For details about my work have a look at my website,

I am currently working on large prints combining water based woodblock techniques with oil based linocut: nothing if not a challenge! I'm also doing some teaching and go back to school myself in the spring to qualify as an adult education tutor

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Feet and Inches

Last week I had a mail from the Japanese Art Institute at Nagasawa asking me to fill in a questionnaire prior my residency. Mostly it was fairly standard stuff about flights, insurance and medical documents to ensure I was fit to complete the course (I’m guessing that on the medical front they want to make sure that my hands will scab over fast and that I can endure kneeling for hours at a time – not good for someone who had a note for school from their mum to be allowed off kneeling, fortunately not copied across to my medical records). The interesting question was ‘Are you of extra height?’ Am I of extra height and by whose standards? Is that extra height amongst the Japanese, in which case the answer is oh yes? Or is it extra height among our local teenage school children? In which case the answer that I am not only average, but totally invisible.

In the end I gave my height in centimetres and said I didn’t know if that was ‘extra’. One thing I am sure about is that I have extra big feet compared to the Japanese. I have been out to buy the sort of trainers that have no laces in anticipation of having to leave them outside every building and also in anticipation that there will be no shoe buying once I arrive. My son pointed out that I could just leave the laces tied and force the shoes on and off like he does, but I belong to the start right generation who were smacked on the legs for that kind of thing.

These are the second pair of shoes I have bought recently, the others being their sartorial opposite: an impossible, beautiful, impractical pair of silver and grey stilettos by Ted Baker with four and a half inch heels. Known in the family as ‘TRT’ shoes (taxi, restaurant, taxi) they are a perfect fit: Ted may as well be cradling my feet in his very hands. The physics of balancing my height onto such high spindles had two unexpected results. The first was that they put me eye to eye with Jools Holland when I wore them to a charity event (he was standing on stage). The second was that they sent my calves into spasm, leaving me with Barbie’s strange tip toe stance. I won’t be taking them to Nagasawa: it takes time to lace myself into them and the last thing I want there is to be extra extra plus height…