Posted by Emma Leafe on

Experimenting in the Dark 

Since the very beginning on my journey to become an artisan, when I took the clear path on my own towards learning about crafts, history and fine art. It was so called primitive/ indigenous art that mostly caught my attention. The traditional arts and crafts of Africa, Japan, Yunnan, Tibet, India ... to the indigenous peoples of Mexico, Peru, North America. These people seemed in a very different world than mine. With lives deeply connected to nature, radiating such colourful, blissful beauty

In my late teens - finally away from the competitive world I had been bound to. I gladly found myself in quiet rooms devoted to textiles, print making, photography; making primitive patterns with wax onto hemp cloth. Making dyes and handmade paper with vegetable pulp. Sculpting small pots out of clay, during stark English Winters - decorating them with my Grandmothers rare wolf hair calligraphy brushes, before firing them in her garage kiln. In my youthful lost-ness, I wandered in nature; catching light abstractions onto photographic film. Experimenting with solarisation in the dark and aloneness ...

The Irregular, Real, True Soul Emerges

In the classroom library, appeared books of native people of the world. Their artefacts, crafts and environment seemed so palpable. Was it the irregular, real, true soul that emanated from their eyes I sought inspiration from? Was it the well-spoken, old English man who travelled to Japan and now enthusiastically attempted to share tea ceremony to inquisitive art students ~ vacant youth who questioned the nature of reality but had not yet connected the dots?  Later on this 'man' would return in many physical guises, sometimes as a master, sometimes a student, eager to teach me more of the ancient ways ...

What do you see in a wrinkle?

In those earliest years, what was I trying to capture with my camera and with the needle of a batik pen? What was I running away from; or running towards? It is almost by mistake that this has become my life path now, for there was a time, that I rejected all this somewhere inside. Often I ponder the gifts that are shared with me, they seem to reach me backwards; I have to wait to make sense of them. I came from a humble small town in the middle of English flatlands. Confused by such seeming simplicity of life, suspended somewhere between my peers ambitions, or absence of. Yet despite being told I had a gift, for a time I tossed it into the wind

The depths of simplicity

Now the depths of such simplicity have permeated into that ‘(im)perfection’ of youth, in a kind of superimposed mirror image. Like the circular sweep of the tai chi sabre, or a loaded water colour brush, swept across damp paper. That inky colour bleeds deep into every pore of the once pristine surface. In traditional art-forms from the Orient such as: tea ceremony, ikebana, incense ceremony or pottery, we can see the reverence of irregular forms and the rejection of perfection. Perfection I read somewhere not too long ago, is as if showing something all at once. It’s highly digestible in one mouthful, therefore leaves nothing for the second glance. Irregularity on the other hand, holds within it hidden depths ... cracks ... shadows ... details. The Japanese term for this is Shibui



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