Category Archives: Books

The Price of Affluenza

My local thrift stores often have book gems that I snap up immediately. One such book was Eckhart Tolle’s “A New Earth”, highly recommended reading.

I love my serendipitous trips to these thrift stores. I like to think of it as the Universe providing knowledge and information for me in a timely manner.

Another book surfaced last week, “Affluenza” by Clive Hamilton and Richard Denniss. I’ve only just begun to delve into this book, and already something has jumped out at me.

Here is an excerpt from the book:

“Nineteenth century economists predicted that the abundance made possible by technological advance and the modern organisation of work would result in the emergence of “post-materialist” humans – people existing on a higher plane, where their cultural, intellectual and spiritual powers are refined. In such a world the importance of economic considerations would naturally diminish. The 1960s and 1970s saw a flood of literature predicting a future in which technological progress would allow for us to work only a few hours a week and our main problem would be how best to enjoy our leisure. Futurists saw a future transformed by the fruits of sustaimed growth – a society in which humankind, freed of the chore of making a living, would devote itself to activities that are truly fulfilling. But, instead of witnessing the end of economics, we live in a time when economics and its concerns are more dominant than ever before. Instead of our growing wealth freeing us of our materialist preoccupations, it seems to have had the opposite effect. People in affluent countries are now even more obsessed with money and material acquisition, and the richer they are the more this seems to be the case”.

This book was written in 2005, even before the iPhone was a twinkle in Steve Jobs’ eye. And yet how relevant and accurate the statement above is today.

It seems to be the case of “The more we have, the more we want”. Today’s generation seems unable to appreciate what they already have, they always want the latest, the most expensive, the best. And they generally put themselves out to get it at all cost. Then they sit back and enjoy their latest toy…Until the next one comes along less than a year later. Then it’s a mad scramble all over again, to get THE latest toy.

When will it stop? In case the above was too lengthy to visualise, here is a simple analogy:

A city starts out as a village, which becomes a town, that grows and grows as it attracts more and more industry and with it, people. Its lanes soon turn into roads. Roads turn into highways. As more and more people drive cars, these highways get congested. So the city council decree that they need to widen the highways, from 4 lanes to 8. They say that will ease the congestion and make driving more pleasant and convenient. And so 4 lane highways become 8 lane superhighways. But what do you think happens next? Yes, now there are even More cars on the road, more people buying cars and driving, and the congestion builds up again.

“Build it, and they will come”…that saying has never been truer when reflected on today’s society. Perhaps the economists of the 19th century were correct in theory, apart for one oversight: that humans are not mature enough to make that ideal scenario a reality. We are still very much like children, squealing with delight at the latest shiny gadget and toy, we simply Have to have it, and because we’ve indulged, we’ve fed the industry that creates such shiny gadgets and toys, so they in turn create more and more for us. Then, when we find our money depleted, we shrug and simply find ways to get more money. To buy more stuff. And so it goes on.

When will we grow up? “Poor” countries don’t suffer as much from Affluenza as “Developed” countries. They literally can’t afford to be. They’re more concerned with putting food on the table for their families, staving off starvation, staying alive when wars break out. Affluenza is a disease of the haves, the wannabe-haves and the desperate have-nots.

Perhaps it’s time to step off the treadmill.
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Eckhart Tolle Quotes

I’ve just finished reading my first Eckhart Tolle book “A New Earth – Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose“. Wow. Mind. Blown. I’ve sent off for more of his books. If you’ve never read Tolle before, I highly recommend All his work – books, CDs, DVDs, there’s even a deck of cards you can get.

Here, to summarise Eckhart Tolle’s teachings and principles, are my favourite quotes couched in visual art by various artists, taken from Google Images. All credits to the original artists.

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More Serendipity

I’ll be honest with you. I’m the least spiritual person I know. Now I realise that Spirituality and Religiousness are two different things, but I didn’t when I was younger. Many, many years ago, I thought I’d found Religion…but in actual fact what I’d found was the camaraderie that comes from belonging to a group. In my case it was the Youth Choir of our local church. I was more or less roped into it because I could play the piano.

It was fun, especially once the group discovered that I had a talent for scoring the more modern hymns and songs for multiple voices and parts. Suddenly the Youth Choir became a mellifluous, full-fledged SATB and then some choral sensation.

