Archive | October 2007

Winning tits

23 October 2007

winning titsOn New Zealand’s South Island, in a little village near Wanaka, you can find a long fence with a strange phenomenon. Every woman who is passing this fence gets an uncontrollable desire to take off her bra and hangs it on the fence, directly is rewarded with an outrageous sense of freedom!
However, for some other women such a happy state of being apparently is unbearable and once in a while one of these selfish witches destroys the hundreds of sacrified bras with scissors or matches.
On such moments, the former owners of the bras everywhere in the world, get hit by a deep and inexplicable sadness.

This weekend, in that same Wanaka, was held the Perfect Woman election. With those bra’s at the back of my mind I got a certain image about that election, but … it was quite different from what I thought. The winning woman must be able to overturn (put in shaving position) a sheep. She must be able to ram a solid fence post in the ground. She must be able to put on snow chains on the wheels. And she must be able to open a beer bottle without an opener and without glass breakage.

Suddenly this all reminded me of something people in my homeland the Netherlands whisper about in the heat of the summer: “Hey pssst, there is a boobs weight going on in Egmond!”

winning tits

The tug-of-war done by this lady to move a tree trunk, was done in our own town. Haha yes, tough citizens, aren’t they?

No one exactly knew where it was held. That was a secret. But on the stealthy examining glances of the true fans you could see which Dutch virgins this year probably had bloomed enough in order to participate.
I’ve always wondered how those tits were weighed. Later I found out. No, I do not unveil HOW I found out, haha … but I can tell the participants just swing one tit in a bowl filled to the rim with beer. The bowl with the least remaining beer, was the one of the winning tit.
Ha no … forget it, there no link or picture available on Google. Some folkloristic habits are too serious to throw on the world-wide web.

Bird flu

19 October 2007 (Hong Kong)

hongkongbuddhaYesterday we went to Hong Kong’s “Giant Buddha”. I could not take pictures because I still haven’t chosen a new camera. But THIS gives an idea of the size of the brazen thing.

Gina asked us if we could bring some red feathers from South Africa. If she graduates her Maori culture course, she wants to wear a Maori cloak which she is creating during her studies and she wanted to add red feathers. In South Africa we haven’t seen any red bird, let alone a loose feather.

bird flu

Feathers in our crampy hotel room

Yesterday in Hong Kong we walked into a ‘botanical garden’ which turned out to be a disguised zoo in reality. It was quite a bizarre location, deep down between the skyscrapers of 100 meters high.
There was a cage with flamingos. These guys were not red, but orange is almost red, isn’t it? For 30 minutes with a stick we tried to pick out the loose feathers from the mesh. After a while, Frank put on his sweetest face (you don’t know what you see!) and seduced a staff member of the garden to give us some larger and nicer feathers from deeper inside the cage. He was more than willing to help us. This year the ‘bird flu’ is often in the news, so probably the customs go crazy and we will be hang on the gallows if they find out we sent feathers from China to New Zealand …

A nest with an egg!

After returning at the airport in New Zealand, we saw our car was still waiting for us. Before we drove home, Frank needed to reconnect the wires of the battery (a cunning anti-theft device in kiwi-style, if you park for a longer time). When he opened the bonnet, he saw something very wonderful …

Spoken about cars and animals; By the time we would return from South-Africa we would have received the cheque of $ 2200 of that sheep guy. But … of course it wasn’t.
Frank was so patient to call the guy to remind him that the money should have been on our account a week ago. Then again the guy started a whole monologue that by he closer inspection he decided it was our own fault. And that the judge had not listened to him, and that $ 2200 was way too much for such a small scratch and that the damage was about more than the value of our whole car! Frank remained admirably calm and unmoved, while I probably had exploded in my anger.
Although we did not expect anything else than being a pain, unfortunately now we need to initiate a new process. A bailiff.

A classic mistake

14 October 2007

Do you remember I had shipped some artworks to Hong Kong? And that the shipment kindly was paid by the gallery owners; a New Zealand/Hong Kong couple.
I had promised them to show up when we were around, so I had to call Chin Chye to announce our arrival. Until now all the contact was done via email. Usually all phone calls to be made in English I skip to Frank, but in this case that would be weird. After all it was my exhibition.
For a moment I was relieved when Chin Chye didn’t pick up the phone. But I also got a phone number of husband Mark. He did pick up the phone and after my stammered introduction, we headed to gallery Koru by boat and taxi.

