Tag Archives: art

Portrait of a Peruvian Lady

The face is an insight into each unique life lived. The wrinkles, the expressions and above all the eyes. A window into the soul. So says the cliché. I suspect it contains a very large dose of truth.

I was reminded recently of one of my favourite sets of old portrait photos: a series of beautiful, strong Peruvian women I encountered on my travels in 2009. These photos, taken on a small point and shoot Canon camera I’d gotten for Christmas of the year before, were nothing sophisticated – but they were honest and reflected a desire to connect with a new culture I was experiencing and loving. Tucked away in my photo folders on an old external hard drive – they have traipsed around the world with me and are a nostalgic reminder of uni travels.

And so, on a cold winter’s night after perusing textures and colours at an exhibition of Latin American contemporary art at the Museum of Art & Design or “MAD” in NYC, I came home in search of my old archives! They brought back memories of how mesmerized I was by the Latin American continent when I first arrived in Peru for the first time. The colours, the smells, the chaos, the people, the food. The faces. Travelling through the countryside – the Colca Canyon region and Arequipa beyond the touristy Cuzco and hectic Lima – the clothing in particular was infused with a dash of texture, shape, pattern and colour that was representative of the strong and diverse personalities of the women that I came into contact with.

Crafts, textiles and weaving are a big part of the Peruvian culture of artisanship, skills held primarily among the women. Wandering along the streets of small towns, I was reminded of the need to provide for family and children. Many of these women keep up traditions not for just pure passion but for necessity and income – tourism and selling traditional arts remain an important source of growth for Peru. Much like in any other country, some encounters were friendly – others were distracted as the women were engrossed in their creations, or suspicious of tourists. Invariably – a little bit of Spanish helped.

These photos are a short storyboard of my travels through Peru – interacting with women on the street, in museums, on tourist tracks between canyons and trails. They speak to my own love of the textures, colours and patterns of the Peruvian culture and the interesting Peruvian women I met along the way…

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Mother and daughter – colourful hats, sharp eyes, overlooking the Colca Canyon

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Suspicious knitter

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Don’t distract me…I’m knitting

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Maria, the friendliest by far on the streets of Arequipa

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Hard work

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Shy weaver

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Hiding behind my llama

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Artisan sewing in modern colours

M xx

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Perpetual Motion

I sustained a hip stress fracture injury late last year.

Diagnosis: too much motion.

Symptom: pain.

Recovery plan: s-t-o-p.

I was basically overdoing it. I was training for a marathon and I was simply running too much for what my body could handle. A bit like a repetitive strain injury. The immediate need to stop walking, stop running and generally limit the weight-bearing activity I did was rather depressing for someone who loves being active and wandering around like me. It also highlighted how hard it is to accept limitations to our mobility – I was grateful not to have a chronic mobility issue. Especially in a city like New York where the public transport system is NOT geared to the mobility-challenged. Suddenly I became incredibly aware of how much I loved walking around everywhere, how much I missed having a car, how much more I was going to be paying for cabs over the coming months – not a happy thought!

It also made me realize that the big cities we live in are hives of activity. Constantly in flux and transition. Tiring – no, exhausting! A grand tide of movement we cannot control. Overwhelming even. High density living above all creates this effect: bustling shops, packed streets, trafficked avenues, cramped subway carriages, much opportunity for human observation and interaction. Much of the power of cities – the energy they create, the vibe and reputation they develop – comes from their population density and the ability to encourage ideas to flow and interact, to integrate into new ways of thinking, innovations and creativity.

Crazily enough, at work this topic seems to have come up in one of the many chat sessions I observed, one day discussing the percentage likelihood of dying of the flu (a happy thought, right!? I believe in response to the free vaccination option during a cold winter!). This raised (somewhat randomly) the fact that New York does not even arise in the top 100 most densely populated cities – so while it is plenty dense by developed world standards, it doesn’t feel as tightly wound up as it could be! Another talk I went to with a well known architect spoke about population density as an opportunity for effective resource management: indeed, if the population density of Manhattan (sprawl up, not out) applied to the world…all 7 billion population in the world could fit into the State of Colorado – crazy! Check out this cool website for more info: whatismissing.net!

All this is to say – we live in a world of perpetual motion. Of unmitigated change. So why not allow our photos, our art, to sometimes show this? Rather than pretending that the world stops for us to capture a moment, why not embrace the blur? The imperfection, the fleeting stance, the transient moment, where the characters within our story are not still, but in the process of completing some action, some movement. The below are some of my experimental shots taken while meandering the city – some in coffee shops, some hidden behind poles near Central Park trying to carve out space from which to capture shots, some in public parks. They are all imperfect. They were all taken while I was not perfectly still – no tripod – just my shaky hands. They are an authentic touch of real life in action.

