A walk into the Divine Trees forest Qilan (Cilan), Yilan County, Taiwan
revealed an inner peace I had never felt before.
This photo is as I took it - in colour.
David and I went on this trek as we were staying at the hostel
at Mingchi (clear lake) higher up the mountainside. After driving up the mountain that morning we were picked up by a small van and driven back down the mountain, turned inward then drove a different track back up and into the forest proper. This was where we met our teacher and trekked through the forest for about two hours. Our teacher was distraught that we could not speak Mandarin and he no English ... we got on very well though and managed to allay his fears that it would all come to naught.
Stairways in and out of the forest.
David and I were with this couple and our teacher. Even though we could not understand mandarin we certainly got a feel for the love our teacher had for the forest and the Divine Trees. The lass here knew a spattering of English words but we got by with lots of "okay, okay" and "beautiful".
I felt very safe and at peace with myself in this place.
I am grateful for the experience as I have taken this feeling away with me
all the way to another island in the antipodes.
At each Divine Tree there was an information board.
Each tree is named after a prominent figure from Chinese history.
In this case an ancient Chinese writer Szuma Chien.
Divine Tree No. 5 is 2158 years old.
I cannot explain the feelings we both had walking with trees this old.
Underneath this umbrella which stands about a foot high is this:
What is it? I don't know.
A species of arum lilies, Penny says ... with another name "Jack in the Pulpit" ... I love it!
Here are three images from the one-day medieval illumination workshop on the weekend at Artbeat of Tasmania. Even though these are incomplete I was thrilled the participants got as far as they did in just the one day considering this is a workshop that should be much much longer. This first one is mine ... which I hope to finish tomorrow.
This is the sample I was working on
as the participants moved through the stages in their medieval illuminations.
David, Jun-Tien Chen & me at Da-You the ink-stick making house in the Sanchong District of New Taipei City.
This wooden ink-stick mould is one hundred years old. The wet ink lays in the mould until slightly hard then it is turned out to dry, turned every day until fully dry.
The two sides of the same stick.
Hanging ink-sticks drying.
Some of the stick I purchased.
This stick bears the hand print of the maker Chen, Jai-De
While on holiday in Taiwan last week I
visited the ink-stick house where a father and son team work to keep the
ink-stick making business alive. Jun-Tien
Chen the son, seen here with David and me operates the factory outlet
while his father Jia-De Chen strives to keep up with the demand of their main
clients on mainland China.
Taiwan is an island off the south east
coast of China proper, an hour and a half by plane from Hong Kong.The island is half the size of Tasmania and
holds a population equal to Australia, 24,000,000.
I was very fortunate to have made contact
Ongong Pan prior to my trip and as our hostess Ongong was very
generous, kind and giving. I asked her
if she knew of any ink-making places and so she had arranged with Jun-Tien for
us to meet. We had a great day together going
to the ink house, the Japanese “old house” and the art supply shops making good use of the MRT to get around.We have now forged a solid friendship.
The ink-stick house is in the Sanchong
District of New Taipei City. As we were weaving our way through narrow
alley-ways hosting all manner of produce and fare (and people) I could smell the
ink house Da-You well before we got there. It was that overpowering sensual
aroma of ink and Chinese herb.I wasn’t
surprised when Ongong said we were nearly there as it was already in my
nostrils … I soaked up the lovely smell … just as I do when I use my
Two of the sticks held a particular
interest to me. One, a short squat block cast from a wooden mould of over one
hundred years old.Here is the mould and
the stick showing both sides.The other was
a round stick which bore the hand print of the ink-maker Jia-De, the
father.All sticks carry the maker’s
name and are a rich black fine ink when ground, allowing for the finest of fine
Jun-Tien was delighted ... and I think a
little amused, that I was so keen
to know everything there was to know about his work.I was like the proverbial
child in a candy shop. I had decided to purchase some precious sticks from
Jun-Tien so I bought five and an interestingly carved ink-stone. Jun-Tien then very
generously gave me a few more for good measure.One of which is still drying!
Da-You is the last of
the traditional ink making houses in Taiwan … a sign of things to come perhaps.
Basketry with Adrienne Kneebone, Booking your Travel with Caren Florance, Botanical Masterclass with Leonie Norton, Calligraphy with Gemma Black, Clay- fast woodfiring with Ray Cavill, Clay - throwing with Janet DeBoos, Drawing the artists' engine room with Nikki Main, Etching with Tony Ameneiro, Wild Knitting with Loani Prior, Marquetry with Katalin Sallai, Metal Forging with Tracey Hopkirk, Painting with Victoria Peel,Weaving with Jenny Jackett & Woodwork with Phoebe Everill.
STURT WINTER SCHOOLCalligraphy
- small objects of desire
Mittagong and the Frensham campus are absolutely gorgeous in the winter.
The weather is always cold outside but very warm and cosy inside.
Open fires in the dining rooms, scones
and cream for morning teas, great in-class camaraderie,
lectures by Sturt Craft Workshop tutors and nights full of like-minded conversation.
1st-5th July 2013 Mittagong, NSW Australia
Create works that are
elegant and small with
an emphasis on very
fine flourished Italian Florentine
writing with pen and
ink along with very tiny
The calligraphic journey starts with our intention to make beautiful letters. We engage in
the discipline of mastering formal hands though we may lose the vitality and enthusiasm
in our work. As a point of departure we will start with a flourished Italic and move towards
creating dynamic lines of writing with teensy Roman capitals.
We will dare to move into
uncharted waters and explore ways to invigorate our love for letters. Specifically our
aim will be to gain mastery of our calligraphy and texts through small objects of desire.
Our small objects will be tiny broadsheets and miniature books with simple bindings.
There is a materials list available. Please visit the Sturt Contemporary Craft website for more information or please email me for the pdf flier.
This course is suitable for all levels of experience and I would love to see you!
In the first workshop of two days duration,
we explored how to analyse an historical prime specimen.
Script analysis can be a fascinating study which not only opens the mind to letter forms
but to language and history as well.
A simple single-section binding on the fly!
The class gathered their papers and created a simple bindings as a way of keeping a collection of their works.
Emphasis was placed on record keeping and note taking.
After a four day workshop exploring the classical Italic as our starting point, working with reducing and increasing the weight and in spirals,
there was a delightful display of works and journals with the aim of bringing some spark back into our calligraphy.
This is an in-class exercise where the participants receive an uncomplicated hand sewn booklet in which to create a journal specifically for the period of the workshop. They are encouraged to work in their own artist diaries and this is an ice breaker for those who can't bring themselves to start working in a beautifully bound journal.
They will also have the other option ... to bind all their trials and tribulation afterwards.
Some images of the recently created National Apology for Forced Adoption
delivered at Parliament House today March 21, 2013
A moving, emotional and yet satisfying event to be a part of.
These are my snaps only, hopefully there will be some professional images soon.
It was a great pleasure and an honour to meet privately with the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard this morning to speak with her in regards to this apology. I must say it has been a rather surreal day, one which will stay with me for many many years to come.
I am an Australian calligrapher. I revel in the pure essence of letter forms in all manner of creations such as illuminated addresses, awards, certificates and calligraphic & decorative artwork.
My work is housed in national and international collections including Parliament House, Canberra and the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, UK.
I have taught at international lettering arts conferences in the US and the UK as well as multi-disciplined art schools across the country.
Please email me for further information on workshops, classes or commissions.