Friday, November 25, 2011

Why so few women artists in this exhibition?

Yesterday I went to the National Museum to have a look at an excellent exhibition of Chinese art. Admission is free and the work has been well curated so that it is easy to have a good look around without feeling overwhelmed.

You can check it out on the museum website here:

The publicity claims there are more than 70 works, yet I only counted three by women (one sculpture, two paintings) and one collaborative work with a woman, a husband and wife team. The three works by women all featured women, two of them very pretty, contemporary looking, young women. I was surprised by this for some reason, perhaps I expected a communist country to have a more egalitarian attitude to participation in the arts. The big subjects - the environment and the representation of Chinese people in a political context - were not represented by women artists at all. Interesting.

There are quite a few excellent contemporary Chinese artists living and exhibiting in Australia (some of them represented in this exhibition) so this exhibition provides an interesting historical background to Chinese art for anyone interested in this ancient and sophisticated culture. It is also a beautiful and interesting exhibition in it's own right and well worth a visit.

I had a look at this exhibition too.
There are some fantastic gems of indigenous art featured and displayed in a way that puts them into an interesting historical context. I enjoyed this exhibition a lot. It is at the 'First Australians Gallery'. This is the first time that I have been to the First Australians Gallery - it isn't exactly centre stage is it? Lots of interesting stuff there, though in the way of the National Museum, a bit higgledy piggledy.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

What is your 'element'?

I am currently reading this book by Ken Robinson. I realise that I am possibly one of the few people (and educators ... ouch!) who didn't know about it until yesterday but I have certainly found it at a very fortuitous time in life - seeing as I am seeking my personal 'element', as it were.

I read the first chapter to find out what the 'element' was (worried that it might have to be something I would have to positively visualise into being or discover the secret of) and then, reassured, skipped to 'Is It Too Late?', for obvious reasons, me being on the bad side of fifty five. Fortunately it isn't too late, unless I want to leave my ambitions to be the lead in Swan Lake until I am nearly 100 and haven't taken dance lessons by then. Phew!

Are life changing experiences generated by books like this, or is it that people who want to change their lives seek out the means (books, blogs, gurus, education, networks, whatever) to help them make the changes? My journey of change started with quitting my job as a primary school teacher a few months ago. What that journey would mean and where it is likely to take me were all up in the air at that stage. I just knew that I had to stop what I was doing in order to have the time and energy to think about what to do next.

One thing that is very obvious to me is that social media of various types are playing a big part in connecting me to people, ideas, books and thoughts. Amazing stuff really.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

What is in the gardens today?

I often go to the local botanical gardens to sketch in watercolour. It is like life drawing, very good for the eye in terms of deciding what to paint, what to leave out, what colour to choose, warm/cool and so on. Also very good for the eye/hand co-ordination necessary for fluent interpretation of whatever it is one is wanting to paint. 
The gardens now, in late spring, are too, too beautiful. So hard to choose where to sit and draw/sketch. There are flowers of every hue, shape and size and birds, bees and lizards everywhere. I even saw a rabbit in there today!

There were lots of other people - bird watchers, school children, friends strolling and chatting - in the gardens today. I love the quiet respectfulness that natural places of profound beauty inspire. 

It was heart lifting.

I hope you are having a nice day :-)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

please explain?

I live about ten minutes jogging distance from a lovely man made lake. It is a beautiful place and very popular with us joggers and dog walkers and cyclists, and mums and dads with babies, and friends going for a get the picture. Recently some new units have been built directly opposite part of this lake. 
Oh lucky people who are getting to live with our lake as their front yard!!

This is the lake from where these new units have been built :

pretty isn't it.

Now these new units are going to be people's homes so I won't say much about the 'we've got to house the masses' communist era chic nature of the architecture. The front blocks of units (there are a lot of them) are only a couple of stories high :

The bit I really don't get is this. Those murky, poo brown, head height cement rendered walls are in front of glass doors that overlook this :

Look closer, it's true.

Why would anyone plan to block out a calm, beautiful, spirit lifting and probably reasonably expensive view (which sometimes has ducks and swans in it!) with such an er, odd, wall? I really don't get it. Privacy? Hello, curtains!

