Friday 7 June 2019

Bees and bombs

Todays soundtrack, the awesome Sade

Some peeps have been relaying to me that they wish I’d shake this bee out of my bonnet.

While were are wearing bonnets…who saw the beginning of the 3rd series of the The Handmaids Tale last night? Great stuff! I love it when the revolution gets into the bomb throwing phase.

I suspect these screens crowded with so many words are just not what some people signed up for. I can understand why there are some women who find so much assertiveness quite disturbing. Nice to be nice to the nice…a maxim for well behaved dignified women who just make their point and leave the room clutching their handbag. And everything stays the same, no applecarts are upturned, no faces get bee-stung. Peace reigns in the valley. Except for those disgruntled feminists in cellars chanting “hubble, bubble toil and trouble”, cackling evilly over cauldrons as they concoct their next bomb.

My tirades of the last 10 days aren’t just about kimono. That was the tip of the iceberg moment that blew the lid off the pressure cooker. This so called kimono campaign has all the gravitas of a high school TV drama. The one that comes from the script when the mean girls gang up on the ugly girls and don’t get it when the fuglies resist. Much confected outrage ensues.

This is a round up of my fugly rebellion:

·         *   I’m resisting being bullied. I do have a choice to say “No I don’t agree with your contention about kimono and will go on using the word” and the consequences will be getting slammed on social media, platforms on FB other bloggers and sewists will have to disassociate themselves from me least they become tainted with my status as persona non grata - aka racist white supremiscist imperialist bitch Trump supporter

·        *    I’m angry about people who take political stances that effect the reputation and livelihood of small businesswomen but they will only interact with their “side” and actively strive to shut down any divergent opinion. Then they virtue signal about their own openness, inclusiveness, diversity and having the courage to stand up for what they believe in….absolute tosh, woe betide you fart on their parade.

·       *     Apart from the virtue signalling flapping of angel wings there is also the tiara to be won for displaying the most valour in the face of oppression.

That last point is the holy cow I’ll be milking today:

 Phrases and sentences taken from Emily Itos PomPom interview

·         trauma and harm we have faced as Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour (BIPOC) in a white supremacist society gets ignored and then compounded by the theft of appropriation.
·         the violence of assimilation
·          a more dominant culture taking from another less dominant culture
·          taking from the origin culture…therefore perpetuating a colonial power dynamic?
·         peoples of the origin cultures almost always get erased
·         If you are a white maker who is inspired by BIPOC cultures, what work are you doing to unlearn the racism that is embedded in our society and within you?

I’ve just turned 60 years old, Ms Ito looks perhaps half my age. There is no doubt at all that she is a proud campaigner for BIPOC rights, she flashes that around with great pride, keeps a detailed tally of all the micro aggressions and macro accomplishments at pushing back white supremacy. After all being Japanese-American gets her a free pass and automatic membership as BIPOC, she doesn’t have to win or buy her way in by conspicuous acts of advocacy and vociferous rejection of white imperialist privilege.

I was born in 1959 in a community of people coming from many nationalities and ethnic backgrounds. I went to school with a whole lot of kids I didn’t even realise whose parents had been European migrants after WW2. In my 30s I connected the dots to understand why the parents of the kids with last names like Vercoe, Mrsich, Govorko, Mueller, Fooy, Urlich, Leeuwenberg, Kerkoff, Brych and lots more, spoke with accents. In my school were also kids with the last names of Paki, Kururangi, Tepapa, Pene, Kauwhata, Kahu, Pomare, Rangitahi and Waipapa. Another mob were McGregors, Stuarts, Baxters, Smiths, Hughes, McClean, Goldsmith, Derbyshire, Bergquist, Brown, Davies, Hill and a ton more.

We were kids coming together from many nationalities, cultures and backgrounds. Mostly I remember we all got on pretty well. Our teachers also come from similarly diverse and mixed backgrounds. None of us were born racists, it was a construct we learned either from our parents or took on from the outside world. Many of us grew into adulthood without adopting that ideology; just because some of us were born “white” didn’t mean racism was coded into our DNA and had to be consciously rejected - we just never took up with it in the first place.

