Last week I spent 5 days in Shanghai as part of a conference with my husband and a few hundred other people. I managed to spend some time out on the streets of this gigantic, newish city of China even spending some of the hours walking along the Bund to the YuYuan Gardens by myself. I’ll always be a city girl but I don’t like being away from the calmness and beauty of nature for too long. Language and culture, architecture and foreign food are the gems of travel but without embracing the natural world, I go a little stir crazy.

When we weren’t networking and ‘conferencing’ we had an amazing time sight seeing. Highlights included these gardens, although not comparable to anything in Kyoto, Japan; The French Concession with all its tree lined streets and Art Deco architecture; rooftop bars on The Bund and the never ending hustle and bustle of the place. The Mogenshan  Lu Art Precinct or M5o  was interesting for me and I loved the shops at the Tianzifang. The barges on the Huangpu River never stop, and neither do the taxis for foreigners. Tip: go to a local 5 star hotel and stand in line, you’ll have better luck then trying to tackle one amongst the battery operated scooters who will not hesitate to run you over. It is not a city for meandering quietly through. With a population as big as Australia’s it is a city not for the faint hearted, but once you scratch the surface and accept the poor air quality you will find treasures. It seems that Shanghai is still is very disconnected from the West, which is a great thing, but it can be quite daunting and bewildering to embrace.

Food wise, all I can say is we are so lucky to live in Australia where we have access to authentic Chinese cuisine. Yes, there are some bad bao to be had here, but generally I wasn’t wowed by my limited taste of Shanghai delights. We did manage to squeeze in a food tour with Untour food tours and that was a great fun night that I can highly recommend if you want to see it all first hand and not have to worry about the language barrier.

I would go back, but perhaps go beyond the high-rises  to see some of China’s rural and historical areas. Maybe my Mandarin will need to be slightly broadened beyond, ni hao, xiexie, ganbei and zaijian. (That’s hello, thank you, cheers and goodbye…essentials in any new country)

New ideas are already flowing in regards to by art but Japan you still have my heart.

 

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It has been almost a year since my last blog post. Gosh, is anyone out there?

I have found that instagram has really replaced this space. I love that it is direct and fast, strange because I am always wanting to be more slow and measured.

So much has happened in the last 12 months. I’m not going to list it all now.

Thinking ahead I have a few shows on this year.

Coming up ‘Green’ at Boom Gallery June 09 to July09 2016 and ‘Bouquet’ at Art Images Gallery July 01 to July 31 2016

In the meantime here are photos that sing to me right now and thinking about green in nature

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I have just sent down three new paintings to Boom Gallery in Victoria.

Blue Chasm 1, Blue Chasm 2 and Ageless Beauty. Click to their website for more details.

These works will be on show from 15th May, 2015.

 

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I’ll be apart of a group show next month at Art Images Gallery in Adelaide. May 15th opening night.

Very nervous but also very honoured to be showing with:

Rosetta Santucci

Nevin Hirik

Sally Joubert

Jill Noble

This is one of the paintings for the show… ‘The Shibui Connection’

 

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{More posts to come on Kyoto….see below}

I’m back from my trip to Kyoto.

What to write? What to write?

It was such a sensory overload I feel that filtering my experience is going to take weeks and hopefully I will be able to pull out a stack of visual memories that will drive some new work for years to come.

Based on my interest in Japanese food, culture and the Arts I decided  that I wanted to understand Kyoto with the help of someone who understood all these elements. So I decided to go on a tour! No, not one of those tours where you sit on a bus and get moved around the city from temple to temple with a bunch of loud, singlet wearing yobbos.

You see, a few years ago I was given a book called, Zenbu Zen written by Jane Lawson and it really hit a chord with me. Jane is a food writer and provides different types of small group tours in Kyoto with food being the predominant focus. She is a woman full of local knowledge and if what I am writing sounds of any interset to you please take a look at her blog and endevour to read some of her books. I highly recommend one of her tours. Well organised yet relaxed, Jane will take you down laneways to secret restaurants; shops full of vintage wares; into local houses; introduce you to the ideas of Buddhism and Shintoism and I guarantee  that you will be immersed into a feeling of zen and come away with a better appreciation of the East. Jane, your professionalism, energy and insight were faultless. Thank you.

