Thursday, October 18, 2012

Further Reminiscences

Though there is much news on the 'art' front, it will have to wait till my next post. Because today I am feeling nostalgic about my Taiwan visit. There is a story I have not had an opportunity to share, and it is one of those experiences that when I am old and grey (okay, older and greyer), I will pull out and wrap myself in like a warm fuzzy blanket.

As if the whole magical TIQE experience weren't enough, there was a component that took it over the top. I mean, who wouldn't revel in a week of luxury hotel, fabulous meals, stunning artwork and being surrounded by the warmest, most caring people in an exotic locale? But there was one extra element that cinched it as a Top Ten in my memory bank. And that is the connection with the artists themselves. I grew up with two brothers, but I left Taiwan a member of an incredible new family - I have sisters!

I know Patricia Gould well from our many SAQA connections over the years, but it was wonderful to have time to share thoughts on computers and technology gadgets, with which she is a whiz. She introduced me to eWallet, and if you have trouble remembering all your usernames and passwords, it is a godsend. Always laughing, she was great fun to spend time with.

Though I had met Misik Kim from Korea last year in Houston and she is in my Viewpoints 9 group, I finally had a chance to get to know her better, and she is delightful. She is very much the embodiment of her artwork: calm and composed, graceful, with a depth that quietly commands respect and attention. Still waters run deep.

I had met Hsin-Chen Lin in Houston, and was charmed by her warmth and energy, but those same qualities were multiplied exponentially when I watched her in action in Tainan City. It took my breath away to witness her creations--and I don't just mean her stunning art quilts: landscapes filled with colour and movement, and all done BY HAND (her constant rejoinder to me as we strolled the exhibition and I oohed and ahhed over the breathtaking work). No, she organized an event so complex and flawless that I was
mesmerized.Every detail had been carefully planned, organized and executed - the visiting artists wanted for nothing (transportation, student kits, translators, workshops, meals, tours, gifts); the workshops ran like clockwork in a beautiful space, with bento box lunches and bubble tea provided midday; the seminar was superbly organized with all the equipment--mic's, remotes,

projector--working perfectly; the banquet was sumptuous and we were whisked to and from our hotel swiftly and efficiently. Her wonderful daughter Pei (who must feature in a blog post on her own) and sweet husband, Mr. Wu, played prominent roles in helping things run smoothly and making us all feel at home. And through it all, Hsin-Chen smiled, she laughed, and she put everyone at ease. The French have a name for women like her: formidable!
I could not believe my luck in finding Aussie Sue Dennis just a couple of

rooms down the hall from me. She, too, I had met at a SAQA conference in Athens and she is in my Viewpoints9 online group. We became fast friends, and if you've met her, you know why: her wicked sense of humour and frankness make you feel instantly like you've known her for years. I had the good fortune to sit in on her leaf-printing class and can see why she is a much sought-after instructor. There is never a dull minute with Sue and I hope to visit with her after my teaching gig in New Zealand (which is still two years off, but exciting to plan for).

My final reminiscence is about Jin Yuanshan (We called her Ms Jin as none

of the anglos could pronounce her first name properly!) Hsin-chen had shown me her stunning work in the exhibition before I met her, but when she showed up at the hotel, it felt as though we had been friends all our lives.

There was an instant connection with this very talented artist. Her impeccable attention to detail and precision was evident in her astonishing quilt made of floral medallions where each petal was made of hand-rolled silk organza. She astonished us all when she presented each of us with a brooch, a ring and matching earrings made using this technique. We think she must never sleep! I have many group photos where all the artists are proudly showing off our colourful jewelry. She showed both Sue and me how to roll the petals, and we managed one each - it would take many years for me to make enough to make one blossom!
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Tuesday, October 2, 2012


I'm a terrible blogger.  I admit it.  But look on the bright side: if you're a subscriber, I'm not annoying you with constant updates filling your Inbox.  So that's better: yes, I'm a Thoughtful Blogger.

I've been asked by several friends to please say more about my trip to Taiwan, even though it was more than a month ago and seems a dream. I have to say this: it was the experience of a lifetime.  The entire time I was there, I was spoiled rotten - truly -  treated like royalty.  I tell you, it was a rude shock to return home and be expected to cook dinner, scrub sinks, and go to work.

The Taiwan International Quilt Exhibition, as many of you know, is organized by Hsin-Chen Lin, and I have never attended a better-organized event in my life.  She thought of everything, and as one of the guest artists, I returned home with a suitcase full of memorabilia: a stunning exhibition catalogue - glossy, full-colour, with artist essays and everything meticulously categorized; even a sheet of postage stamps designed for the TIQE. In the photo to the right you will also see some beautiful Taiwanese fabric they gave us.  Too pretty to cut into, I'm afraid.
My very first evening, we went out for an amazing sushi dinner and I was given these beautiful mugs - the handles, when touching one another, are the symbol for "double happiness" often used in weddings, so for me they now represent my connection to Taiwan and I smile every time I look at them in my kitchen.  Usually washing dishes.  I guess I will have to start using Joy detergent.  haha

I cannot begin to imagine the months/years of preparation for this exhibition, and everything went so smoothly.  The exhibition itself took up two floors in the cultural centre (you can see a photo if you look at my previous post). We guest artists each taught two workshops - mine were portraits and landscapes.  Look what a beautiful job my students did with their landscapes (a la Group of Seven).

Here are the wonderful staff (with Hsin-chen and my fabulous translator, Sherry, in the middle) who helped to make sure everything ran smoothly.  You couldn't ask for a sweeter bunch of people.  Helpful, friendly, always smiling.  I wanted to bring them all home with me. Aren't they cute?

And group shots? Oh yes, I have several dozen.  I am sure some will make their way into this blog in time as certain memories come back.  This particular one was taken the day of the seminar where we all gave powerpoint presentations.  From L to R: Yuan Shuan Jin (China), me (Canada), Patricia Gould (USA), Misik Kim (Korea) and Sue Dennis (Australia). What a wonderful bunch of women and the fact that they're so talented too is quite sensational.  It was so much fun touring Tainan with them and enjoying all the whole experience!