After the always confusing European triple kiss (and widely practised in art world), a persistent advertisement seller demanded all Mark’s attention, so a jovial assistant showed us the gallery and informed us about every artwork. For each sculpture, glass object and piece of porcelain he started off an extensive story.
After about 30 minutes I suddenly realised ……… this … IS … Chin Chye!
Chin Chye is a man!
Hahaha, ooooh … I felt so stupid.

Anyway, whether this gallery can bring me more than the name Hong Kong on my resume, is the big question. They were nice people and they are good with their artists. Mark loves figurative art, but I understood that their customer base mainly consists companies, offices and hotels. I think this kind of clients mostly will opt for abstract stuff which should better serve as background decoration. My work probably has a too strong presence as an independent object. It doesn’t easily disappear in the rest of the interior.
It’s no problem to keep the 3 paintings in Hong Kong for a while. Mark and Chin Chye were willing to send them to the new gallery in Perth, in case something is sold there.

Elephotos and leaving SA

13 October 2007 (South Africa)

ElephotosThere was still 1 must-do on the South-Africa list; Hugging Elephants.
It is a strange perception to see such enormous animals obediently squatting beside the portable stairs and patiently get these little people loaded on their back. Their trunks are as thick as my waist and yet the elephants didn’t knocks anyone off his socks with it.
Just like me, lately. I meant with my waist. No one. Knocking someone off his socks …
Okay, forget what I said.
At night the animals are inside a large hall sleeping on elephants beds. The staff lives there too in a large room in the rafters of the hall, overlooking the nightlife of the elephants. Like a kind of skybox.

elephotosOn the last day we rent canoes and rowed the same route as we hiked with the German backpacker. Not quite up to the bare-ass-swimming-hole, but far enough got fairly tired.

elephantsOn Friday morning we left South Africa and Saturday morning we arrived in Hong Kong.
We had to hang around with our suitcases outside the building until afternoon, before our room was ready. There was no lounge. It is the smallest hotel room we’ve ever had, but we knew that beforehand. In Hong Kong square meters are priceless (hence all those skyscrapers), so for a hotel room in the center you have to pay money or you have to give up comfort.
Besides the suspiciously short bed, which is clamped on three sides between the walls, there is about 2 square meters left. One meter is for the suitcases (closed) and the other meter needs to stay clear to be able to open the door.
Behind an accordion-door is a miniature bathroom. If you like you can take a shower while sitting on the toilet on the same time. Pretty handy! The walls are interestingly decorated with lime green fake leather.
Once we touched the pillows we fell asleep. It was in the middle of the day.
When I wake up hours later, I realize that my camera was still in the plane …

Montagu and Oudtshoorn

7 October 2007 (South Africa)

MontaguThe next morning we woke up in an art deco hotel with many original art deco furniture. It’s located in Montagu, a small pastel coloured art deco town with beautiful houses. Very photogenic … if it is not raining. I tried to shoot some photos, but through the wet car windows the result is looking pathetic.

Because the rain has become worse, there is little else to do than visiting the Hot Springs. It is a ‘day spa’ in a luxury hotel and it was excessively advertised all over Montagu, so we got high expectations!
It took quite some effort to rent a towel, but then we went to the changing rooms. These were tiny particles about 1 square meter with a curtain. The entire surface of the particle is filled with a big chair. Was it the intention to stand on it?
The changing rooms for men actually were the men’s bathrooms, but to create some space for changing clothes they had replaced 2 of the 4 urinals with … yeah … also those big chairs. Even no curtains here. Frank was afraid that a guy came in to do his business. Or worse; that he would drop something on the floor.
Unfortunately, there was no locker for your stuff. So our clothes had to be placed at the edge of the pool. Not convenient in the pouring rain, so we open up one of the sun umbrellas to create a kind of a ‘dry spot’.