But whilst I enjoyed the musical aspect of that, the Spiritual or Religious side never struck me. And after a couple of years (I was still a teenager then), the group split up to get married or go into further education.

Between then and today, I’ve mildly dabbled in Tarot reading. Only because I was interested in esoteric origins of the Rider-Waite cards. I doubt I was any good at actually reading the cards.

Lately, however, I have been picking up on all sorts of signs and signals thrown out by the Universe. It may be that the Universe has always been throwing signs and signals my way, but I just wasn’t picking up on them, or if I was, perhaps I had not a clue what to make of them. The Key to deciphering the Message was missing.

2014 has been a year of Epiphanies for me. Perhaps it was my husband’s online infidelity with a mutual “friend” on Facebook that sparked it off in me. (They both make electronic music on their computers and although she is in America and hubby is in Australia, they managed to “collaborate” on much more than just Music, as I discovered. Even the fact that she’s old enough to be his mother didn’t stop them). Perhaps I needed that rude awakening to shake me out of my stupor, to sit up and start making sense of what the Universe was trying to tell me.

Those who know me know that I like to speak in metaphors and analogies. I guess that’s one way of distancing myself from the situation, to be able to stand back and view it from different angles. I have written about my husband’s affair and the aftermath of my finding out about it, in various ways right here on my blog. You only need to know where to look.

But anyway, back to my topic for today…

While discussing the height of someone’s heels on Facebook the other day, a friend brought up the subject of bound feet. Now, my own Paternal Grandmother had had bound feet – she could only hobble, and they exuded a sickly sweet odor whenever she removed her “lotus” shoes. My Maternal Grandmother, on the other hand, had fought the custom and defiantly removed her bindings at every opportunity she had…until eventually her family gave up on her. They said she would be cursed to live the life of a poor farmer’s wife, standing in the paddy fields all day with her big, ugly flat feet. Instead, Grandma became a teacher, and then the Principal of a Chinese School in Malaysia, bore 8 children and was the main breadwinner of the family.

There is an excellent book on the culture of foot binding, called “Splendid Slippers” by Beverley Jackson, if you are interested.

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So, onwards to Serendipitious Event No.1. The very next day after that discussion about foot binding on Facebook, I was in my local thrift shop when what should I come across but a reproduction pair of “Lotus shoes” in a glass case. Now, years ago I’d had a similar set of such shoes in red, which I’d brought home as a souvenir from a trip to Malacca in Malaysia. That had not survived 2 years of storage in damp Ireland, the shoes were mouldy by the time they arrived in Australia, and the glass case was broken.

But here was a pair of shoes in blue, in perfect condition. The only flaw was a split in the balsa wood base of the glass case.

If my finding this the very next day after talking about the exact same subject was not a sign from the Universe, then I must be blind.

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Serendipitious Event No.2. On Facebook, again, I’d been trying to convince people that Money is a an invention that we don’t need. Remove the whole concept of Money and its implications…and Civilization would simply carry on exactly the same. The only flaw in this plan lies with human nature itself – people are greedy, lazy and egoistic. Those qualities will prevent humans from embracing a moneyless society. There will always be someone who wants more, or who needs to hoard “for a rainy day”, who thinks he or she should grab as many items as they can and make a profit by selling them, or who decides to just be lazy and let everyone else do all the work. And there are those who believe they should be in charge and hold the purse strings, so to speak.

Anyway, a couple of years ago I’d read Stephenie Meyer’s book The Host, about a world where aliens had taken over most of humanity by latching on to their brains and sending the human’s sentience to permanent sleep. Only a few rebel humans were left that continued to defy the aliens’ plan for total domination. Mind you, these aliens were not bad, they were simply intelligent beings from a more advanced world, that believed in everyone being united in thought and deed, where everyone helped each other and worked towards the common good. They certainly did not suffer from greed, laziness or egoistical tendencies.

The aliens had a moneyless system which worked beautifully. If you were hungry, take what you need. Just remember to make a note of it so the restaurant/cafe/truck stop etc can order more in. If you need fuel for your car, again take what you need.
The station will simply make a tally for refueling purposes. Ditto medicines, consumables, clothes.

