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I really enjoyed all the presentations. The one I voted for was The Worry Doll. From the very first time I heard about this workshop, I thought it was a great idea. Everyone suffers from doubt, worry or mental health issues, and if you think you don’t, then you’re probably in denial. Additionally, the idea that we carry the dolls to the student union or Tim suggested making the doll at the student union seemed perfect as the workshop staging can become part of the performance aspect. This presence may spark the interest of the general student body, and of course, the doll can be used by the students to post their worries after its construction. This is an excellent representation of the IP class and a tremendous contribution to the welfare of our fellow students. Obviously, in part, this aligns with my own term IP project of Wrestling with Everyday Pain, so perhaps it was a subliminal bias that I chose it.

As for my own presentation, I enjoyed doing the animation, and at some point, I wondered if I should make an animation for my final presentation. Animation as artistic hegemony. Maybe I should insert it within a PowerPoint or not, perhaps that’s a cop-out, and I should push through with the Animation presentation?

After my Secret Garden animation, I suggested it shouldn’t be chosen, though two people voted for it! I think mainly they wanted to Bellydance, and I’ve promised lessons on the beach or at a Christmas gathering. I did make visual checklists, timetables, and room plans to show around the class that might help people with their own workshops. I’m not sure it was of as much interest as I thought it might have been (maybe checklists only appeal to pilots, but they are handy!). Discovering that each workshop portrayed some element of our individual art practice was fascinating. That may seem readily apparent to most, but extraneously I had been oblivious to that truth. You simply cannot run from your art practice, it seems, or discount the fact that I can’t see the bl*8ding obvious.

Trinity a Calico Cat in the real Secret Garden

My own workshop was formed as a psychological exercise to discover more about my classmates and paint a portrait of them through the creation of The Secret Garden. I feel the garden may appear at a party along with the belly dancing; we will see. I talked through the no votes with Tim at the tutorial; I believed it was essential to have a student who didn’t have experience in presentation be able to do so within the safe and supportive environment of the creative arts IP class. Of course, I was happy to do the presentation if needed. However, for those with experience, we would learn more by supporting an inexperienced student, and I look forward to the Worry Doll workshop.


The rest of the workshops all had great merit; they are all exercises I’d like to try and probably will.

The sound recording of objects was fascinating, and I had to find out about audacity or sound trap apps that may become useful for my project. Using everyday objects to make musical soundtracks was absolutely fantastic.

I loved the Morals and Sins workshop, which sounded fabulous, busy, fun, and representative of the workshop creators’ friendship, which is Art within itself…

The box was fascinating; sitting, getting to know a box, treat the box as an equal. It seemed intense and meditative.

The Recycling Our Thoughts and Preconceptions workshops felt aligned. They would make a great exercise to spark new ideas and solutions at any stage of an artist’s career, using the template as an artistic re-set.

The creative writing workshop was fascinating; the idea of sitting, observing people, and then writing a story about them was intriguing. I think I may take that idea as a tool into the everyday pain project, or visually maybe I am already.

I was impressed by all the workshops. They were beautifully presented and valuable to any art practice to boost creativity.


I asked for the Daruma dolls that Matthew mentioned for this week’s presentation. I was aware of them during my time in Japan. Then, I didn’t pay them much attention as I thought of them as ritual objects tied to Zen temple practice.

I see now that secular Japan has turned its back on traditional Zen, and Daruma dolls have been appropriate and heavily commercialised. So, it was enlightening to see young artists translate and adapt them for their art practice. Whether or not this was in an ironic sense or indifference is not clear in the information available online. I suspect it may be both. That is the complex nature of Japanese society and language.


There is no accurate word for an artist in Japanese. Each craft has its own identity, so being an artist is a modern western concept that Asian art is embracing and reinventing. Japanese culture doesn’t have the doctrine of western arts, and even if they did, they would probably reject it in favour of the art of the new. There is a rejection of traditional craft-based values and social order within the younger generations though I think it does unconsciously subsume itself within any reinvention. This is both exciting and a shame, as traditional aspects are equally spectacular as a stand-alone, but Japan is all about moving forward while standing still!