Under normal circumstances, located between the mountains and the lovely trees this complex must be quite nice, but because of the strong wind all the white plastic chairs were piled up in a corner and the open bar was now protected with white plastic.
The pool was not as warm as we had hoped for, but the most confusing thing was the fence in the middle of the pool: One half was for the hotel guests and the other half for the … plebs. I would think; we are paying visitors, so what’s the difference?
Against 2 other visiting couples we did a mean eye-fight (intensely stare to someone to get him move) with varying results. The goal was a spot under a hot water jet, which was spewed out of a stone vulture, to gain a bit warmth.
After half an hour our willingness to stay positive started to stagnate.

Montagu and OudshoornWe drive a few hours in eastern direction through the Klein Karoo. The weather remains gray, cold and wet. It is a popular wine region, but apparently religion refrain them to do wine tastings on Sunday. It was Sunday …
Btw; In the supermarkets the aile with alcohol is also literally red taped on Sunday.
At the end of the afternoon we found a B&B in a beautifully furnished Victorian house in Oudtshoorn. The first thing we did was curling up in bed with the electric blanket to warm up. And then via internet tried to found out what’s on in the local cinema.
No cinema.

The next morning … yeah … finally it is sunny. And the mountains … are white. That night it has snowed.
Now the mountain pass is closed, but to us (Northern Europeans used to snow) that seems overly exaggerated. What’s dangerous of a bit of snow? We’re going anyway.
A closely test on top of the mountain confirms that it was real snow. Yep. Wild snow. And it’s 2 degrees Celsius. Yes … I’m still reporting from South-Africa.
The gorge is quite magical. In the valley, where it is a bit warmer, we do a mini-hike along a very adventurous path. We passed large stones in the river, climbed over fallen logs along steep cliffs and dense vegetation.

Mossel Bay

6 October 2007 (South Africa)

mossel bayLast week we planned to make a little road trip and started driving from Wilderness to the west side. Our first stop is Mossel Bay. Many smaller shops in South-Africa have open doors, but you have to ring the doorbell before the owner unlocks the metal see-through fences. This is a very common habit. The whites are scared for raids of the blacks.

In front of our hotel room in Mossel Bay we found a very skinny nearly-dead cat, covered with fleas. The poor thing spent way too much precious energy by jumping up twice a minute because of unrelenting itching. Just before closing time of the supermarket we could buy a can of tuna. And before closing time of the evening store we could buy a few pouches of Kittekat too.
The next day we also found a veterinary to buy flea drops. The advantage of a country with extreme poverty is that you can buy more things per piece. Like 1 cigaret, 1 banana … or 1 pipette of flea killer what usually is sold in a box of 6 pipettes.
After 2 days of force feeding we couldn’t stuff the cat any further and we had to leave him. Hoping he was a bit stronger now, to live the next part of his scruffy life.

We drove northwards and saw many farms (vine growers) with a kind of miniature newbuilt neighbourhoods on the farthest edge of their estate. These were 4 or 5 very small concrete 1 room houses where their black workers reside. Some farmers had put some extra nice houses on an extra visible spot along the road, with a large sign ‘staff village’, so that passenger clearly could see that he is GOOD to his workers.
Officially the Apartheid is over, but the awareness of both colours is still so tangible. Even cemeteries have certain separate parts, unmistakably meant as the ‘slum area’.


guardianship4 October 2007 (South Africa)

Yesterday we did a hike (between Hoekwil and Wilderness, South-Africa) and right at the beginning of the track, we were approached by an older couple and ‘a boy’. They asked us if we could be willing to take care of the boy. They had ‘found’ him in front of a warning sign that says: ‘the walkway was impassable because paths were washed away by heavy rain’. The boy wanted to follow the route nevertheless, but they had persuaded him not to do. They found it too dangerous. “You have to oblige such a sign!” the couple emphasized.

guardianshipApparently the instant adoptive parents thought the boy would not obey them as soon as they were gone, so on the spot they came to a compromise; They had seen that we too were planning to ignore the warning sign, but … that we are also are looking very wise and sensible. Oh yeah, if the light is in our favour, we can radiate an enormous reliability, haha. A bright white aura!
So suddenly, we got the supervision on … a 20-year-old German backpacker, who patiently and friendly smiling was waiting, without any interfere about this oddly transfer.


