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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Thanks to my parents, I have been sampling ‘Japanese’ food since the age of 14, when it was hard to find here in Australia. I have since become a proficient sake drinker. Over the years we’ve seen an increase of Japanese flavours, now in every major city you can find sushi or ramen without venturing too far. And I knew that there was more to Japanese cuisine before leaving for Kyoto, i just didn’t realise how much more.

So I became one of those people who take photos of their food. YUP! I did. And then I found myself taking photos of the empty dishes. There are often many of them to any one sitting….and how beautiful they are. The oldest bowl I drank miso out of was 350 years old and belonged to a family run Kaiseki restaurant. How exquisite. Eating in Japan was an honour and every flavour, presentation, ceramic bowl, sake cup, and knifing skill appreciated. From the markets to some high end cutting edge restaurants. From beancurd pancakes; homemade udon noodles; saikyo shiro miso; pearl meat; organic vegetables; delicate morsels of tempura; mocha tea; elegant wagashi; fragrant yuzu; goma dofu; kabura mushi……oh the list goes on and on. With a few French meals thrown in, I did not tire of Japanese food.

To honour the Zenbu tour, I won’t share the names of the restaurants we ventured to. But let me just say that her language skills enabled us to go beyond the typical tourist jaunts, even with one organic restaurant opening only upon request. And what an entertaining night that was!!!!

My favourite new flavour: Yuzu. A fragrant citrus fruit…a little mandarin, a little lime, a little orange, a little meyer lemon. As a sweet, in tea, even on beef ribs one night. I’ll miss this here in Australia.

My least favourite flavour: Bancha tea. A strong smokey sencha tea that frankly reminded me of licking a wet ashtray.

My brave moment: Eating Shirako  AKA Cod Sperm…tempura style. A little like lamb marrow.I didn’t think about it too much.

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Since the beginning of 2015 I have been spending my days with family and friends. The children are still on school holidays.

I’ve been lazy. Reading books mostly, and a little sewing. I love to sew when I cannot be in the studio painting.

I have almost finished another quilt which I will show at a later stage. But for now my mind has been occupied with travelling to colder climates.

I will be exchanging my Havaianas for my RMs. (If you’re not Australian that might not make any sense) AKA Thongs/flips flops for leather boots.

And heading to Kyoto. For such a long time I have always felt the need to get to Japan, a real pull you could say. I’m even ditching my family for some truly dedicated inspiration. (Don’t worry I’m feeling very guilty)

I made this for a friend I am meeting there, which is an unplanned added bonus to my trip. A scarf made from scraps of vintage Kimono fabrics, velvet and felt. I hand stitched in a Sashiko style to embellish. I hope to discover many vintage shops full of ceramics, fabrics, and textiles. I have no doubts I will be discovering the pleasure of reverent and delicious food, and hopefully sipping tea, sake and whiskey along the way.

 

I shall be posting about my trip on my return.

“Yosh. Gahn-bah-di-mus.”

 

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