lessons at home.
This unusual arrangement, in which the teachercame to her house to ‘attend’ to her in contrast with the norm of thestudent having to attend the atelier with other students, can be readas high-handed, or at least a commodification of the acquisition of anart style.Her studio – and the manuscript for her book of poetry and prints,
Grass Blades from a Cinnamon Garden
– was destroyed in 1923 by thegreat Kanto earthquake. At the time, Miller was in Seoul visiting herparents.
She fell ill and convalesced at her parents’ home for the nextthree years, recovering to publish
Enrolled in the
or private teaching atelier of Kano Tomonobu atthe age of 9, Lilian Miller showed early talent.
Given that she waspushed into such training at an early age – the atelier took adult stu-dents – it could be questioned how much art was a career ‘choice’ forMiller. Also, it is interesting that whereas other female artists withwhom she could most closely be compared are sometimes presentedas ‘rebels’ – particularly those who travelled unaccompanied to Asia –Miller was in fact doing what her father wanted. The Orientalist atti-tudes implied in Miller’s public posture merit interrogation, as DavidBate notes:Historically the fundamental relation of the Occident to theEast was one of occupation. In imitating the East, the Europeancolonises and disrupts the authenticity of indigenous clothing;but by incorporating the Orient into his or her self-image, theEuropean also acknowledges that the East has entered into theWest, disturbing those polarised references on which the fixedimage of the Occident/Orient depends: civilised/uncivilised,clean/dirty etc.
However, the extent to which Miller colonised Japanese culture andthe ways she was colonised
it seem to create the central tension of her identity.