A Walk Near Tintagel

England’s South-West Coast Path is one of the world’s great walking routes, stretching from Somerset in the North, around the tip of Cornwall to the Jurassic Coast of Dorset.. We are lucky to have some 300 miles of that route here within Cornwall.

Recently, Alex and I took advantage of the glorious weather to take a walk along part of the Cornwall Coastal Path that was new to us. The stretch of the Path between Tintagel and Trebarwith Strand is typical of North Cornwall with it’s rugged rocky cliffs. That ruggedness is made even more dramatic here due to the scars of old slate quarrying. This is such a feature that the area is known as the “Slate Coast”. In fact, the coast path here is largely created from the old paths that the quarry-men used to access the mining sites.

Quarrying for slate has left its impact on the cliffs
looking to the sea over a field of bright yellow wildflowers

We started our walk just to the west of Tintagel. Looking back to the east we could see the island part of Tintagel Castle, while a little further on we passed the fabulously situated Tintagel Youth Hostel.

The island of Tintagel Castle seen from the South-West
Tintagel Youth Hostel has a magnificent clifftop view

If you live in Cornwall you are used to seeing seas in shades of dark brooding greys. With summers we are having now however, there are more and more days when you can see the waters in clear, almost mediterranean blues and greens.

As Trebarwith Strand comes into view along the walk, one can see the huge scars that historical slate mining has left in the cliffs.

A feature of the quarry sites are the great rock pillars left undisturbed where the miners hit unsuitable rock. These now tower over the old quarry beds.

Precautions were needed against the blazing sun!

All the waste rock from the quarries has led to many variations of dry stone walling.

And if you turn away from the sea, you are faced with the beautiful green of Cornwall

Advertisements

Tickled pink

Two brooches I’ve made that seem suited to the warm weather!

The garden is bursting with pinks and reds at the moment, as well as fabulous shapes, so I’ve had plenty of inspiration.

The Garden House

Alex and I made the most of the sunny weather by visiting The Garden House, a ten acre garden near Yelverton, in Devon.

The original house was built for the vicars of the parish, including the former Abbot of Buckland Abbey, who became vicar after the dissolution of the monasteries in the 1500s. A modern vicarage was built in the 1920s and The Garden House was sold as a private dwelling.

When the house and gardens came on to the market again in the 1940s, they were purchased by Lionel and Katharine Fortescue, who created the gardens whilst running a thriving market garden business. After their deaths, the Garden House was bequeathed to a charity to maintain their legacy.

The Garden House features both naturalistic planting and more traditional arrangements, making it a beautifully varied place to visit.

Here’s a sample of what was on offer (click to enlarge):

Widemouth Bay

Today has been wet and miserable in this bit of the world but last week we had some days of brilliant sunshine. Last Wednesday I had a really good day working on my textile jewellery. I finished a new necklace that I was pleased with so Alex and I decided that a trip to the beach to enjoy the sunset was overdue.

necklace-1

A new textile necklace

necklace-3

When we arrived the at Widemouth Bay the light was stunning. The reflection of the brilliant blue sky on the the breaking waves made them appear almost fluorescent.

widemouth-1

widemouth-2

Widemouth Bay near Bude in North Cornwall

widemouth-3

Near the beach, the air was laden with spray that glowed in the evening light

widemouth-4

A big wave crashing into the headland

widemouth-9

I always enjoy the little details as well as the broad seascape

widemouth-8

Light effects change very rapidly as the sun sinks down

widemouth-6

Another shot of the amazing glow in the spray lit by the setting sun

widemouth-7

widemouth-5

widemouth-10

The glowing sky reflected in the wet sand

widemouth-11

Just as the sun dipped under the horizon

Antwerp Kimono Show

Last weekend we travelled to Antwerp to see an exhibition of kimono by the late Japanese master Itchiku Kubota. Kubota is one of my favourite artists and the chance to see some of his pieces that I only knew in reproduction made the trip a must.

Kim1

The exhibition was small with just eight kimono, six from the “Symphony of Light” series (the “Universe” set) plus two from his “Mount Fuji” series. The works were fabulous, which I knew they would be, but sadly the quality of the display was very poor with untidy hanging and lighting totally unsuitable for this type of work. The main light came from an internal paved courtyard but this caused so much reflection on the glass that you could only really see the piece directly in front of you. Fortunately we were permitted to take photographs, which is normally strictly forbidden in Kubota exhibits.

Kim11

Reflections on the glass made viewing very difficult!

The “Universe” set of kimono represents a mythical dragon within Mount Fuji breathing out flames and magma. They form one amazing continous image which was impossible to photograph but I have put together a set of individual photos to show the effect.

Kim7

The Universe set from “The Festival of Light”

Kim9

The complexity of the shibori work is amazing

Kim10

The subtle areas are among the most beautiful

Kim4

One of the Mount Fuji kimono

Kim5

The hand-stitched shibori textures are breathtaking!

Kim6

The other Mount Fuji kimono

Kim2

Kubota would spend as much as a year working on each kimono

The exhibition runs until the 19th June at MOMU – The Antwerp Fashion Museum. Antwerp itself is not a city I had ever considered visiting but proved to be a very pleasant and enjoyable destination.