The 1970s onward was time of rapidly growing awareness about racism. In society and academia a powerful critique was demolishing the ugly pillars of how it was perpetuated. I wasn’t in a coma walled into a cave at that time (actually I lived on an island….nother story). I bet Emily Ito and Aja Barber weren’t even born in 1985 when I was at the anti apartheid protest in Auckland. Some of my flatmates were the notorious “clowns” who were beaten up by the Police, gaoled and fined. Google it if you can be bothered.

However, far from celebrating the challenges and benefits of growing up in a multicultural society Mrs Ito only bewails the tough bits…. “the violence of assimilation” “dominant culture takes from less dominant culture” “origin culture almost always gets erased”…refer to above for a fuller catalogue of the oppressions shes had to battle.

Perhaps Ms Ito would have had a happier and less oppressed childhood if her mother had stayed in Japan and she’d gone to school there? In a previous blog I pointed out that Japan is not a multicultural society, the govt works hard to keep out other nationalities by denying citizenship and stopping long term residency. Does that make Japan a racist country? Perhaps individual Japanese people welcome people of other nationalities and cultures and don’t feel threatened by others wanting to assimilate into their culture so I’m not suggesting that the Japanese people per se are racist. It just looks like it from the outside.

Emily Ito and Aja Barber have visited their own version of racism and imperialism on me by dismissing me as a stereotype white supremacist woman who is either consciously boasting my privilege or so haplessly ignorant I’m not smart enough to understand how individual and institutionalised racism works. I was getting it before you two were even born and I abhor how it works.

I may look all white on the outside but I’ve had my own cross to drag up Calvary too. And we’ll talk about being martyred on crosses tomorrow.

I have some work to do on that Sencha Kimono (do you like the onomatopoeia of Sencha sounding like censor...!)

first long version sample of the Sencha Kimono

Thursday 6 June 2019

what if Godot comes wearing a kimono?

I should have mentioned yesterday that if anyone listened to the Yann Tierson music I gave a youtube link to, please watch the video, it is absolutely beautiful.

This is my soundtrack for today, which is quite similar the Yann Tierson, quite somber.

A quote from my favorite play

But that is not the question. What are we doing here, that is the question. And we are blessed in this, that we happen to know the answer. Yes, in the immense confusion one thing alone is clear. We are waiting for Godot to come

Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot


A reader posted this comment on my FB page today and it’s a great comment, thankyou.

Perhaps small pattern makers are considered friendlier and actually committed to ethics? Thus calling out is a compliment. In re: sexism, I don’t confront men I consider dangerous, but I do call out men who say they want to be allies or seem concerned with ethical behavior.

In response to that – as a small pattern maker I do consider myself friendly and committed to ethical living in both my business and life. In the 8 years I’ve written a blog I’ve often discussed my commitment to feminism, anti-war stance, my support for refugees (aka “boat people”) I have criticised of the exploitation of clothing industry workers, I try to educate people about the wastefulness, damage to the environment and unsustainability of the fast fashion business model. I share pictures of the garments I make to inspire people with what they can make for themselves. I encourage people to buy second hand clothing and textiles by showing how they can be remade into wearable garments. I talk about how I live my own life modestly, in an old and cheap house with all second hand furniture, in the rural countryside with my chooks, 2 rescue dogs and garden, surviving on a very small income.

I don’t know if there are any small businesses who were asked to not use kimono who were allowed to say they didn’t agree with that view and that they would continue to use it. Its hard for me to get information about how “they” have gone about their campaign because the activists refuse to engage with me and actively block me from any forum where the issue is being discussed. Designers who made a name change only publish messages from people who agree with them and compliment their choice. They censor any contributions that express a different point of view by not publishing them. As Aja Barber spitefully hissed “no one is listening to you”.

