I made the pilgrimage to Bendigo on the weekend, to see the Marimekko exhibition. I've been wanting to go since it opened in March but the thought of spending 3-4 hours travelling there and back was not appealing...Read More
I take photos all the time. So many photos that I need terabytes of external storage and have recently signed up for one year of cloud backup, but am realising it will take about a year just to upload all the data.
I got my first point and shoot camera in primary school and was hooked, taking little snapshots all the time and then eagerly awaiting the collection of prints from the chemist (maybe 24 frames, more likely 36 and always double copies!) Most of these photos were terrible - it was a very basic camera. But I still took it overseas with me when I was 23 and when it mysteriously disappeared a few weeks into the trip I was a little crushed.
Before that, at university, I took some photography electives and learnt about 'real', ie: manual photography. This was pre-digital, so we developed our own black and white film and enlarged and printed our own work. We started out with the standard 35mm SLR camera, moved onto medium format and even experimented with large format (ie: cameras so heavy you can barely lift them and negatives almost the size of an A4 piece of paper). At this time I mainly used my Dad's 1960s SLR but also tested out his first ever camera, a box brownie, and his dad's camera, which had bellows in order to zoom. I guess it's possible that an addiction to photography is in the blood.
20 years later and I'm still addicted, still taking photos all the time, always learning about what works and what doesn't. And if a few days go by and I haven't taken any photos, I get a bit antsy. So following on from the other day's post, where I shared some photos of my home, here are some shots I took walking around my neighbourhood. They've got nothing to do with screenprinting or textiles but the images fuel my imagination for colour, pattern, shape and form, so maybe I'll share more of these kind of photos in the future. Happy Thursday.
One of the things I most love about travel is noticing the differences between the place I'm visiting and home - the architecture, the light, the plants, the people. I find this stuff fascinating, even if the 'travel' is just going to a country town an hour away. Going slight further afield, say from Melbourne to Sydney or Hobart is great, as each city is so different in terms of climate, architecture and more. And going overseas blows my mind - I notice everything, am fascinated about how & why things are the way they are.
All this year I'd been reading about Japan (well, I'd read bits of Hello Sandwich's Tokyo Guide and also Tokyo Precincts and Monocle's Tokyo Travel Guide, all highly recommended, along with a few general online travel guides and some blogs) and I knew what to expect generally. But when I got there, there were all these little quirky differences that I loved. So I decided to write them down, so I wouldn't forget them. And as I know a few people going to Japan soon, I thought I'd share them in case they're interested.
Thank you. I don't speak Japanese but I already knew one thing - "thank you" is "arigatou". But when thanking you (which happens a million times a day - everyone is so polite!) people actually seemed to be saying something else. It took me a while to figure out it was the more formal "arigatou gozaimasu" (pronounced "goes eye moss" with a silent "u").
You get hand towels at eating and drinking establishments. Sometimes it's a real towel (face washer sized) and it's hot. Sometimes it's a small wet napkin in a plastic bag (like you used to get on planes!) It's always nice.
You don't need to press the button at traffic lights (and often there is no button). Well, this was the case pretty much everywhere we went. Occasionally you need to press the button at night but generally the lights just cycle through, as there are always pedestrians everywhere.
People wait for the green light at traffic lights. Yep, no crossing on the red! Generally, anyway. Why rush?
Crows. Or maybe ravens? There were loud, squawking crows everywhere we went. Initially they freaked me out (is it an omen?!) Then I got used to them. Apparently they're very smart, remember faces and do swoop people, so don't be mean to them, as they'll remember you next time!
Footpath = road. It's not the case everywhere, but in lots of places we went to there's no footpath and you just walk on the side of the road. It's how it's always been so it's very safe, but it took me a little while to get my head around the idea.
So many pot plants. It's definitely not the case everywhere, but in the first area we stayed in Tokyo, there are pot plants all over the place. There often isn't room for everyone to have a garden but you can still have greenery this way. Excellent!
The train station music/jingles. They're unique, to say the least. According to the sister of someone I know, the tunes have "baroque foundations and excellent augmented triads." So kawaii.
Stripes. So much striped clothing. Who would have thought you could have so much variation with stripes!
Folded toilet paper edges. Everywhere - in all the AirBNB places we stayed, in little bars, restaurants, even in department stores. Everywhere. And public toilets are everywhere and clean, amazing. But finding a bin...well, that's another story.
Toilet flush confusion. Sometimes it took me way too long to figure out how to flush a toilet (push a button here? Push a button there? Hover your hand over a sensor? Pull a lever?) that I'd accidentally hit the flush sound effect button. Yep.
Craft beer. OK, I knew Japanese craft beer was a bit of a thing. But it's actually a super big thing and there are so many great local artisan brews. If you're into beer, prepare you palette and your wallet - they're excellent but can be pricey.
Hydrangeas and ivy. Unfortunately we couldn't time our holiday to coincide with cherry blossom season (just missed out) but the hydrangeas everywhere more than made up for it. They're one of my favourite plants but I had no idea they came in so many varieties and in such vibrant colours. And ivy, often variegated, also seemed to be everywhere. I used to hate ivy and thought of it as a weed but now I'm going to have to find some and pot it in an indoor hanging basket ASAP.
Let me know if you've been to Japan and have more things to add to this list!
So I've been on holiday in Japan for a couple of weeks and oh my, I wonder how it is that I've never been before - it's soooo amazing! So many people but so much order, so much politeness, so much good food, so much good coffee, so many adorable pot plants everywhere, so much matcha everything, amazing hydrangeas and ivy everywhere, home of the best sweets ever (mochi!), so much good and simple design in the right places. And the home of Muji - going to the flagship store was a semi-religious moment for me (sad but true!) And I cannot wait to share the latest instalment of Studio Space, and the first international workspace. Here is a really brief edit, in photo form, of some of my highlights so far. Now I'm off to Nippori Fabric Town, home to more than 80 fabric stores. It's going to be a good day :)
Lately I've been thinking about how I came to screen printing and what inspired me to start experimenting with my own designs and prints. Back in 2005 and 2006 the handmade & craft world was starting to get big and there were lots of inspiring books and blogs. When stumbled across Lotta Jansdotter, probably reading about her in a blog, I knew I'd found someone special.
Lotta is from Sweden, a country which has a rich history of beautiful and stylish design, and she is much loved by the Japanese, also known for simple, natural and useful design. Lotta creates minimalist and often hand drawn designs and then prints many of her patterns onto fabric, often beautiful, raw flax linen. Back then she was into block printing, screen printing, stencilling and more. I bought lots of her books and swooned over pictures of her great studio workspace.
Lotta's moved around a bit - she's from Sweden, lived in San Francisco for many years and is now based in Brooklyn, New York. When my boyfriend and I were planning a US trip last year, I couldn't believe my luck when I realised one of Lotta's few open studio days would coincide with us being in Brooklyn. Little did I know, she was also teaching a class at the studio on that day and I could have booked into it - somehow I missed this vital detail. But I was pretty happy just looking around at her workspace, seeing some of her beautiful products and I even saw Lotta herself, while she was teaching.
Here are some of the photos I took there, and the last photo is of some Lotta fabric I bought years ago, totally love and just can't bare to chop up :)