Monday, August 29, 2011

Art Talk


Finally the appointment was made to reframe  the painting we bought at the Henry Butcher's Art Auction. Things got in the way of the busyness of every day living. The art piece cut a lonely, unattended existence. Just standing on the floor of the dining  area. Waiting...

My son's pertinent remarks got us into action.'So that's how much you value your investment!' It was greeted with guilt and laughter.

I was looking forward to attend the auction, being a first -timer among 200 odd people. Some friends were there too for the 'auction fever'. After all, when money speaks, and the bids go higher and higher with hands popping up to the tune of the auctioneer's call for more and more till the final bid price. Bid assistants were at hand to help scan the bidders with the auctioneer. It was exciting for some pieces that we had taken a liking to. Some bids came through the phones.

Registration  before bidding

All set for the auction . In the background is Pago Pago Forms, 1968 by Abdul  Latiff Mohidin. It was a stunning buy at RM572,000 inclusive of the buyer's 10% premium. It came out tops out of the 104 lots.

Ring , Ring, Rrringing - bidders call in 

A pleasant surprise to have our friend as the auctioneer

The late Tan Choon Ghee's  pieces created some stir as the artist extraordinaire  had recently passed away and Henry Butcher Art auctioneers paid him a lovely tribute by exhibiting his paintings. His painting, Khoo Kongsi at Cannon Square,1985 was well received.

Khoo Kongsi at Cannon Square,1985 - Watercolour on Paper

Siri Tari 2,1990 by Yusof Ghani spoke to us. We thought we'd buy something different this time round. Luckily our bid was successful and when we were ready to leave, it was all wrapped and happily we carried it to our car.

Here's an excerpt from an interview with the artist :
'I felt that I could still communicate about how I feel about the world with a dance theme. I called them Siri Tari (Dance series).
I want to convey to the audience about the inequality of life that leads to chaos. I feel that dancing is chaotic and directionless. To achieve this effect, my approach to painting was based on immediacy, spontaneity and guided by my intuition for the colours and strokes. I had no specific sketches for the painting.'

Out of the old frame - Siri Tari -  Yusof Ghani - Acrylic on Paper  53.3cm x 35.6cm

Notes in the catalogue: Yusof Ghani's works of camouflaged figures in dynamic movement set forth his Tarian series which sashayed into public domain in 1989, with an exhibition at  GaleriCitra. In 1990 , he suffered a mild stroke but went to Penang and recuperated within months. This work showing two clasping figures done with soft touches and wash-like drip technique is likely to have been done after his stroke ordeal. The Tarian series is probably one of the artist's most popular series to date.
-    Reference Hijjas Kasturi, Siri Tari by Yusof Ghani ( Paintings and Installation Works), GaleriCitra , Kuala Lumpur, 1989

The framer recognised our new possession. Quickly he directed us to the front of his shop and there was Yusof's piece of a later series, Topeng (Mask). Someone wants to sell.

We settled for a plain look and a simple matt silver frame so as not to detract from the artist's strokes and composition.

Making a choice

Trying out the borders for the painting

Talking it over.

Another painting we saw at the shop. I like this one .

The framer says this is an artwork by a famous artist. In the background is one of  Yusof Ghani's Topeng (Mask).

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Of dolls and symbols

Dress me. I'm ready!

Chris was clearly delighted in explaining to the residents and the volunteers of The Sunshine Group how to tackle  the doll making. The keywords were fun cum simplicity. The 2  colourful samples stirred  our interest.  She had  bought the  little darling peg figures from Singapore and  pencilled the faces for the prepared activity.  From then onwards, it was up to us to dress the dolls for a parade of sorts.

This activity was even' trickier' than the previous Raya card making. Again the fine motor skills had to be employed to carry out the task. Before our eyes and in our hands the dolls came alive. Wool was twisted round the top part of the peg for upper torso. A scrap of cloth was gathered  and wrapped round to make  the dress. Hair was high fashion defying gravity, very punky in some. I  helped to tie the woolly hair in a bundle. When asked if  she would prefer it sticking out like a broomstick (!) or more sedate, just framing the face down to shoulder length, my partner opted for the latter. No bad hair day hairstyle, thanks!

Let me help. This is tricky.

Am I your sweet gal next door??

Flaunt it, if you have it!

Everyone was immersed in their spontaneous mirthful laughter. Dressing up dolls is simply engaging. No wonder girls love the sweet Barbie dolls to pretty her up. But this activity with some basic materials like wool, pipe cleaners, scraps of colourful materials and a wee bit of glue managed to liven  moods and  create a carefree session.

Everyone can play!

The students of Monash Uni on their asignments were part of the session. They were asked to judge and declare the best looking dolls for prizes. 'But these are dolls.We prefer the real beauties!' Anyhow, a verdict was reached.

