Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Day three of the four day "Calligraphy on Canvas" workshop is now in the history book, and it continues to go very well, I think. This evening we had a class dinner at a little Vietnamese restaurant in Crow's Nest called Phuong. I think it's fair to say that a good time was had by all. Plenty of good food and oodles of even better wine!!! I leave on Friday for Perth in Western Australia where I shall do a two-day workshop, and a lecture. That will make eight days of teaching in a nine day span, much of it while recovering from jetlag!!

I had a wonderful surprise yesterday, when, while having lunch, one of the students in my class from20 years ago showed up. We are now organizing a get together tomorrow night for as many as we can find. Belinda Pring is the organizer and we shall be heading down to Bill's Cafe on Blues Point Road for an evening of reminiscence. It should be quite wonderful. Unfortunately, it seems as though it will be unlikely to include the lady who organized my first trips over here, Susan Hammond. She now lives somewhere close by Canberra. You may be interested to know that she is Nicole Kidman's cousin.

Tomorrow, when I have a little time and don't feel like just falling into bed, I will download a few photos of the work and personae of this workshop. They have been an incredibly hardworking group.

More anon.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Letters From Hell class came to an end on Sunday and then today, we went straight into the Calligraphy on Canvas class. It never ceases to amaze me how people plunge right into tackling something as new and strange as pen manipulation. The ladies and gentleman who attended were wonderful students and showed great ability to take on this most difficult of disciplines.

Today, was a totally different day but yet another one which I think tested the participants. The concept of painting with words and letters rather than placing them on a background is a difficult concept to grasp, but again, the people in this class have knuckled right down and produced some wonderful beginnings. Some of the people said that they really didn't use color very much, but you could have fooled me.

This evening I met up with my old friend William Lai, as well as John Evans and Jill Osborne. John used to be the Clerk to the Senate here in New South Wales (I'm sure I've gotten his title wrong and I can only hope he'll forgive me). Jill was a past president of the ASC and I hadn't seen her in twenty years either!

First, John drove us all down to the Heads at Manly, the entry to the river running through Sydney. As can be seen from the photos, one gets a totally different perspective of this beautiful city. After that, WIlliam treated us all to wonderful CHinese meal at Ying's Seafood Restaurant in an area known as Crow's Nest. I was also presented with an exquisite book of a series of panels presented to the Chinese government on the occasion of the Olympic Games. It's got to be good; it weighs close on ten pounds!!
From left to right, the Letters From Hell class: Gabby Toner, Lyn Franks, John Evans, Ann Innes, Lay-Ying Chu, Susan Tyler, Jenny Markey, Jill Chalker, Coral-Anne Shead, Valerie Keevers, Robin Russell, Monika Kondyjowska, Beverley Chow, Sue Davie.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The pictures I have dropped in here are from the last three days. The ones from this morning of the haze over Sydney are not a haze at all but the second sandstorm which the city has experienced in the last four days. The first one was the worst in history, dropping a tonne of dust per hour on the city. Today's was much easier to deal with and had blown out to sea by 10am.

My first workshop began today and the people in it are delightful. I have never experienced anything in Australia from its people other than a great generosity of spirit. The gender mix is about par for the course in calligraphic circles. As the Elvis song said: There were thirteen women and only one man in town, and that's our mix. It was a great, if tiring day; I think maybe I'm not over jetlag yet, but I am working on it.

I now have my USB cable to download photos and will try to be a little more regular in future with posting them. My prints have sold pretty well I'm happy to say, and I may have to have Randal run some more off and ship them out here, before I head out to New Zealand! Can you hear me, Randal?! Now, I shall spend the evening in my room, watching cricket! How good is that!!?

Friday, September 25, 2009

And so it begins...

I gave my first lecture today, here in Sydney. It went pretty well, I think, in front of a small but very receptive audience. Earlier in the day, I had taken the water taxi from McMahon's Point in to Circular Quay. I then wandered around town looking for a Mini D USB cable so that I could download pictures to this blog. The last such cable I spent $7 on, but here they wanted $35! Oh well, I guess I'll just have to bite the bullet and spend the money. It's quite galling when you know that you already have four or five of the darned things at home!! I had also hoped to acquire another Akubra hat, but they have gotten very expensive. Maybe I can find one cheaper elsewhere.

While waiting for the water taxi I took a number of photos of a huge cruise ship coming in to dock in the port of Sydney. It dwarfed the Opera House as it went past, and just seemed to scrape under the bridge.

One of the great joys of this evening was to meet up again with William Lai, the owner of Will's Quills in Chatswood, near where I'm staying. I knew him when I was last here and it was wonderful to see him again. Other than having a little less hair, he seems exactly the same as when I last saw him twenty years ago. We shall have dinner together on Monday and he'll try to get a few of my acquaintances from my last visit to join us then, too.

I hope to have the wherewithal to download all my pictures in the next few days. My first workshop, "Letters From Hell" begins tomorrow with thirteen people in the class. I look froward to that.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Well, I have finally arrived in the great "down under" and it's wonderful to be back after all these years. The journey was, well, let's say interesting. The 50 minute flight from North West Arkansas to Dallas took a mere hour and three quarters, trying to avoid some bad weather east of Dallas! However, on the leg from Dallas to Los Angeles, I met a fascinating couple who run a ministry near Tulsa, OK, who were on their way to Nauru in the South Pacific. They were amazed that I even knew of the island. I had to tell them that when I was in community theater, I played Corrie Bratter in "Barefoot in the Park" and my leading lady left two weeks later to take up a post as personal assistant to the Governor of Nauru. Small world!!

I found out, once again, on this trip why I hate to fly through or to LAX. On arrival in the Tom Bradley International Terminal, it was to find that all the departure boards had their last listing at 5.55pm (it was, at this time, just after 9pm). Mr Bradley might just want to consider removing his name from any association with that structure. There was no indication on my boarding pass about which was my gate, and the terminal has gates 100 thru 123, with about 100 yards between each gate. Not only was there no indication of which gate we were leaving from, but no ground staff to help, and not a single courtesy phone to call from!! I eventually managed to ascertain that our flight left from gate 123.

Once we started to board, I was fascinated to learn that we were boarding one of the new Airbus A380-800 planes. That's the new "double-decker" plane which seats 800 passengers. That's fine until you reach your destination and are trying to find your bags and then get through customs and immigration!! IT WAS A ZOO!!!!

I finally did get through and the lovely Linda Upfold, the lady who has organized my whole trip, was there to meet me. I had a number of things I needed to get done and she helped me through all of that. Now it's time for bed and a REALLY good night's sleep after my trip, which included a little more than 18 hours of nighttime!

Tomorrow, I spend a day on my own wandering around Sydney and North Sydney. Ther will be some pix!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

I shall be leaving these shores on September 22, flying from North West Arkansas (XNA) at 4.15pm to Dallas, then on to Los Angeles and then directly, non stop to Sydney. During the trip I will lose a day - Wednesday - and arrive on Thursday morning, because of crossing the International Date Line. But worry not! I make it up on the homeward journey, arriving back here before I leave New Zealand. Talk about jet lag!!

My first duty on arriving in Australia will be to give a slide presentation and lecture at the AGM of the Australian Society of Calligraphy in Sydney on September 25, and then straight in to a 2 day workshop followed by a 4 day workshop. More of that once I get started.