Appreciating Hokusai

Japanese Art has always been a style I love. The design, composition, colours, graphic style, use of line, and deft touch is to be admired. Who can go past Hokusai?

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So not only did I jump at the chance to see the Hokusai exhibition at the NGV; I decided to invite an artist I know, Irene Crusca, to give a talk on the topic at the library where I work. The timing of this was intentionally aimed to be while the exhibition was still on, so that if people felt moved by what they heard, there was still time to go into the city to see the artworks up close.

Irene gave a thoughtful and well-prepared presentation easily filling the hour with commentary on the man and some of his works. She explained about the important contributions he made upon the international art world at that time.

Of course The Great Wave is an iconic image recognized by most. It is simply beautiful. At the exhibition I loved seeing Mt Fuji depicted in so many scenes. I love the waterfalls, and the little human figures everywhere going about their daily activities, sometimes humuorously.

The NGV did a fabulous job displaying many of his sketchbooks under glass protected from willing hands. Then on a screen digital images of his sketches appear in sequential arrays. Who would have the time to sit and admire them all?

I have invited Irene back next year to talk about her work as a portrait artist.

#glamblogweekly

 

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Stories with music

What is it about stories that have music woven into the tale? We can’t actually hear or feel the music, but if we know the pieces mentioned this evokes a mood in harmony with the actual tune.

I hosted another Melbourne Writers Festival at my library and the author was Zoe Morrison who has written one novel Music and Freedom. I have read about a third of the book but had to return the library copy, as the reservation list is long. I was enjoying the tale, which has music at its heart; the main character is a concert pianist.

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Lee Kofman and Zoe Morrison at Frankston Library 2017

Listening to Zoe in conversation with a fellow author Lee Kofman I am keen to get hold of another copy and finish reading this book. Zoe gave further depth and context to the tale whetting the appetite of the people in the audience.

I have enjoyed other novels that contain music as a central theme: An equal music by Vikram Seth is one that comes to mind. There is another that I loved but the title and author elude me at the moment. I will do a search and see if I can locate it.

#glamblogweekly

P.S. So I searched and located the book Maestro by Peter Goldsworthy. I have opened the cover and fallen into the magical tale once again.

Snippets Thus Far

FullSizeRenderAs another birthday comes and goes I was reminiscing and here are some snippets of some decades of my life thus far:

  • As a youngster swimming and diving between the legs of my mother, aunt, and grandmother in the crystal clear waters at Sorrento as they floated and chatted with toes poking above the gentle waves.
  • Getting it as I learn to read and do maths. The wonder of reading books opening up whole new worlds to my young eager mind. John and Betty go to the beach with Scottie the dog.
  • At 5 years of age standing in awe at the entrance to the domed reading room of the State Library Victoria, my love for books validated; and my desire to become an architect seeded.
  • Eating sour blood plums straight from my grandmother’s tree as I sit perched in the branches.
  • Imagining house plans as I moved piles of freshly cut grass, shaping them into walls for rooms, as my Dad mowed the lawn.
  • Admiration as I watched my groovy older cousins and their friends dancing to music by The Beatles and wanting to grow up fast and be cool like them.
  • The first time I heard Moonlight Sonata and falling in love with piano music and Beethoven.
  • As a teenager the wild abandon of chasing kangaroos with a group of teens while on summer holidays at a Victorian National Park.
  • The ecstasy of pushing my body for netball, water-skiing, snow skiing, swimming, triathlon.
  • At fifteen savouring the nutty flavor and thick texture of Turkish coffee in Noumea.
  • Being covered head to toe in mud as the water receded at Eildon Weir and the campers made mud slides and mud baths along the banks.
  • The chill and terror as I dive deep in the brown lake waters looking for the body of a drowned person, knowing my first aid and lifesaving certificates would not help.
  • The achievement for a personal best time as I swam the butterfly leg in a relay at the Olympic Pool next to a returned Olympic butterflier. Not beating her, but proud of my performance.
  • Getting a rare A+ for an hard won English essay about Sir Thomas Moore; the Man for all Seasons.
  • Taking up the challenge posed to me by my Year 12 Physics teacher who said I would not pass the HSC Physics exam and proving him wrong.
  • The shame of wrong decisions, poor choices, and bad behaviour, mine and others. But learning anyway.
  • The shock of probable imminent death just prior to a head on collision that ended the lives of the two vehicles but fortunately not any of the people involved.
  • The joy, happiness and sweat saying the marriage vows under windblown willow trees on a hot summer’s day in my Aunts garden.
  • Adrenalin pumping as I stood on the roof still in high heals, water hose in hand, while above me the blades of the helicopter chopped noisily through the plumes of bushfire smoke during Ash Wednesday.
  • The relief and achievement of graduation as an Industrial Designer; then as a Librarian/Information Manager; and then again as a Master Librarian.
  • The births of my three ‘babies’; each one unique, and filled with abundance and all-encompassing love.
  • The release after the first hot sip of a good cup of tea made in a pot with tea leaves by master tea makers; my grandmother, my aunt, my mother, my brother.
  • Feeling like an ant exposed on the top of Uluru, a perfect vantage point to scan the endless landscape, not understanding the dreaming, but feeling the spirit at the Earth’s heart centre.
  • Feeling affronted with my perceived Western wealth and privilege when visiting Thailand.
  • Pure happiness despite the cold autumn breeze at Seawinds as my daughter is married surrounded by loving family.
  • Excitement as I sit in the stands under purple Darwin skies watching as my youngest son kicks his first goal in AFL football for Port Adelaide.
  • Feeling pride as my eldest son receives his Engineering degree with honours at Melbourne University.
  • Pride and satisfaction in four completed house building projects as owner builders with my designs and my husbands labour and project management.
  • Cutting loose on the dance floor with my husband not caring how silly we look as the beat takes hold.
  • Feeling like arriving home as I stood on the channel ferry seeing France for the first time (in this life).
  • Remembering where I was the day: Neil Armstrong walked on the moon; Lady Diana died; the World Trade Centre in the US was attacked.
  • Feeling bliss and belonging while drinking coffee in a café in Beaune France.
  • Comprehending grace and mercy holding my mother’s hand before she slips into unconsciousness and then leaves this world.IMG-0050
  • The heartbreak of betrayal and rejection.
  • Creating art, music, and food.
  • The immersion into music when a sound and song resonates with my heart.
  • Becoming a grandmother and getting to know and love a new little person.
  • The calm that settles my soul while outside in nature with the trees, birds, breeze, sea, sun and stars.