Let me join the parade

Colourful people !

Will  I be chosen??

How do they get through Miss World judging? This is difficult enough!!!

To round off the session, it was time to recognise universal symbols in our daily lives. A good diversion I must say to test and refresh  our minds of some important symbols. Answers flew in readily. In fact, the residents  are familiar with the symbols pertaining to shopping malls and public places like hospitals.

So ended  another lively session. For Chris who was in charge of the session, her signature local dish of yam cake is always a winner. What's more when the yam was lovingly stirred to its right consistency  during the wee hours of 5 o'clock  to prepare it fresh for snacks for the residents.


?? PJK, Dato, Datuk Seri  -just plain old me -  a security guard!

Well recognised symbol

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Weaving for Raya

Colours of Raya and warm wishes

The residents of  the Home had extra company for our regular Sunshine Group activity session at the Home. Thanks to some  medical students from Monash Uni who were on a programme to complement their studies, we enjoyed a merrier session.

When hands get busy, more pairs are always welcomed. That Tuesday morning we were introduced to nyaman or weaving to make a simple Raya greetings card by Helen and Linda who conducted the session.  The holy month of Ramadhan has just begun 2 days ago. An early start for the residents to get the cards made will ensure that their friends receive them on time for Hari Raya Aidilfitri.

It was not an activity to be hurried. For many, the intrinsic (small) muscles have been dormant for a long time. So when it comes to craft time, using scissors, pinching objects between fingers, we engage ever more with them .  Understandably the fine motor skills to weave in and out for the pattern are also lacking. That's when a little guidance  from a helper made the task manageable. Each step, though inevitably not precise  but  patiently done got them  closer to finishing  a task thought beyond  their completion.

 Helen had taken pains to pre cut the pieces for all to come together to make a simple card.  Each were given  in a kit  just like those crafts that  are sold in the shops.

What's more, the weaving reminds all of us of the local  ketupat, a kind of traditional rice cake wrapped in a  square casing  of young coconut leaves. Even with Raya celebrations waiting, the residents delighted in talking about Raya goodies which they are accustomed to enjoy. They recalled the open house with the ex PM, Tun Mahathir  and how they enjoyed Raya specialities like rendang, lontong, satay, lemang and more...

For some of the students,observing the progress of the session was a learning situation, seeing how the residents and helpers adjust to situations and handicaps. Glad to know that these youths in our midst are the future caregivers and decision makers of tomorrow.The nation needs them.

Slowly but surely it'll get done

More hands make light work

Raya colours for  friends

A hive of activity

Ready to be sealed and sent off!

Visitors from  Monash Uni chip in

The finishing touches

Someone  remembers me!

Thank you for the added warmth and attention 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Pumpkin patch

Something new grew in my garden trough. Sturdy stem and whirly, curly tendrils with prickly palmate leaves and big golden blooms soon grew luxuriantly. I asked my Filipino domestic helper what it was. 'Pumpkin , I threw some seeds there,' was her reply.

Because it just grew and grew, it reminded me of  Jack's beans in the fairytale. Such a quick grower and a scrawling plant! Since it had taken root  and was showing  healthy signs of life, I didn't have the heart to cut short its life. Before long it was at the expense of  my tomato and long bean plants sharing the same trough. Very soon the vigorous growth  dwarfed  them in the same space.

Greenscape in my garden trough

Much green activity

The vines just curled and twisted along  the wire fencing. It grabbed  anything in its path, entangling itself among  the ixora bushes. Flowers appeared and they are extremely short -lived - just lasting for as short as a time as day. I learned to recognise the  male and female blooms which grew on the same plant. But the baby pumpkins began  aborting. Plop they fell to the ground before growing to a decent  ping pong ball size. We hung on, me for the love of the green canpy of leaves and the showy yellow flowers.

Swing it out and hook!

Feeling the prickly leaf

Before it unfurls

Love the bright  cheerful colour

Dying before the day is done

Looks so well sculptured

Hair so fine  - so well coated

In the meantime I heard groans of ' but we do not like to eat pumpkin!' When my sister in law heard about the promising start of a pumpkin harvest, she relished me with  the different ways of cooking ala Indian style. Of late, I have a Sri Lankan  domestic helper and she asked for  pumpkin. By then, my pumpkin patch  had long gone . Though hardy the  plant succumbed to pests. Methinks it didn't have a fighting chance as there was not much  love for it!!  That was the end of the pumpkin growing experiment. So off I went to the local mini market. I bought the smallest ball of pumpkin. Voila! In  her hands  the pumpkin  curry  won accolades! Noses that snubbed  pumpkins were surprised at the outcome. Everyone polished off the pumpkin curry and asked for more.

Promise of a pumpkin