Here is a quick run through Japanese life… my interpretation, so as a westerner probably wrong.


Wabi-sabi… Imperfection and impermanence. The prime example is Sakura (cherry blossoms). Each is unique but the same (see Iki below), very impermanent and extremely beautiful.

I could go on and on about Sakura, its politics and heritage, also its dark paedophilia association with the sponsorship of young girls by older men. Despite that association, I like cherry blossom as the Geisha and the Samurai symbol. Both are in their prime for a short time until they fall from their peak.

Iki… uniqueness…. mmm all of my definitions would be argued by the Japanese as they genuinely believe a westerner could never understand this concept…. so unique….. but not really… sort of the same…. but unique

Miyabi…. Elimination of anything vulgar, well, that’s me out. Vulgarity is a Yorkshire cultural imperative.

Shibui… Again, I’m useless at this; it is the art of subtle

Yugen… mysterious not to know the ending, not even a big reveal, leave ya guessing….as if I’m not going to tell you what the secret garden means…. ooooohhhh

Jo-ha-kyu… Sloooooooooow….. getting quicker… Abrupt end. (Don’t get me started on that)

Geido… Ethics and discipline… rigorously applied…. The martial arts… The opposite of jangling spurs of cowboy practices, suck it and see, of the West…

Ensou…. I mentioned the Zen principle of the void in a previous post of achieving a total transcendental state through meditation

…as scary as sh*t…

I rather base jump off a mountain attached to a bag of washing… mind-you I’d enjoy that; see my knees for details…



And last but not least, Kawaii… which Daruma dolls and lucky cats are part of and probably the one aspect of traditional culture the new Japan loves…. CUTE!



Zen Buddhism, which Bodhidharma started, is all about self-discipline. Daruma dolls were more a ‘checklist’ of things you had to do to achieve a life goal, like a solemn New Year resolution in February, the start of their New Year … The wobble part was to remind you, a physical entreat to remember to sort out your life… very Zen…. Drawing in the eye of the daruma is not a wish in traditional practice but a promise to yourself to get on with it! My animation describes the more commercial modern concept of the Daruma Doll.

I did know they had a tie to the lucky cat statues (Maneki-neko, The Beckoning Cat), which are so important to Japanese Tattooists and have become common worldwide.

The Maneki-neko is one of the Japanese ghost stories that were often themes for tattoo designs of the traditional Tebori Hori master tattooers. Of course, have fascinated me for decades.

A Geisha’s pet calico cat, who she loved, started clawing her beautiful and expensive silk kimono; this was most unusual; her cat had never done this before and would not stop no matter what the Geisha said or did.

The mother (okā-san) of the Okiya Geisha house felt the presence of evil and thought the cat was possessed by an evil spirit.

The Okā-san took her Wakizashi (a Japanese Short-sword) that both Geisha and Samurai keep about their person and swiftly cut off the cat’s head.

The head of the cat went flying into the rafters. Its mouth open, its teeth bared, it impaled the true evil spirit waiting in the rafters, a possessed snake, that would have dropped onto the Geisha and killed or possessed her with its evil demon…

The Geisha was distraught that her beloved pet cat was dead but obviously relieved that it had protected her and killed the evil snake in its final act. However, the Okā-san made light of the incident and ignored the Geisha’s grief.

The Okā-san, the rest of the Geisha, and their patrons felt a cat clawing at their kimonos in the nights that followed. So a statue of the Maneki-neko was made to honour the brave cat, and in doing so, the Okiya (Geisha house) and all that entered had good luck.

The statue cat with its paw up represents the cat clawing at the Geisha’s kimono to warn her about the snake. To beckoned us to see that good fortune and evil spirits can appear in many forms.

The link between the cat and the dolls was probably made by the craftsman who made the Daruma dolls that were sold in February. The craftsmen wanted more year-round sales, so who doesn’t like a lucky cat?

