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.

Street Art Everywhere

I am impressed by the street art I see, all over Taiwan, here are some examples in Taipei, of photos which have been applied to telephone exchange boxes (I’m guessing that’s what they are).

and the one below is a more impressionistic style, I think this was in Luodong City, on the East of Taiwan, these are everywhere.

I particularly enjoy the impressionist style of painting such, as the one above, I feel it allows the viewer to fill in the gaps and gain a better sense of a shared art form and experience.

Thanks for reading, Sam.

Fixed to Flux, kinetic art installation at Mud Studio, Yilan City, Taiwan

This is my first installation art piece, hosted by Mud Studio, with a time limit of two days.

For this project I worked spontaneously and allowed the idea to evolve and grow, starting off with what materials I thought would be easily accessible and that would allow me to make something in a short time frame.

When I visited the space last time, there was a kinetic artwork being exhibited made by Wei Ling Hung, I did a blog post previously about her work at Mud. I’m mentioning Hung again as it inspired my own project to also be a kinetic, moving piece, using a fan, though my direction was to try and create strong shadows, so that they would be the biggest visual element. I find shadows create a strong sense of mood and atmosphere, personally I find them mysterious and calming.

On day one I collected some cardboard boxes from the supermarket nearby, popped into a hardware store to buy some metal wire, and walked across town to find a fishing shop, for some nylon wire. I knew I wanted to create three elements to my work, a central shape, outer directional shapes and thirdly more temporary shapes, but all united through their general location and following a floating movement together. Please watch the video at the end of this post for a better idea of the works movements.

My concept did not form until day two, but I knew early on that I wanted a moving piece, that I would try and use recycled materials.

On day two, I considered what the piece was, it had one central circular part, surrounded by, stiffly suspended, directional shapes, with words describing their movements, and from those hanging loosely, pieces of thin, randomly cut and folded pieces of paper, also with words describing the movements they made.

My concept formed, I saw the central circle as the facts of us, the things that are certain in our lives, that inform our intuition, our gut feeling, then the directional shapes, which represented those things we know, that are certain, but can change in extreme situations, such as nationality, sex, age and the pieces of floating paper, which are the thoughts that are always changing, such as likes and dislikes.

The concept was also inspired by Wei Ling Hung’s piece, as her’s was focused on relationships between people in a community, and for me looking at how her piece moved and interacted, helped to form an association between different movements and the difference between things, the parallels, I guess we could thank categorisation in the English language, and being from a culture where judgment is promoted above anything else, for this ingrained ability in us.

The title “Fixed to Flux” describes the key differences, how somethings are fixed and other things are always changing, or in flux, here is a short video of my installation, I hope it helps to describe the piece, and if you see other thanks from me then please share, I am especially interested in alternate ways of interpreting things.

I have just started a new residency, in a rainy forest in the mountains, near Daxin, Taiwan. My project here is to make a large textile art work, lets see what I can come up with, plus of course photos. Thanks for reading, Sam.

Homgoo Art Residency

I have spent the last month doing a residency in Jiaoxi, Taiwan, in the North East here.

Below is a work that functions as a sign, a collaboration, I added pieces of wood around the existing Chinese characters, making good use of Homgoo’s father’s waste materials, from is job as a interior designer. I varnished them to create a warm colour and to help bring out the grain, then I added some newspaper pieces, to make it feel more aged, and visually interesting, finally I painted between all the pieces with white paint, to create more contrast. This would have been easier had I painted the white first, but when working spontaneously, as I often like to do, this happens, so I guess some more forethought will be helpful for a more efficient workflow and as a way to raise the quality and aesthetic of my future works.

Here is a more abstract work, my favourite, and I’m not feeling that there is anything I want to change about it. Time and space away from a work helps me see if it works or not, regularly seeing it is a big help, speeding up the process I believe.

This is my little work space, at the place I was staying. It’s a shared space, but as I’m the messy artist type and was here for a while I was able to acquisition this area for myself. Here I have mainly been painting, wood cutting and scissor cutting and gluing.

I bought this blank mask and started working on it, using pens, and water colours, during a recent trip to Taipei, whilst sitting in a cafe. I was thinking of what I could make to sell at an market here in Jiaoxi, it’s an interesting canvas, connecting character, pattern and abstraction, what I normally do on a plain flat surface. Masks are really interesting to experience. Puppets also crosses my thinking and I am going to be getting more involved in making them in the next few months, I am staying very close to Lize Puppet Colony for two weeks.

I have also been experimenting with waste plastic, painting, gluing string and paper onto it and using wood cut tools, these work well.

My main idea is how to make plastic become more aesthetically pleasing and tactile. I discovered how nice it looks after cutting into the layered surface, revealing a lighter surface beneath, where the light is passing through one layer of plastic instead of two, it works much better with the light behind, but after photographing I really feel the grimy wall adds to this, what do you think?

I’m at a new place now, where I will be spending the next two weeks, painting two works on internal walls, at the Happy Snail hostel, here in Wujie Township, Taiwan, so looking forward to sharing those works very soon.

Also I have been invited to create an installation at Mud Studio in Yilan City. I am thinking about my proposal at the moment, with a focus on shadows, it will probably be a narrative piece, maybe around my dragon story, to tie in with shadow puppets and my interest in working with them in the future in some way, or perhaps just collaging them, or elements from shadow puppetry into art works, maybe even without characters, more with a focus on elements, weather, and nature, almost more about the environment. Lets see my thoughts are still processing and I’ll do some sketches to help me develop the concept.

Thanks for reading, Sam.