I love the whole concept and just wish the producers would have thought to factor that into the film “The Host” when they made it. Alas, the idea never made the crossover from book to film.

A couple of days ago I was searching for “The Host” in one of my local thrift shops…but they didn’t have it. Something made me go back to that shop today. And what do you know, there it was on the shelf.

Another sign from the Universe? You bet!

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ISSUU – First impressions

I’ve heard about ISSUU from reading other magazines and brochures published using their platform. My most recent encounter was in the form of UPPERCASE magazine (of which later). I got my grubby hands on a hard copy of Issue 21 of UPPERCASE just the other day, and the quality of the paper and layout are superb. Sure it’s rather pricey, but UPPERCASE is, like most ISSUU magazines, an independent production and has a small (but growing) subscription.

So impressed have I been by this that I’m now contemplating publishing my own magazine on mobile photography art. I haven’t figured out the technicalities of doing this yet, but that’s another story.

From ISSUU’s website http://www.issuu.com

Rediscover reading
With over 15 million publications, Issuu is the fastest growing digital publishing platform in the world. Millions of avid readers come here every day to read the free publications created by enthusiastic publishers from all over the globe with topics in fashion, lifestyle, art, sports and global affairs to mention a few. And that’s not all. We’ve also got a prominent range of independent publishers utilizing the Issuu network to reach new fans every day.

Created by a bunch of geeks with an undying love for the publishing industry, Issuu has grown to become one of the biggest publishing networks in the industry. It’s an archive, library and newsstand all gathered in one reading experience.

The statistics:
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Signing up was easy. I chose to do it via my email address, but you can also sign in using Google+, Facebook or LinkedIn.

The user interface is very similar to that of Pinterest and Flipboard. You start out by selecting a few publications to follow. Then you can save your favourites to “Stacks”. Magazines can be read online for FREE, but you can also buy hard copies from good newsagents worldwide.

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As you can tell from the photo above, I could start my own magazine online straightaway. But I won’t right now…instead I’ll check out some of the publications and assess them for quality of print and clarity of images.

My first magazine is the Maxwell & Williams “Joie de Vivre” 2014 catalogue. (I ♥ Maxwell & Williams teacups. My birthday is on 1st July. Just sayin’). With all ISSUU online publications, you can enlarge the pages to zoom in on text and images. Depending on how each publication was set up, the quality of enlargement may vary. (UPPERCASE wouldn’t zoom in enough for me to read the text clearly, which is why I had to resort to buying a hard copy).

Here are some screenshots from the Maxwell & Williams catalogue. (I have the red teacup and saucer already, ahem!)

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And here are some screenshots of UPPERCASE magazine issue no.21. You can see how the text is blurry and pixellated upon zooming in.

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That said, so far, the quality of ISSUU’s publications has been on the whole impressive. I can see myself getting lost in a world of fresh magazines. Have I said you can read them online for Free? I haven’t started any “Stacks” yet, but when I do, and when I start investigating how to publish my own magazine, I shall write and let you know, of course.

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Cupcake Fever!

Um…yes. I confess I do have a predilection for yummy, scrummy cupcakes. For me, the perfect cupcake is moist, with an open texture, and releases a subtle waft of vanilla with each bite. The frosting has got to be buttery and just so, not too sweet, and the icing sugar has to be perfectly dissolved so you don’t actually feel your teeth bite into sugar. A few years ago, I developed an obsession with cupcakes, and now I’m still trying to get my waist back. They say too much cake isn’t good for you, and oh I do agree wholeheartedly, but sometimes I just can’t resist those wonderful swirls of butter frosting with silvery sprinkles on top, and the luscious chocolate taste, or even the beautiful little boxes they sometimes come in.

One thing I am fussy about, I like my cupcakes to be made from all natural ingredients, if possible. Vanilla extract, please, not vanilla essence or vanilla flavouring. And NO food colouring, please, if possible. Oh, I’ve nothing against brightly coloured cupcakes, they look gorgeous, but a couple of years ago my cousin brought some gluten-free, sugar-free, additive-free cupcakes to a family gathering, ostensibly for the kids…I tried a bite of one, and it was quite possibly the most taste-free cupcake I’ve ever tried. Not to mention the kids were running around with blue and green tongues all night.

