The dialogue is on topics close to my heart which those of you who have followed my blog over the years will be well acquainted with. I am fascinated to see that there is more discourse happening about who we are as New Zealander’s, how we behave and our ingrained social practices. These themes are also discussed in the essay with my artwork ‘Tall White Poppy’.
I adore Christmas and New Years. This time of the year has so much ZING and buzz… yeeoww!
POP the Champers, get out the cheese platter and call your loved ones over to celebrate the year. It is reflect and goal set season amigoes! Just like after a motorbike ride, I rationally and methodically work back through the good, spicy and most definitely could be done better next time moments and give them good turn over in my minds eye and ego.
We can pack achievements into days like rice into onigiri balls- every day in every way we are better and better; more knowledgeable, with more space for softness, more multi-coloured and more aware. Time flys and within these jam packed days, somehow looking back always ‘only feels like yesterday’. However there is a comfort in this reflection for when times seem tough- it feels huge when you are in it- but it’s a glinkle in the big picture and will inevitably pass. Look through the corners and as long as no-one has lost an eye, all can be fixed!
These rings were carved by the phenomenal Japanese artist Fumio Noguchi who is descendant of samurai. He lives in Stoke, Nelson, New Zealand- I adore his work. They are my travel companions and remind me of my direction and motivations.
2015 was my year of Passion and Trepidation. Learning a helluva lot more about love and facing niggles and anxieties head on. It was the year of analysing and recognising emotions and honestly appraising and accepting my flaws and past. I personally and professionally achieved all my hearts desires, and once close evaluated where I wanted to be and what I wanted to achieve next- Miss Squirrel tucks into rebuilding zee nut pile ;) I reordered and recognised vices and honestly evaluated my motives. I have always achieved what I have set my mind to, but this year I challenged myself to push further into the realm of achieving goals where I could not plan or foresee the entire project. Dreams where my heart and mind could see where I was going, but where reality and peoples opinions deemed my ideas unfeasible. Dreams where in the real world I left on international adventures with little to no budget but belief in my skills and personality. I love when people say ‘you cant do that’- where there is a will there is a way, and I have a very large tool kit to draw from.
I learnt first hand that nothing stays the same- home is within you; sometimes we get lured by the notion that we can go back to the familiar. I returned to New Zealand mid year because of an accident and turned this u-turn into the production and exhibition of new artwork- a purpose for being back while I repaired, but myself and my surroundings were on new terms. Purpose and motive needs to be ahead of desire and longing.
I love getting the coloured felt tip pens out and a HUGE piece of paper and brain bubbling all the achievements, ticked goals, topics or events of interest down on the paper. Highlighted and materialised from your mental blackboard to physical white paper has a powerful effect and a bloody good excuse to use glitter pens and those amazing pencils that have like seven different coloured cores all together, yet don't quite hit the mark for presentations as they always want to stick on yellow so the dude at the back can't see lol. Ever need to resolve a problem or work a direction out- this technique is my go to. You cant deny the pros and cons when they are black and white (or purple), and you cant help but laugh when everyone wants the same colour.
Persevere, be patient and dedicate everything to your beliefs. Condition yourself to never give up- nothing knocks me down for long. The sports I adore, the languages I speak, the music I play and the passions I follow all knock me back once in a while, and some more than that. But I always keep trying. You WILL have an accident as a motorcyclist, as with snowboarding- a grounding un-elegant whack to the ego, body and spirit- but this just makes us stronger from learning a new lesson. Speaking another language challenges us to navigate bloopers and translations; we’ve all had an awkward turtle cruise by, and so does playing music or creating art. Nothing is perfect- and my god what a plate of bland it would be if it could get that way! Yes, sometimes what you can get yourself into can be really really embarrassing in hindsight- but honestly, it all comes out in the wash.. and well, if it doesn't, who doesn't love retail therapy?…
Technology is the product of imagination but I see real time interaction as like comparing skinny and full fat milk- they both do the same trick but one has a bit more oomph. The media combined with the accessibility of the technology of today, is subconsciously reinforcing unrealistic ideas of ‘perfection’. Things, people and identities don't feel right when they are bought or superimposed and there is no way your ducks will ever perfectly line up. Letting your subconscious float with images or comparisons where the perception is that this is a complete package does no good. Turn off- GO OUTSIDE
Our souls don't integrate and sing an experience by watching it or sticking it on: be. proud. in. your. skin. Media doesn't make your brain PAINT the image in your head. Imagination and vision is the most powerful tool we have, because quite literally, if you can harness this power you can create your dreams. It is only a Western view that dreaming at night is the by-product of a resting body- a huge proportion of the world has known for centuries that this time and these images are much more powerful and alive. Real deal zebras earn their stripes from trial and error and getting up and trying all over again in the savannah with mud and creepy crawlies and all sorts of curveball challenges.
