As a maker, it is important to take time off now and then, to relax, reflect on your work, and do some exploring - to find inspiration in the wider world. So important in fact, that earlier this year I took a month out of the workshop and immersed myself in the culture of Thailand…purely for work purposes I assure you.
Inspiration can come from anywhere; it can be a process of research and investigation, or it can pull the rug out from under you and take you completely by surprise. Workshop life is super busy, there is a seemingly endless number of tasks ahead, our heads are down, hard at work; so it can be hard to stop and look around and give yourself time to be for inspired. How convenient it is that a holiday gives just that space, surely a good argument for having plenty!
Thailand has a rich craft heritage, including silk production, woodcarving and ceramics. For me, the temples were a particular highlight, bringing together many of these disciplines into an abundant celebration of colour and texture. It seemed that wherever you looked, your eyes were treated to surfaces adorned with the most magnificent array of fine materials. Cut glass, ceramic, gilding, carved wood and marble are brought together in an intoxicating fashion. Combine this with smell of incense, the gentle ringing of the prayer bells and the warm greetings from people and you have a pretty heady mix.
The quality and sheer scale of gilding was something that particularly struck me. From seemingly solid gold statues of the Buddha, to fine gilt engraving on temple doors, gold seemed to be everywhere. I was especially interested in how surfaces had aged over time and from being repeatedly touched. Where the gold had worn away, beautiful black and red lacquer was revealed underneath.
Visits to these temples were an extraordinary treat for all the senses, but it is the level of detail in the aesthetic beauty that has stuck with me. Now I’m back in the workshop and hard at work I am thinking of ways to distill the experience and techniques into my work. I have a few ideas up my sleeve…watch this space.