Wednesday, September 5, 2012


Source: Duchess Kate blog
The Jubilee royal tour of South-East Asia by Prince William and Kate begins in a few days.  They will visit Singapore, Malaysia and the Solomon Islands.
And in an exciting news flash, on 19th September they will return home after a Change of Planes in Brisbane!!
Will we see them?
Will it be in the middle of the night?
Officialdom is tight-lipped right now ...

Perhaps they'll have time to pop into our local Gallery of Modern Art -

Currently showing: Sculpture is Everything: Contemporary Works from the Collection.

Photo by Red Cardinal
This is fun.  By New Zealand artist Michael Parekowhai, and entitled The Horn of Africa [2006]
Here a New Zealand fur seal balances a grand piano on its nose.
With a bit of imagination, we can see the shapes represent the North and South Islands of New Zealand.
The more densely populated north, cultural and political centre, top heavy, represents civilisation.
The rugged sparsely populated south, with its fabulous wild lakes, mountains, fiords, is evoked by a fur seal, native to the area.
The piano stands for European colonials as the purveyors of high culture and moral standards.  The title comes from a NZ novel in the 1920s by J Marden about a lonely, educated English woman in a tiny settlement by the Onanatea River, NZ, and refers to the original prehistoric humanity coming out of East Africa and spreading throughout the world.
Remember the Jane Campion film The Piano?
It references some of these ideas, although it has not been acknowedged as inspired by the novel.

Photo: Red Cardinal

I first discovered the Indian artist Sonabai about ten years ago, and was immediately charmed by her folkloric, tribal art form, entirely her own.
Born around 1930 in a Central Indian village, she grew up in a large happy family, but had no artistic training.
In 1953, shortly after giving birth to a son, she was locked away by her jealous husband for the next fifteen years!
She cooked and cleaned for them, but could not leave her home.

She had no toys for her boy, so she dug clay from her well and made little clay figures for him - horses, birds, monkeys, and so on. 
It was unbearably hot in the house, and she found a way to cool it down.
She shaved strips from leftover bamboo poles, curled them into circles, tied them together into a form of lattice, hung them between columns of her internal courtyard, then covered it with a layer of clay.  This cast shadows and caught the wind.  Next she added clay figures to the lattice - birds, snakes, little human figures.  With no option to buy colours, she experimented in her kitchen with spices and herbs, making her own pigments.  Eventually she transformed her entire house with her own unique art form.

In 1968 for reasons unexplained, she was freed from her isolation, and rejoined village life.  She continued with her joyous art practice, and others came to learn.  In the 1980s Sonabai was discovered by the outside world, art curators, and the Indian Government.  She received Government grants to teach, her art was collected by various Art Museums, and she and her son even travelled to the USA to demonstrate her art. 
Sonabai died in 2007, and we are lucky our gallery owns this whimsical and happy piece in our collection.

The only domestic artistic production in the Cardinal nest
has been my floral pants - just in time for Spring!

Hope your week is going Springingly!



  1. Lovely and interesting art! I didn't realize how much I like forals until one day I noticed I have lots of forals around my apartment, including an 8' by 10' area rug.

    Hope the royals get off the plane to stretch their legs. Let us know.

    1. Love a floral rug Debra! I have been avoiding wearing the floral for years on the basis they can look matronly. But am ready to embrace the new prints this Spring.

  2. Such an fascinating and poignant story about Sonabai. Thank you for sharing that with us. Just illustrates the lengths women will go to find the beauty in life. I will keep my fingers crossed that you can catch a glimpse of Will and Kate when they pass through your city!!

    1. I love Sonabai's story - as women we can relate to her solution and salute the artistic spirit which will find a way!

  3. Love your new pants - very clever. That Seal with the Piano is fabulous. And thanks for the story on the Indian artist, Sonabai - we forget how lucky we are as women to live where we do. I was living a life of freedom in the US, while this woman was locked away and her culture just accepted this as her husband's right. But then, as to cultural differences, I can't imagine having royalty. We have our movie stars, but they change all the time. If they don't behave, they don't get hired and don't get paid. Poor Lindsay Lohan is a very talented actress, but can't pay her bills.

    1. Thanks Beryl, I'm pleased with the pants. Cultural differences enrich our lives, but poor Sonabai! I wonder if the art would have emerged if this had not happened to her. We like to watch the movie stars too - Australians are great magazine readers. I saw a pic this week of Lindsay Lohan as Liz Taylor dressed for her wedding to Richard Burton. I remember that well - do you? I thought Liz was gorgeous in yellow with flowers in her hair.

    2. Was that her first time or second? In the days before colored contact lenses, she had those amazing violet eyes. And Maureen O'Hara with her emerald green - another thing my children don't understand. Now a star can change anything.

    3. Ah that would be the first wedding to Richard when Liz was young (32?) and I do remember the amazing violet eyes. And Maureen O'hara too. Old star glamour!

  4. That was a fascinating story about Sonabai,what a resilient, resourceful and creative lady. I think you and FF should be told exactly when the royal Couple will land in Brisbane!

    1. Right on Sulky - special notifications should be issued!