Things have been extremely busy here in the east! It also continues to be hot, but fortunately less humid. Gorgeous really, 30 degrees today! I’ve been working hard and of course my piece has become much more elaborate than intended. Surprise! I’ve encountered some technical difficulties with the clay, so have been spending too much time doing tests. The piece is coming along well though, but too slowly. The pressure is on!
I have been profoundly influenced by the exotic surroundings here, in particular the tropical vegetation. My piece reflects this and I find it interesting that I don’t feel at all compelled to incorporate both the growth and the decaying part of the life cycle, the duality I would normally be obsessed with. There is just such a profusion of growth here and the entanglement of vegetation has found its way into my work in a way that hasn’t happened before. It’s exciting but also stressful, as the piece has become more and more complex!
Mostly things continue to run smoothly, but we are beginning to encounter some of the tensions that are standard with this kind of a situation — some personality conflicts, some territorialism and a lot of anxienty about drying time, glazing and firing and most of all, kiln space! The kiln schedule is filling up fast and we all have to finish our pieces by the same deadline. This always creates problems, especially when everyone is firing at different temperatures. Should be interesting! My assistant has been away since Friday, but will return on Tuesday. She was setting up her show in Taipei. I will be happy when my “beautiful moon” returns (Mai-Yue). She is very helpful and so sweet!
Friday was a national holiday in Taiwan (National 10th Day) — sort of like our July 1st. We went into Tainan for a special tea ceremony (kind of like a wine tasting session, but with tea — the tea leaves for each tea were passed around for us to sniff before the tea was made) and stumbled upon a celebration at a small temple later. We tried to discreetly sneak in but, before we knew it, the MC stopped the orchestra (all traditional instruments) to announce our arrival — everyone clapped and welcomed us, then they gave us some chairs and some cold tea to drink. The Taiwanese are pretty relaxed about us white folks, but they do go out of their way to make us feel welcome. When we arrived back at the college that night, we were all so wired from drinking all that tea (we also got sweets), we all ended up working until 2 in the morning! Maybe I should be drinking more tea! It’s a big thing here — whereas we have water coolers, they have machines everywhere that dispense hot, warm and cold water (with LED temperature read outs for each one). You wouldn’t want to make tea with water that isn’t at boiling temperature! Still haven’t figured out what the warm water is for (about 50 degrees).
I’d better get back to work. Still lots to do! Hope you are all doing well and staying warm.
Bye for now,