22 May 2013

Return to the the Flying Teapot

You can find a page here, where I recorded a visit in 2006 by Ev and myself to the Flying Teapot in Ballan, west of Melbourne on the road to Ballarat.

Google maps said this week that the Flying Teapot was closed or moved. It could not, as you will discern from that link above, have moved. Helen and I went to see if it was open or not. It has been replaced, says the sign at the gate, by the drearily named (missing the point of the wondrous gardens) "Steptoe's Opshop".

We took more photos today, near dusk, without distraction by red hat ladies. There has been a bit of deterioration. It is to be hoped that it will be kept as close as possible to the original creative work... recognising that weather has produced some very interesting changes. Some embedded items have become more evident and the matrix around them has shrunk or faded, or their rust etc has travelled.

We saw more today with perhaps more time, also more because as we have more experience than I had in 2006 of mosaic work, our eyes saw more. And because our attention was not drawn to ladies in red hats and purple tights.

It remains a work of amazing imagination and originality, a thing of great beauty. Here 'tis as was today, a delight to behold and great stimulus to new work for us. Remember that you can see these photos enlarged as a collection by clicking on any one.

stop playing and get serious!

21 May 2013

Wisdom from ancient Afghanistan, and another entertainment in Melbourne.

We went today to an astonishingly beautiful exhibition of archaeological treasures from Afghanistan, at the Museum of Melbourne.

Objects displayed are astonishing, the curators also have done a very special job in presenting the items.

A funerary monument, believed to be a gift from a student of Aristotle, visiting al Khanoum, in Bactria (northern Afghanistan) about 2300 years ago, offers these thoughts:
As a child, learn good manners.
As a young man, learn to control your passions.
In middle age, be just.
In old age, give good advice.
Then die without regret. 
Alexander [the Great] of Macedon had invaded Bactria in 328BCE and married a Bactrian princess Roxane the following year. The exhibition shows a diversity of cultures present in this place at the centre of the Silk Road. A Greco-Bactrian kingdom, with extremely beautiful items from India also. And a Greco-Indian kingdom would emerge. We were not alone in being struck by these cultural objects. A Melbourne woman of Greek descent (Melbourne the third Greek city on the planet by number of speakers of the language) was clearly near to tears and shock: "I am Greek.. I come here and I find my culture here!?" Objects of gold and ivory, many Hindu, many erotic, were treasures of nomadic peoples: traders, nobles, marauders. But the Greek objects include pieces of great buildings, statuary, Corinthian column fragments, etc. Devastations and losses occurred not only in recent history, but over a vast period. There are ways to reach some parts of Bactria. North of the Afghan border, Soviet forces were fiercely attacked retreating through Bactria. The perils of withdrawal from Afghanistan loom again, this is an interesting essay. Lonely Planet has a nice history of the region.

It was a bright and shiny day, lots of children at the Museum too.

This exhibition was sufficiently startling and uplifting that we resolved that we did not need to go to the Monet exhibition in the time available—having seen Monet elsewhere, having looked at the labels of works linked from the main page on the Monet exhibition and mindful that the crowding of that exhibition (unless we paid $45 for early Wednesday) would diminish the experience. Clearly we have preference for things culturally more removed from our own.

On the way to the Museum in Bourke St, we came upon a particularly lovely busker. Somehow in processing to YouTube my little film has become a bit blurry. And evidence of my own blurriness at end of a walking day is that while I got the date right, it obviously felt like Friday, when only Tuesday :-)

09 May 2013

I've not been writing much here, but

There's been more out there in my 'suburban forest' blog (link in right column) but I confess I am doing more outside work than scribble about it. With physical and mental benefit!!

Notes from linkedin caused me to review my profile generally today (after all, three people have looked at in three months... Well, maybe a few more). The great puzzle I find is that people send me messages saying they would like to connect... but if I write to them ["Hello, thanks for asking me to connect, your profile is interesting, etc.. ] it seems usually they do not respond. What is this 'connect' ... or does someone imagine my name will help them in the world, or is it just raw numbers of connectednesses?

Which tends to bear out this fun item in The Guardian this week, asking "has every conversation in history been a series of meaningless bleeps?"  One commentator on that usefully sent me (and hopefully one or two other readers, who knows) to find George Orwell's four motives for writing. What Orwell seems to miss is the tendency of this species to burble on and on, or conversely, not. Though he might suggest that that is a dimension of propensity not motive. On the matter of whether there is point or not to things said (motive or propensity), the brown chook, the elder-chook – yes, this is sort of in the wrong blog, but it remains germane – spoke to me with evidnet concern when I took my breakfast outside this morning: to say, I took it, that the two white chooks, recent arrivals, had vanished. Or so I thought Mrs Brown to say, at length, over hours. And to the of us both relief, later in the day the elegant young Livornese Ladies wandered back in from up the street.

Also though, I had figured out by then that Mrs Brown was telling me not only that she was alone and had only me to Friend and Connect (see meaningless beeps, previous para, but see also this, also from The Guardian recently)... but also that the feed bin was empty. This I divined from inspection of the bin, not from our discourse.

Cross-cultural barriers lesson 1: attend to the facts, not your assumptions,

Cross-cultural barriers lesson 2: do not presume the number of facts is the number you suppose.


Last night the LinkedIn computer, perhaps after a party, had written to me to say:
From: LinkedIn
Subject: Dennis: Australian Aerospace Resources Pty Ltd, BAE Systems Australia and NGO Recruitment are looking for candidates like you.
That last one was for: Country Director - China - World Society for the Protection of Animals
The details (of course I went to look) mentioned animals once but then slipped gracefully into the human resources species-talk, beginning with this from The Book of Common Babble:
You will be responsible for the development and delivery of the business strategy in accordance with regional and international goals. As the spokesperson you will develop and nurture relations with stakeholders including government authorities, inter-governmental organisations, media and key society. 
... these below are my newly edited top-of-page self-promotional LinkMeUpScotty words, to see what new offers may come!

Beginning as you may know with Job Title, Company, Dates and Location, the sine qua nons of existence:

good company occasionally in head, on paper, on screen, on brain, on soul... on too many subjectsI have a novel half done, 50000+ words. It runs through my head but currently not to paper, many other things under way in life. 
The novel draws on life experience in locations, in Australia and China. It has social and political dimensions. 
It also derives from personal experience of trying to be a reformer who works to change systems from within, rather than by tearing down. An activity that can mean you get abused from both sides, from the entrenched and conservatives on one side and on the other from the protesters at the gate. In my novel I hope to describe the story of leaders in China in the 1980s in that difficult context. 
But also with a contemporary Australian connection... though month by month, like the female protagonist in my novel, I find much of 'contemporary Australia' disconcertingly unattractive, not only in prospective political leadership but also the determination it seems, of a swathe of the population, to abandon thoughtfulness and go for dumb whinging. 
See, whatever I do turns to writing.. or thoughtful dumb whinging?
Oh, here is something I wrote long ago, so many aspects of life seem to weave together so often: