September 16, 2014

Broaden One's Horizons

Government House dining room, c. 1875, Fiji

Overview exhibition 'Tapa: Barkcloth paintings from the Pacific' at MAA

Autumn is around the corner and the atmosfeer is filled with endings and new beginnings. 
I'm not yet in the position to plan new things, at least I'm trying not to, which makes time to review these passed months. 
Last year I wondered if I should blog. My blog brought me great things, like the opportunity to give a lecture "De reis naar Batik, making a statement" and the Batik Statement Fashionshow. But I wanted to progress my art career. 
This year I couldn't find the time to blog, I noticed that my main reason to blog was still a very good one. Sometimes you just need to make your choice again.

This year I started a study to become a nature guide. I thought it would be the perfect glue to bring my art, blog and nature interest worlds together. Instead it added an extra dimension.
Saturday one of my nature guide teachers said "You should always broaden your horizons". 
So I will use my blog for what it was intended, to write about my interests. 
Which are wide and sometimes seem far apart, seem random and not connect at first, but will always have a common ground. I wanted to share them with you.

My niece and artist Surya de Wit is working on great new artworks about masks. We were sharing cool photos and I remembered I have these books filled with ritual objects including masks from Oceania. Looking through the books together I came across many beautiful Tapa cloths and thought I should write a post first about the exhibition I saw last April in the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (MAA). The problem with not blogging immediately about the things you saw, is that time in between will start connecting the dots. 
I started as usual with selecting the photos, but the first photo I saw was of a pattern I just used for an artwork. Did it got stuck in my mind then? Or is this what happens if your work is about communicating with patterns? 

Detail of Tapa Cloth

Preparation for Alles Stroomt in my backyard

Photo of two women wearing Tapa cloth

Mexican Self-portraits, Paper Litho, made with Emmy Dijkstra in Stockholm, August 2014

Salusalu (garlands) made of hibiscus (vau) fibre, Fiji, 2013

Jewelry out of paper, tape, wire and glue, by Emmy Dijkstra, 2013

When I visited the exhibitions "Chiefs & Governors, Art and Power in Fiji" and "Tapa: Barkcloth paintings from the Pacific" at the MAA, I was a little stressed. That evening I would start making my ricecarpets in the gallery to end and conclude the Cambridge Sustainability Residency. As most times my idea was not received with applause, what should I do? Shall I change it? Are they right?
A few days before one of my fellow residency participants returned from the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. She was filled with workflow and a clear mind: "This inspires me! This is what I'm going to make!".
"I need some of that!", I thought. 
Processions were literally thrown at my face at the MAA. Not only that, the explanations in the exhibitions gave me the confidence that this is what I wanted to share and make my own. 
Here, in my work and in the, hopefully near, future. I came a little closer this year, and I'm looking forward to see what comes next!

Inspiring explanations filled the walls at the MAA

Unfortunately this bird wasn't a newly discovered species

In the back a Kula bird

And a headband decorated with the feathers of a Kula bird

Tapa cloth, windroos detail on the right

Stencil used to make patterns on the Tapa cloth

Fijian barkcloth stencilled with 37 motifs, from 1957

The sample 'Masi' was most likely ordered by G.K.Roth to show different patterns used on barkcloth

Detail from "The Journey" by Josua Toganivalu, 2009

Detail from "The Journey", painting about life as a journey

The edges of some of the Tapa cloths surprised me, I thought they were always straight

Like the fringes on the edges of a cloth, but maybe this has another reason or meaning