Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Cork tree bark, giving bronze/pink. Cotton and silk fibre showing completely different colours though both were in the same dyepot!
Sunday, May 23, 2010
We walked for about 5 miles there and back along the larger river, it is such a beautiful place, a hidden part of ~Essex.
Ulting church looked very different from this side of the river, especially as we had visited it in winter last time. People were picnicing on the ground round the church, there boat pulled up alongside.
The white of the hawthorn blossom and the cow parsley is set off by the pale green-grey of the willows that line the path. England at this time of the year has the appearance of a Tolkinesque 'Shire' landscape of the Hobbits, a soft landscape of lush greens; blossoms overhanging the river reflect their mirror images but it will soon be gone. The horses in the field some a coppery brown colour, their sleek sides fat with the new grown grass are content in the afternoon sun sleeping away.
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
The making of aged paste or Furu-nori; A great pot is made of this, there are several cookings of the paste, and each batch is put into the pot then the pot is tied with persimmon treated paper, and then left for a year. The pot is then opened, the old water poured off and new water added. This happens every year for 10 years, until it reaches its final stage and can be used. This ten year period is the length of an apprenticeship in the studios of the conservators and marks the end of the apprenticeship.
There is a difference between the old and new paste, the old paste has weaker bonding abilities (don't we all) but the old paste (furi-nori) is able to laminate more sheets of papers of a particular kind without producing the brittleness and stiffness of the new paste (shofu nori), and because of this difference is used mostly on the hanging scrolls, which are of course rolled up or unrolled for use, and need to hang straight when displayed. Also, because aged paste is so much weaker, a secondary method is used, which is the beating of the papers together with a brush called uchi-bake which is made from hemp palm fibres. The brush strikes the scroll at a certain angle and 'meshing' of the papers take place to which the furi-noro has been applied.
Old paste can be sieved twice, once through a horsehair sieve and secondly a fine silk sieve.
A rather beautiful bowl used for the paste, though its first use is for the grinding of minerals.
Fresh paste is very stiff and will have to be cut out in lumps, it is then put through a horse-hair sieve and kneaded with a paste brush.
ref; Manufacture and Use of Japanese Wheat Starch Adhesives in the Treatment of Far Eastern Pictorial art.....
Friday, May 14, 2010
Bluebells in Blake Wood; And of course patches of stitchwort and yellow archangel. From bare earth a few weeks ago, an absolute feast of bluebells, and stitchwort also decorates the hedge banks profusely. Although the weather is so cold, trees in blossom and the wild flowers seem to be everywhere. The great horsechestnuts are out as well. The rolling softness of the many tree colours of green, freshly minted is also beautiful.
The 'drenched' blue of the bluebell, is down to colour change. As the flower spikes unfold it is a deep, deep bluey-violet, midway in their growing period, a lighter blue streaked with lines of purple, as the bell opens out it is a much lighter blue.
A patch of stitchwort
This house which we passed yesterday, never ceases to amaze me, the pink paintwork echoing the colour of the great pink horse chestnuts tree.
Thursday, May 13, 2010
So the tale goes that if a carp who succeeded in swimming upstream in the Yellow River to leap over a place called the Dragon Gate, would be transformed instantly into a mighty dragon...
The picture above which hangs on a wall, was originally a single screen surrounded by a frame and free-standing. Such screens were set in direct alignment with the entrance to a temple. So that as you went into the temple it faced you. This was to keep the bad spirits out, because apparently they only travelled in a straight line, not like our spirits at the cross-roads who could presumably take whatever road they felt like, though of course the answer that by burying the wicked at a cross road they would be confused as to which way to go.
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
The story of the Prince giving himself to the lioness and her cubs is a fascinating tale. The artwork even more so. It is one of the early periods of art in Japan, the Asuka period and much of this beautiful 7th century work can be found in the temple of Horyu-Ji.
The picture itself appears on a four-sided portable shrine which is made of local Japanese wood and then lacquered. The Tamamushi shrine is named after the tamamushi beetle, who's iridescent wings were used in the decoration, though the colour and the beetles have long disappeared from the shrine.
The wings were placed under the bands of ornate bronze filigree ornamenting the pedestal so that the colours would shine through; the beetle itself to be found in the woods in summer. Although the work is classified as Japanese, it was during the 6th century that the Japanese emperor at the time, imported you might say, nuns and monks from Korea for their crafts, so that such things are not necessarily indigenous to Japan. Be that as it may the Asuka culture and temples are situated in the earlier ritual landscape of the Tumuli people.
Here in this picture you can see the bronze filgree work and also the wooden carved moldings showing the lotus petal pattern around the base and the top.
Horyu Temple, with the pagoda at the side
photos taken from creative commons...
