Pity the Farmer 憫農 by Li Shen 李紳(772-846)

This is my translation of a Tang Dynasty poem, written by a politician who sighed on witnessing the toil of peasants.  Words, words, words…

春種一粒粟,

秋收萬顆子。

四海無閑田,

農夫猶餓死。

One grain of corn sown in Spring

Ten thousand grains in Autumn brings

No field lies fellow within the four seas

Still the farmers fell from starvation

Translated by Mary Tang (c) 2016

 

From his position of great wealth and power the poet wrote these words that are repeated to this day.  However as a politician he made no changes to the system.  The rich continued to get richer until the poor rebelled.  It was no wonder that the Communist Party succeeded in China – yet, the cycle is repeating.

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Chinese Painting Exhibition

Yesterday my friend Helen took me to the Australian Chinese Painting Society members’ exhibition in Meadowbank.  There you see beginners’ work (some elaborately mounted and framed) alongside those of award winning artists (including some hastily and simply presented).  I was impressed by the democracy of this non selective exhibition and therefore will not reveal their names or point out their levels of expertise.

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There is a Chinese saying, 人靠衣裝,佛靠金裝 – ‘a man needs clothes to present him, even the Buddha needs gold to frame him’ (the latter refers to the tradition of devotees putting gold leaves on the statues of Buddha). Presentation can change perception.

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The top two on the right are Helen’s work.  She had four paintings in the exhibition.

The rest of the exhibition includes works of masters and amateurs – can you tell them apart?  :)

 

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Session 16 and Students’ Exhibition – Chinese Calligraphy for Beginners

After a party and no work done at Session 16, students’ work were hung in the Willoughby Council’s lobby where they will be on display for a month.

The students all brought food and had a party instead of a class on the last day of term:

 

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I have retired from teaching Chinese Calligraphy.  I wish all my students success in their future endeavours.

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Update on Fig Cuttings

Five months after stabbing some cuttings of the White Adriatic into pots, I have trees:

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Today I put them out into the sun; well, as much sun as my jacaranda tree would allow them.  The Blue Provence, Brown Turkey, Black Genoa and St Dominic de Violette were equally successful.  Some grew roots while sitting in plastic bags.  I gave some away and having no room for more fig trees, will find new homes for the rest.

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Street Flowers, Cut Flowers

Last Saturday I visited our local market and admired the flower stall  but walking home I found street flowers more attractive.

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Kangaroo Paws – why would anyone want to impose such a creepy image on them?

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Kangaroo Paws – the gold version

They look less creepy when they are in flower :)

I think street flowers look prettier than cut flowers:

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Moon (Mid-Autumn) Festival中秋節

I don’t keep a Chinese lunar calendar but tonight my brother wrote from Beijing that they can’t see the moon for the pollution and wished me better luck.  It is my good fortune that I can see the moon; the forecast is for a cloudy night but the sky was clear as I looked up and there it was, bright and clear.  So for my brother and everyone else who can’t see the moon tonight – here it is from Sydney, Australia.

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The mid-autumn festival is a time for harvest and thanks-giving for the Chinese and traditionally the family would gather and celebrate.  When one is alone one can still look at the moon and know that loved ones are seeing the same moon, unless they live in Beijing.

Happy Moon Festival!

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Copy Cat in the Garden

I’d threatened to copy Derrick‘s design of a gardening trolley and today I did.  Not being as handy as he, my version is rather primitive in comparison, smaller and let’s just say inferior.  Whereas he used a large IKEA metal trolley, mine is a mini version; a fold up affair meant for dragging a cabin bag around.  Still, it works!  Thank you, Derrick, for the idea ( or should I thank Jackie?)

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I like it so much I am posting more pictures of it below :)

 

 

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Hanging Around Part 2

I have at least three calligraphy students older than me, each of them talented and artistic. I have been encouraging one of them to exhibit her oil paintings (she is self taught) but she is reluctant as she has been doing it for her own enjoyment only. One day she brought in a few pieces to share with the class and we were staggered by the quality of her work. I am reblogging this post by Derrick to motivate her :)

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CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE. REPEAT IF REQUIRED.

For once I have not featured my archive material on a rainy day post, for I had yesterday’s images from Margery’s exhibition that I had not had time to upload last night.

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As will be seen from this front page of the promotional leaflet, ‘Hanging Around’ is a prelude to an important exhibition next spring.

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I featured a photographic portrait of the artist in ‘Hanging Around Part 1’. The leaflet contains a pen picture.

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Here are visiting details for those fortunate enough to be within striking distance.

With work going on around me, I photographed a few of the works at random.

Handmade books

It is only three or four years ago that my sister, Liz Keenan, taught Margery to create handmade books, and she has brought her own stamp to them.

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The wonkiness of these images is nothing to do with the hangers, but…

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RAPSODY IN BLUE

This gallery contains 7 photos.

Originally posted on agoyvaerts:
These are some of the images of my life in the past year, and I chose the colour blue because that seems to have figured a lot in my life the last twelve months. While choosing the…

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Session 15 Chinese Calligraphy for Beginners

I am happy to report that every one of my students turned up on the due date with their artwork.  I must admit to being nervous that someone may, for one reason or another fail to show.

After all the oohs and aaas, each student was given a frame to mount their work.  These are the cheapest frames that MOSAIC could find, more suitable for business registrations than calligraphy but we were grateful to have a wall to hang our work for a month.  Between now and the exhibition opening I must type up each of their ‘blurbs’ on cards that will accompany their work.

Two chose to write the Tang Dynasty poem that was our term project:

Four decided to write one line each:

One chose three  characters and two took two each:

…and one student bravely wrote one large character:

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I congratulate all the students, particularly the three who joined the class in week 9.  Well done, all.   We will celebrate next week, our last session.

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Spring is Here

September 1 is the official first day of spring in Sydney  and I see evidence of the season in my garden, in my neighbourhood and at the nurseries on Fathers’ Day with Ben and Ang:

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“Banana Split” in my garden

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Chinese Fans

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Local street corner

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Four Seasons Nursery

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Ang straightening the proteas that fell over

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Kangaroo Paws

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Bond’s Nursery is more like an emporium inside

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Thanks for another nice day, A&B.

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Sessions 13 & 14 Chinese Calligraphy for Beginners

I was absent from class in Session 13 due to a bad back and the student proved me right in believing that it’s time to retire.  They did brilliantly without me :)  T, the most senior student was a capable deputy and lead them well with an exemplary esprit de corp.  When I arrived in class last Tuesday most of the class had completed their work for the exhibition and even the ‘blurb’ that I asked for.

Some students are still keen to improve further so we spent some time studying the constructions of various strokes that they find difficult to achieve.  I hope I was able to help them ‘read’ each stroke so that they can discern the correct approach to execute appropriate variations.  Once students are confident in handling the brush, it’s a matter of using their eyes to inform their hands when copying from the masters.

Copying is a humbling experience that not everyone can condescend to readily, especially for adult learners.  It requires a humility that accepts ones limitations and acknowledges that there is much to learn.  It trains one to see with a beginner’s eye, and the discovery of the richness of the old masters is the reward.

The final submission for the exhibition is due tomorrow.  I am sure that no one will let the team down.

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Students’ work Tuesday 30 August 16

 

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