Archive | 2011

Talking portraits

My portraits are not painted according to actual people. They just exist in my head.

While painting the first few ones, the question started spinning through my head; “How would they be related to each other?” During the long solitary hours of painting and an idle mind, it wasn’t difficult to got entangled in their imaginary life’s. Slowly it appears that writing about their ‘experiences in life’ got part of this painting theme too. So, a new blog was born soon. A collaborative blog, written by the portraits …

It looks like it becomes a larger project than I thought it would be, and I couldn’t easily store it in just a corner of this website. So, to prevent confusion I created a new digital room for the talking portraits. With a who-is-who section and some more explanation in the form of a statement.

CLICK, SCROLL and you will find out what this is all about.


talking portraits


Buying art from fellow artists

19 September 2011

Last weekend we visited the annual Kawerau Wood Fest. Kawerau is the location of a huge wood factory, providing jobs for half of all men in this region.
Besides a fair and a lot of competitions for strong men who fight each other with tree stumps, there is also a wood-themed art exhibition for the more swanky ones among us, haha.
To us that seemed to be an excellent opportunity to buy something from the money my Grandma slipped to me. That’s how Grandma’s do such things.

Of course it had to be a present she could agree with. Something she possibly could have chosen by herself.
I found a beautiful wooden bowl with a lid, wherein a part is left in its natural form. I though my Grandma would like it, because she also prefers her Christmas pieces to be a bit ‘natural’ with lots of bark, berries and greens and a spared use of glitter.

When we left the exhibition hall we bumped into an artist who was busy making sculptures with a chainsaw. One sculpture took him a few days to create and they are about six feet tall. They are not just decorative curls, but they represent a Maori story.
Except Grandma’s money, we had some birthday money from my father too, so voila … a conversation piece for our new garden! We got a discount without asking, because the chainsaw sculptor was glad he was able to sell something at this last minute of the fair. Oh I know that feeling so well. A lot of artist has to go through that stage.
Our sculpture tells a story about the how&why of day&night. I will receive the exact story later. Well, I thought it would suit us. We ourselves are always struggling with our circadian rhythm, haha. We are naturally night owls but desperately want to be early birds. When we are waking up always the first thing we are saying is: “Tonight we go to bed early!”
Perhaps the sculpture does have a good influence on us.

fellow artists

The right one is ours now




A foot massage in Singapore

5 August 2011 (Singapore)

On our way back from the Netherlands we booked a stop-over in Singapore for 1 day. We counted on beating the jet lag easily, but we were more tired than we had expected. Uninspiredly we dragged ourselves through the city. We were so longing to a quick nap, but we even couldn’t find the tiniest piece of public lawn to lay on. And please no, not another drink or not again a lunch on a bar stool. Better keep on moving. Swim to avoid drowning.
“Shall we go to Chinatown? To that crazy mall? Four weeks ago I saw a booth with beautiful beads. Maybe we can find it again”.
Walking the same route as we did earlier we didn’t find the beads, but we came along many stalls with Chinese foot masseurs.
“Shall we? Do you want to go in this time?”
We were somewhat hesitate, but the simple fact that we saw 8 very comfortable reclining chairs … $ 15 for a 30-minute foot reflexology made us stop. I didn’t care what they plan to do with my feet, I just wanted to lie down there. I was exhausted and I would fall asleep anyway.

Frank was the first to fill in a kind of medical check list. In the meantime, the boss started phoning like crazy. It looked like he was calling his complete family to come along and laugh at those foreigners.
Five seats away an Australian girl was terrible moaning and shocking with her body. She saw me watching her in horror. “If he squeezes there, I feel it here,” she said. “AAAUUUWWW !!!” she screamed again. “But it’s a good hurt, you know!” She said quickly, as she saw my frozen eyes.
Yes, my fat ass, I thought. Good pain … ha! That’s probably the same as black money. Spending black money works exactly the same as spending white money.
She again concentrated and her face contorted beyond.

Suddenly I didn’t want the massage.
But Frank was too late for a change of mind. His checklist was filled in already.

From the moment they had put us in the 2 chairs close to the window, more and more people came in. See! That must be the boss’ family and friends. Curious to see those giant white feet up close! Even a blind man entered the room!
This man puts his stick at the door and the boss quickly led him to Frank’s seat. He got a jar of cream pressed into his hands and without any introduction he began to feel Frank’s feet.

When he was doing his job he pulls all strange faces and moves his mouth in silence … like he was in an inner dialogue with the assigned feet.
On a poster on the wall I could descry where the internal body parts are connected in the feet. I saw an icon of the brains and the heart, all indicated by colours. Now I finally know where men’s willies are located!

Because I had forgotten to turn off the beep that is heard when I turn on my camera, I didn’t dare to take pictures. The blind man looks a bit … how shall I say it … angrily. Or severe. He scared me. Maybe because I continually whispered to Frank whether it hurts. Frank shook his head, but I know -because I didn’t join in to be screwed- he now never will answer me honestly anymore about this subject. He probably prefers to bite off his own foot, instead of showing me any emotion.
I am also afraid that -when the blind man would hear the beep- he viciously would pinch Frank. Or that he would shift his internal parts and would cause something bad.
At that moment I’m even more determined I really don’t want this. Don’t touch my internal body parts.
The boss gestures ‘to do me for free’.
“No”.

Singapore, foot massage

We even thought to do a sneaky nap hidden under the elephant, but the parking and especially the elephant was guarded.