It will not be long before we can eat, touch, use all our senses and create within a digital existence- the beginnings are already there: the emotive connections to what we see and hear, remote robotics engineering and creative software. What are the pros and cons of this interaction, what really is the definition of ‘tangible’ and what is the cost to us as organic interactive mammals? How does this effect traditional imagination and perception? The balance of power between virtual and real is tipping.. This is the evolution of our race which is exhilarating, but I foresee new frameworks to exist within this that will bring interesting challenges. Core principles of evolution have been the same for millennia- perhaps now a little harder to see through white noise. With open eyes life works out; where once it was a letter now is an email, we fly rather than sail, we can tweet our thoughts and get introduced to other likeminded people in a bat of an eyelid on the other side of the globe- but this all happens for a reason on what your life is doing.
Every day older is a wonder. As a woman and a human, I only see benefits in how we age. We are such incredible creatures with unique energies that grow stronger if we give them the right conditions. Age helps us tweak the mix and refine the ingredients. I have grown amongst elders who are dynamic, passionate, intellectual and openminded, traits which have encouraged me to develop in the same way and gift my time to others who are curious and engaged: learn from those you admire but trust yourself to create your own story. Value age; don't buy into other peoples dismissive attitiude- make your own decisions on your own terms. The people who genuinely value and adore you will stay stuck to you too come hell or high water. As a woman, I feel empowered, within my skin and stronger every day older- not to mention sexier- I worry less and embraced the immensely powerful notion that no-one can hurt me apart from myself and the ones I love. There is a strength and resolve that comes from this that is truly liberating.
I have always been very proud of my country, culture and in love with the land of Aotearoa- but my adoration has grown with a new appreciation of what it means to be a New Zealander. My ancestors were some of the first to arrive in The Land of the Long White Cloud; far OUT they had pioneering spirit- whatever we push ourselves to do today is really rather timid and diminished by the enormity of what our predecessors undertook. We have history, colour, passion in our very very new country. Adventure and discovery is in the blood of each and every person who travels to this far land to make their home. History with both good and bad and blood on the hands of both parties. This needs to be embraced and not adapted and appropriated to fit- other mature cultures don't do this- comes back to learning how to be comfortably uncomfortable. We magpie and collect things from all around the world and bring them back home where we refine them- but I’m calling that we are doing to much of this to our heritage also. This cannot be rewritten, refined or embellished. History is not perfect. I am a mongrel- we all are- we are mixed and multicultural. No-one is ‘pure NZ’- we are one people with a culture that is so world leading it is incredible (if not a little fun police sometimes..). I look towards a future in my country where there is unity in diversity and where our history and stories are told in truth by ALL parties. We are a magnificent people- it is no wonder that individuals and teams amongst this go on to do, create and become incredible humans with unique achievements. Our integrity, sense of play and follow through is unparalleled. We don't look for the holes in dreams; when the rest of the world is going ‘WTF?!’ we go ‘soo I’ve got the car keys..’
