Dragon Boats in Yilan

Near to where I was staying in Yilan County, there is a water park, where Dragon Boats are based and they just hosted a Dragon Boat festival. Unfortunately I didn’t see the festival itself, due to lack of organisation, but had the opportunity to film some of the try outs. This is one of the few times I have seen them, so I decided to go the extra mile and besides making this post, I also made a short video (below) to learn and share a few facts about this festival, a tradition of more than 2000 years.

Photos and words are great at connecting us with whats going on, but video I feel, adds a more immersive “matter of fact” depiction and less for the imagination to do, so here is a short video of the dragon boat practice, with a few facts thrown in for added value.

I hope you found this informative, I really enjoy spending time focusing on these festivals and cultural events, I feel they connect us with our humanity, our sense of belonging and society, in so many ways, growing community, to come together, in a cool looking boat, facing a difficult challenge together, thanks for reading, Sam.

Suho Paper Museum Taipei

This was a very interesting place to visit, and quite hard to find, it took a couple of attempts, but I persevered, as I work a lot with paper, making collage and working with sketchbooks, as well as gluing to walls.

The Suho paper museum showed the making process and examples of paper types as you’d expect. I had the opportunity to make some paper myself, which was pretty fast and simple, though the preparation of materials and tools, plus the space needed is quite complicated, thankfully I could just roll in and do it, to experience the end process. I have considered making paper as a part of my creative process, but as I’ve mentioned it requires the right facilities, whereas if I buy paper, my options are far wider and I can focus on the image making, but perhaps one day, or I’ll just do more workshops where they’ve already done the hard part.

Thanks for reading, Sam.

Ecological park – clean up

I have often felt annoyed at how we humans leave our trash everywhere, especially when out in nature, places that would otherwise be serene and beautiful are scattered with packaging.

Normally I walk on, only to be faced with more trash here and there as I progress, but something I’ve been working with lately is to take action on things I am able to do something about in the here and now.

So I grabbed a discarded carrier bag and started filling it with all the rubbish I could find, scouring the verges and bushes as I walked. There was plenty, also plenty of mosquitoes and dirt, but I managed to clear the path, 4 bags full, which I dumped in one spot at the entrance.

It was messy and took some focus to not be distracted, into not doing the clean up, by my many excuses, but ultimately it felt good to firstly clean the way for myself, but also for other people, I hope people will think twice about dumping their trash if the place is clean to begin with.

This is my habit now, to take the opportunity to pick up a few pieces of trash left by others, as I am also sure people are cleaning up after me, but mainly it gives me a sense of achievement, and less annoyance at the trash I see in those otherwise beautiful places.

Thanks for reading, Sam.

Taipei Puppet Museum

Puppets are cool, I studied character animation, which I also love, but there is something about the physicality and immediacy in the performance of puppets, there is an extra layer of magic and life in a well performed puppet.

Artefacts and artworks in themselves, amazing variety and cultural heritage, like many art forms, simply an expression of human creativity and imagination, but also ideologies, especially before the days of TV.

Above we see two puppets, which were used as anti-communist propaganda in Taiwan, puppets were also used as part of religious teachings.

We see puppets that are about death and evil, used as tools, I guess, to teach kids about morals and the things that are quite scary, but can be learned in a safe atmosphere, using metaphors and with some humour added, preparing them for life’s challenges.

I saw a lot of Japanese puppets there too.

It’s really interesting to see the “making off”, stages, maybe it’s just me, but I see this quite a lot here in Taiwan, people are often open about the making process, rather than being guarded and secretive about it.

See above the puppet heads, looking at many puppets you quickly realise how important the heads are, to communicate who the puppet is, actually that is the main solid part of certain types of puppets, such as glove puppets, with the addition of hands and feet, then the clothes, which act as a cover for the your hand/body.

Puppet theatres at the museum are pretty elaborate, puppets were often used in temples to teach their philosophies and practices, so it makes sense that they would reflect the temple decorations, and I guess this would work well as a kind of, portable temple, for reaching out into communities, until screens took over that is.

Thanks for reading, Sam.