Major Ikat Exhibition

A major exhibition of IKAT textiles has just opened at the Brunei Gallery, in the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. Organized by the World Crafts Council, this marvellous show is well worth a visit by anyone with an interest in traditional textiles.

Ikat is a technique where yarn is dyed with multiple colours prior to weaving so that patterns arise from aligning the yarn colours during the weaving process. Yarn is most commonly dyed using a tie-dye or similar resist technique. Because the production techniques are both painstaking and time consuming, Ikat textiles are among the most expensive of all fabrics. Variations on the Ikat technique can be found all around the world.

Ikat 1

The Brunei Gallery is a beautiful venue and deserves to be much better known. It is only a 3 minute walk from the British Museum. In addition to a program of changing exhibitions, there is a permanent collection and a beautiful Japanese roof garden.Ikat 5The show features examples from some ten countries in the Asia-Pacific region, plus items from Latin-America, the Middle East, West Africa and Europe.

Ikat 3

As well as the textile displays, on specific event days there are live demonstrations, a symposium and film screenings.

Ikat 4

The gallery is open Tuesday to Saturday, 10.30 to 17.00. Closed Sundays, Mondays and Bank holidays. Admission is free.

Ikat 2

Ikat 6

For more details, see the Brunei Gallery website

The Arimatsu Shibori Museum

During the Edo era in Japan, the Tokaido road leading from Kyoto and Osaka to the capital Edo was the nation’s main highway. Near the city of Nagoya a village called Arimatsu grew astride the Tokaido and achieved great prosperity through the production of indigo dyed clothing fabrics that were sold to travelers on the highway. These fabrics were decorated using sophisticated Shibori tie-dyeing processes. Shibori techniques already had a long history in Japan but in Arimatsu many processes were developed and refined that allowed the large-scale production of many complex patterns.

A historic textile warehouse on the little street that was once the great Tokaido

A historic textile warehouse on the little street that was once the great Tokaido

Alex and I visited Arimatsu in 2014. The village has long been absorbed within Nagoya’s suburbs and what was once the great Tokaido is now just a sleepy side street lined with many nice old buildings. Several of the buildings are the great warehouses and mansions of the textile merchants who made their fortunes here, alongside old-fashioned restaurants and craft shops selling shibori items. There is also the Arimatsu Shibori Museum, which was the reason for our visit.

Arimatsu Shibori dyed fabrics on sale in a craft shop

Arimatsu Shibori dyed fabrics on sale in a craft shop

The key to Arimatsu’s success lay in systematising and regimenting the production of small and complex repeat patterns. One important technique was the printing of a guide pattern on the fabric using a fugitive ink. This allowed the craftperson to align many hundreds of small individual elements with great accuracy. Various posts and hooks were also developed to help the worker carry out the arduous task of repeating complex patterns.

A craftswoman tyeing Shibori knots using dots printed in fugitive ink as a guide

A craftswoman tieing Shibori knots using dots printed in fugitive ink as a guide

At the Arimatsu Shibori Museum one can watch craftswomen demonstrate some of their techniques, though when they are working at full speed it is almost impossible to see what they are doing. It is only when they slow down a great deal that one can work out how the seemingly magical knotting techniques are achieved. The ladies we watched were very patient and spent a lot of time showing us exactly what they were doing step by step.

Craftswomen demonstrating at the Arimatsu Shibori Museum

Craftswomen demonstrating at the Arimatsu Shibori Museum

This woman is using a hook tied to a post to help control the complex knotting process

This woman is using a hook tied to a post to help control the complex knotting process

A section of knotted fabric. When the entire bolt of cloth is completed it will be sent for dyeing

A section of knotted fabric. When the entire bolt of cloth is completed it will be sent for dyeing

Pieces of knotted fabric. The completed material beneath shows the final pattern

Pieces of knotted fabric. The completed material beneath shows the final pattern

The Museum features a wonderful display of example pieces that show each traditional pattern from untied material through the tied stage, the dyed stage and on to the finished patterned fabric.

Examples of just a few of the many classic Arimatsu Shibori patterns

Examples of just a few of the many classic Arimatsu Shibori patterns

Each sample shows every stage from blank white cloth through to finished pattern

Each sample shows every stage from blank white cloth through to finished pattern

A close up showing the different stages

A close up showing the different stages in producing one design

There is also a display area showing Kimono and other items created from Arimatsu Shibori fabric.

Gallery display showing Kimono with Shibori designs

Gallery display showing Kimono with Shibori designs

A famous Kimono with Hokusai's "Great Wave"

A famous Kimono with Hokusai’s “Great Wave”

A contemporary Shibori wall hanging

A contemporary Shibori wall hanging

The museum features a large shop with a wide range of locally produced textile goods ranging from small “touristy” items up to very fine goods such as Kimono at truly eye-watering prices. Sadly, even with the local craftspeople’s great speed and skill, such labour intensive items now struggle to find a market at a viable price. Much of what looks like Shibori fabric sold in Japan today is in fact printed and we discovered that much of the genuine Shibori made for the more commercial end of the market is now sent from Arimatsu to Korea and China where it can be knotted by much cheaper labour.