Beyond the eating, drinking and food shopping were 10 days of full of cultural, historical, and artistic eye openers shared with plenty of laughs and smiles.

I will write more in coming days and try to break down my impressions and inspirations. The food, the textiles, the colours, the flora etc

For those who think that you should only go to Kyoto to see the Cherry Blossoms, then think again. The streets were quiet, the parks, shops and temples peaceful. Infact the entire city had a peaceful energy about it. And as far as the trees and and gardens go being naked…absolutely striking!

Walking the streets and pathways both narrow and wide you can’t help but notice the details in the urban landscape and architecture. So my first collection of images are simply the textures that spoke to me whilst we conquered Kyoto.

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Each garden we explored in Kyoto was unique. And I am only now focussing on my time and experience within each one.

Beyond everything that I felt and saw whilst strolling through them, was the feeling of calmness and peace. Even to sit in a restaurant or cafe and have a small garden at the back was like a breath of fresh air. An escape from the crowds of urban life.

My favourite two were at The Heian Jingu Shrine and the Okochi-Sanso Villa. I’m still finding the words to express how they make me feel. I know that visually they will impact my thoughts and I will see many of the colours, shapes, philosophies etc appear in my paintings.

 

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Ceramics. Fabrics. Brushes. Thread. Paper.

These were the five items I knew I wanted to bring back with me.

Kyoto is well known as a ceramic hub and I could have spent just a week on a ceramic pilgrimage to shops, museums and galleries. One of my favourite moments was when we visited the small country town, Hino in the Shiga Prefecture. After eating another incredibly satisfying lunch we discovered the proprietor’s shop full of her son’s handmade ceramics. Let me just say that we made her day, with each of us purchasing at least one piece. It’s all about the journey and the story to what you buy and since my return I have felt a real repulsion to the way we purchase here in West. I have always appreciated the handmade but now… more so. Thank you Kyoto.

However, Kyoto isn’t all about the quaint old buildings with handmade wares. The city hub is as modern as any other major centre around the world. I seriously suggest you check out the bottom level of Daimaru Department Store on the Shijo-dori, for an impressive array of fresh and packaged foods. Just don’t eat what you buy in public areas unless you can find a table and chairs somewhere.

OK, so on my list were the following:

Habu textiles for beautiful threads. Yes, it was everything you could imagine if you know the product. Difficult to find as the sign on the door is very small. Wishing I had a larger suitcase.

Brushes, and Paper were available in many places including the Teramachi Arcade towards the Sanjo dori end and keep walking towards the City Hall area for  shops that sell antiques, indigo textiles, and beautiful papers.

Bunzaburo was on my list, but I’d given up on trying to get there until my last few hours when I decided to explore the quieter streets on my way back to the hotel. It was meant to be. Lovely Shibori products.

If you are there for the fabrics, make sure you visit Nomura Tailor a few blocks up from Dairmaru on the Shijo-dori for general haberdashery. Get to some flea markets for some inexpensive fabrics, kimono and yukata. My favourite store I wish I had gone back to was Gallery Kei on the Art Avenue of Teramachi dori. My new discovery was Sou-Sou, a modern cluster of design stores selling clothing, socks, and fabric. Tucked behind the Shin Kyogoku Arcade it is well worth the look for a more contemporary/Mariemekko style. Designer Katsugi Wakisaka designed for the Finnish company for many years.

And another favourite of course was Mina Perhonen which I was able to visit with two friends from Brissy. How glorious is this space. Make sure you venture up the stairs or lift to the many upper levels and see the seamstress at work preparing designs for the new season. I was kind of thankful that their winter stock was on the floor and being from a warmer climate made it an easy decision to keep my yen in my furoshiki.

But there is plenty of fabric eye candy walking the streets.

Travellers tip: Go with a empty suitcase or  be prepared to send back a box via the post office. I didn’t buy as much as I had wanted to. It was at times just too overwhelming. There’s always next time!

 

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