Saturday, 17 February 2018

Ritual Spirit: White Rabbit Gallery

I'm a little late posting this, Ritual Spirit is now finished at the White Rabbit Gallery as they prepare for their next exhibit. But I find their exhibitions so stimulating and interesting that I want to keep a record of what I see (and how I see it).

A trip to the White Rabbit Gallery is not complete without 
1. a walk through the new Central Park development and
2. a leisurely dumpling and green tea afterwards in the attached cafe

Nonexistence (2009) by Jun T Lai

This work was inspired by a verse of the Buddhist Heart Sutra: “Form is emptiness, emptiness is form.” 

Swinging a hammer with all her might, the artist transformed a 150-kg sheet of steel into a pockmarked moonscape; a video of the process accompanies the work. Her battered “mirror” dissolves everything reflected in its surface into a shimmer of colour and light that shifts as the viewer moves. “I wanted to express the flow between real and unreal,” she says. 

The dents made by the hammer evoke the wounds life inflicts on our bodies and souls; the distorted reflections are a reminder of the unreliability of appearances. Reality vanishes as we pursue it; the only thing certain is change.

(all author bio blurbs are from the White Rabbit website)

Geng Xue, Mr Sea (2014)

Geng Xue is not content with making realistic sculptures; she wants them to live. 

In Mr Sea, exquisite porcelain puppets and scenery revitalise a 17th-century Chinese ghost story in which a scholar seeking peace on a remote island meets a beautiful woman who turns out to be a sea monster.

Xu Zhen, Play 201301 (2013)

A Cathedral constructed from the spikes, belts, whips and shackles of sadomasochistic "play". 

It's a two-faced metaphor in black: Christianity, the artists suggests, is a form of bondage, and religious exaltation has overtones of erotic pleasure. By linking them, he raises some dark questions. Does relentless self-indulgence harden us to joy? Can the cult of sexual pleasure satisfy our souls?


Tianzhou Chen, OM (2016)

One of the things I loved about OM was how it was reflected in the nearby ceramics, so that the man with the fancy moustache, had the word MO lit up in red, depending on where I stood.

Tianzhuo Chen, Marble Painting 4 (2016)

Luxury Logico, Scripting (2011)

Luxury Logico consists of the Chang twins and two friends, who pool their diverse skills—in mechanics, computing, music, theatre design, lighting and photography—and often enlist further help for specific works. They liken their group to a Transformer, a playful entity whose shape can be changed with a few folds and twists. 

Scripting uses intricately choreographed lights to paint in darkness—a hypnotically moving echo of traditional Chinese calligraphy generated by a computer script.

I loved this piece.

It was like watching piano keys come to life.

The light rods danced and moved in time to the music.
It was mesmerising.

I can't wait to see what the White Rabbit Gallery
pulls out of it's hat next!

This post is part of Saturday Snapshot.

Saturday, 23 December 2017

White Bay Cruise Terminal

One of the pleasures of summer are the longer daylight hours, perfect for evening walks as the day cools down (hopefully!)
This week I finally did the walk into the White Bay Cruise Terminal.

I'm fascinated by the changing urban landscape.
Our needs change and we make our lived environment change along with us.

White Bay began life as mud flats, but because of it's deep waters, it soon became ideal for the early settlers to turn the area into one primarily used by container ships.

The before and now photos (below) of Stephen St show how White Bay has changed since the land was reclaimed.
As an aside, why do we say the land was reclaimed? What right has the land got over the water? It was never there before, it was extra land created by man to make more space for man. It's curious that sense of ownership and entitlement that creeps in simply by the choice of words.

Anyway, back to Stephen St.
You can see how steeply the road slopes down to the waters edge and the ferry stop.
140 yrs later, the road stops at the last house. A park runs along the right hand side of the photo.
And the water's edge is about another 100m further away.
Stephen Street Ferry Wharf c. 1880 (Mitchell Library)
Stephen Street today - the road now ends suddenly at a fence which overlooks the reclaimed land of White Bay.

John Booth's saw mill existed in this area from the 1850's to 1902.
It's hard to imagine the noise, smell and dust that the residents lived with at this time.
I now live just behind where this mill used to stand.

J. Booth & co. Steam saw mill and joinery works 1880 (image source)

Today White Bay is home to the Cruise Terminal.
In building the new facility (which opened in 2013), due homage was payed to previous incarnations.
Old train tracks were kept in place and some of the old sleepers were retained to use in the parking areas and a huge ship propeller is now a sculptural centrepiece at the entrance.

Many of the local residents are unhappy with the noise of the cruise ships, but given what was there, I'd rather the generator hum of a large ship and party noise as it pulls out, to the incessant noise, smell and dust of previous industries.

Looking back up to Stephen St & standing where the ferry wharf once was.

Before the land was reclaimed, White Bay looked a little like this (below).
You can see the various wharves jutting out into what is now land.
Soap factories, coal (for the power station at the bottom of the picture) and mills dominated the landscape.

And now it looks like this....

This post is part of Saturday Snapshot.

Saturday, 2 December 2017

The Streets of Havana

Part of the enjoyment of our time in Cuba & Havana in particular was walking the streets.
We loved strolling along, checking out the sights and absorbing the vibes.

Havana was full of old cars that had been lovingly restored and maintained.
A street photographers heaven!

There were more pictures and posters of Che than Fidel, but he did pop up occasionally.

Tryp Habana Libre - Tiled mural by Amelia Pelaez. 

Vertical gardening - Havana-style!

This post is part of Saturday Snapshot.

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Plaza de la Revolucion, Havana

The Plaza de la Revolucion contains two of the most iconic images of Cuba for the outsider.
The two towering murals of Che Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos, that adorn the nearby concrete block that is the Ministerio del Interior, are as impressive as they are famous.

Camilo Cienfuegos 2009 Vas Bien Fidel (You're going well, Fidel)

Che Guevara 1995 (based on the image created by Alberto Kordo 1960) Hasta la Victoria Siempre (Always Towards Victory)

The Plaza was first dreamed up in the 1920's by French landscape architect Jean Claude Forestier to connect the city and it's prominent landmarks. He aimed for a 'harmonic balance between the classical built form and the tropical landscape.' (wikipedia)

Construction began in the 50's under the Batista dictatorship and completed in 1959.
Originally named Plaza Civica, it was renamed after the Revolution. the functional, grey buildings were built around this time too.

The Plaza is now the home of the Cuban Government (although changes are afoot to move the National Assembly to the El Capitolio building that is currently being restored). Large scale political rallies are also held here.

On the opposite side of the square from the murals is the Jose Marti Memorial.
The tower is Cuba's tallest structure at 109m. 
It represents a five point star and is built of grey marble.
The Jose Marti statue stands 17m high, or I should say, is seated 17m high.
He is portrayed in a thoughtful Thinker-style pose.
The museum is underneath the tower, but was unfortunately not open to the public on the day we visited.

Coco-bikes waiting nearby to pick up a fare!

This post is part of Saturday Snapshot.