Do the activists respect people who might have a different view?

If there was or has been a business that continued to use kimono would they allow its OK to have a divergent point of view? On Instagram, where I only started an account 2 months ago, I have few followers and now find myself blacklisted and blocked from joining some groups. Many of the activists have tens of thousands of followers and a high profile as influencers on social media platforms. I am insignificant to the point of being the perfect illustration of a molehill trying to address the mountain. Yet these women have felt its perfectly OK to do everything they can to repress my voice on platforms where they are powerful. Block, delete, write stuff disparaging my point of view from afar. I have had it relayed to me that they are urging people in the sewing community to express their distaste for my point of view by not buying my patterns.

They don’t respect me sufficiently to discuss publicly either on my blog, their blog or other places on Instagram. They had nothing to say when their followers filled the comments sections of Instagram with highly critical and abusive commentary towards small business women using the word kimono.  

Not a one of them has sought to re educate me either publicly or privately. In my opinion its not a very ethical approach to shutting me up that they use their Instagram muscle to sideline me.

This is a coat I made last year which I called a kimono. At the time I was unaware it was a hot potato issue, Even though some Japanese American ladies tell me this is offensive, hurts their feelings and they want me to call it something else I still feel comfortable calling this a kimono.

Some of the comments I’ve had are hilarious, apart from being a troll, white supremacist, imperialist bitch - I was called a Trump supporter, and that is really a fearsome insult these days! It just goes to show how some people will believe that only 2 things about me are important "white, educated" or that anything disparaging said by somebody who disagrees with my view must be true. I'm a demon. 

These people feel they only need to know 2 things about me – white, educated – and you can almost literally hear the clang of the vault door as their minds shut. While that’s happening inside their heads, on the outside the face is doing this....the mouth puckers into a little pussy bum moue and pouts outward, the cheeks suck in, the eyeballs roll back and there is a deep inwards inhalation of breath, which is held tightly until the face reddens, the eyeballs pop and the breath can explode with a great spray of spittle from between the bared teeth. The balled fists are either hitting themselves on the head, making a hole in the nearest wall or if my person is within close enough range they are blackening my eyes.

In an attempt to humanise myself here is a link to short film made about me by Nicky Elliot in 2016.

Wednesday 5 June 2019

How many kimonos do I have in the closet?!

One of the people who contacted me recently was an American woman resident in Japan for 21 years. She wanted to let me know she had done a straw poll of her Japanese friends and they were astounded to find out anyone was saying using kimono as part of a pattern description is any sort of a problem. This lady also told me, along with sending a picture, that the fast fashion outlets in Tokyo are full of cheaply made garments mass produced in Korea, Thailand, Indonesia, Bangladesh et al that are described as kimonos but have no relationship to the traditional costume.

Nobody, whether Japanese or not is confused by the appropriation. No indigenous Japanese are up in arms about this or consider it an offence….except perhaps people of Japanese heritage living in the diaspora…

So maybe some of these people need to be heading back to Japan to educate the natives that they are being oppressed and need to rise up and reject the cultural appropriation of westerners. Quite honestly I don’t see any evidence that Japanese culture is under threat or faltering in any way, unless you want to sign up with Makiko Hastings despair that the younger generation have adopted western clothes and music way too enthusiastically. Perhaps we need to rethink apartheid and keep all the cultures and colours strictly segregated least there be any unseemly fraternising.

The best success of the activists has been in polarising the sewist community by setting up this specious proposition. Because of my choice to use the word for a pattern I'll be publishing there will be consequences. I’ll lose sales. Internet FB pages and groups that would have previously promoted my design will declare their disagreement with my view and refuse to let me or any other business using kimono in their pattern name to be advertised. My reputation will be lowered as peeps mutter about my white supremacist, imperialist racism and violence towards the BIPOC community.

I care about the BIPOC community. I want them to flourish in every way. 