Umbrella and drizzle

Actually, we planned to do only half the hike. It was drizzling and we both wore the wrong shoes. But of course now we couldn’t lose our face and walked the total track of 5.5 hours. With half way a dip in an icy cold lake under the waterfall.
No, not me. I was charged to guard the cameras and clothes from the drizzle, while the guys went for a swim. Though I did not dare to take a picture when I saw the backpacker’s bare ass in my peripheral vision.

Agaricia in bronze


4 October 2007

This bronze/glass/wood sculpture is based on the painting Agaricia Bullio, which was inspired by the surface texture of one of the Caribbean Lettuce Corals, Agaricia. These corals form thin plates as delicate as bone china and are extremely vulnerable to environmental changes.

The trunk started life in white clay. Just like coral it has both plant and animal characteristics.

Next silicon bronze castings were made using the lost wax method.

The base is made of swamp Kauri, a New Zealand native tree. This wood is milled from trees that fell
thousands of years ago and have been buried and preserved underground in swamps. I have oiled the wood about 20 times to give it a deep luster.

The bronze part is an edition of 3. Because of the glass en wooden part they are never the same.

Eaten by the lions

2 October 2007 (South Africa)

lionsNo Africa without wildlife. Or better said; quasi-wildlife, because in this part of the continent most of the wildlife lives in parks. Large parks, okay. But still parks. Gated communities for animals.
There are many parks with escorted wildlife trips, called game drives. Sometimes you can have bad luck and see no animal at all and another day you can see them waiting for you in ques.
The park we visited is burned every few years (by natures law) and so there is not much bush. That means that the animals are always easy to find, but also the whole area isn’t very photogenic. It would be nice if the tourist had the assumption the chauffeur was driving this route for the first time in his life, and occasionally jumped out of the car to clear out a free path with a machete.
But in real … you can see the long and winding road in front of you, draped over the empty hills.

lionsThe area with the lions was extra fenced (a fenced ring inside the fenced park), because otherwise they’ll hunt and eat all the other animals in the park. The very open truck entered the electric fenced area and of course the tourists obediently have to sit on their seats, not allowed to make strange movements. The chauffeur parked the front of the truck against the inner fence.
On the left and the right side lions were lying around the truck, approximately at 4 meters distance.
If they are willing to kill us, they could do it now.

Once the driver has done his talk and we were allowed to click our cameras, the animals moved a little towards the truck. They are spoiled because once a week they get served a delicious sheep, so we didn’t need to be afraid that they were hungry. To encourage the lions to do some work-out, the sheep meat is not offered in ready-to-eat pieces, but tied behind a car and dragged around, so the lions needs to come off their asses to rip a piece.
Still -probably out of a kind of deep instinct- I didn’t look into their eyes when they look at me. It could touch an aggressive nerve.


Licking his lips he’s crawling onto the giant tin with human flesh

If the chauffeur turns on the engine again, he isn’t able to get the gear lever in reverse. That’s tricky, because that is the only way back when parked the nose against the fence …
He is trying a couple of minutes and I noticed his face is turning red. By the time the chauffeur triumphed, one of the lions curled up right behind the truck, not planning to move an inch.
At most the chauffeur can drive in reverse for 1 metre and then needs to stop to prevent the lion getting nasty thoughts.
There is a small piece of space to manoeuvre between the (electric!) fence, the rear-lion, the right-lion and a slippery trench. Very slowly the truck got turned, until the co-driver said: “Oh ………. we have a flat tire.

Obviously, this would be a good time to stop this blog … but of course you realize (after a day or so) that I have written the above text being alive.
So okay, with the flat tire we drove back in slow motion on a road full of potholes and bumps. In the meanwhile, the truck started to hang dangerously lopsided and the co-driver called for help. The lions felt that something unusual was going on and followed the vehicle on a ‘very inappropriately distance’. By keep driving the flat tire could get of the rim and the loose rubber could block the wheels.


The flat tire

But, another truck came to save us.
He parked tightly along our truck so we safely could step over into the other one.

And so … we were not eaten!