Thursday, April 18, 2013

creative space

I only saw one female artist/crafter the whole time we were in Israel. She was in Tel Aviv at a craft market and she was crocheting the finest cotton thread into necklaces and earrings and brooches. Her work was beautiful and I stood there for a while watching her hands perform those familiar stitches over and over again.

Male artists/crafters we saw aplenty.

They were old and they were young, and they were making in shops, in the street and in market stalls. We saw shoe makers and carpet weavers and jewelers and painters and wood workers and tailors. 

We saw a guy sitting just outside his shop in one the busiest streets of Tel Aviv carefully mending a Persian carpet. Strand by colourful strand he wove the colours back into the worn patch oblivious to our watching eyes.

We saw men hunched over parchment painting intricate landscapes and scenes using calligraphy quotations from the Bible.

We saw a man in a busy market place on an ancient treadle sewing machine mending clothes and chatting to passers by.

And we saw this man. He hesitated when I asked him through a translator what word he'd use to describe his art and eventually settled on silver smith. We thought artist or artisan was more apt.

This man was tucked up in the side of his tiny shop in the ancient cobble-stone lined city of Tsfat in the North of Israel. As we walked around admiring his gallery, he continued the intricate work he was doing on a Hanukkiyah undistracted. 

Despite the fact that our family virtually filled his space to overflowing and I was moving around taking photos of everything I could, he seemed happy and relaxed and comfortable.

I think I love to watch artists/crafters work almost as much as I love to create myself.

I love watching their hands making the work, sometimes careful and concentrated and sometimes fluent and fluid and flying. I love examining their tools and how they are organised, particularly if they show signs of being homemade and well loved. I love imagining the story of how they began; was it a family trade passed down through the generations, was there a mentor/apprentice type of exchange, or was it self taught?

I wonder how long they have been sitting in that spot, doing that thing.

I wonder if the carpet repairer ever wishes he made the whole carpet, if the tailor swears when he breaks a needle and if the calligraphers have to start again if they make a mistake.

I couldn't get this guy out of my head for ages after we left his little shop. I thought of him hunched over his beautiful work day in-day out, creating the most incredible artworks that now grace the mantlepieces and walls of homes all across the globe. I wish I got a wider shot of his shop so you could see his little work area set into the wall amidst his treasures, just beautiful.

My own makings have been far from successful since we've been home. I seem to be unravelling and unpicking everthing I start. I'm blaming the jet lag.

I hope you are feeling inspired and creative.
What are you making/baking/growing?
More creative spaces here.

Wow, is that the time?
I'm off to pick up my girlies.

Bye. xx


  1. Hi Kate, this man would have been fascinating. I adore the little tree and building/temple/palace...not sure exactly but both are so intricate.

    My current creativity: I am using precious school holiday time to experiment with sourdough pita bread in the wood oven.

    Enjoy these autumn days!

  2. KATE! Amazing amazing photos! OH MY GOSH! :) Thank you!!! x

  3. Incredible! I just love it when someone is really, really good at what they do, especially if it is something artistic. Such dedication and skill and often passion is mesmerising. There's lots of thinking about creating happening here, but not very much getting on with it!

  4. I am itching to make I just don know what!!

  5. So interesting. Though I do wonder why you didn't ask them your ponderings? Is it more satisfying to imagine their stories as opposed to finding out more about their lives?

  6. Gorgeous photos, especially the ones of all the tools, looks like an amazing experience for your girls to have had too. mel x


  7. I think if I visited a place like that, my head would be spinning watch all those wonderful artist create their masterpeices! wonderful images Kate! xx

  8. Those photos Kate are wonderful! They look all golden, matching the craftsman! I thoroughly enjoyed seeing all your photos on IG. What memories!


  9. So many lovely stories. I'm making a shrug/cowl and I can't finish it quick enough, though I'm really enjoying the making and ill feel a bit lost when it's done x

  10. Lovely photos. There is creativity everywhere. I am inspired by my partner who makes our bread three times a week using his own homegrown yeast, chia and sesame seeds. I am inspired by my creative mother. She is knitting a brown jumper for my 5 year old son. He asked her if she could add yellow, blue and green stripes. She did not have the wool in that colour. So a few days ago she spun her own wool, then made her own dye and there were little bottles of brilliant shaw of colour throughout her house. She then dyed the wool and now has incorporated his design into the jumper and has nearly finished it.
    I think we humans forget how much art and creating is part of our nature and who we are today! Art and drawing is so innate in kids, creativity should be pushed more and I think creativity will be the saviour of man kind and the earth! Xx

  11. It's such a special thing to do what you love for a living, you can see his passion in his work. I'm not creating much here at the moment, we're on a journey of our own in Tokyo. I am amassing items such as pattern books, Liberty fabric, yarn and bias binding though so I can get creative when I get home! Julie

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  14. Your photos give vicarious travellers like me such a treasure trove of imaginings. I always chat to the artisans at the markets I go to. Their stories make their works come alive and when I sometimes buy one of the works, I appreciate it so much more.

  15. I am overwhelmed by your beautiful photos of Israel, they so beautifully depict the middle eastern colours and essence of the place. I went there many many years ago and hope to return one day with my camera too.

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Kate XX

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