Hokusai and Hiroshige, Japanese prints

A visit to a terrific, free and very popular exhibition – closing soon – at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery, the first of three looking at woodblock printing in Japan.  This one is concerned with landscapes, the next on starts on January 12th and is focused on the city.

There is also an on-line exhibition for those who can’t get to the museum.

The museum also currently has a small but interesting display of African fabric, mainly made-up clothing.

 

Affinity and beyond

I recently bought Affinity Photo, a graphics app that costs just £50 and will accept many Photoshop plug-ins.  As with most software this means a learning period during which novel combinations of swear words can be heard echoing from Miller Towers.  But thankfully this has been minimal with Affinity Photo, which is well designed, pretty intuitive, has all the tools and power I require and can do almost everything Photoshop does and some things better.  I’m a quite experienced user of this sort of software having been publishing stuff since the BBC Micro days of the 1980s, on several hardware platforms (including the beloved Amiga 500 and the 1200).  Affinity has emerged from the old Serif  (parent) company and seems to have a similar fair-price philosophy. 

 

So having tried it for a few weeks along with a freebie, the beta version of Affinity Publisher (a desk top publishing app) and been pretty pleased with the results I decided to dig into the usually hermetically sealed wallet and bought the third of the trilogy of apps, Affinity Designer.

Affinity Publisher beta, free for now

The motivation for all this is financial, to get away from the rapacious Adobe and their over-priced products.  Adobe have a near-monopoly in UK art schools and elsewhere, as well as with designers, photographers and artists, and a few years ago they began exploiting that to the max.  They did this with subscription pricing which forces customers to pay them forever, and pay them plenty.

Serif have spotted an opportunity and produced three fixed price products which will do everything most users want, for less than one years payment to Adobe!  Adobe are not the only ones at this racket, Microsoft exploit their monopoly with out any check even though other products, such as the free Open Office, perform just as well for most users.  But it seems that the big companies and their lure of cheap software – cheap for the school –  has got the educational institutions in a fierce grip somewhere below the waist.  Time that grip was broken.

Affinity Designer is a vector drawing app and seems to have some cross-over functions into the raster graphic area.  Like the other apps it is available for Windows, Mac and the iPad.  I have a Win10 Surface Pro which I use with as a tablet and docked as a desktop, so I will be testing these apps with a pen as well as mouse/keyboard.  Plenty of blurb on the Affinity site about Designer, but it is the things that are missing – there’s always something – which will be most revealing I expect.  I will write more fully when I have tried it out.

 

Welcome to Fukushima

This was my final piece for the MA Multi-Disciplinary Printmaking an it is currently half on display at the Royal West of England gallery as part of their annual open exhibition.  I say half because although I submitted it as a sculpture and wanted it shown in the whole it has been placed against a black curtain.  Still we do what we can and endure what we must.

The work references Japanese Boro coats, hand-me-downs that were patched repeatedly and passed on to succeeding generations.  In the later half of the 20thC they became collectable and examples can be found in museums and galleries, such as Sri, prices on application!  Interestingly the V & A gallery in London has a, ‘Make your own: Japanese ‘Boro’ bag‘ .pdf instruction.

There are many examples of Boro on pinterest, and some excellent information courtesy of Heddels.

 

Forever Young

Forever Young, Quilt, 1m x 80cm, mixed organic fibres and bamboo wadding, embroidery, embellishing and applique.

This quilt was completed earlier this year.  It is made from organic fabrics supplied by the Organic Textile Company who are based in Machynlleth and are partnered with Ganesh in Kerela, India.  I would like to buy all their fabric, I have to keep off their web site.