In the midst of my cupcake obsession, I accumulated several books on the subject. You can get them on Amazon or through your local bookstore, I haven’t any esoteric, antique books that contain the Holy Grail of Cupcake recipes. Each book listed below contains one or a few of my favourite recipes, that I’ve tried. A friend asked me a while back why I stopped making cupcakes, and I said to her “Have you seen my face?  When you look up at the night sky and see the Moon, think of me”. Remember also, these books are much more than a collection of recipes for making cupcakes; included are also tips on baking, equipment, ingredients, recipes for cookies, cakes, pies, etc.

Anyway, here are my favourite recipe books from my collection:

The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook, by Tarek Malouf.  I actually bought this book from the bakery itself, or should I say, the cake shop in romantic Notting Hill, London.  The Hummingbird has several branches all over London.  My favourite cupcake? The Lavender cupcake. http://www.amazon.com/Hummingbird-Bakery-Cookbook-Tarek-Malouf-ebook/dp/B00J75NDN0/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1398603743&sr=8-1&keywords=the+hummingbird+bakery

Baking Magic, by Kate Shirazi with Susannah Blake. I haven’t tried any other recipes within this, apart from the Chocolate Guinness Cake recipe, which I modified and used for making cupcakes.  And which, IMHO, alone is worth the price of the book.  I have made this Chocolate Guinness cake many times over, and always get rave reviews. http://www.amazon.com/Baking-Magic-Series/dp/186205889X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1398604014&sr=8-1&keywords=Baking+Magic+Kate+Shirazi  

Eat Me! The Stupendous, Self-Raising World of Cupcakes & Bakes According to Cookie Girl. Quite a mouthful, but so yummy! Part memoir, part cookbook, written  by Xanthe Milton aka Cookie Girl. Photos are vintage-y and Cookie Girl looks Nigella Lawson-esque in a sexy, buxom way. My favourite? Lemon meringue cupcakes.  http://www.amazon.com/Eat-Me-Stupendous-Self-Raising-According/dp/0091925118/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1398604682&sr=8-1&keywords=eat+me%21+cookie+girl

The Crabapple Bakery Cupcake Cookbook, by Jennifer Graham. This book has handy guidelines for equipment, ingredients etc and even an index on where to buy supplies. It’s Australian, by the way, so the directory at the back only shows Australian suppliers. I love the Church Picnic Carrot cupcakes best.  http://www.amazon.com/Crabapple-Bakery-Cupcake-Cookbook-Jennifer/dp/0143004948/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1398604826&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Crabapple+bakery 

Cupcakes from the Primrose Bakery, by Martha Swift and Lisa Thomas. I bought this for the sheer eye candy food photography. But I do like their Chocolate and Banana Cupcakes very much.  http://www.amazon.com/Cupcakes-Primrose-Bakery-Martha-Swift/dp/1906868085/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1398605199&sr=8-1&keywords=cupcakes+primrose+bakery

Of course, time has flown by and nowadays there’s a gazillion other cookbooks out there for you to choose from. I haven’t really looked on Amazon, recently, for fear of succumbing once again to Cupcake Fever. I’ll let you do that to yourself, lol.

Photos courtesy of Google.

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P/S: Cupcakes tie in very nicely with my vision of someday running a tea shop serving Mad Hatter Tea Parties! I have a feeling that I’d eat up all my profits, though…

Giving It All Away for Free

I was reading Issue 9 of Renegade Collective magazine just today, and one particular article struck a chord in me. The article was called “The Art of Stealing”, and it was about one Lukas Renlund’s project called “Steal My Photograph! (SMP)”. Essentially, it is an Art movement where Lukas hangs framed prints of his photography on a wall in the street, with the invitation to simply take what you like. It started in Copenhagen, where the Finn was living and working, but now Lukas has taken his project to Barcelona, London and Cape Town, and is now preparing for a global tour. Each “exhibition” is filmed by hidden cameras installed behind the photo frames to capture the art thieves in the act of stealing.

Here are the videos of the Copenhagen, London, Barcelona and Cape Town “exhibitions”. Copenhagen Oct 2012, Barcelona Aug 2013, London Oct 2013, Cape Town March 2014.