More on the need for meditation to come…and thank goodness I am mobile again!

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Green Tea Layer Cake at Lady M, UES

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Undecided – chocolate eclair or mont blanc? Lady M, UES

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Opposites Attract or Matching Moment – Black and Pink, Pink and Black? Lady M, UES

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Uncertainty – who’s doing what? Unsure where to look… Lady M, UES

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Pink shirt on generic subway platform

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Pidgeons waiting for the next carriage patron, Central Park

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The Plaza, The Pole and That Yellow Cab #1

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The Plaza, The Pole and That Yellow Cab #2

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The Plaza, The Pole and That Yellow Cab #3

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Dimlit brunch, UES

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Play me a song Mr Piano Man, Washington Square Park

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Pink jacket stands out in the Bloomingdale’s crowd

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Cycling through, Central Park South 

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Move on – crossover; 5th Avenue

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Quiet amidst the storm

M xx

Everything you can imagine is real

Who said this? None other than the great master creative, Pablo Picasso. When I read it (…it actually ironically came up as the quote of the day on my Bloomberg screen of all things!!), I felt immediately inspired! #qotd! What a wonderful reminder that our lives are filled with hopes and dreams, with desires and imaginings. To remember that what we hope and dream of can become real, can be made real, is a very empowering statement. As an artistically minded creative, it was also a reminder that our creative pursuits and creations bring something alive. They can represent something living and vibrant – in the way a photo can capture a moment, or a portrait can capture the essence of a heart or a soul.

It has been some time since I have posted on my artsy blog – life got busy, I went home to Australia for some sun, I felt uninspired, I didn’t allocate time to being creative. Don’t we all sometimes feel flat or overwhelmed? Too busy and overscheduled to really meditate properly on our intention to create. It had been a while since I have felt really creatively inspired. My easel and my camera have been quiet.  Until recently – this past week or so has been a moment of frenzied motivation in the aide of some animal portraits!

I never really grew up with pets. I was allergic to their shedding hair and had a failed series of pets including a set of reproducing mice (so much for being de-sexed!), a fat stray lazy white cat which we gave away, a fluffy rabbit and some other random visitors (including ducklings which even got eaten by local cats!), after which we decided that pets weren’t for our family! But I must admit that seeing 2 of my friends – C a colleague at work and K a great friend of mine through soccer – express passion and childlike enthusiasm when sharing photos of their beloved pets – a beautiful golden retriever Summer and a badass cat Oscar – I felt inspired. Nothing like the pure and unconditional love of a dedicated pet to start one imagining and wondering how to create an image of the essence of these animal souls. To give a permanent image in watercolor and pastel to enshrine their personality, their warmth, their vulnerability – their neediness that makes humans adore and cherish their loyal animal companions.

I tried to capture the essence of these furry friends – their cheeky watchfulness, their windswept cute messy fur, their eyes as their window to their soul. I hope you can see it, or imagine it.

Everything you can imagine is real. Pablo Picasso

Happy new year!

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Meet Oscar, 2015

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Hello Summer, 2015

M xx

Installation art

On top of amateur photography and personal travel, I love art. Going to exhibitions. Seeking out inspiration. Creating. But I am a stylistically diverse  and rather confused amateur artist. I can’t choose exactly what type of artwork or medium I want to be known for. And so I dabble in a little bit of everything – drawing (charcoal, pencil, pen), watercolor, multimedia, acrylics and painting, pastels.

I also haven’t quite had the chance to put together the artsy portfolio of my works that I had dreamed of…but in the interim, if you want to check out my works, take a look at the Australian blog “The Near and The Elsewhere” which wrote up a piece on the collaborative exhibition I was part of in 2012, “Twisting the Lilac Stalks” at the gaffa gallery in Sydney, Australia.

A few fun shots from the curating and installation process – a flurry of activity to complete it all in one day! Photos courtesy of 2 of the other artists, Sophie and Jessica, and preparation included the other 3rd collaborative artist, another Soph (as well as my Dad and the twins’ father that you see in the background)…it was a full collaborative effort!

Enjoy the art exhibition space shown here – the light and darkness of the walls vs the floor – the figurative curves of the artworks – the images and the imagination of the installation. The doors and framing the artworks in door frames. The windows and views to artworks. The geometry and perspective. The warehouse emerging artist feel. It is not so much about the actual artworks in these photos (more on that later!) but more about the actual space and its own artistry which can be enjoyed as part of the viewing of art.

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I highly recommend arranging your own exhibition to share your inspiration with the world – your talents – your passions. It was a great experience.  🙂

M xx

Once again, all images in this post are not my photography but the work of 2 other collaborating artists, Jessica and Soph B! Thank you!

