After climbing the mountain in the morning (before it got too hot) we went onto Kan Ka Thawng Cave which is about seven miles from Hpa-An. It is a stunning area with a big cave full of buddhas overlooking beautiful rice paddy fields that are…
After four weeks of travelling I finally ended up back in Bangkok where it all started. Do you know that feeling when it seems like you were only here yesterday and at the same time you feel like you’ve been away for months? That was how it seemed. At the start of this journey it had been the first anniversary of the Kings death so the Royal Palace was shut to the public. A month later it was open again so it seemed rude to be in Bangkok and not go. It is quite pricey to get in at £10 considering most places had been about £1 or £2. It was also heaving with people! By far the busiest place I visited on the whole trip which did make it hard to see things properly.
The palace grounds have a number of structures built within the walls several temples and shrines as well as the Palace. Everything is very ornate and detailed and really oozes wealth which for me was quite a contrast to other temples I had seen in some of the poorer countries, clearly when building this place money was no issue. It is also very well looked after nothing is crumbling or flaking off (which is actually what I like). It is hard to gauge a sense of the age of the palace as it almost looks like it was finished yesterday but in fact it has been the residence of the King since 1782.
There are many beautiful surfaces very ornately decorated and again look like they were created yesterday. I suspect the whole place has had a fair bit of work happening this year so it was at its best for the Kings funeral, I would be interested to hear from anyone who visited a while ago to hear if it has changed at all.
There are also a number of beautifully painted murals around the walls of one of the buildings.
When I was in Chiang Mai I discovered that the temple there was usually the home of the green buddha (depicted above) but at the current time it is residing in the grand palace. So thinking I had missed out on something I made a point of searching this green buddha out. Well if I’m honest it was a bit of a disappointment! The buddha is so tiny and so high up its very difficult to see him. The room he is in is beautiful and incredibly ornate but I found the adoration of this little green chap a little strange. He is made from a solid piece of emerald which I suppose is impressive but still I’m not convinced. See what you think…
Earlier this year I had the utterly delightful opportunity to see the ‘Hokusai – Beyond the Great Wave’ exhibition at the British Museum. It left me a bit speechless. I have been to hundreds of exhibitions over the years of all sorts of art but I can honestly say these where some of the most beautiful prints I have ever seen, coupled with the awe that they have survived 200 years in such mint condition. There is something very timeless about them.
Hokusai is best known for his print of a single big wave which these days can be purchased as a reproduction on every surface imaginable from mugs and shoes to tote bags and beyond! He is an inspiration in as much as he continually experimented and pushed boundaries until his death at eighty eight. He didn’t rate his own work until he was seventy dismissing everything that had gone before, always sure there was more to learn. We can all learn something from him in relation to whatever we do, always seek to learn continually push boundaries and never settle keep moving forward.
I loved all of his work but my ultimate favourite collection are a set of prints that are solely made with Prussian blue ink. They depict general life in Japan at sea and on the land. There is something very beautiful and subtle about the many tones of blue maybe its just that blue is calming and soothing, I don’t know there is just something very special about them. My pictures here don’t really do them justice it is one of those occasions where if you can you need to see them in real life nothing else will compare!
Theres is a fantastic fat catalogue that comes with this show and goes by the same title. I think its available from the British Museum shop. Really worth buying if you are interested in this kind of work.
One final thing I learnt from this exhibition was the origins of Manga drawing. Having taught art at art college for twelve years one constant cause of frustration was many students obsession with Manga. Now there’s nothing wrong per se with manga but when you are trying to teach students how to look and observe the world properly and they constantly draw made up stuff they don’t learn. They look at their favourite animations and think they will make their millions copying not understanding that those artists have spent many years drawing from the real world to enable that skill to translate into animation. Hokusai has many many sketchbooks of drawings from the real world observations of every detail of the world around him and these are original ‘manga’ drawings. If I’m ever faced again with students drawing manga instead of observing properly I can feel a lecture about Hokusai coming on, be warned!
I am one for noticing the detail. Often when I come back from trips and look at my photographs a big proportion of them are of patterns, textures and marks. There are usually few people, I have a tendency to wait for people to go so I can capture an image without them. Something that struck me in India was that although there are so many different patterns and colours everywhere you look very few things clash. I wonder why that is?
India is such a vibrant, warm and beautiful country. Yes it has poverty and problems but show me a country that doesn’t? What I did notice in most places I visited was the warm and contented spirits of the people. Again I am sure there…