Even the way we travel is unique. We are spontaneous, courageous and ready to adapt. It is intimidating booking a one way flight with fluid plans and only the first nights acomm organised, but you get into a ripple.. I cant think of anything worse than being tied into a box and an allocated itinerary! Pat on the back wee Kiwis- from our glorious island with a teeny population- we sure get around. ‘Salt of the Earth’ I’ve been called on more than one occasion- yes. we. are. (and not far from J.R. Tolkiens leaf smoking hobbits who get on to Mordor and back to the Shire and everywhere in-between…. urg God we are NEVER going to shake this are we)
Kiwis have vision. New Zealanders BELIEVE we can do what we need to do, we grow up encouraged to visualise what we want to be and we are surrounded by idols who reinforce that by setting your mind to what you want, you can and will become what is in your heart. The cherry on the top is that by doing this you will meet the ones you idolise, and that is a very powerful and heart warming thing indeed. Ingenious and driven Kiwi spirits of note that have inspired me: Burt Munro (motorbike designer) to Richard Pearse (aircraft engineer, pilot and 1st man to fly) and Kate Sheppard (suffragette). Lorde (musician), John Britten (motorbike designer), Bruce McLaren (racing driver) to Jean Batten (pioneering aviator- 1st solo flight from London to Auckland) and our beloved All Blacks- what immense power is directed with them on the pitch as all over the globe we gather, anticipate and believe they will win and deliver… that is a LOT of directed energy! Shit- global warming? Maybe our world is just slowly heating because no one likes the cold?!?!! lol… We encourage the underdog, have accessible resources and ATTITUDE. Attitude is everything.
Creativity comes as a response to pain- if everything was smooth sailing what I would produce would be boring. Evocative art has emotion. Design come from technical skill and ability. My art comes from deep inside me. My creations are the legacy of sensation and sometimes it is not until a while after that I see where they fit in my story and why I have produced them. There is something rather nice about this though as it’s inherently cathartic, and by the time this realisation dawns I am well into another direction. Love and Despair -there is nothing in this world without love, no money and no power- everyone must wake up in the knowledge that someone else is waking up thinking of them, because everyone has someone. Next time you meet an artist at their opening show though, give them a phenomenal quality and loooong hug- it'll be well earned and bloody immensely appreciated (Glasses, your hug midyear was unbeatable xo)
Be effervescent- see those bubble rise off yourself.
The shortest day has past- so my body clock can come from hibernation mode and start winding back towards sunlight (yayyy!) while in the Antipodeans wheel out the barbie, get the smoker hot and toasty for some fresh fish, lay the cray pots and dive for paua. Grab zee ‘kini, your most colourful dress or shirt, floppy hat and soak those rays babio!
Steal your kiddies crayons or treat your paws to the colourful pencil section at the art store. Make use of the brown paper after the F&C’s to draw out those desires for 2016.
What are you super uber duper proud of yourself for this last year?! (Yeah baby pat that back!)
What do you desire more than anything for this one coming?
You deserve it- and hey, don't think it's crazy- there is always something bigger or crazier out there!
I was a bit squished out of shape in Tokyo. But I couldn’t put my finger exactly on why I was so anxious and feeling seriously flighty. Japan (through my eyes) has a strong sense of conformity and regiment. Alongside my love for order and method, I crave interaction and playfulness- but am a walking, talking contradiction and combination of juxtapositions- just like my current surroundings. I suppose I am finding things about my identity reflected more so here than at home and this includes the good bad and in-between.
Big city life is about fitting in, becoming part of a chain, going with the flow and being part of an ever moving, heaving layering. The well oiled machine doesn’t work so well if one kog pops a spot, or wants to be bigger, more slippery or fit in the opposite way. Japan’s structure and rules seem to condense in feeling with the parallel in architecture; Tokyo is very different to Hokkaido.
I love being switched on, plugged in and stimulated. A trait you might think would suit an environment like Tokyo- but it's counterpoint is I take everything a little too personally, invert situations and am not particularly slick at the opposite: turning off. Tokyo has an interesting balance of tuning out. People's schedules make sense here when you see how the power naps, rest times and abilities to 'clock out' in crowded situations are facilitated.
