From Li Zehou's The Chinese Aesthetic Tradition, I came across a passage from the chapter in Liu Xue's Six Dynasties Wenxin diaolong entitled "Wu se" [The Appearance of Things]:
The seasons follow one another in turn, as yin and yang contract and expand. With the changes in the appearance of things, the heart is also swayed. When the force of yang sprouts, the black ant scurries away; when the principle of yin condenses, the mantis feeds. If this is the response of the tiniest insect, how profound must be the effect of seasonal change on other things! A jade tablet can arouse the heart's benevolence, and blooming flowers its clear qi. If the beauty of things calls forth a response so, what person can be unmoved? This is why with the appearance of spring, feelings of joy and delight abound, while with the onset of summer's heat, the heart also becomes heavy. When skies are clear and the air crisp, one's will extends with the lengthening darkness of yin. When frost and snow extend as far as the eye can see, one's thoughts grow serious and profound. Each season of the year has its characteristic objects, each of which in turn has its countenance. The emotions are moved by these objects, and words come forth from these emotions.
A good friend is someone who inspires you to be a better version of yourself and this was how I felt standing in Ally Capellino yesterday watching Katherine May demonstrate the process of indigo dye. Katherine is a maker and a researcher - when she speaks about her work, she is a source of warmth, magic, calm, cool and solid groundedness. It is an unusual mix, afforded only by those who take to the direct sensory pleasures of transforming objects by hand as naturally as the intangible cerebral efforts of delving deep into a subject.
Swatches of experiments: a favourite is the narrow band with a pattern formed by bits of grain tied into the fabric.
Canvas bag and Hong Kong underwear t-shirt dyed during the demonstration
Ally Capellino cotton canvas shop bags - hand dyed in indigo by Katherine so each has a stamp of its own - are available in the Calvert Avenue shop where you may pick one that suits your temperament.