Welcome to my blog! You can find out about the influences and random thoughts that feed my ceramic work. Comments are most welcome.


Sunday, 31 July 2011

Fun times

Family Inn Saiko

 Here we are in Japan!  What a mad three days we`ve had in Tokyo.  Total sensory overload.  We arrived at 9.30am Tokyo time after flying all day and into the future - our journey was no way finished and we caught a train into the city which took 2 and a half hours, then two subway trains and a taxi to our accommodation.  We were exhausted but it was only 3.30pm!  Fortunately, the Saiko family made us feel very welcome and showed us to our Japanese style room (tatami mats, futons and space age toilet).  A much needed shower then back out to negotiate the unfamiliar streets of Kanemecho.  What a fascinating place, row upon row of tiny family run shops selling anything from soba noodles to tatami mats.  All products made on the premises.  After our meal of soba and seaweed we crawled back to our second home and crashed out at 7pm!

I can`t recommend Family Inn Saiko enough.  If you are looking for a truly Japanese experience it is a must.  It is the equivalent to a good British `B and B` where the hosts really make you feel at home.  You can even experience Japanese bathtime.  The house is immaculate, both contemporary and traditional.  A great experience. 

Outside Bandai shop

Sensoji Temple

Fuji TV Building

 The Fuji TV Building is in the newest entertainment area in Tokyo.  It is an area named Odaiba and was built at great expense on reclaimed land from the sea.  Arriving by monorail you really feel like you are travelling to the future.

Japanese Craft Museum
 This was fantastic - a celebration of craft from all corners of Japan.  The above picture is their window display that shows summer in Japan  with wind chimes, fans and bamboo products.  Well made regional crafts are respected and sought after in Japan.  It is such a shame that many British people have lost this connection to handcrafted products and wares.  I bought a sake set from a pottery that lost everything during the earthquake/tsunami this March.  I wonder if they will ever be able to start their business again.

Cat Cafe

Of course I had to try one of the many cat cafes in Tokyo.  For an hour or more you can enjoy the company of some very pampered cats.  It was such a surreal experience.  I can see why people go there as it was serene and calm compared to the noise and madness that is Tokyo.  I don`t think `Our Mabel` would find employment here.  She is very picky as to who she lets stroke her.


Higashi Honganji Temple Kyoto
 Our first temple visit in Kyoto.  Really beautiful and calm.  The temple shown has been restored to a fantastic standard.  The modern looking part on the left is a protective covering as they restore that side.  It is the largest wooden structure in the world.  Whole tree trunks were used as supporting columns.

Tropical weather

Ryokan in Kyoto

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Ichi ...

Finally, the months of preparation and the mounting anticipation have reached a crescendo ...we are off to Japan tomorrow!!!  The land of cat cafes, Bladerunner-esque cities, Shinto temples, anime characters and best of all great design and inspirational craft.  Hopefully, I'll be updating my blog as we go along so keep reading.

Our intended route

Finished penguin cups to be left along our tour of Japan

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Takahiro Iwasaki

Whilst checking out Cornerhouse's latest exhibition, 'Constellations', I came across the work of Takahiro Iwasaki.  His work is original and quirky.  I was very impressed at his ability to work on such a small scale, very inventive.

Towels - the thread from the towels has been used to create tiny towers

Ever wondered what to do with pencil leads that are too small to use?

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Ni . . .

Beautiful packaging design

This used to make me chuckle everytime I had one of these custard filled sponge cakes.

Wallace and Gromit merchandise (infinite)
Whilst living in Fukuoka, the fantastic Aardman exhibition came to town.  Even though I couldn't read the Japanese explanations, it was a joy to follow Aardman animations through Morph, Creature Comforts and Wallace and Gromit.  I discovered Angry Kid here and as I enjoyed his naughty exploits a little Japanese boy sat down next to me, watching when I laughed then followed every laugh with his own.  I think he thought I was Angry Kid!  I was the only person in Fukuoka with naturally red hair. . .

Return of 'spot the cat'

Where's Mrs Mabel?

Basking in the sun, of course!

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

San . . .

Prayers and wishes - handwritten on wood blocks at a Shinto shrine
Peko chan merchandise
 Peko chan is a cheeky little girl who advertises sweets (amongst other things) in Japan.  Here we have 'Milky' (sweet soft milky chewy sweets) and 'Fruits Candy' (hardboiled sweets), also a bag and doll in J-league football kit (World Cup 2002).

'Have a nice Tea'

 Bamboo mats, bamboo chopsticks and rests, bamboo tea scoops and bamboo cake forks (the pronged shapes).  Lovely, versatile bamboo.

Summer time

 Ornate fan made from fragrant wood.  Hand towels - carried by everyone all the time.  Ideal for wiping off sweat in the hot humid summers.

Case for fan - perfect design and fit

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Help Champ!

I'm scared ...... Our Mabel is scared ..... We are going to rescue Champ!

Monday, 4 July 2011

Northern Soul anyone?

If you are interested in Northern Soul take a listen to the story of The Twisted Wheel and the Wigan Casino on i-player now.  It's only on for another 5 days and I reckon it's worth a listen.  Don't be put off by the picture of Jamie Cullen either bit of the Jocky Wilson I bet.

Manchester International Festival

The Manchester International Festival started on Friday (1st July).  There is a definite buzz about Manchester.  This is the third festival and it feels more confident and established.  This year we've had glorious weather and many people have been basking in the rays at the festival square (Albert Square).  This area is much improved, making it a desirable place to visit.  The seating areas cover all weather eventualities!  The pavilion has djs and talks, you can also take a guided tour of Manchester too.  Some events are free.  Check out the website.

I'm looking forward to Doctor Dee this Friday.  I went to see Monkey: Journey to the West during the first MIF. I was blown away by the creativity of the piece and the talent of all involved.  It was magical.

Running at the same time is 'Not part of ...' festival.   That aims to 'see what happens when a festival stops treating artists as a revenue stream and gives them total freedom of self-expression.'  I went to their 'Sit com Trials' on Saturday.  Five ten minute sit coms read by actors and the audience voted on their favourite.  We got to listen to the end of the winning sit com.  I was impressed with the actors animating the scripts.  All the pieces were funny and well written.  It was good fun.