I decided to make my own Daruma dolls in my characters of Everyday Pain, Sister Morphine, Humanity and Art.


I would use them as a vehicle to take the written pain message rolled up, stuck in and set fire to it… It’s a theory and a new adaptation of the Daruma Doll. In the spirit of Maneki-neko, we can make our own manifestation, letting go of our everyday pain and bringing good spirits to our lives.

I did think I’d make my dolls with Raku. But that’s probably something that needs a more long-term experiment, maybe next semester.

Instead, I thought I’d do a mock-up using salt dough.

How to make salt dough

Makes 1 ball
Prep 10 minutes
Cook 3 hours

  • 1 cupful of plain flour (about 250g)
  • half a cupful of table salt (about 125g)
  • half a cupful of water (about 125ml)


1. Preheat the oven to its lowest setting and line a baking sheet with baking parchment.

2. Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl. Add the water and stir until it comes together into a ball.

3. Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and shape into your chosen model. You can roll it out and cut out shapes, numbers or letters using biscuit cutters, or make any kind of model you can think of. We made some fruit and veg shapes plus cupcakes for a teddy bear’s picnic.

4. Put your finished items on the lined baking sheet and bake for 3 hrs or until solid.

5. Leave to cool and then paint.

I made up the recipe and divided the mix into 4 balls. I stuffed each ball with greaseproof paper to get each doll’s bottom weight and a good wobble.


Salt dough stuffed with Greaseproof paper

I thought the dough was probably too soft to hold a shape. It’s an experiment. Eventually, I put the dough dolls into silicone egg cups to bake at 70 degrees for 3hrs. I will paint them and then bring them to class on Friday. They might burn or explode, so an outside experiment may be in order.


Aww, disappointment. This morning I turned out the dolls from their silicone egg cup, and they are still raw. This makes sense as the salt dough dries, not bakes. I’ve put them back in the oven, so they won’t be cooled for painting today, and that means my ‘on time’ schedule is now messed up!

Back in the oven for 3 hours… still not set… now desperation sets in and the experiment takes a surreal turn….

I also did some editing on two old videos to make one. I am looking at sound transitions and different visual aspect ratios in one video It’s about shape and rhythm (back to belly dancing and the djembe drum).


It was also an excuse to talk about pigments and making paint, something I do. I think I need to bring pigment into my artistic practice, or it is my artistic practice already, and I haven’t recognised it! I think the pigments themselves, the preparation ritual, are probably more important to me than actually painting. I didn’t realise that until I caught a documentary partway through on Sky Arts about Rothko and they were interviewing a Japanese artist who is inspired by Rothko. He incorporates the concept and ritual of making-up fresh pigment for his paintings. The interviewer didn’t talk about fresh paint, nor did the artist… do they even know? Tebori masters say the pigment must be freshly ground to awaken its spirit…..


Santa’s present to me is some lovely vintage dried beetles and derived pigments from London Pigments, a small company that sources rare pigments and unique collected pigments; they supply the colourmen at L.Cornelissen and Son. This shop is my dream destination; never been, and am not likely to get to now, in this life, shame.. but I have done courses with them when they visit Wales. I love the lady at London Pigments, too, walking around London scraping bits of walls or digging earth pigments out of ponds in parks… so cool…























  1. Gosh Dee where do you get your time and energy, you are a explosion of creative energy and ideas..fabulous that this whole week/post was inspired by Matthews presentation using Daruma dolls, a flood of research and ideas and animations and processes and potential workshops to it all. You are forming such a strong identity, the ideas are channelling through you, the animation seems to be a vehicle through which you can explore and express anything. I love A.P Fitzpatrick in London, have you heard of them, I used to work in all sorts of interesting ways in pigment, I will have to show you one day, durational sculpture and installation that was about releasing ‘masterpieces’ back into time and space. So not quite clear how the core project has developed this week but by goodness a lot occurred!

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