Wednesday, September 29, 2010

"...kissin' Valentino by a crystal blue Italian stream..."

Another treat while in Brisbane was going to the Valentino exhibit. I'd seen the posters while I was in Sydney, noted it was at the Gallery of Modern Art, GoMA, in Brisbane and it was on until November. "Shame" I thought, I don't see myself going to Brisbane just for that, "but maybe, who knows". Who knew indeed, two days later I was booked to go assist at a yoga workshop with one of my gurus! I can highly recommend this exhibit. Here are some of my favourites: from left to right: #130 S/S 2003 Crimson Chiffon, Taffeta Roses, Pink & Grey; #184 S/S 2008 Pink Silk Voile; #184 F/W 1990 Dress:Pink Chiffon Shirred Skirt, scalloped top, embroidered, sequinned in Baccarat Crystal design. Wide Pink Satin Coat, padded lining in Baccarat Crystal motif, Beige/Pink/Fuchsia. An emerging Pink theme now?

I know it sounds really superficial, a display of dresses by a suave Italian designer spanning the last 40 years or so, using glorious flowing, feminine Italian silks, velvets, bead work. Worn by Hollywood starlets, royalty and Oscar winners. Covetted by many more, myself included, over the years, not a hope of owning such a gown or having an occasion for such a gown, inspiring none the less. I was so taken with the historical significance and beauty of the collection I couldn't wait to purchase the catalogue to serve as permanent inspiration. But they'd sold out in the first 2 weeks of the exhibit. Ah!!. Despite the fact that I would have really struggled to fit it in my bag, it was still a let down. I did find a copy of a Missoni book on sale and Christian Dior's Little Disctionary of Fashion and yes, they had a much better chance of fitting in my suitcase. My name was on the list, they'd call when more stock arrived...I walked home via the Go Between bridge again, inspired but a little unfulfilled (see my previous 'Brisbane' post). So cool that it was named after the band. They were influencing me musically in the 1990's while YSL did so with design, it was kind of a poetic moment...I'm getting ahead of myself though. I was reminded of times I'd seen Robert Forster and Grant McLennan (together and separately) play the Annandale hotel and Powderfinger supported one of them in their very early years and my friend sent love notes to Bernard Fanning during the gig! Too bad they are sold out in Cairns tonight.

So what's the story behind my excitement around the Valentino exhibition, apart from all the colour and movement? Well, twenty five years ago I visited a retrospective of Yves Saint Laurent at the Art Gallery of NSW in Sydney. I was a keen textiles student at high school and fortunate that was a good enough reason for my mum to indulge her own couture eye and take me to see it. Not only that, she bought me the catalogue, well it was in the name of education.
That exhibition left such a big impression on me, maybe it was too big and that's why I chose a different direction as I completed high school (I wonder what might have been with a formal education in textiles instead of psychology!). I still made my own clothes and a few formal outfits for my sisters. For most of my life I've had a growing collection of material, ribbons, buttons, old clothes ready to be recycled and have their adorable fabric recreated into something other than its original form. More recently my 'fabric corner' became my yarn stash and now they both share a room.

Then the YSL book disappeared. For over 10 years.

As a result of a couple of housemoves, including extended visits overseas I lost track of my YSL book. I thought maybe I'd lent it out or given it away when I went through a major book cull before going overseas. It wasn't until I visited the Valentino exhibit that I realised how much the YSL book meant to me and how much I missed it. A call to mum and a couple of days later, low and behold she'd found it! It had resurfaced recently would you believe, emerged out of the garage while being cleaned out. I was so delighted, especially when it arrived in the mail last week. Followed by the Valentino catalogue a few days later. GoMA came through. So there they are side by side on my 'inspiration' shelf. A couple of suave Italians and stylish Frenchmen. I almost want to get back into a fine cut black woollen suit...
And male designers on one side of the book shelf and female artists (Kahlo, Broardhurst, O'Keefe) at the other end, I've never noticed that. Interesting.

Now no holding your breath while I whip up some inspired creation with my trusty Janome and no doubt many trips to the local Spotlight with its seemingly improving selection. And what ever happened to really great fabric shops like Home Yardage (yup, never thought I'd say that back in 1988) and the Fabric Shop which completely captured the imagination and had comfortable stools and little pencils with slips of purpose-printed paper to jot down all the Vogue, McCalls and Butterick patterns you wanted to 'do something with'? Thank goodness there is still Tessutti to idulge the occasional tactile needs, its just not the same buying fabric online.

Actually it did turn out to be a 'manic' Monday and its taken me two days to realise.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

"Through the streets of your town"

Well not every day, but for the best part of a week I recently made my way through the streets of Brisbane town. It was an impromtu visit, on the back of a yoga workshop I attended in Sydney with one of my favourite yoga teachers, Judith Hanson Lasater. There was an opportunity to assist her when she presented the workshop again in Brisbane the week after, and in all of about err 3 seconds I'd decided I wanted to assist. Its just not that often you get to be near 'the source' for an extended period. This year seems to have become one adventure after another, so I just keep going with the flow and pleasantly so.

