-headed ewer

Exquisite modelling on a Chinese phoenix-headed ewer – White porcelain (9th to 11th centuries)

Shang dynasty (1600 BC to 1046 BC) - bronze ritual vessel

Shang dynasty (1600 BC to 1046 BC) – bronze ritual vessel

As always, photographs are a poor substitute for seeing the real thing – Visit a museum again soon!

Threads of Silk and Gold

Last weekend we travelled to Oxford to see a groundbreaking new textiles exhibition at The Ashmolean Museum. “Threads of Silk and Gold – Ornamental Textiles from Meiji Japan”, presents textile pieces using traditional Japanese skills but made primarily for a Western audience. (Sadly, there was no photography allowed in the exhibition but I did sneak a couple of snaps to give a flavour of the show.)

Cover of the beautiful catalogueCover of the beautiful catalogue

Cover of the beautiful catalogue

Japanese art and crafts were hugely popular in the West between the 1870’s and the death of the Meiji Emperor in 1912. Textiles were part of this export trade but have been little studied until now.

Although there are token exhibits of weaving and Yuzen dyeing, this is an exhibition of Japanese embroidery. Ranging from superb exhibition pieces and large artworks to examples of what are frankly “tourist kitsch”, the craftsmanship is uniformly superb and shows a level of hand labour that is now unimaginable.

Detail of Cranes and Wisteria (Ashmolean collection)

Detail of Cranes and Wisteria – Size 201cm x 279cm (Ashmolean collection)

cormorant fishing

This screen of cormorant fishing is the star of the show

Many of the largest pieces (up to nearly 4 metres high) were exhibition works for various World Fairs, or were produced for the richest foreign tourists to take home from their visits.

Detail of the Cormorant Fishing showing the free stitching technique

Detail of the Cormorant Fishing showing the free stitching technique

Detail showing the fire basket. This is painting with stitches

Detail showing the fire basket. This is painting with stitches!

I have long loved Japanese embroidery but always felt that there was a stiffness and very “rules-driven” approach to its execution. With the notable exception of the Cormorant screen, this is still visible here but where the designs are so grand and original the end-result totally escapes any limitation from the fact that every feather on every bird is executed using precisely the same stitch technique. Indeed, the whole exhibition is an object lesson in the possibilities and limitations of craft techniques;  the truly original works exceed the limitations of technique while even the best craft skills cannot rescue the dreadful pot-boilers.

Detail of the peacock shown on the catalogue cover

Detail of the peacock shown on the catalogue cover. (Photo of catalogue illustration)

Outside the exhibition was an education exhibit on Japanese embroidery techniques (where photography was allowed) and on the day we visited there were also embroiderers staging demonstrations.

Many exhibits feature 3D embroidery. This is a modern imitation

Many exhibits feature 3D embroidery. This is a modern imitation

Demonstration piece showing basic stitches

Demonstration piece showing basic stitches

Techniques for couching gold thread

Techniques for couching gold thread

Modern, embroidered handling-piece

Modern, embroidered handling-piece

Silk-weaving is now the only affordable substitute for large fully-embroidered pieces

Silk-weaving is now the only affordable substitute for large fully-embroidered pieces

“Threads of Silk and Gold” runs at the Ashmolean until 27th January 2013. For more information see the Ashmolean website

New Jewellery in Pink and Purple

Recently I have been producing a lot of work in pinks and purples.

Here are  images of just some of the pieces in this very pink theme.

Pink and purple choker

A new choker with lots of pink velvet

Pink and purple neckpiece

A pink and purple version of the blue neckpiece I made a little while ago.

Close-up of the new neckpiece

Close-up of the new neckpiece

Back view of the neckpiece

Back view of the neckpiece

Matching earring for the above

Matching earring for the above

Another pair of earrings in a style inspired by seashells

Another pair of earrings in a style inspired by seashells