The premise of Lukas’ social experiment is simple – steal a framed photograph, hang it anywhere you like, take a photo of it and email it back to Lukas. I love the idea.

A similar concept was hatched by my favourite Assemblage artist, Michael deMeng, called “Art Abandonment“:

Art Abandonment is a group designed to encourage random acts of art, left in various locations around the globe. The idea is that folks can make something and leave it for a lucky unsuspecting person to find. Artists can then post locations and photos of abandoned goodies…and finders can let everyone know that they are the lucky finder! O’ sweet abandon! So leave some art. Leave a contact email for the finder…and if you get notified share the message with this group. If you prefer you can use the contact email: i.found.artwork@gmail.com we’ll be checking it often and share the results.

Here’s an intro page on Typepad for full explanation:http://michaeldemeng.typepad.com/art_abandonment/   

Have fun!

The Art Abandonment Project is now also a newly published book by Michael and Andrea Mateus de Meng, available on Amazon.  I’ve just sent off for my copy, which I will share with my friends and hope that they will join me on this…as I  intend to give away some of my Photographic Art for free.

Actually, I’d come up with a very similar idea last year, which I mentally called “Random Arts of Kindness” and involved me giving out free art at subway stations, with the instructions that the recipient takes a photo of the piece and emails it back to me. Then last December I resigned from my workplace, which meant I was no longer commuting to the Perth CBD every weekday, so the idea went on the back burner. I did toy with the idea of having a Flash Exhibition at the Rockingham Library…but then quailed at the logistics of transporting the pieces and hanging them up and then the whole event being the world’s shortest exhibition lasting under 5 minutes as a flashmob of varsity students stole my Art during their tea break and I never heard back from any of the recipients. But now, perhaps, as a member of Michael deMeng’s Art Abandonment Project, I might be more motivated to get my arse into gear and actually practise what I preach?!

 

 

 

If A Picture Paints A Thousand Words

…then these speak volumes. Literally.

Scroll down to the end to find out who this amazingly talented artist is. Astounding work!

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Artist: YUSUKE OONO
Medium: 360° laser-cut story books

Just Google “Yusuke Oono” for more website articles relating to his amazing talent! He’s an architect by trade, by the way.

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Artist Inspiration : SARAH GARDNER

I blame Sarah Gardner for leading me astray. There I was, minding my own business, post-processing my mobile camera images willy nilly and anyway I liked, until She came along and veered me along in a completely different direction. I’ve been meaning to thank her ever since for doing that, and so here we are today.

I had been toying with the idea of romanticising my flower photography, by adding texture, grunge and scratches to them to make them look vintage and antique. At the same time I’d been playing with the different layering methods in Photoshop Touch – multiple, screen, overlay, difference, add, subtract etc…albeit instinctively without really understanding what they meant. All I knew was that sometimes one or another filter worked better than others. Then along came Sarah Gardner and the blinkers came off.

I found Sarah’s book “Art Beyond The Lens” at Boffins Technical Bookshop in Perth one day, and was hooked immediately. I loved Sarah’s style, her delicate colour palette, the sheer romanticism of her imagery. Plus, she also described in detail how she achieved each image. Here then, were templates that I could actually follow with my rudimentary Photoshop skills, and/or apply to the mobile version, Photoshop Touch, on my Samsung Galaxy S4. Don’t forget to check out her tutorials also on her web pages!

Sarah Gardner is a hard act to follow…literally…she has not just one, but several sites and blogs, dedicated to different aspects of her work.  A busy girl, indeed :-)! I shall list them below for your ease of reference:

http://www.sarahgardnertextures.com

http://www.sarahgardnerphotography.com

http://sarahgardnerphotography.blogspot.com.au

http://www.flickr.com/photos/sgphotographyclient/

http://www.pinterest.com/sarahjgardner/

There’s a lot to take in from those sites, so I shall leave you with a few examples of Sarah’s beautiful images:

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Artist Inspiration – SIBELLA COURT

Sibella Court claims to be part Gypsy, part Pirate. I think she’s a magpie, a magnificent, multicoloured, majestic magpie (not your usual black and white one). A collector of ephemera with a keen eye for detail and the esoteric. A dealer of trinkets, a world traveller with unlimited baggage allowance. A glittering jewel in the crown of some long-ago fairytale Princess. A writer extraordinaire whose books bend genres and deserve a shelf of their own in bookstores.

