A room of one’s own, again.

It’s been a busy sort of week what with teaching my regular ceramics classes here in Birmingham and also a day trip teaching a group of very pleasant people in Nottingham. As I went on the train this seemed to involve a great deal of wrestling with a giant folder which would not be controlled on the train and didn’t fit into the luggage rack either. However it was better than driving and they were really kind and took me back and forth to the station. I always take something to read on trains but invariably will do absolutely nothing except look out of the window and listen to my mp3. This I regard as a real treat.

I’ve also taken on another studio, 2 months after I left the other one. I’ve done very little new textile work since May and thought I’d be fine at home, basically working in the bedroom. I ‘ve been doing a lot of teaching all summer, a trade fair and making lots of card orders, none of which needs space, so I hadn’t realised the impossibility of  doing real proper textiles again, with nowhere to spread out my stuff. Also of course I’m so used to the space of a studio, even though it was fairly small. But this new one is in the same building, and bigger, it’s amazing. It’s higher up to, so I have the most spectacular [not] veiw of industrial Birmingham. If I crane my neck I could probably see a bit of the Selfridge building. I seem to have accumulated far more stuff to go back there than when I first took on a studio 2 years ago, it’s been spread around the house, shed and garage, craftily expanding. More to take tomorrow and then I’ll post a few images, not that it’s at all posh, very diy tables etc.

Last Saturday my daughter and I went to the Ikon Gallery in Birmingham to see the Kitagawa Utamaro exhibition. He was an 18th century Japanese printmaker whose images are mostly based on women working as courtesans. Most people are familiar I think with his work and its content. The techniques were amazing, and I love that blocky use of pattern and the line, as well as the gorgeous colours, and the impossible shading. There were of course a few vaguely pornographic images, depending on your veiws I imagine, in which the carving of line was even more exquisite. The Ikon has a print show it seems most years now, with the last one being Thomas Bewick, which was brilliant as we went on a day when there was a demo and got to handle some of his actual wood engravings. There was also the Hiroshige show a couple of years ago, which was totally wonderful. Although the Ikon shows mainly contemporary art I think it likes the large numbers of visitors that go to these print shows. I imagine the idea is to capture new audiences too, although the tapas restaurant there is quite good at that.

Here are a couple of Utamaros, don’t panic, nothing rude, just showing the skill, and use of pattern, line and space.

A close up showing juxtaposition of patterns and folds in fabric.

And another two, this one below including a bit of ear.