Emma's Journey

What do you see in a wrinkle?

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.

In my late teens - finally away from the competitive world I had been caught up in, in the classroom with children vying to be the next important person - 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. Inhaling the scent of oil paints in dusty, half lit rooms. Sculpting thumb pots out of cold wet clay, during soggy English Winters. Decorating them with my Grandmothers rare wolf hair calligraphy brushes. Catching light abstractions in nature onto photographic film. Experimenting with solarisation in the dark and aloneness.

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 artefacts and 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? 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 then, that I rejected all this somewhere inside. I came from a humble small town in the middle of English flatlands. Confused by such seeming simplicity of life, suspended between my peers ambitions or lack of it. Yet despite being told I had a gift, for a time I tossed it into the wind. Now the depths of such simplicity have permeated into that ‘(im)perfection’ of youth, in a kind of superimposed mirror image. Like a loaded water colour brush, swept across damp paper. That inky colour bleeds deep into every pore of the once pristine surface.

In Oriental traditional art forms such as: tea ceremony, ikebana, incense ceremony or pottery, we 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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