family, my friends

Friends & Family

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I arrived in Manila a week ago, and hit the ground running. Have been out almost every night, as different groups of friends sweep me off to gatherings, get-togethers, and parties in hotel rooms, in rapid succession. The trend seems to be: 3 days of going out, followed by one quiet day at home with my dad, resting, doing my laundry, and organising my schedule.

at The Ascot with 4 goddesses
I am starting to feel the effects of so much socialising, drinking, and eating (food I’m supposed to avoid), but I have been loving the precious hours spent with “my tribe”: the raucous laughter, the feeling of being totally accepted, familiar, and unconditionally loved; the sparkling joy of conversations that dive—without polite preamble or censorship—into the depths of some of life’s great themes: how to live, how to die, how to engender change, how to make a difference, reconciling one’s real and imagined families, protecting integrity, nurturing creativity, food as encoded culture and as an expression of selfhood, the roller-coaster ride that is love, sex, and attraction, the role of poverty and its codependency with government, the absurdity of democracy, the ravages of time and the melancholy poetry of ageing…

As you can imagine, the sketchbook has suffered some neglect. Here’s a sketch of Darwin airport from my seat on the plane, and the facade of a hotel in Singapore, on Duxton Road. Nothing new to show, but I will try to do some sketches if I am home for most of the day, tomorrow. :)

Darwin to Singapore

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amazing people, Australia, craftiness, Darwin, my friends

Three-day retreat

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N.B. I wrote a long blog post about this, right after it happened, but failed to save my typing and lost it all when my browser crashed.

In early October I spent three days, two nights, with the glass artist Meng Hoeschle and her delightful, multilingual husband, Herb. I was put up in a second, smaller house on the other end of their 5-acre property, and told to “relax”.

It was quite funny, me not knowing how to do that. I hadn’t brought any current project (as I didn’t realise I’d be in a separate house, and who wants to unload a heap of things onto someone else’s dining table, engage in something as unsocial as painting, or make a big mess?) so I was rather at a loss for ways to spend my time, while I was alone. I don’t watch television, so didn’t even check to see if it was plugged in. I had a lot of showers, they were definitely luxurious—the bathroom was as big as my bedroom/workspace on the boat!—and I took Nana naps! I tried to draw a little bit, but this was early days for my sketchbook pages and I lacked confidence.

The best part of my time there was, of course, the hours spent in conversation with Meng, and with Herb. If I wondered, on the first night (lying in the white cotton bedsheets, in the air-conditioned bedroom, surrounded by the deep silence of a night on the rural outskirts of Darwin) what the heck I was doing there—in a spotless modern cottage like a resort’s—I had the answer by breakfast the next morning.

Life sends you teachers when you need them. Both Meng and Herb were reservoirs of wisdom and joy, and I cried often during our conversations.

Meng and I talked late into the night, in her studio like an alchemist’s laboratory, while she moved briskly about the room, cutting sheets of glass, enameling them, then putting them into the kiln to slump. We talked about art, about craft, about putting yourself into your work, about the value of such work beyond measuring sticks like money or time. From the rafters, tinkling glass discs and globes trapped or threw ensorcelled lamplight out into the darkness of cycads and gum trees surrounding the house.
sea wall by Meng Hoeschle

I fell in love with one of her pieces, that I have named Sea Wall, because looking through it is a bit like looking at a cross section of foaming ocean, and I love the submarine light that filters through it. The next day, Meng chose another of her works to give me…this one a turquoise tumbler that looks like the moment when a drop hits the surface of a tropical lagoon, frozen in time. It was still warm from the kiln, from the night before, and she wanted me to have something whose making I had witnessed.splash by Meng Hoeschle

Twice, during my stay with the Hoeschles, I was given the bulge and nuzzle of the sea to hold. Precious, precious pieces, representing their two radiant souls, and the gifts they gave to me, of courage and curiosity, of essence and message.

Today, because I cannot take them with me, I took these photos, and then wrapped each piece up in layers of bubbles and brown paper, for when we get back.

Thank you, Meng & Herb.

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Inspirations, music + film, my friends

Mishka Adams : : Songs from the Deep, The Philippines Tour

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jjyJyB2M_fs

Mishka sings a song by Marcelo Andrade, Razao de ser.