About 6 years ago when I worked in aged care I was servicing a client when she complained that the little town we live in was being wrecked by an influx of people from non white nationalities buying and running the local businesses. ….actually to be precise she termed it more like “the whole town is going to the pack when the only people attracted to live here are darkies”. She didn’t want to buy her medications from the one local pharmacy because it would give support the Indian couple who were the new business owners. 

I did a calculation with what I said next, deciding it would be worth it, because I knew if she complained I would lose my job. I said to her “Do you feel grateful that the Indian lady who owns the pharmacy has joined our local fire brigade? How would you feel about her skin colour if she arrived to save you or your house from burning down? I find your racist opinions really shameful and you should keep them to yourself because it offends me when you say stuff like that” She did accuse me of being “one of those lefties” but didn’t complain about me to my employers so I was in the job for a bit longer. 

On another occasion she said lesbians were disgusting but not nearly as evil as what those men did to each other (duhhh, would that be love, hug, kiss?). This comment was made when I was helping her make a phone vote in the Federal election of 2013 and this was her justification for voting for a far right gay hating political party. She was horrified that gay marriage might become a reality. My integrity drew the line at giving her the wrong information to vote for a different political party but the thought did cross my mind though!

I care about the BIPOC community and want them to flourish in every way. I admire them for their strength, resilience, courage and tenacity. Their cultures, languages, art and traditions are every bit as relevant and worthy to be celebrated as anything coming from “white” people. 

My own art has always had more alignment with ethnic and tribal iconography traditions than anything English. Here are 2 of my works from 2011. The top one is "Aussie Icon" and the lower one is "Aussie Infanta" These are ironical takes on me blending the bright rusty sand colour of Australia with images from European art.   

Aussie Icon, Pearl Red Moon, mixed media canvas, 2011

Aussie Infanta, Pearl Red Moon, mixed media canvas, 2011

I’m not inclined to do an act of performative ally-ship by publicly hopping on a BIPOC bandwagon as a virtue signalling neon flashing way of publicising my personal acts of support and advocacy. Some white women feel this is their significant act of atonement, to publicly align themselves with BIPOC and make it their mission to go about educating wayward white women still languishing in or ignorant of their privilege. They are like Dalek robots, swinging about clumsily, metallicly enunciating their guttural battle cry “exterminate, exterminate”, programmed to flush out enclaves of blonde, blue eyed Aryans and blow them up. This alignment is the equivalent of the Catholic confessional ritual -  washing away all their sins of racism and inherited white privilege to anoint them the purified saintly ones who must round up the Celtic witches. There seems to be some sort of weird transference of victimhood, a fetishisation of the oppression of BIPOC that is the faddish scourge to be displayed when you publicly promote yourself as a white martyr for the cause.

BIPOC people are strong, and don’t always speak with one message and with one voice. They have learned the ropes to deal with the systemic institutions of racism and are working successfully to make change. They’re not asking me and they don’t need my help. If they did I wouldn’t hesitate. 

But asking me not to use the word kimono in a pattern name is a ludicrous requirement signifying nothing but meaningless tokenism.

The BIPOC slide rule

A lot of the feedback sent to me today by Aja Barbers supporters after my 3 minutes of havoc being on her Instagram expressed their concern that I was being “violent” towards BIPOC persons. (It was only last week I encountered this acronym; it stands for Black, Indigenous and People of Colour for those that haven’t heard it before). Apparently Aja is in one of those categories and was ferociously defended by her many supporters, though from my brief encounter with her she seemed more than capable of putting me in my place. 

Inevitably this gave rise to me being required to flash my BIPOC credentials, if any. As I pointed out in a blog a few days ago its necessary to identify every ancestor back at least 6 generations on every branch of the family. Then they do the calculations to work out how many litres of coloured blood you have versus the white blood and accordingly you get allocated a position in the pecking order.

I presume this works using some sort of a polarised scale with the 2% of totally white people at one end and the 2% of totally black people at the other. In the middle is us 96% of mixed blood mongreloids.