Is there a rational reason for this design element?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Music and fun at Majors Creek Folk Festival

Friday evening when Danz got home from work we loaded the car with our camping gear and headed to Majors Creek to enjoy their biannual folk festival. It was only a couple of hours drive so we had the tent up and were enjoying our first show for the festival by 8pm.

The camp site filled quickly. It was a lovely setting, surrounded by magnificent trees and everything spring green. 

Here are a few of the performances we saw,

Martin Pearson in the Main tent. Musician, raconteur extraordinaire. He told a hilarious story about folk music fads and, for the benefit of those who weren't around the folk music scene in the late 90's, described hand carved wooden djembes as 'like a hand carved toilet bowl'. Very accurate, I thought!

 Black Joak Morris from Sydney. They are a great team and were demonstrating a dance for a workshop when I took this shot. The bells, the sticks - it was all there, a graphic demonstration of how the picts fought off the Romans! No wonder they had to high tail it  to Scotland until the Romans left :-)

 Not sure who these folk were but they sang beautifully and seemed to be in the business of selling millet brooms.

This is Riogh, lovely Irish songs performed in this beautiful old church

The sense of being nestled in a cosy and natural, but powerful environment was intense

I did quite a few paintings of performers (you can see them here) and this one of the field;

All up a pretty fantastic way to spend a weekend. Everyone was happy, lots of good music, people of all ages mixing happily and respectfully, beautiful weather, great spot. I'll be there in 2013.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

I ♥ tea

I love tea.  I mean it, I really do love tea. It has been a lifelong commitment gifted to me by my tea loving mother. I love tea so much that sometimes (and you know which times I mean)  I will think 'I feel like a glass of, I think I'll have a cup of tea!'. It's true. 

In the heady days of tea bag love when everyone was throwing out their teapots and jiggling, dangling, and littering the kitchen with the paper and tea version of dead mice, I staunchly held onto my wild tea drinking ways and stuck with the leaves and pot. Fortunately for us die-hards the wheel has turned the proverbial full circle and tea drinkers even have dedicated shops to browse, sample and drool in.

Mostly I love Indian or Sri Lankan black teas, but green tea with mint, and jasmine tea are other enduring faves.  French Earl Grey from Adore Tea at Gold Creek is my latest passion. Thinking about it makes me feel like having a cup. 

Some great tea quotes:

Tea is drunk to forget the din of the world.  ~T'ien Yiheng

There is a great deal of poetry and fine sentiment in a chest of tea.  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson, Letters and Social Aims   (Ralph, I couldn't agree with you more!)

Strange how a teapot can represent at the same time the comforts of solitude and the pleasures of company.  ~Author Unknown

I always fear that creation will expire before teatime.  ~Sydney Smith   (me too, Sydney, me too)

Drinking a daily cup of tea will surely starve the apothecary.  ~Chinese Proverb

We had a kettle; we let it leak:
Our not repairing made it worse.
We haven't had any tea for a week...
The bottom is out of the Universe.

~Rudyard Kipling

 Thank goodness mine doesn't leak Ruddy!

Tea is a cup of life.  ~Author Unknown

I must go and put the kettle on. Happy sipping!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Bedside table...

My bedside table is tremendously important to me. I read, knit, think, drink tea, listen to ebooks (while knitting!) and write when I am in or on my bed, so keeping all the necessaries nearby is important.

Lately I have been reading Ted Hughes letters and have gone through the full cycle of love/hate/love/like with that man! He was a great poet and writer and always congnisant of the fact that his letters would have a life beyond being personal communications. He has reignited my interest in Shakespeare, and I love this poem...

The Horses

I climbed through woods in the hour-before-dawn dark.
Evil air, a frost-making stillness,

Not a leaf, not a bird--
A world cast in frost. I came out above the wood

Where my breath left tortuous statues in the iron light.
But the valleys were draining the darkness

Till the moorline--blackening dregs of the brightening grey--
Halved the sky ahead. And I saw the horses:

Huge in the dense grey--ten together--
Megalith still. They breathed, making no move,

With draped manes and tilted hind-hooves,
Making no sound.

I passed: not one snorted or jerked its head.
Grey silent fragments

Of a grey silent world.. goes on. Very evocative and lovely.