How I wish I could be in Manila to hear Mishka unveil her new album! Who  knows, it might still happen… If you’re in the Philippines in February, do try and make it to one of these gigs…the album launch of Songs From The Deep at no less than the iconic 70s Bistro on Anonas would be the most awesome event, of course (Oh my gawd, oh my gawd, it’ll be amaaaazing!), but any gig where Mishka and Ben play live will be a huge party and promises to become a night to remember!

via Miska Adams Music

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Darwin, Australia, Exhibits, Inspirations, music + film, my friends

Sunday

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Last Sunday I sat the gallery at Tactile Arts for Marita Albers’ most recent exhibition, The Last Chance Saloon.

With six hours to kill, I took along a grocery bag of paints and small canvases (just painting backgrounds at this stage) and my camera and tripod, to document Marita’s work (at her request).

Six hours is plenty of time to walk round and round the white walls, getting to know Marita’s paintings intimately. She is one of my favorite painters, and I believe that I would have been a fan of hers regardless of whether I knew her personally or not. Her paintings are both playful and a little bit strange; she also makes the act of painting look so confident and effortless. It’s a lot of work, I’m sure, but looking at paintings from up-close it’s impossible to find signs of a struggle.

She’s also incredibly prolific and I suspect that she lives and breathes this art: I can see her stealing a bit of time to paint a flower or bird onto the canvas during the day’s all-too-few free moments, and then painting more intensely deep into the night when everyone else is asleep. She inspires me so much.

These were my favorites:


Stepped outside for a ciggy break at some point, and heard the loud live-band music coming from the Ski Club across the way. Boy & Bear’s Blood to Gold came on, and I remember thinking “Wow, that’s a really good rendition of the song, that band’s totally nailed it.” Found out later that it had, in fact, been Boy & Bear singing their own song, and tickets to see them at the Ski Club were $70. Wowowow.

Locked the gallery up at four, and went to the Stokes Hill Wharf with my friend (who is also my current boss) for dinner and a few beers. We traded stories of adventure and spirit, and watched other people throw hot chips (er, french fries) to the plump seagulls. I always find myself wondering whether all that starch and saturated fat affects the health of these birds…

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amazing people, Inspirations, music + film, my friends

Goodbye, September…

A beautiful rendition of James Taylor’s “September Grass” by Mishka, a beautiful friend (and daughter of another very dear friend, the sculptor and artist Agnes Arellano…I wrote about Agnes in this post).

I still have Mishka’s first album, God Bless The Child, that she recorded with Candid Records when she was just 21. Her voice back then was angelic, but it also sounded young and unripe (still good, though, and I play her album regularly to this day)

Soon after that, Mishka moved to London to study music, and I lost track of her beyond seeing a few pictures on facebook of a beautiful girl on holidays in Spain or Portugal or wherever. Seeing this current video of Mish, quietly strumming a guitar on her balcony, gave me goosebumps…her voice has gained in strength and fineness; the words “well-tempered” and “seasoned” come to mind. Sometime in the past 7 years, Mishka blossomed into both a gorgeous woman and a self-possessed, skillful singer.

Enjoy!

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Darwin, Australia, my friends

Manta rays

smallestforest:

Kris has also been working with plasticine, molds and models the past few months…on a much grander scale than my altoids-tin-sized rowbed: a meter-high brain-coral, rocks, 3D maps, life-sized manta rays, museum-grade stuff for upcoming World Heritage Center, Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia.

The company that makes these lifelike reproductions is Natural History Productions, and Ewan Wood is the mad genius behind it.

Originally posted on Art of Kris Larsen:

For the past four months I’ve been working on a project: a mate of mate got a contract to refurbish a visitors’ center at a Ningaloo Reef in WA. So we’ve been building brain coral, fake rocks, manta rays and whole heap of other things. Just the two of us. A welcome change from swinging hammer in a boat yard. Today I started loading them all  into a container for the long trip to WA, and I realised that I have no record of any of that work. Frantically running around with a borrowed camera I snapped some of it.

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Brain coral took three months of work. Shame that photo does not show a greater detail: all the squiggly convolutions are stippled, weeks of patient work. The whole thing is over a metre high.