The tendency of male Homo Sapiens to want to mate with every and any woman they encounter, regardless of race, ethnicity, colour or ability, going right back to the Neanderthals (still got 3% Neanderthal DNA in Homo Sapiens! Though my husband is a teacher and claims there is tribe of pure bloods who attend his school) makes this sorting of the degrees of colouration in each individual as frustrating as what they faced in Apartheid South Africa. And the results are just as farcical.

I am astounded at the irony of these people who claim they are standing up for the rights of BIPOC people when they are the ones running around obsessing about skin colour and racial identity. It is everything to them. They have no script for dealing with anyone who is a blank slate. 

But surely there wouldn’t be any need to fight for BIPOC rights when we are all colour blind? Are BIPOC rights the same as human rights? Why not be fighting for that? The most vile thing of all is to be “white”. White people are racists, oppressors and imperialists. So my ancestors who were Welsh, German and Scots are to be reviled? Along with Italians, Russians and Monrovians, et al? 

So I’m thinking Japanese people qualify as “people of colour”. Why? This is truly not trying to be facetious….why are Japanese “people of colour”? Does this mean they are a separate race and different from me?

Asian people, along with Africans, Inuit and English, developed their characteristic race features because for long millennia most human populations didn’t move around a lot. Interbreeding within small populations in regional areas meant particular DNA traits became dominant, some recessive. Over tens of thousands of years these populations became differentiated by characteristics such as melanin pigment in the skin, hair colour, eye colour, on and on. 

To explain this modern day people fabricated a story about “races” that has no underpinning in science. We are all Homo Sapiens, all Earthlings. My personal belief is that the colour of a persons skin and whatever my guess is at their race is just about the most irrelevant thing I need to know about a person. I’m far more interested in what they are like, what is their story, what are their interests, do they have a sense of humour, what are their favourite shows on Netflix.

Tuesday 4 June 2019

new kimono pattern coming soon

Yesterday I read an interview published by PomPom magazine with Emily Ito. Last night I made a brief comment about it, here is the link again.

Now that a new day has started I have some more things to reflect on from that....

When I put my views out in the world, in a public forum like this blog I believe I have an obligation to explain why I think as I do. Above all, I try to keep an open mind and welcome debate. I welcome Ms Ito to publish anything she wants to on this blog as a counter argument to things I’ve said here (or any other person who wants to say something). There is no comments section for the PomPom article.

In an effort to keep myself educated with what she thinks I joined up to her Instagram but I wasn’t welcomed on it for more than 10 minutes. I read a number of things she said and saw the responses and then made a comment myself which was immediately deleted and then I was removed and blocked. See a blog post a few days ago to see what the offensive comment was that got that reaction.

Reading the PomPom item I was doing research again and following up on the various links given. So in this spirit of investigation and trying to understand what the supporters of using kimono is an unacceptable cultural appropriation are saying I joined the Instagram of Aja Barber. Ms Ito quotes her in the PomPom interview as a person with opinions she regards highly.  @ajabarber on Instagram. I think Ms Barber has a following of more than 20,000? So she is a prominent influencer in the world of social media. I can’t say here exactly how many followers she has because I’ve already been deleted and blocked. Can somebody let me know so I can keep my facts correct?

Joining Ms Barbers Instagram feed felt like walking into a pub brawl on Saturday night. For a person who worked hard to get to University (at age 35) and learn the challenging form of essay writing I felt visually assaulted by so many capital letters and explanation marks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!. I spent at least an hour reading through various posts and following up on links. Ms Barbers Instagram was way too shouty and aggressive for me (I am old and Aspergers. I'm very sensitive to noise which over stimulates me. Being in situations like that I usually start dancing around, banging my head and singing the ning tong, ning tong diddlee iy oh song) so I was relieved to find she has published a lot of essays on Medium which give a good insight into what she stands for. These are well written and considered. I pretty substantially agree with all her positions on the exploitation of the fashion industry and the unsustainability of its business model.

