27 November 2009

lots to think about

Sorting through boxes of memories is wonderful if you are looking for inspirations for a painting, but not so wonderful when you are trying to be ruthless and give things away.

In an ideal world I would keep only what I need. Realistically, how much does one need memory triggers? Should we look back, reflectively, a little sadly, or should we always look forward, head up, eyes shining with excitement, positive about the future? Why is it that I can be generous and quite ruthless with possessions in the morning, but by 4pm put everything I look at back into the box of things to keep?

One person's trash is another's treasure. Looking at the things I choose to keep I suspect that to another my treasures are nothing but trash. The things it is easier to part with are the new, the pretty, the useful, but how can I part with the worn and cracked objects that hold generations of family history? I think that when the person holding the item sees only a piece of junk then it is time to give it away, throw it out, put it in the op shop. But while it holds a memory then that trash is my treasure.

Today I am grateful for text messages from my personal trainer.

18 November 2009

all good...

Today I am grateful for family and beaches.

13 November 2009

a little busy

Life is just a tad busy right now, so posts will be few and far between for a while.

Progress continues in the palazzo, the fine weather making it much more pleasant work although the workforce is small at the moment.

The olive picking is underway, the mandarines are still a little sharp for me but pretty tasty, and the oranges look promising. The days of constant rain ruined what was left of the persimmons, but at least the birds wont have gone hungry.

Dogs are de-flea and de-ticked for the next month, there is dry firewood in the cantina, gas in the bombola, food in the kitchen, wine waiting for a quiet moment, all is right with the world!

Today I am grateful for people with lovely manners.

11 November 2009

so good

Today I painted from my "cot" up high in the entranceway. It was so safe and secure that I worked at least four times faster that I did when precariously balanced on uneven scaffolding. Progress is never fast enough, but it is visible. I am happy with the overall effect... photos when I get a chance.

Today I am grateful for visiting Kiwis.

happiness is...

feeling connected!

I tripped over my internet connection this evening, but didn't notice that it had become unplugged. Later I wondered why I had lost internet when there was no cold rain, but not too upset I turned the computer off and headed for bed.

Unable to sleep, and not being able to count sheep as they are all indoors away from the wolves and the cold (there was snow on the mountain behind us this morning), I got up and hopefully turned on the computer. Nothing, just the grey unconnectedness of Skype trying to launch itself.

Then I remembered. And yes, one little plug was several inches away from its mate.

I tripped on something earlier this evening, too. I was severely growled at by the poor little creature who promptly removed himself to the safest spot he could find, against the wall and well away from my clumsy feet.

Today I am grateful for forgiveness.

9 November 2009

today's research

My evening "unwind" with mouse in hand took me to this essay entitled "Why we travel". Sometimes I wonder where my head has been for the past 20 years. Why had I not read anything by Pico Iyer before?

I like what he says about writing too. In his words, "Writing Undoes Me".

My meander with the mouse-clicks took me to an interview with Alice Walker. The challenges here sent me off to put the kettle on... what great opening lines these are:
Alice Walker: If you just try to do something, you’re not actually accomplishing anything. But if you resolve to do it, you accept that it is there for you to do and that you’re perfectly capable of whatever it is. And of course there’s no point in trying to do something you’re incapable of. Then you use every conceivable atom, sinew, and instinct available to move whatever it is you’re trying to move. There’s a world of difference between that and simply trying to do something.

What did we do before we had internet?

yay for new zealand!

My website and domain name both expired because I had changed my credit card. Luckily my host gives 15 days grace when this happens. This evening I phoned NZ to give my new details and update my credit card so the bill could be paid.

The efficient, pleasant young man was a delight to talk to. Before we had finished the conversation notifications of the updated account and the receipts for the two payments were in my in-box.

It reminded me of the helpfulness of the bank staff I phoned when I was a bit stuck in the USA.

New Zealand might be short of a few million people, but the ones I strike when needing to deal with something from the other side of the world are competent, pleasant, and refreshingly efficient!

Go Kiwis!

This evening I am grateful for international phone calls.

tired but not wicked

Today was/is wet and cold. It is dark, not great for working but work continues the same.

My grandmother and my mother sometimes said "There's no rest for the wicked!" I am not sure if that related to the present day or the after-life. As I child I assumed it meant the present day, but as I write this I wonder if the seemingly innocent phrase had much darker meaning.

But I haven't been that wicked, really! No rest is not good, so Zacchi and I will put our feet up for an hour, hoping to be more productive later. Pickle is in the dog box for peeing in the cantina.

Aaaah life! It's beautiful but it has its bumps along the way.

Today I am grateful for visible progress at work.

7 November 2009

late night

several attempts to blog today came to nothing... but dinner with Kiwi visitors was excellent!

Today I am grateful for flexible agendas.

6 November 2009

i can't believe i did that

Burnt offerings!

I have gathered, with mixed feelings, the pathetic little feijoas that fall onto the road near my house. It's probably not the tree's fault that they are such poor specimens, it grows valiently between concrete and asphalt. It's a miracle that it produces at all.

Today I sat and lovingly peeled the wee things, thinking of my mother who, every year, bottled buckets full of them for us. I put them on to cook.

I went to the computer to check for an important email.

Then I remembered a phonecall I needed to make.

Now I am eating brown, sticky, caramelised feijoas...

CyNICal, will I be forgiven?

Today I am grateful for sticky brown where it could have been crusty black.