Sibella has written numerous books on styling and collecting. It was her book “NOMAD” that first brought her to my attention. Here was something that wasn’t a travelogue, or a photo book, or an interior design book, or a history/geography book … but was somehow all rolled into one at the same time.  “NOMAD” had everything I dreamed a book could have – a compelling story, advice about collecting and displaying stuff, interesting pages made from different papers, stamping and old-style typography, nostalgic photographs…I loved “NOMAD” so much that I found Sibella’s other books on Amazon and bought another 3: “GYPSY“, “BOWERBIRD” and “ETCETERA“.  All gloriously, swooningly lavish in detail.

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Here is Sibella’s Biography, taken from her Amazon shop profile:

Sibella Court has had a 20-year international career as an interior stylist. She has been based in Sydney since 2008 after over ten years living and working in New York. In Australia she creates interiors for the Merivale Group and private clients, her most recent spaces including: El Loco, MsG’s, Palmer & Co., The Fish Shop and Mr Wong. She is the award-winning author of books, ‘Etcetera etc’, ‘The Stylist’s Guide to NYC’, ‘Nomad’ and ‘Bowerbird’. Sibella’s books are personal, functional & aesthetically beautiful reflections of her style and the way she sees the world. Sibella is the owner of shop, The Society inc. and product designer with a 110-colour paint range, nail polish, soap, candles and a hardware range. She spends her time exploring for inspiration across the globe in backstreets, markets & fairs discovering new artists, designers & products for her shop & commercial designs and holding workshops. After living in New York styling and concepting for the likes of Bergdorf Goodman, Jo Malone, Donna Karan, Gourmet, Bloomingdales, West Elm, Saks Fifth Avenue and Domino to name a few, she continues to collaborate on projects in the States and looks forward to opening a studio in New York soon selling her own wholesale product ranges range. Sibella works extensively with Anthropologie, travelling on their inspiration trips and designing product ranges for them. She regularly contributes to VogueLiving, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and InsideOut and has been involved with television shows, as a judge on Channel 9’s ‘HomeMADE’ and featured on Keith Johnson’s ‘Man Shops Globe’. Sibella is currently working on further books, ranges and an array of design projects including designing an island.

As the blurb above says, this marvellous maven is the proprietor of a shop that us mere mortals can only fantasise about – The Society Inc. Here Sibella’s dreams are encapsulated in reality, her many unusual finds from her travels around the globe delivered into the feverish hands of her customers. It is essentially a junk shop, filled with ephemera, all sorts of oddities and curiosities, souvenirs from travels to far flung places…oh, but what a glorious junk shop it is! It makes me want to jump on the next plane to Tibet/Spain/Morocco/Zanzibar/(insert bucket list destination here) and scour the souks and bazaars for those delicious little trinkets and keepsakes that remind us of the wonderful experience we’re having. But, being of very modest means, I have to contend myself with leafing through Sibella’s beautifully crafted books, dreaming her dreams, and living vicariously through her.

A Musing, or the New Renaissance

We live a digital age, where traditional methods and materials are fast becoming a rarity. These days, works of art can be created at the click of a button, literally. Masterpieces that would normally take years to achieve now only take days. Consumers want more, and they want it now, so technology is developed to oblige. Even 3D objects can be created within hours from concept to reality. I predict that within the next decade, we will have the technology, and it will be affordable technology, to have our own personal “Wardrobe Generator” in our homes… Imagine this:  you wake up, and you can’t decide what to wear. So you go to your touch-screen Utility Wall, and you search through a catalogue of hundreds of thousands of clothing designs. You find a design that you like, but the colour’s wrong for your mood. Also, the design repeats are too big, as the original design was for upholstery.  So, with the touch of a few buttons, you simply change the colour and size of the design, then transfer your choice to a template…today you’d like to wear a simple organic cotton top.  While your “Wardrobe Generator” is literally fabricating your top, you turn to your selections for pants and shoes. That done, while your clothes for the day are being created, you go into your kitchen where you create your own blend of coffee and have your morning toast done to perfection by a voice-controlled robot toaster. Meanwhile, your automatic robot cleaner is quietly cleaning your home from top to bottom, using its numerous multi-tasking attachments.  You read your “Personal Newscaster” informing you of news relevant to your social circles, as well as World News. You send off a few birthday greetings, buy some flowers for your Mother just because, synchronise your virtual diaries on your TabletFone and SmartWatch to remind you that you’re having dinner with some friends this weekend. Your clothes are now ready, so you slip into them, and on your way out the door, your smart refrigerator spits out a list of groceries to get, as you are running low on some things. It also reminds you that your local Starbucks is having a special on Double Froth Organic Cappuccinos today only. That evening, when you get home, you simply throw your clothes into the “Garment Recycler”, where it will be stripped of its dyes and accoutrements back to its basic components, ready for when you call for it again tomorrow.