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First we inflated a metre diameter beach balloon and covered it in plaster. Puncturing the ball…

View original 584 more words

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art + design, Inspirations, life, my friends

NIAGARA IN MANILA | Malate

My friend Elmer is an intrepid photographer whose blog (named after the squalid and lusty heart of the city of Manila, Malate) is always packed with great shots of the Philippines. In this post he presents glimpses of the city-wide flooding that started last week and, as far as I know, continues there still.

These are distressing to me, as friends and family have all reported chest-high flooding in their areas, and I can only hope that their homes and lives have managed to escape serious damage.

For all that, Elmer’s photos are beautiful and, in a sobering way, calming. Life goes on. Filipinos are a forbearing and resilient people. No point complaining…who would listen, anyway?

For some wonderful pics of people getting on with the business of living as though they had gills, do head over to Malate to check out the rest of Elmer’s post.

NIAGARA IN MANILA | Malate.

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art + design, Exhibits, Inspirations, my friends, philosophy

Chati Coronel’s UnPortraits

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O generation of the thoroughly smug
and thoroughly uncomfortable,
I have seen fishermen picnicking in the sun,
I have seen them with untidy families,
I have seen their smiles full of teeth
and heard ungainly laughter.
And I am happier than you are,
And they were happier than I am;
And the fish swim in the lake
and do not even own clothing.
Salutation, Ezra Pound

Chati Coronel recently opened an exhibition of new paintings, entitled UnPortraits, at Silverlens Galleries in Manila. The large works were inspired by a compassion meditation from the Dalai Lama. In the meditation (and in Chati’s paintings) we are invited to zoom in on details of another person’s body in order to appreciate the things that we have in common with each other, as opposed to looking for the things that make us different and set us apart from other people.

Individuality is such a sacred cow these days that few people would even think to question the ever-present advice—on television, in self-help books, on lifestyle websites and at workshops and seminars for personal development and growth—that urges them to be unique, to emphasize their singularities, to stand out (and away) from others. This obsession with one’s Self is part of the cult of the ego, the offspring of Western philosophies that valued the clever intricacies of mind over the simple honesty of heart and soul. The ego is a fire that gets hungrier as you feed it; it can blaze up and out of control, laying waste to everything around it, and still never feel satisfied. Feeding the ego will help you stand out, but whatever rewards the ego manages to attain seem to lose their lustre very quickly, and the happiness and contentment you thought would come with reaching these goals will always seem to lie just beyond the next mountain. It’s like navigating through life using mirages as landmarks.

The cult of the ego has spread and rules most of the world, now. It has become dignified, respectable, sacrosanct. Whole industries are devoted to it, and if there is a problem or a feeling of lack in our lives it is suggested that we aren’t pampering our Selves enough, aren’t getting enough Me time, aren’t celebrating our own special and unique qualities enough, aren’t doing what we love or aren’t buying ourselves enough treats. So off we go, improving ourselves, competing with each other for rare prizes, indulging ourselves, promoting and calling attention to ourselves, adding pages and pages to that book called The Story of Me.

Many decades later, our race is unhappier than ever before. We are afraid of and despise each others’ differences; those traits that make each one of us unique also make us strange to each other. The higher we go, the lonelier it is. We are falling apart—mentally, emotionally, spiritually—as a race, as a people, as a species. The great and hallowed Cult of Me doesn’t work. We’ve taken it, we’ve tested it, we’ve assimilated it, and it has proven ineffective. The emperor hasn’t got any clothes on, but only the mad or the very young are happy to say it.

I don’t think Chati is mad, so she must be among the people whose hearts have managed to stay very young. I suspect it helps that she lives with a very fearless, very sage 6-year old daughter, who keeps her on her Zen toes every day with a wide-open heart and a lion’s spirit.knees

I was very happy to be asked to write the introduction to Chati’s painting exhibit. If you find yourself in the teeming metropolis between now and the 6th of July, please drop in and have a look. For a more intimate experience of UnPortraits you may want to schedule your visit for 3 p.m. on June 15th, and join Chati and others in a meditation session.

Silverlens has three Manila exhibition spaces and new space in Gillman Barracks, Singapore, showcasing contemporary art from the Philippines.

2F YMC Bldg 2,
2320 Don Chino Roces Avenue Extension,
Makati City 1231, Philippines
T +63 2 816 0044

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