Posts Tagged ‘symbolism’

Anzac Day Montevideo 2014

Saturday, April 26th, 2014

We rose early Friday morning to attend the 7am Anzac Day Dawn  Service arranged by the Australia-Uruguay Camera/Chamber, and actually, although we were prompt starting in the cold wind, ‘Dawn’ was prolly technically about 15 minutes earlier.  When John Prentice began with the introduction to the observance, we could look out through the distinctive naval theme sculpture behind him at the Plaza Vigilio, Punta Gorda,  and on the horizon count 14 ships waiting to enter the port,  which equalled the number of attending souls, 14.  Our honorary consul Diego Paysee laid the wreath, and John Shaw, next to John P (in black) later performed the Last Post and the Reveille/Rouse.

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The piper, Gonzalo, played stirringly, and in my conversation with him afterwards, he had very complementary words about the Victorian Police Band pipers of years gone by, and one of my own favourites, The Bad Piper whom he described as a highly accomplished technically brilliant piper – and so say all of us!!!! I’m a total fan, by the way.

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At the solemn stage of the observance, yours truly is pictured reading the poem ‘On Flanders Fields’ that I always seem to get roped in to read; I know, it doesn’t look as if I am speaking, but that is just when Graciela took the shot. I got through it all without faltering – phew.

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The three young Aussie lads appearing in these two pics, were visiting Montevideo from Newcastle.    I didn’t get their names, but Marianna, the Kiwi holding their flag might have.  Their parents would have been proud of them.   They were due to leave the country a few hours after this, but they found time to come along.  Travel well boys.  It was cold this morning, as I am sure it was in many of the places that Aussies and Kiwis gathered for observances and marches.

Stitch Plus Shape

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

kintsugi meets textile mending web

Top – Sample from today – some fused shapes with a variety of edge treatments, and including some metallic stitches.

LL – from a poor quality photo but an adequate aide memoire – of a section of kuba cloth we saw in a Colombian museum.

LR – detail of a hand quilted wall quilt,  2010, using the traditional squares with squares motif non-traditionally.

To me they’re related, and link to the ethic of mending something valuable; on which theme I recently discoverd the beautiful Japanese craft of mending broken ceramics – kintsugi 

Presentation Is Everything.

Monday, February 11th, 2013

I always have my camera with me when I walk on the beach here, as offerings to the spiritual figures of the belief system that crossed the Atlantic with the African slave trade are likely to appear.  Of course the history of that trade is appalling, but the deeply held beliefs continue to sustain many now-free people up and down the americas. In all societies these beliefs are expressed and confirmed through ritualistic practices, art and music, all of which are handed down orally and aurally, and usually augmented by documents and text as a society moves towards literacy.

When I first came here I was rather disgusted by what I thought was merely discarded litter, and to be fair, although things have improved, back then there were far too few rubbish bins around Uruguayan streets, rubbish collection could be intermittent, and I have seen many people casually throw down litter in the street or out of windows of moving vehicles.  Though better now, it is still one of the things that has always bothered me in this country.   One day several years back I encountered a group of three women carefully taking several figurines down to the water and ritualistically ‘rinsing’ them.  They obviously didn’t mind me watching, and when I asked a question they began to tell me the first things I’d ever heard about the Goddess of The Sea, Imanja.  From the way they talked and handled these figurines they were sincere and I found it all very interesting.  I realised that when freshly set out on the beack, before being scattered by the tide, some of these things often included perfectly good candles and fresh flowers.  I began asking questions of Uruguayan friends, and a couple of people have offered to take me to ‘services’ of this system, but so far I haven’t felt OK about that – not all the offerings are ‘good’ – some represent curses or bad spells.

I didn’t go to the beach on the night of feb 2nd this year (the sea goddess’ birthday) but two days later I came across the little blue boat, below, still bobbing around in the water at our local beach.  That was quite good really, for the usual attrition rate of vessels launched that night is 100% destruction within a few hours!  I got close enough to see that its contents were gone (tipped out by waves I guess, but if so someone put if afloat again)   It was lovely – a flat bottomed basic boat shape, very effectively waterproofed with blue sticky back vinyl or similar, and large shells glued along the sides.  Especially on that night, people take great care and time to design and construct their offerings to float out to the sea goddess.

beach offerings feb 2013

I’m sure I’ve posted the watermelon one before, but its beautiful simiplicty makes it one of my favourites, however the lovely blue ribbon was vinyl, and on the whole the practice does leave quite a bit of non-biodegradable debris, such as the ubiquitous styrofoam, plastic bags and other plastic bits -they’re all cheap and/or recycled materials.

beach offerings non biodegradable elements

However, as my regular readers will know, one of the things that attracts me to these offerings is the care with which they are always prepared and presented, and the fact that they are taken down to the beach, always at night, usually in the pre-dawn hours. In the lower part of the first pic: the dead chicken and half empty jar of honey were atop a decent selection of fruits and vegetables; you can see many candles and some flowers (carnations are popular ?significant) the white grains might be rice and on the other side some variety of bean. Inside the mound of stuff might have been a few coins, and perhaps cheap pretty jewellery or a small bottle of cheap perfume – these things please the sea goddess and are often included.  In the yellow offering above, you can see quite a number of 10 peso coins (each about 50c US) and being yellow, it was almost certainly to another goddess in the spiritual pantheon.

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