Monday, May 10, 2010
Recently in some news was the story of two young eagles poisoned in Ireland, and the fact that the eagle might become extinct in Ireland, there was also the story of an egg collector who gathered rare eggs for his collection and too sell. The eagles could have been poisoned by a gamekeeper, probably protecting game birds for shooting, or a farmer protecting his young lambs. Both acts are unforgivable, the killing of large predatory birds and the robbing of nests but they point to a 'relationship' with the natural world wholely in favour of our human need to dominate and control the 'wild' around us...
Here is a different tale...
"While out riding, a prince and his brothers come upon a starving tigress and her cubs. The brothers return home to bring food, but the prince remains behind. Fearing his brothers will not return in time, he decides to sacrifice his own body to feed the animals. The tigress and her cubs are weakened from starvation, so the prince must jump off a cliff, breaking his body into smaller pieces. When the brothers return, they find only the prince’s bones. They collect the bones and build a pagoda for the relics."
A morality tale, a turning round of the accepted view, could it be that other species have an equality, a right to 'survive', as tales of the greater primates becoming extinct flash across our screen, we give it a moment of thought but the deeper ethical position somewhat eludes us, we are not prepared to accept 'brotherhood' with these or any other creature, we are after all, the clever species, the one that 'survived and evolved' under Darwinian rules.
Reading Mary Midgeley, she sees our response to the singular nature of such causes, adoption of specific campaigns; for instance stopping the rain forest from being chopped down, the hunting of foxes or the killing of whales to name but three. What we do not do is look at the much larger picture of the natural world as a whole, and perhaps more importantly though we may feel guilt we do not address that which lies behind the destruction that humans do to other species.
Changing the myths by which we live, (and yes we do live in a scientifically rational world, but also a very reductionist world) the ongoing process of economic growth has a precedence over everything else. What she advocates is that we may have to change our perception of the world, change our direction and in so doing change the future. And that of course is the most difficult thing to do.............
p.s. this of course leads on to 'deep ecology', and the writing of Arne Naess and others, a philosophy underpinning a lot of green radical thinking....
some of the principles set out by this philosophy..........
The well-being and flourishing of human and nonhuman life on Earth have value in themselves (synonyms: intrinsic value, inherent value). These values are independent of the usefulness of the nonhuman world for human purposes.
Richness and diversity of life forms contribute to the realization of these values and are also values in themselves.
Humans have no right to reduce this richness and diversity except to satisfy vital human needs.
The flourishing of human life and cultures is compatible with a substantial decrease of the human population. The flourishing of nonhuman life requires such a decrease.
Present human interference with the nonhuman world is excessive, and the situation is rapidly worsening.
Policies must therefore be changed. These policies affect basic economic, technological, and ideological structures. The resulting state of affairs will be deeply different from the present.
The ideological change is mainly that of appreciating life quality (dwelling in situations of inherent value) rather than adhering to an increasingly higher standard of living. There will be a profound awareness of the difference between big and great.
Those who subscribe to the foregoing points have an obligation directly or indirectly to try to implement the necessary changes.
These are fine words but probably impossible to achieve, I do not necessarily criticise Naess but having read all these authors over the years I think that there is a certain unrealistic aim here, though beautifully put. Naess lived in Norway, he loved the mountains and solitary places, most of humanity live in a very different scenario. But all these philosophies have come and gone, his was the inspiration for movements like 'Earth First' an American group more radical than Greenpeace.
Today I find in my email box George Monbiot talking about another movement, this time 'The Dark Mountain project' proposing that all of the above, the individual campaigns and trying to save the world are a waste of time! What we should be doing is knuckling down and learning to survive whatever happens in the future - not terribly new thinking, its part of the myth that 'greens' live by, but perhaps its a sensible way forward. And do I note in the writing that Paul Kingsnorth has also been reading Mary Midgeley, and putting forward the similar idea of creating a new myth by which we live, and thereby living it?
Saturday, May 8, 2010
Friday, May 7, 2010
Monday, May 3, 2010
The campaigning goes nauseatingly on, 72 hours of more purgatory and the economic situation as gloomy as ever. I cannot believe that the weather has changed so much after taking the above photo last week on a lovely warm sunny day. A north wind doth truly blow, its freezing, my tomato plants (18 inches high) are miserable, and to be fetched back into the shed soon. The pink cherry blossoms, only just come out, are scattering on the lawn, and the birds are hungry as well, pots of various salad leaves have done well, radishes as well and the spinach; the poor pansies are being blown hither and thither in the strong wind.
Luckily austerity does'nt worry me ;), the amount we owe as a country is mind-boggling, but as ever my mind says where does all this money really exist, is it real in gold bars, or bank notes in the bank, or is it so much scribble on paper.......
We seem to have forgotten the drama of the Icelandic volcano a few days ago, the drama of the blackened sky caught in the glint of this ponies eye, it must have been awe-inspiring; now its just promises, promises, promises from our politicians.
Sunday, May 2, 2010
So if I have to make some choice on issues next week, some of these issues are contained in the following leaflet....