However, in the manner I’m getting accustomed too, I was quickly declared a troll, deleted and blocked in a flurry of outraged shrieking. Apparently being open to diversity sounds a wondrously virtuous attitude to spout before your adoring audience…!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!....but god forbid some imperial white bitch pops up and says WTF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Be prepared to be showered with cyber turd before they flush you down their toilet.

In the brief time since I stuck my head above the parapet to state my position on kimono I’ve come to learn that not listening is a significant strategy for so many of the people on these platforms. They are simply hypocrites because they do not practise inclusiveness and openness to diversity. They only feel safe and comfortable being in the echo chamber of their padded cell with the other inmates. They have shown no graciousness whatsoever towards me, in one of the brief comments I had time to make to Aja Barber I described trying to talk to her as being like approaching someone who is spitting mad and already set on beating you up. Actually it doesn't just "feel" like it, the reality is they are so locked into their identity politics that I only have to tick 2 boxes - white, educated - and they think that is everything they need to know about me. According to their jingoism it follows that I am privileged, an imperialist = a person of not deserving of any respect. The last thing Ms Barber said to me before banning me from her Instagram was a hissy spit "no one is listening to you"


A few weeks ago I decided to change the name of a new PDF pattern I’m working on from the Jorja Jacket to the Sencha Kimono. Then I decided against it. Well I have vacillated yet again and have decided the pattern will definitely be published as the Sencha Kimono. For a few days I thought I might even call it “Emily’s Kimono” in tribute to the fact that it would never have been called that if not for Emily Ito. However, I’m not really fond of that old English name Emily, it sounds so uptight and prissy to me. So Sencha Kimono it will be. I plan to write a page included in the pattern explaining why I’ve dedicated its naming to Emily along with links to the cultural appropriation issue.

I have no idea if I’ll get any feedback over this, let alone something as scary as a “backlash”. I have stood up to bullying in numerous workplaces in the past, more often than not to the detriment of both my mental health and continued employment. I’m not blasé to the possibility of serious attacks. By this political action I am putting my principles and income where my mouth is over this issue. I think my principles will remain undented but there is every possibility that my income might suffer. In the worst case scenario my whole pattern publishing enterprise might collapse.

So I’m not adopting the description kimono as a capitalistic strategy to make profit, as many of the activists assert  – in fact using it could result in losing sales and damaging my reputation.

3 independent designers changed the names of their patterns because they were attacked and publicly shamed over using the description kimono in a pattern name. Their reputations and income were being threatened and the easy way out of being controversial was to accede to the people who insisted they change.

My own pattern business is miniscule compared to the other designers who had significant assets they had built up. I don’t make anything close to a living income. After 5 years of near full time work publishing 22 PDF patterns I am comfortable disclosing my average income generated from that would be about $100 week. So it could be said I’m not putting much on the line to make a stand other than many years of my labour.

So, we’ll see how hardline these activists are if they come to attack me and dismantle my molehill corporation. I am virtually everything they spout believing in – a woman working entirely alone to support myself, there are no outworkers or outsourcing of production – about 80% of the textiles I use in my making are upcycled clothes and fabrics. I design the patterns, cut each individual garment by hand, I print, sew and make everything. So all those fad words they blather so virtuously – sustainable, ethical, slow made, hand made, yahhedy yah …yeah, that is me with bells on.

Monday 3 June 2019

Halloween is cultural appropriation too...?!

I am working quite hard trying to get my head around this. This evening I read this interview with Emily Ito in Pom Pom magazine.

This is the sentence from her interview I'm deeply perplexed about

Several years ago I became very passionate about teaching my third graders and colleagues about the impact of cultural appropriation in the context of Halloween costumes.

For others like me who aren't American, third graders are 8-9 years old.