A visit to the Netherlands

4 August 2011 (the Netherlands)

We were in the Netherlands for a month to visit our family. I was asked if I have seen changes compared with 6 years ago.
Most of all there were some differences that we had forgotten. For example, as soon as we left the airport, I immediately saw the Dutch are much slimmer. And the children on their little supersonic bicycles were all fully decorated with the latest gadgets and they were fashionably dressed like miniature-adults (and matching attitude 😉 )

Recently I read in one of the Dutch magazines (I still read them) that in the Netherlands ‘the prosperity is gushing out of the dormer windows’. In real … that is true. And it’s notable. I saw an interview on tv about Dutch families who supposedly are in financial trouble. In the background I saw beautiful living rooms, top class furniture, wooden floors, modern decorations. Everything of good quality and looking in mint condition. I can’t take that serious. That is really a difference with here.
Yes, for a few days I was jealous of all that wealth and the unlimited choice. Not to say New Zealand is a poor country. I know it’s not Ethiopia. And we ourselves aren’t poor too. But the image around us though, is certainly looking a bit … eh … well … let’s not equivocate; a bit shabby.
However, after a few days I knew it again. Because don’t forget … if you always have to live in such a nasty climate, locked inside your house, probably you desperately need some extra fun/luxury in return.
I prefered the good weather.

Another thing I liked of being back was; Dutchies hardly do courtesy talks. In daily life and in business they can be bluntly honest to each other without affecting their relationship. They are going right to the point. For foreigners they may sound rude, but Dutchies skipping the courtesy talks feels like saving time for both.

A sound that struck me was the cooing of doves. Awww, I missed that. And the far sounds of church bells a couple of times a day. I totally had tuned that out when I lived in the Netherlands, but now I realised I hadn’t heard them for years!
But the finest sound actually, was a certain lack of sound … that eternal voice in the shops, “Can I help you?”
For me it was so liberating that in every Dutch shop (no matter how posh) you can walk in without the shop assistants jump right on your neck.
Beside in the Netherlands there is so much beauty for sale, the disinterest of the staff (or so you want; the skipping of the courtesy) made shopping a great pleasure. When I’m thinking about entering a shop in New Zealand, quite often the saleswoman already greedy tries to make eye-contact, while I am still outside! I can’t handle that and won’t come in then. I hate it and I feel forced. If I need help I know where she is. Everybody knows.
Although I like that New Zealanders always greeting each other on the street (Dutchies ignore strangers), that shop-thing must ne a Dutch habit I can’t get rid of. For Dutch people maybe shops are more a kind of ‘public area’. And for New Zealand people a shop is owned by someone who takes care for the visitors. Does that make sense?




The owner in the background is completely ignoring me and is reading his paper. Thumbs up.

netherlands

City trip to Melbourne

4 February 2011 (Australia)

After

Before

After 3,5 years of financial drought and lack of time (because of the renovation of our house) we finally could treat ourselves to a city trip to Melbourne. I want to tell you why I so enormously enjoyed it!

For me personally it felt like a kind of landslide to understand the Australian accent 100 times easier than the New Zealand accent. I know; probably my language struggle begins to be a pretty boring topic for you, and for me it’s quite annoying that I hardly can explain why I find language & personality are so tightly connected to each other.

But … apart from the certainty that there are way more serious problems in the world (really, I know, haha) the fact is that I have to cope this struggle and in Australia I experienced an almost physical relief because the bustle around me was no dense cloud of abstract sounds anymore. Without significant concentration I could pick up complete sentences! For example; listening to the people gossiping about their aunty on the seats behind me in the lunchroom … oh, the joy! Or the teenage girls in the tram discussing how they would approach their prey that night. It made me serenely smiling. It were fragments of lives that had nothing to do with my life, but suddenly now I was part of the same space, instead of being an almost deaf and dumb person in a separate bubble.

What also made me so happy was that people understood ME TOO!!! Usually without I needed to repeat my words 3 times! Of pure happiness I asked things on my own initiative! Just for fun! Without those questions were urgently needed! No deep conversations though, but you have to start in baby steps, isn’t it?
In New Zealand, when I asked for an extra sugar packet … without exception they looked at me like I’m hysterically yelling at them. Even if I pointed to the empty pot of sugar packets at the same time. Sometimes I almost choked of frustration!
Then what a relief to simply ask in the fitting room: “Can you bring me a larger size?” and the shop assistant kindly nodded and DOING it right away!!! Oh … those little things made me so happy last week.

I always have felt if I was the first person in the world by asking such an idiotic thing like a larger size, or a sugar packet, while requesting these questions in a completely logical situation. After all, I didn’t ask for a sugar packet just after a fire has broken out. And I didn’t ask for a larger size, just when I was lying down to undergo a gynecological examination.
Anyhoo … if you often experience that feeling of despair, then after a while it will affect your behavior. And if your behaviour is changing, it slowly infects your personality.

If I concentrate I can follow the news on tv in New Zealand. But a constant high focus is too much. I only can muster for things that interest me in a certain level.
I don’t know why other people pick it up so much faster. Probably I need more practice. To practice you need to talk to strangers. Ha … and THAT is quite unthinkable for an introvert!
But it remains a curious fact that I have much less trouble with the Australian dialect. Four years ago, I already had noticed this during our visit to Brisbane.

The above story is not the reason for our desire to move to Australia in the future. We miss the Big City. That doesn’t mean we made the wrong choice 5 years ago. At that time, New Zealand was the right choice. We wanted to leave the Netherlands, away from the crowds and live in a quiet area. Well … we did. Now we are five years further in life and have learned a few things. Perhaps we have changed too. We broadly moved to the right direction. Now we just need to do some fine tuning. Geographically-wise.

melbourne

Somewhere in Melbourne