Friday, 30 June 2017

who knows where the time goes

it's been a while since I've published anything here , and the field of the year has been very thoroughly harrowed in the interim, beginning with the passing of my mother in February. 
not something I am ready to write about yet. so I will not.

in May I travelled to Vancouver, to give my first two-week class at the Maiwa School of Textiles

the magical view from the air as you fly into San Francisco

as Qantas only flies there direct in midwinter and midsummer, I had to travel via the United States.
in the past , my arrival at SFO has been met with a cheery "welcome to the United States".

not this time.

I was accused of lying about my tattoos. seriously??? I have a tattoo of a maple leaf on my wrist. it was drawn by one of my daughters, based on a leaf gathered from under the beautiful Acer palmatum atropurpureum that lives at the foot of the Vallejo Steps in San Francisco. the officer asked me what the tattoo was, I responded with "it's a maple leaf, sir". whereupon he informed me that he was a patriot from Ohio who had seen plenty of maples in his time and that it was his duty to keep undesirable elements out of his country. and that he did not like to be lied to.

it IS a maple leaf.
(and my hands were squeaky clean at the time)

the officer continued to insist that it was a marijuana leaf (which, even if true, should not have mattered as Cannabis sativa is legal in California). he wanted the names and addresses of my friends in the US. he demanded to know if I were an activist or an environmentalist. I responded truthfully that I was a tree planter, then he sent me for "secondary questioning".  hours later I was released into the USA. if you want to know what those hours were like, read Mem Fox's account of her experience. it's quite similar, except that in my case there was no apology (and I haven't given any books to Prince George).

curiously, everyone else in that detention room was brown, too.

I wasn't even wearing my amulets, but clearly I look like someone to be suspicious of. 


happily I had had the foresight to book my onward flight to Canada for the following day, otherwise I might well have missed my connection. but as a result of this experience, and given the current administration's attitude to aliens sharing their skills in the USA (although apparently it's ok to have your hats, handbags and suits made in China and Mexico) I shall not be teaching there again for the foreseeable future which is ironic, given the number of people who have set up small businesses churning out ecoprint textiles, teaching workshops and e-courses; none of which seemed to be around before Eco Colour was published. I like to think that I'm actually making a useful contribution and doing a bit of good around the whirled. I could just be misguided.

enough of the sad ranting. I'll miss all y'all.

now back to the story.


having two blocks of five days to work together, with a weekend off in between was just marvellous. I was there to teach feltmaking, of the kind that doesn't require truckloads of soap (but DOES need a bit of stitching and is a splendid means of using up little scraps of cloth. I call it shibusa), but there was of course lots of other dyeing on the side, including in a deliciously fragrant banana-based indigo vat. 


beautiful student work, printing on (unscoured) linen
the students worked like beavers.


on my weekend off I was spirited away to the most gorgeous island , where I slept in a dreamtent


we all found it a wrench to part company on the last day.
happily I've been invited back for next year and the class is in June, so I can fly directly to Vancouver from Sydney on my favourite airline.


after a few other adventures, early June found me in the Netherlands, where I was included in the exhibition 'Earth Matters' at the Textile Museum in Tilburg. 
at the opening I met Christina Kim (whose work appears below). I'd visited her Dosa space in Los Angeles a few years ago going to cross paths, but she'd been out of town at the time. I also met Birgitta deVos and acquired a copy of her gorgeous new book. 



I am so very grateful to Iris de Voogd for organising a workshop at such short notice, which meant that my airfare was covered and I could attend the exhibition opening. also I had a chance to catch up with lots of people I had not seen for a long time, some (Geesje and Dorie) not since 2011.  Marijke (who joined me in Newburgh a few years ago) was there as well, and her daughter Caitlin (she's the one who led the singing in the riverbed) has woven me the most glorious scarf and given me permission to dye it! do stay tuned for developments on that front, we are now treating it as a collaboration!

anyways Iris and I had been having an extended email conversation for around two years about the possibility of having a class there and May 2018 had already been inked into place...but she enthusiastically leapt into action a whole 11 months earlier. (and even let me play her saxophone).