#glamblogweekly

Silent Reading Party

Is that an oxymoron? How can you ‘party’ when you are reading silently? Well I guess that is the hook.

“We were all going to be at home alone reading; why not do it together?”

It is a concept that took off in the US and attributed to Daniel Handler (also known as Lemony Snicket). Although here Christopher Frizzelle takes credit for the idea. I don’t really care who came up with the idea; it is ‘novel’ and gaining popularity in today’s noisy world and equally noisy libraries.

Several public libraries in Australia jumped on the bandwagon this month. Here Jeff O’Neal of Book Riot offers how to host a Silent Reading Party in 7 easy steps.

IMG_3320We held one at the library where I work. I tried to create a cosy setting for the people that came along. And there was wine! The whole concept was appreciated and enjoyed with requests to do it again. #glamblogweekly

 

Cookbooks

The package was waiting for me when I arrived home and I knew what it contained; two new cook books.

A home library was always part of my vision for my dream home, until I started work in a public library. Working with books every day changed this obsession. Realising the multitude of books in this world, and knowing I will never read them all humbled me. There are few books that I want to reread. There are some exceptions, but not many.

Cook books I am obsessed with. Like many people I am drawn to them and love them. You only have to visit 641.5 in the non-fiction collection in any public library to know that this is a shared obsession. We all love to eat delicious food and many of us like to prepare delicious food. Many of us enjoy looking at the beautiful photographs representing the recipes.

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So I buy cookbooks now and then. The Plant Power Way by Rich Roll and Julie Piatt I had searched for in bookshops since it was first published and I could not find it anywhere in and around Melbourne. So in desperation I ordered it online when they released the new book This Cheese is Nuts by Julie Piatt. I found a local supplier (not a bookshop) at The New Normal Project and finally the books are added to my home library of cookbooks.

Now all I have to do is start trying the recipes.

#glamblogweekly

Co-Creating Experiences of The Book

Or … event planning at public libraries.

The Cause

Participatory learning is not a new concept, but becoming widely adopted as a valid way to engage with communities. Public libraries have used this approach in recent years to highlight their value and to support literacy development in our diverse local populations.

Libraries have great books and so much more, but there is a prevalent need to let people know this. One great method is to extend the power of the book by inviting authors to come along to provide further explanation, context, ideas, and personal story. This enriches the experience of the book for the library users and hopefully actively supports the IFLA credos about intellectual freedom, inclusion, fostering creative and critical thinking.

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Kylie Ladd and Liane Moriarty at Frankston Library 2015 (photo by me)

The Sponsor

The sponsor is the governing organisation that provides the required funds to deliver these events, with a mandate towards social inclusion, public wellbeing, and community participation. The process can be upheld through regular checks and balances,  reporting, and goodwill and integrity.

