Daily Archives: 10 October 2009

Wa modern

As the Japan Foundation web site says:

Wa Modern is a blend of cherished traditional Japanese crafts (floral arrangement, ceramics and calligraphy) presented as one. For a limited time only from 9–16 October, floral artist Setsuko Yanagisawa, ceramist Malcolm Greenwood and calligraphy artist Ren Yano come together in their first mixed media collaboration at the Japan Foundation Gallery.

We trotted off to Chifley Square this afternoon. Really, it’s a brilliant exhibition, and exactly as advertised the three crafts speak to each other and with each other in wonderful harmony. The flower arrangements are based in ikebana and use Australian plants. The pottery could have been created for these arrangements. The calligraphy, to my completely uneducated eye, seemed to have taken liberties with tradition, to be looser, more relaxed, more – possibly – Australianish.

As we were leaving the young woman at the front desk asked if I’d taken any photos, and when I said I hadn’t told me I should come back with a camera. So I whipped out my phone for a couple of parting snaps.

Some dramatic waratahs:


A big arrangement. You can’t really see it in the photo, but those poppies appear to be standing in a shallow pool of water on the shell-like pottery dish, defying gravity. Looking closer, one sees that the poppy stems are actually supported by being pierced by thorns on the branch that lies across the dish


The exhibition is open all week. I recommend it.

Small talk

I’ve mentioned before here that I like to read while walking around my suburb – actually, while walking round whatever suburb, or urbs, I happen to be in. One of the incidental pleasures of this practice is the micro-conversations it engenders.

The most common opening gambit is, ‘Must be a good book.’ Sometimes there’s an edge of reprimand in this, as in, ‘It would have to be a bloody good book to make me – or any normal person – read it like that.’ Other times, it’s quite benign: if Bob Thiele and George Weiss were right that friends shaking hands saying, ‘How do you do,’ are really saying ‘I love you,’ then people making this comment are really saying, ‘I notice you’re doing something unusual/making the environment slightly more interesting.’

The other common remark, though it trails a long way behind the first, is, ‘Careful you don’t walk into a post/tree/branch.’

I try to respond with something friendly and amusing, an equivalent of ‘Thank you for commenting’. My fallback is something like, ‘Have to get the reading done some time.’

A very few people scope out the book as we approach each other and make a book-specific comment: ‘Is that any good? I’ve had it beside my bed for a while.’  ‘Has he done that well?’ ‘You must be an academic, reading Heat.’

Yesterday, a friend coming up Booth Street laughed when she saw me, and said, by way of explaining her laughter: ‘You look so ancient. So untechnological.’ I had no comeback.