chronicles of a bespoke, simple, adventurous life

Monthly Archives: October 2011

utter pure magical delight – thank you Janet Echelman

utter pure magical delight – thank you Janet Echelman

Floating high above a busy intersection in Sydney’s CBD is a piece of utter pure magical delight.

Tsunami 1.26 is created by the acclaimed american artist Janet Echelman, it is made from a form of netting and coloured by a shifting light show.  The inspiration for the work was the 1.26 microsecond shortening of the day that resulted from the earthquake’s redistribution of the Earth’s mass (yes, I too didn’t know that had happened).  It is one of the works in the Powerhouse Museum’s Love Lace exhibition and is also part of Art and About and will be floating till 23 October, 2011.  I first learnt about Janet from watching her talk at Ted, if you have time I highly recommend you check it out here.

I was compelled to capture its beauty.  So a couple of nights ago a friend and I waited till late and set off to take these photos.  And not just any photos. Thanks to my creative and talented mate Hayden Cook who is part of Newtown Flicks (NF) we were using a super duper camera (the kind that doesn’t fit in your pocket).  So a big thank you goes to NF for the lend of the equipment I would never have been able to capture 1.26′s magnificance otherwise.  And also to Hayden for his skill and expertise in taking the photos (I was pretty much the official camera bag holder, though I did take about ten frames and directed a few shots).  If your looking at the photos in a tad of disbelief, believe me when I say these photos have not been photoshopped or edited (outside of cropping).  The forms, the colours and the way it dissolves and then comes to life with the surrounding buildings is truly astonishing.

I have always been drawn to individuals who have carved their own way, who are not guided by normal conventions.  And who leverage setback and rejection into a masterpiece of their choosing.  Hence my love affair with Janet Echelman and her large scale floating sculptures. Read on…..

From her Ted talk I learnt that she applied to seven art schools on leaving college and was rejected by all of them.  All seven.  So she went off on her own and painted.  Later in India on a full bright scholarship with a painting exhibition deadline looming she had a wee problem, her paints hadn’t arrived.  So on the spot, right then and there she decided to try a new medium – Sculpture.  Inspired by the local village fisherman and their fishing nets she started what is now the creation of these beautiful net sculptures which grace cities around the world.

These delightful creations were born from necessity and shaped from the teachings of local craftspeople.  From the traditions of Indian fisherman and their nets to Lithuanian lace makers to America’s Cup sail makers, Janet is the quintessential collaborator.  She mentions numerous times that in the development of these sculptures they have not known how to do something, or the technology didn’t exist…….so they learnt, or created what they needed too to make it happen. They just did.  And look what they made……

The story of Janet’s creative career and the development of these sculptures is a source of great inspiration for me.  She has taken her imagination and pursued it with unrelenting focus and joy.  She has not needed approval from the usual conventional places we generally want it from before we feel qualified to say we are something ie: university, qualifications and training – “I was an unlikely person to be doing this.  I never studied sculpture, engineering or architecture”.

Janet Echelman is the ultimate alchemical hustler.  Her story inspires me to move forward and just create.  And do.  Do with utter determination.  And to remember what magic can be created in the heart of collaboration.

If you live in Sydney, I highly recommend you check out this work (on George St in front of the Townhall).

the glorious ritual of doing nothing

the glorious ritual of doing nothing

Today is the start of a week off.  The routine of work doesn’t get a look in for nine days.

To kick start proceedings I sat down with a trusted friend – my weekend papers along with a cup of earl grey tea (oh and a chocolate croissant. damn you incredible Argentinian family bakery for only being 2 minutes from my house).  Any who.  After the Monday to Friday routine of doing and being and talking and seeing, where time is your own but not, I love nothing more than to read the papers and stretch out like a fat cat in the sun with unguided, unrestricted time and reading material.  To me the act of carving out expansive time where nothing is required from you, where you do exactly as you want is the gentrified older statesmen of rebellion.  Some would see it as lazy and self indulgent, I see it as an essential medicinal pause in an otherwise action orientated, noise filled do do machine of a world.   Rebelliously pulling out of the slip stream of our constructed lives to just ‘be’.

It is a ritual which I have performed countlessly over the years and which brings much pleasure.  I enjoy and require a fair amount of cave time, time out from doing, talking, being and seeing.  Clocking off allows me to recharge and gives me the beans for another round of playing nicely with others.

The Italians have a saying “dolce far niente” – “the sweetness of doing nothing”.  And this is a personal religion to which I am a slavish devotee.  I have no aversion to action, to doing, to turning up to the world, but not 24/7.

We are surrounded by rituals, in religion, sports, societal rights of passage (ie: turning 21), business…..the list goes on.  I love the rituals we create for ourselves the ones we grow into which help us navigate the world and celebrate whats important.  The ones we share (or shared) with love ones that bind us together and give us a sense of belonging.

Im curious to hear about other peoples rituals……..created or inherited from family or friends that bring you joy and a deep connection.  That help you navigate your world.  Do share…..