The Organiser

In this description, that would be me, and I have a process, a small team, venues, a budget, and no shortage of ideas. I am naturally organised and with project planning experience from my Industrial Design background, I love a good project plan. The main tool for my process is a spread-sheet in a multitude of variations. I can be juggling anywhere from 5 to 15 events and promotions simultaneously, all at varying stages in the process. I love a good Gantt chart but have simplified to a simple timeline. I prepare a communication plan for my team and other essential documents such as a media release.

The Speaker

Booked Out Agency serves as a perfect partner as a provider of authors as speakers. What a wonderful and empowering mechanism for authors to be able to extend their work! They are my first resource when I am planning to fill my events calendar.

Having found a speaker and agreed to the time, fees, etc. it is up to the speaker to engage with the audience.

Authors who are not well-known or just launching their first book can try to jump onto the speakers route through public libraries. This does require a bit of self-promotion and leg-work by the author to make the connection and pitch their worth to the library events organiser (me). Fees for speaking will be much less depending on what is expected and agreed. Sometimes free use of space in exchange for the speaking event can be a viable way for an unknown author to get into this field.

Once ‘on stage’ it is entirely up to the speaker/author to engage the audience. Not every speaker fully realises this opportunity provided to them. It is a special and unique platform to have the spotlight, to speak their truths, to say their piece. Some waste it. Some don’t inspire. Some are self-indulgent. Some are just inexperienced. Some can write eloquently but not be able to speak to an audience well at all. It is a performance to some degree. Expert speakers can talk underwater – for hours. Great speakers inspire, are humble, and authentic. Some just have one great idea that can hold an audience spellbound for an hour. 

The Audience

People have to feel inspired into action to come along to a hear a speaker. Sometimes popularity or notoriety is all it takes to fill a space with eager attendees. They come with expectations, wanting to get ‘something’ from their investment of time and/or ticket price.

It is a serendipitous outcome. My attitude is based on the idea that whoever is in the room was meant to be there. Any particular mix of people will shape the event into the unique experience that it is. Any messages shared by the speaker or the attendees are expressed for all to hear and learn from.

The Results

This past year I have been successful in attracting people into the library who are not our regulars, or even library users. Does this translate into new memberships and more loans? Probably not. That is part of the aim but not in an overt or pushy manner. The hope is they will see the benefits and come back soon.

The results are dynamic, unique and engaging. Hopefully it reflects the objective: that we engage with the people in our community to inspire learning, support literacy development, encourage freedom of thought with the ability to think critically. We hope to instil this love of libraries into everyone of us.

Other Explanations

While researching the topic to see what others say about this ‘occupation’, I came across two descriptions that I particularly like:

#glamblogweekly

Square eyes

“You’ll get square eyes if you watch so much TV.”

This was a familiar catchcry from my mother to me when I was a child. And I admit I loved watching television. Brought up on Gilligan’s Island, The Brady Bunch, Skippy, and Get Smart, I am a product of the television generation. Later in my teens I would hurry to get my maths and physics homework finished in time to watch the Monty Python TV series.

Back in the 50’s when TV first arrived in Australia my father was an electronics nerd and built a crude TV with the screen and not much else, by his description. When I said to my parents at three years of age, “I see two TV’s!”, they realised I probably needed spectacles; and I have worn them ever since.

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How viewing has changed though! We are in the midst of huge change. Since we had the NBN connected I don’t often watch the mainstream TV channels anymore, instead switching over to Foxtel or streamed channels. Binge watching series favourites such as House of Cards, Suits, and finding new creations such as The OA, in between episodes of Game of Thrones, have transformed my weekends into marathons that do indeed make me feel like my eyes are getting squarer. Surfing the YouTube content is a pastime sure to waste untold hours that could be better used. Now I’ve heard of Gregg Braden just because he cropped up in the YouTube feed, and many others via Oprah’s hyped-up Super Soul Sessions.

Once I listened to commercial radio stations like 3XY for hours in my room, or later in my car driving to and from University. The first music album I bought for myself was The Essential Beatles on black vinyl. Nowadays I am an avid podcast listener, preferring to choose my content free of awful advertising that disturbs my serenity.

A typical evening’s viewing consists of something like an AFL football match on the big screen, my husband searching GumTree on the Mac on his lap, and me with my earphones plugged in to my iPad watching Suits or Utopia. I wonder if my highly connected father, who was an expert in HAM radio and Morse Code, would enjoy this lifestyle of multiple screens.

Given that I have taken on the challenge to #glamblogweekly I must accept that some of my content might ‘suffer’.