Monday, 9 September 2013

Histories...and mysteries Part 2

If this is "Histories and Mysteries, Part 2" then where is Part 1??? Good question.  Last week I was showing someone my blog and realised that my post of 18th August had completely disappeared.  No, I didn't do anything to it 'by mistake'.  So I googled the problem and apparently it has happened to quite a few bloggers, some even losing their whole blog overnight!  Anyway, I guess it reinforces the good practice of saving the blog elsewhere each time you post. So that post is History - where it has gone to is a Mystery - and we'll leave it at that. Did anyone notice...?

What have I been up to this week then? I have had some good chats with Angela about the plants at Rimbun Dahan and found this pile of books by my door the other day.
6 Volumes (+1 index)  and The Curiosity Cabinet of the Ambonese Herbal
Wow! You can't see how thick each of these volumes are but they run to around 600 pages each, with fabulous illustrations inside.  These have just been published in English last year, and the sub title is "Being a Description of the Most Noteworthy Trees, Shrubs, Herbs, Land -and Water- Plants Which Are Found in Amboina and the Surrounding Islands According to their Shape, Various Names, Cultivation, and Use: Together with Several Insects and Animals." Whew! Not only do I need more hours in the day, but a couple more pairs of eyes to read with.

Angela also invited me to view her collection of songket.  Briefly, a songket is a textile in the brocade family. Handwoven in cotton or silk, (and traditionally using naturally-dyed fibre) it is intricately patterned with gold or silver threads, giving it a shimmering effect, and is therefore a luxury fabric used for ceremony as sarong, shoulder cloths or head ties. Of course it is much more than this description, with many books written on the subject (yes, I have been lent those as well!!).  So enough of my prattle, here is the eye-candy....

One of the beautifully woven textiles (reverse side).
And another one showing both front and back of the songket
   An unusual design, and we found some slight variations throughout the cloth
which emphasises it's hand-made qualities.
An intricate clasp on the edge of this heavily embellished songket.
Hopefully these beautiful textiles will encourage you to find out some more about songket.

On Saturday, Angela showed about 30 architecture students and lecturers from the Politeknik Sultan Idris Shah around Rimbun Dahan.  They spent a few hours walking around the landscaped garden, looking at the traditional and contemporary buildings on site and listening to artist talks.
The group from the PSIS outside my studio after artist talk.
Luckily I have been working hard and had a few things to show them;  talked about my concepts and my design philosophies, and managed to give the Canberra Centenary a plug too!
Almost finished 2 large pieces, some drawings and works on paper, and dye samples.
If you read my last post you will know we have hit a rainy patch here at Rimbun Dahan, and I have found another good thing to do in the rain - collect fresh rainwater for my dyepots! This saves me from having to figure out how hard the water is here, which will affect my Symplocos mordant process - bonus. 
For those of you that are more interested in the fauna and flora I have managed a few photos for you as well. I found this large insect one morning, covered in dust and fluff on my studio floor.  I saved it's life....then by chance I was flipping through one of Angela's books and found out what it was.......

Rhynchophorus ferrugineus  - the Red Palm Weevil - about 4-5cm long
Uh oh!  I was concerned that perhaps I shouldn't have saved it after all.  This striking fellow is a major pest in commercial palm plantations.  Fortunately Rimbun Dahan is not one of those. Who would have thought such a pest could be so beautiful?  

Here is an interesting plant I am sampling for dyes.  It is a Bunga telang  in Malay, or Clitoria ternatea.  The flower is used as colouring for a rice dish, nasi kerabu, and kuih tai bai, a small cake. 

There weren't that many flowers on Angela's vine, but I am sampling the leaves and seed pods in my dyepots.

Well, that's all for this week.  Feel free to ask questions or comment below.
Sehingga minggu depan,

1 comment:

  1. Hi Julie

    The Songket are amazing and you knwo me I love the gold threads.

    Looks looks you are having a very productive residency. Look forward to next weeks post as your adventure continues.