Here, you are not secular- you are the group. It's not personal, it's just business time. This sounds really clean cut and logical, but when your travelling by yourself, with lots of balls in the air, without a consistent companion to bat some humour and steam off, subtle changes can get big effects.
I have an opportunity of a lifetime and I had my head in the wrong cloud for a day there. Looking after children is a role I adore, although I underestimated the challenge of this with an added bonus parcel of a little language barrier. (Although I studied Japanese, I can read and understand more than I can speak; It's a damn fast way to get your conversational language skills lubricated) So, my time, behaviour and interaction had very much come down to actions dominating words. In the big scheme, so little from me but meaning SOOO much to them. Made me think of the extreme, uncompromising love and commitment and generosity my Mum & Dad and Grandparents gave to me; the childhood I had where I was encouraged to try ANYTHING, play with EVERYTHING and have opportunity of diverse thought, actions and emotion. Where expression and being heard were qualities that were actively encouraged. What a rich upbringing. The realisation and reality of how very much it is a selfless act to properly look after a child. And how selfish I was being with my world, my needs, my curiosity for opportunities, my endeavours; snip snapping; searching and pushing upstream. Major game changer: Chill OUT and learn the new groove...
Because it had nothing to do with Tokyo and everything to do with me being a complicated dick.
SO! The 42 Tokyo Motorcycle Show was shiny, well oiled and so spick and span, it was like a sales pitch on steroids. Held at the Tokyo Big Sight it contained many interesting stalls, including a fantastic setup by my favourite: Triumph ^=^
A lot of my enjoyment came from watching the other attendees and the bikes come to and from the event + the monorail trip to get from downtown to the Tokyo Wharf area of Koto is a yummy sightseeing tour too as it emerges from underground to curl around over the bridge and onto the island.
After all the bogans and bikes, it was culture time with a PHENOMENAL exhibition current running at The Ueno Royal Museum of up and coming contemporary Japanese artists (sorry no photos on this one guys as it was on lockdown ^.^ but check out the following artists who have seriously inspired me!)
Mariane Maiko Matsuo's work (click below for enlargements) was sublime. She is a Brazilian Artist of Japanese decent who works in Osaka. I am in love of her large scale, feminine and extremely intricate artworks. Murata Mineki's artwork called 'Breakthrough Drawing Ball Point on Plywood' was incredible. Mineki is a performance and predominantly 3D based Artist- so his selection for the exhibition was interesting as it was plywood that had literally been hacked and scraped through to make a bark like texture through the ball point pen markings. It was incredibly powerful- maybe more so to my eyes as I felt the time, pressure of application and intensity that had gone into the work through my own experience.
Guercino (1591-1666) was one of the major painters of the Italian Baroque period who further developed the Baroque aesthetics begun by painters Caravaggio and Carracci. Conversely, he was also a painter whose style helped form later academic painting methods, and in the past has numbered amongst the most famous painters in the history of Italian art. Around the mid 19th century, when the art world began to express new values and views, Guercino was dismissed and forgotten, only to be the subject of rediscovery from the mid 20th century onwards.
David Teniers, the Younger's "Temptation of St Anthony" completely captured me- see the detail in the flying monsters below- pictures 6 & 7.
Seibuen Yuenchi: the play-land of Hello Kitty (no question I was a fizzing furball, if not more excited than the kiddies as we screamed off to the Viking boat for first ride). It's located a wee way out of Tokyo- but has a genuine air of actual fun. Proving that the expensive is not the best and that time and experience is best thing there is- and yen can't buy quality time!
One of my favorite artists (above), Camille Rose Garcia referrs to Disneyland as being the 'saddest place on earth’- as is often the way; the fun, laughter and real joys are not in the places where they are advertised. Do I still need to visit Tokyo Disney? Nope- can't replicate today- plus I went up the best 'Tokyo Tower’ ever on the Ferris wheel with 4 adorable monkeys ^=^