A strange but logical twist from this high-tech scenario is a renaissance in artesanal products, where people are learning to treasure and appreciate stuff made the good old ways in the good old days. “Artisan”, “Artesanal”, “Handmade”, “Handpainted”, “Made the traditional way”, “Organic” now carries big price tags to match.  The easy availability of materials has led to many people taking up nearly-forgotten arts, or simply doing it themselves. For years now, people have been making their own cheeses at home.  Ditto wine and beer, ceramics, silversmithing, jewellery, leatherwork, etc etc etc. Back in the 1990s, when Artist Teddy Bears were all the rage, I was part of the scene, creating my own handmade teddy bears for collectors, using high-quality materials such as mohair, alpaca and designer fur fabrics, and traditional cotter-pin joints and glass eyes.  When MDF became de rigeur for home improvements, I became quite the Handy Annie, designing and making my own bedside cabinets and ornamental  boxes, which I then decoupaged or applied various paint finishes onto.

 

Perfumes can be made to order, if you have the finances available … most celebrities these days supplement their already burgeoning income by having fragrances created under their own brand.  And if you don’t have the financial clout of Jennifer Lopez or David and Victoria Beckham, there are perfume kits available for you to concoct your own fragrances…seriously. I have one myself that I bought from a perfume lab in Paris, France.  (Only, I can’t seem to lay my hands on it, I know it’s somewhere in the house…I have in the past used it to create my own bath salts and body scrubs). My favourite story re: perfumes is the one about how the actress Sarah Jessica Parker created her first fragrance, Lovely. http://www.amazon.com/Perfect-Scent-Inside-Perfume-Industry/dp/0312425775/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1390649732&sr=1-1&keywords=sarah+jessica+parker+LOVELY. The book is a great read, if you are interested in learning the inside story of how perfumes are created. In fact, I was so enamoured of this story that in October 2008, I took my young son, Jack to Paris, where we divided our time between constantly queueing up for 45 minutes at a time at Disneyland Paris for a 3 minute ride, and travelling on the train for 45 minutes from Disneyland into Paris for an entire day of perfume-hunting and window-shopping.

The Perfect Scent
The Perfect Scent

Right now I’m toying with the idea of taking up silk-screen printing. This used to be the traditional way that textiles and wallpaper were created.  It still is, but only just…as now of course we have Digital Printing. Much less mess, more accurate and predictable results, faster production, more cost effective after the initial outlay. My local Riot Art sells screen printing kits and inks, and it’s affordable enough, but the thing stopping me is this one fundamental point: I am not an artist who can draw or paint, beyond the basics. I remember reading the inspiring story of Blue Mountain Arts (Susan Polis Shutz and her husband Stephen) “Turning Dreams Into Reality” http://www.amazon.com/Blue-Mountain-Turning-Dreams-Reality/dp/0883966956, where they operated out of an open pickup truck and silk-screen printed Susan’s motivational poems and Stephen’s art onto greeting cards. Of course, Blue Mountain Arts, like many companies these days, has turned to e-greeting cards and digital printing, to keep up with the times.

Turning Dreams Into Reality
Turning Dreams Into Reality

While half the world is keeping up with technological advancements and all that entails, the other half is trying to “get back to our roots” and rediscover the good old days. These halves intersect, mingle, go separate ways, in an ever changing dynamic much like a murmuration of starlings. Such is the beauty of humankind.