In Australia and New Zealand we don't do Halloween so I'm not really aware of what these costumes might involve. In the interview she doesn't clarify what the problem is about the costumes. I'm pretty ignorant about this but I have the vague impression that Halloween is something to do with the old English custom of All Hallows Eve, when the dead are supposed to come out their graves and haunt the living. I think its a hugely popular thing in Mexico where it's called Dios dos Muertas, or Day of the Dead. There is a large migrant population of Mexicans living in the USA who undoubtedly introduced this celebration and it has apparently flourished.   

I am truly baffled why Ms Ito thinks teaching 8-9 year olds that Halloween costumes are a problem
of cultural appropriation is a worthy task to be spending her time on. I hope their mathematics, reading and writing skills aren't being sidelined while she is radicalising them to don only appropriate gear for this one night a year.

Can any American person reading this enlighten me what the problem is?

the kimono debate goes on elsewhere...

soundtrack for today, Peak Twins, Water

The kimono cultural appropriation debate in the sewist community has generated enough fuss to have been picked up by the Guardian Newspaper, and a journalist published this piece

Stitch Up

Meantime this was published in Selvedge Magazine

Kimono Refashioned

The article was written to promote an exhibition of the same name to open at the Cincinnati Art Museum later this month.

Cincinnati Art Musuem

28 June - 15 September 2019, Cincinnati Art Museum, 953 Eden Park Drive

I suppose it's quite likely there will be protestors there as there were at the Museum of Fine Arts when this debate seemed to kick off in 2015 with the opening of the show "Flirting with the Exotic".

The focal piece was Claude Monet’s “La Japonaise” (1876) painting of the artist’s wife. She was depicted surrounded by fans, wearing a blond wig and a bright red kimono. Visitors were given the opportunity to put on a kimono similar to the one depicted in the painting, and encouraged to pose for photographs and share those images on social media using the tag “‪#‎mfaBoston‬!”

The MFA’s Deputy Director said “the idea was to give visitors a ‘tactile experience’ with the kimonos made in Japan ‘to understand and experience the painting in a new way’.”

However the result was an angry backlash from Japanese residing in the USA and people of Japanese-American heritage.

Monets La Japonaise

Reaction to MFA "Flirting with the Exotic"

Later in the year and into 2016 the MFA engaged in a series of public discussions with representatives from the Japanese and Japanese-American community.

Apology from Museum of Fine Arts


I go back to my contention in the "Orientalism" blog published 2 days ago that this is less an issue about an unacceptable cultural appropriation than a FEMINIST ISSUE arising from the angst felt by women of Japanese-American heritage who believe they have been objectified and sexualised through the tradition of Orientalist art. I absolutely agree, it is true.

Patriarchy is everywhere, women are colonised everywhere. 

Starting from the late 1960s there is an excellent body of academic work where feminists deconstructed the "male gaze". It has been very succinctly explained how images of women in all cultures and throughout history have been generated from masculinist hegemony. In Japan, like everywhere, there is a rich tradition of pornographic imagery of women. Even when the depictions weren't blatantly pornographic, in the everyday pictures of society, depictions of women are always to be seen and understood in subjective relation to the men or the labours they are doing in the picture. As with everywhere, the pictorial representations of men are full of signifiers that they are powerful, independent, courageous and doing meaningful acts in the world.

So I continue my solitary campaign maintaining that the kimono controversy is a specious argument. Time wasting and irrelevant. The wrong people are being attacked and shamed. 

To date, I have been actively sidelined and ignored in the debate so irrelevant is my contribution considered. Never mind that, I have no interest in either fame or infamy! For me the usefulness I find affirming is to create this archive of information, research and opinion that might be a reference for somebody else one day.

Sunday 2 June 2019

Restyle coat finished

Alanas coat is finished. At first I felt really challenged with having only 2 fabrics to use for the surface embellishment. I stenciled pieces of the fabric to alter them to give me more variety to collage on the surface. By the end I felt quite pleased with the result and feel I could confidently take on the challenge of being limited to 2 prints again. Operating in my comfort zone I would usually work with at least 12 different prints and colours.