Textile monochrome

Black and white photography captures the imagination. It distills a picture into shades of grey, into shadows and reflections. I often convert my favorite photos into black and white, to extract the essence and enjoy the underlying contrasts and colors in their most simplified form: shades of lightness and darkness.

I mentioned how much I love scarves in an earlier post, and here I integrate my love of the scarf and textiles, with 5 reasons why I also love monochrome:

1. Black and white is timeless

Our culture sees black and white as speaking of the past. It has connotations of history, of all things vintage, of reaching into a long lost memory. Somehow, black and white now makes a photo look ageless and timeless. That is a great quality.  And if you like history, black and white makes a photo even more beautiful because every moment in the present will someday be part of someone’s story and history.

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Paisley Mountain

2. Contrast heightens impact

My favorite shots are often those with some contrast to highlight or heighten either an emotive response, or an aesthetically satisfying combination. The contrast of light and dark , shadow and brightness, is the ultimate. It makes an impact on the eye and the response to an image.

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Scarf overload

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Tassels in the middle

3. Color matching no longer matters

Not every color looks good together! Not every combination works. But when distilled into light and dark rather than colorful hues, then it no longer matters!

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Overlap

4. Composition is key

Related to matching colors; when we remove the element of color from the equation, the satisfaction we feel when we look at an image also becomes all about the composition. The movement. The placement. I love the below photo of a patterned silk scarf because the placement almost made it look like a wave. The curves and curling motion of the fabric reminded me of a whirlpool. Never mind that the scarf itself was super colorful, with purple, red, white and yellow – the placement and overlapping folds made it fun to look at even in b&w.

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Charybdis, the textile whirlpool

5. Focus on texture

Just as composition becomes more important when a photo is stripped bare into monotone, so too the texture of the photo becomes valuable. Here texture is so visible because we are talking about fabric, textiles. But even with a landscape, or a portrait, the texture of the land or nature, or a face and skin, becomes heightened and a central part of the photo. I love that the creation and construction of the materials in the photo become more evident. Just look at the thin threads that you can see so much more clearly in the righthand scarf below…so beautifully textured!

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Floral interruption

M xx

Travel advice? Art ideas?

One thing that I love more than traveling itself is probably giving traveling advice! It’s my chance to share insights, discoveries, experiences in the hope that more people will share in the passion, novelty and excitement of traveling. Travels are a great conversation starter as well – in case you were ever short for conversation!  So if you’re traveling anywhere – I can’t promise I’ve been there, despite my 7 continental travels – but I can hope to at the least know someone who has!

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Or…are you looking for a birthday gift? A wedding present? A personalized offering? I always get more inspired when I have a purpose to my artwork, and would be happy to take on commissions!

Or are you also inspired and want to share your artistic musings, your creative juices? I love talking inspiration and ‘crafternoons’ – happy to share in encouraging the creative passions of others too! Let me know!

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A street-art named desire

I love street art. Some people call it graffiti. Some people call it vandalism. It all depends on perspective I suppose. I put it down to how pleasurable it is to look at, how colorful, how artistic…In general, I call it self expression. It brightens up our streets. It adds character. It subverts our expectations. New York City, among many other cities, is full of it…all you need to do is bring your camera on a meander along the back streets of the Lower East Side or NoLiTa and you will not be disappointed. I have always wondered, when do people sneakily, stealthily create these public masterpieces?

Note the hand of God creating Adam on The Bowery…

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This is me

Daughter of a New York-born father and Italian-born mother that met in a chance encounter on a train from London to Paris on New Year’s Eve, brought up in Sydney, Australia, and now having found my way to New York City…I feel I was destined for a life of travels, creative whimsy and exploration! I am now 27 years old  and having searched out the intense novelty of new experiences and the feelings of awe that come from exposure to diverse cultures and vibrant landscapes, I have added all 7 worldly continents to my life’s storyboard.

I also love art.  Art and all things artistic. Trips to galleries, concerts and museums filled my childhood, my already abundant conversation and my travel itineraries as I searched for creative inspiration, collected way too many brochures and sought out friends with whom I could share my enthusiasm (including for the occasional ‘crafternoon’). Art, like travels and travel advice, I believe are meant to be shared.

The areas around NYU, Washington Square Park and Central Park in my new hometown, New York City, are part of what has inspired a love of shared entertainment and public artistic expression in me. Grand pianos on the sidewalk, saxophone concertos in the park, bookstores overflowing with quirky titles and self-reflective memoirs. How great does it feel to be surrounded by this positive energy? It is impossible not to feel the optimism that comes from participating in the street life of this city.

And so now, I too am deciding to follow my creative passions and to share them with you, because that’s what I love to do!

Art. Photography. Travel.

Inspire. Admire. Wonder.

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Artward. Outward. Upward.

M xx