Dorie van Dijk's enormous studio amidst the flowerhouses is a fabulous place for a class. I'm already dreaming of a return, and Marijke has been kindly murmuring about organising something in her region too. 

the seeds are planted, we'll see what blooms.

one of my lovely students, Dajana Heremic, with her delicious apron


the ridiculously bright #nofilter colour from Italian eucalyptus, a surprise delivery at Dorie's studio.





28 comments:

  1. India, what wonder you made it to the Netherlands. So close and I so much hoped to see you but broken back doesn't allow. Fortunately you saw Martine too , and that makes me very happy

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  2. the other sad event...no words

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  3. Loved to read your stories and....you'r always welcome in the Netherlands, even with marijuana leafs on your hands........

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    1. and it was lovely to see you too...thank you for coming to the exhibition opening , and for my beautiful seaweed book!!

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  4. welcome home [you are home??]...the world has gone mad when beautiful people who do so much good are treated thus.....l am so glad the rest of the journey was so lovely; love the pics, the apron is glorious......

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    1. I am indeed home, thank you ... tottering around the paddocks and working on an exhibition that opens very soon...

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  5. India, so sad to read about your SFO experience. Your books have definitely helped many people start up small businesses and definitely changed the way I make my art. Hope to be able to take class with you in Vancouver at some later date.

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    1. oh that would be grand :: Maiwa are marvellous hosts

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  6. Horrified. No other word for it. Oh yes. Embarrassed, Angry and Sorry. Lost in translation was the Maple Leaf, which is a symbol of Canada, and of a different species (similar to that which grows in the Midwest US, what do I know) than the Japanese Maple variety that looks a bit more like the leaf of suspicion.

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    1. The silly thing is that even HAD it been a cannabis leaf...it is not, so far as I am aware, an illegal body ornament. Plenty of people wear tshirts featuring far more offensive slogans.

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  7. I'm sorry about the loss of your mum, India. And abhorred at the airport experience; on behalf of this country - I may not be a citizen but I am a permanent resident and consider the US my current home - I am sorry.

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    1. Thank you for your kind words, Timo. Stay safe.

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  8. Ah India, Holland - another place I haven't visited! As I've already commented on some of your reflections on this post I wont repeat myself, but am still incredulous and angry about how you were treated! Beggers belief - or maybe not considering the present administration over there! A trip to Canada next year . . . . thinking about it . . . xx

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    1. You'll love Vancouver. And the islands around. Wonderful.

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  9. Oh India my heart goes out to you so sorry for your loss.
    I have a small poem for you by Hakitome Omatsu a real-life low born geisha poet written in 1861.
    The japanese words for cricket, (matsumushi), part puns Omatsu's name. Hakitome can also mean rubbish pile. The poem thus celebrates her name origins and her transcending achievements.
    It reminds me of the dawn walk you and I shared high on Hampstead Heath collecting plants from the compost watching ducks and getting mistaken for gypsies.

    In the rubbish pile
    mixed with ordure
    the pine cricket's
    voice still gives
    a clear serene sound

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    1. Oh that's beautiful! And I'm so happy to hear from you...a couple of months ago I was watching two cats on a windowsill somewhere , and by association I began to wonder about how and where you were...

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    2. I promise not to be so elusive.
      Still living on the banks of the River Mersey opposite Liverpool.
      My little rescue cats have passed on and I am now fostering an Abyssinian

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  10. I'm sorry to hear about your mother's loss. I didn't know. Thank you for your kind words about my atelier. I really hope that the Dutch seeds will bloom... meanwhile enjoy all others blossoms!

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    1. You just reminded me of the quote from Matisse

      "there will always be flowers for those who choose to see them"

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  11. If you were not have such a big heart to share what you discovered, none of ecoprint maker was in the sceen. I am so sorry about all stupid reactions of narrow minded people who thinks a bit of différence create danger. You are a gift of life. I missed your workshop in Amsterdam. Thank you being part of my life. Love �� ��

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    1. Thank you. Perhaps we shall meet next time ...

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  12. Dorie and Herman are fabulous. I feel so welcomed each time I go there.

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  13. as an American I am sorry, sorry that you were treated poorly, sorry that people can be hurtful and sorry that the situation was caustic. and still you create beauty where ever you wander~

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