5 November 2009

boundaries of space and time

I have been listening to John Cleese talking about creativity. Thanks T, Webcomics and Youtube. I have tried to listen to it four times now, but keep being interrupted or distracted. Twice however, the interruptions have come right at the point where he is emphasising the need to have boundaries of space and of time.

Earlier today I read that when we are young one of the words we use most frequently is "No". As we get older we find it harder and harder to say. I didn't ever manage to say "Yes, I will do XYZ for you. But I also need to do ABC, DEF, GHI and JKL in that time. Which one to you think I should cancel so that I can do this for you?"

To create I need tranquility. Lately I have found that to paint even straight lines well and happily I need a peaceful workplace. When I am in that tranquil place my works grow with gentle layer upon layer. Just occasionally I like to work with more energetic input, responding rapidly to each brush stroke. But if I had to choose only one way of working, it is the quiet reflective way that suits me best.

I may be working hard at the moment, but I am not being particularly creative. It is time for more "stuff management"...

Today I am grateful for helping hands.

4 November 2009

the list

Reluctantly I accept that I wont be harvesting my olives this week. The weather has packed it in and pickers are hard to find. A local will do the work, for a half share of the oil, but the olives wont be picked for another ten days or so. I was becoming quite possesive about the crop and the process, so I have had to let go. Big sigh. Meanwhile I am hoping that we (neighbours and I) might do the pickling olives on Sunday.

On a brighter note, work is coming along nicely in the palazza. I have outlined the panels and doors (photos tomorrow maybe) and it is beginning to look a little more finished. Today every time I turned around someone had borrowed my ladder, and the light went out several times as electricians worked upstairs. But at the end of the day I had painted many metres of geometrical design and it felt like progress!

Pickle is asleep under my bed, keen to behave now the cold is coming. Chewing my wrist brace was not a good idea however; she was severely reprimanded, and is now safely away from my "Noh! Noh! Noh!" Zacchi has decided that Pickle is smelling very interesting. Separate dorms time!

So, olives are off the list, Pickle is at the top of it now, and the other jobs are being ticked off slowly but steadily.

Today I am grateful for our wonderful bread, baked in a wood-fired oven.

3 November 2009

clutter queen

To my great delight I read that "big picture people" are notoriously messy. At last I have an excuse! It is not so many days ago that my computer desk was ordered, tidy, not an unnecessary thing on it.


Hair tie
Newsweek magazine
Reading glasses
Owl shaped earrings
Clothespeg (no, I have no idea!)
Hand cream
Dictionary (maybe that is essential)
Mosquito spray (WAS essential, not so much now)
Wheat bag
Massage oil
Business card holder
History book in Italian (hence dictionary?)
Old Ryanair ticket
and of course the things that should be there as well :-)

and under the desk: jandals, running shoes, house shoes, stapler and hole punch (so that's what crashed!)

The crazy thing is that I really LOVE it when my house is tidy, I LIKE an ordered work space. There just always seems to be something more important to do...

Today I am grateful for the flavours in my lunchtime soup.

food for thought

"The more we sweat in peace,
the less we bleed in war."

Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit

2 November 2009

from daily peace quotes

If you think you're too small to have an impact,
try going to bed with a mosquito in the room.

—Anita Koddick

1 November 2009

end of an era?

(Draft only)

Has the financial crisis had an interesting spin-off that will be written about in art history assignments in years to come?

Currently running at the Tate Modern is "Pop Life: Art in a Material World" (until January 17). The timing and significance of this exhibition is the subject of the October "Newsweek" article entitled "Pop Goes the Market". Writer Christopher Werth discusses the impact of the financial crisis on the contemporary art market.

The art market remained bouyant at the beginning of the "decline of the material world" (my term, not a quote). Sothebys sold Damien Hirst works for a total of £111 million (around $US200 million) after the recession had hit. But the (over-inflated?) confidence in the art market bottomed out quickly, prices falling by 50% and expected to drop another 30 to 80% of pre-crash prices, and I suspect that with this fall we might also identify the end of the post-1950s art movement known as "Pop Art".

If Pop art began with Andy Warhol and his exploration of the mass media through his art, did it end with this world banking crash? Werth writes "But as the Great Recession takes its cultural toll - excess is out, thrift is in - art's flashiest, wealthiest practitioners (and their loyal customers) now appear as out of step with the "new norm" of financial restraint as bankers pocketing multimillion-dollar bonuses on Wall Street." (Newsweek, October 19 2009, p.48). This set me thinking about art movements, how and why they come and go, and where we all sit in the big big picture.

Have we seen the swan-song of this flashy era, where gold and diamonds command huge prices as collectors fall for the marketing hype, or will Pop art continue, with the brand-marketing celebrity artists filtering themselves off into a sub-genre that will re-emerge when the financial rollercoaster eases onto smoother tracks?

Not being a particularly "material girl" myself I quite like the prospect of the market leaders becoming a mere, transient, sub-genre! But don't get me wrong; I have respect for these artists (as well as a fondness for a Hirst made entirely out of dead flies) and believe that they are a product of the society that we live in, reflecting in their work the social and economic times.

That, surely, is what art is about. The true histories are not written in books, but may be read by looking retrospectively at the collective art of any period. Knowing who commissioned work, how art was valued, and what messages and values are represented surely gives us a better insight into how society functioned at any one period of time than a history book in which the author may or may not disclose his own political bias.

Footnote: The expression "15 minutes of fame" was coined by Andy Warhol.