I made the phone calls you do when an opportunity like this presents itself, booked the flights and no sooner had I arrived to Cairns from Sydney, washed and repacked I was on a plain to Brisbane. It had been years since I'd visited, owing to the fact that, well it was Brisbane. I lived in Sydney, why on earth did I need to visit 'BrisVegas' unless I was on my way to see relatives or friends for weddings, funerals or trips to somewhere else near Brisbane? I was pleasantly surprised. Maybe its because, now that I live in Cairns Brisbane seems like a big, sophisticated city, or maybe its just because the city has undergone something of a cultural revolution in the last decade. I really don't mean that to sound disrepectful either, oh just keep reading...

I decided to adopt my 'London' approach, ie. land, run around the city as much as possible on public transport en route to where I was staying that evening, taking in as much as I could stand, until the shops shut, or I ran out of hands to carry my purchases along the way. I was deliberately travelling light, yoga mat, clothes and small case to facilitate easy of getting around, but with enough 'room' to pack any bits I bought. Well there went that idea pretty quickly. No sooner had I landed, found the train to Bowen Hills, bus to Newsmead and walk to Tangled Yarns, bumped into LynS (just arrived at the shop from Sydney!) and decided on purchases, I'd run out of hands! I really enjoyed visiting Tangled, such a lovely, bright shop, with plenty of captivating yarns to drool over.. Possibly why they serve tea and cake (Turkish Apple, Orange Poppy Seed respectively), or maybe they saw me coming and in need of sustenance after the trip.
Scores on the doors included Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece in Wild Orange to complete my mother's request for Fallen Leaves from Haiku Knits (I know, I've finally given in to mum's request for something in orange even with her very red hair, it will be a fun knit), a mixed bag of the Cascade 220 to play with (Plum, Turquoise, Mimosa), some Madeline Tosh Sock in a beautiful Oceania turquoise and an assortment of Brown Sheep Cotton Fine 4 ply (Raging Purple, Prosperous Plum & Caribbean Sea) to make at least one garment from Interweave Knits Summer/Spring 2009/10. Throw in a few magazines (Knitscene, Spin-Off) and satchets of Soak (well the bottles just wouldn't fit in my bag) and I was done, baked, as nicely at the cake. I needed a nap after that and a restorative yoga pose - Viparita Karani, or 'legs up the wall', perfect for travelling. It also dawned on me that a new theme colour had found its way into my knitting. Turqouise. I just keep finding myself drawn to it. It will never replace my purples, they are regally safe. Maybe it is living at the edge of the Great Barrier Reef, or the light.

Another little gem while visiting a yoga friend's home was this: An original copy of 'A Manual of Dyeing: for the Use of Practical Dyers, Manufacturers, Students, and All Interested in the Art of Dyeing. Volume 1' by Christopher Rawson, Richard Loewenthal Edmund Knecht (Paperback - Jan 1, 1893). The things you find on other people's book shelves!

A few days later I was at my cousins home with his wife and their adorable children. They were on the other side of the city so I didn't stay with them during the yoga workshop. What fun I had with them when I did get there though. Bonding with my 'cousin-in-law' at a preview of Camilla Franks' Kaftans and post show drinks on the river at stylish Drifts. Even driving over the Go Between Bridge to get there.Playing yoga with the children and watching them come up with new yoga poses, eg the Caterpilla-Butterfly ie rolling self in yoga mat (possible when you're a slim child) and unfurling with wings flapping.

Another treat while in town was seeing the Valentino exhibit, a story worthy of its own post. It wasn't long before I was on a plane, heading back to the Cattle and Cane, satisfied I had options for future 'city fixes' and with many more ideas for my own yoga practice and artistic endeavours!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Reflections on Sutra 1.5

1.5 vŗttayah pańcatayyah klișțāklișțāh
There are five activities of the mind. Each of them can be beneficial and each can cause problems

I think its interesting that my 'Reflections on Sutras' project stalled at 1.4, being all about a disturbed mind's inability to follow a certain direction. A great deal has happened in my life since February when I last posted about the Sutras and recent yoga training and workshops has helped bring my focus back to them.

Sutra 1.5 really is a bit of a cliff hanger isn't it, what are the five activities? Before delving into them I think its good to recognise that regardless, each has a potentially positive and negative effect. Some one once said to me that "A negative is only a positive taken to the extreme" and I have observed this myself on many occasions. One piece of chocolate cake or a modest yarn purchase, or even a moderate yoga practise can be of benefit in the way it fosters contentment. Yet too much of those things can result in an unhealthy body, debt and/or clutter or a form of escapism.

So I'll sit with this thought for a moderate amount of time before exploring 1.6...