Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Lights, Kimono, Action!

When people ask me what I do for a living, I usually say I teach Japanese arts and crafts. But this doesn't really cover half of what I actually do from day to day. I have to juggle all sorts of balls to keep the business going, and sometimes I end up in quite bizarre situations!

 So yesterday I was in Sheffield, in a kimono, with a camera in my face...

There's a wonderful and completely fabulous art show in Sheffield each September, called Art in the Gardens. It's been going since 2004, and I've been there each year - how old does that make me feel?! The show is set in the beautiful grounds of Sheffield Botanical Gardens but because I have a tendency to hang a few wedding kimono from the ceiling, they let me exhibit in the glass pavilion (plus that's the home of the Japanesey plants). Over the years I've made some firm friends there, so it's a bit of a social event too. Plus, my ancestors hailed from Sheffield as early as 1377 and built the still-standing Bishops House! (my maiden name was Blyth, from 'de Blythe'). We moved from Sheffield in 1982. So, it's a joy for me to go back there every now and again.

Anyway, back to yesterday...

Some weeks ago, Organiser Howard asked if I would be 'the face' of this year's event! 'Oh, it'll just be a few posters', I thought, so I agreed. They wanted me to wear kimono too. No problem. All we needed was a nice, sunny day for the photos, but at the end of May that's a safe bet, right? Hmm. So the date was set, but when it came, the forecasts said 70mph winds and rain. Weather warnings in place throughout the UK. OK...

Not to be defeated, we agreed to go ahead regardless, but I decided there was a greater chance of arriving in one piece on the train than in the car, plus I could get my makeup on, en route. Organiser Howard even gave me a lift from the station so I wasn't too wind-swept upon arrival. Of course, the minute we got to the gardens, it started raining! Undeterred, I changed into my kimono, in someone's office, with one foot against the door to stop anyone barging in, and no mirror, in 10 minutes flat. Oh yeah! To my great delight, the lovely Kitty Kanzashi battled the elements and arrived before the photographer, so she was able to straighten me out where necessary, and take some snaps for you guys.
Cue cheesy grins for half an hour and that was about it. 

Except I asked Organiser Howard what exactly the photos would be used for. Apparently it's not just a few posters. It's about 75 of those 8 foot tall JCDecaux billboards(!), banners on every park railing in Sheffield, ALL the flyers, posters and programmes for the event. Ohhh... So if you live, or happen to be, in Sheffield over the next few months, I'll be watching you!!! 

But most importantly, please do try and make it to the event. It's a real family day out with tons of art, performances, stuff to see and do, you may even see some Victorians wandering around, plus loads of the market traders from Sheffield with stalls of handmade goodies, and of course there are the gardens themselves to admire. And don't forget to come and say hello to me!!!

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