Mundane is when you start having to worry about laundry.
But it does not mean there is no art involved
or the celebrating of genius.
Laundry day at the abandoned house is every bit art, meaning and genius as it is ordinary.
With the brilliant yet simple contraption made by my friend Remco, drying on the retractable rack are moments of marvel at its inventiveness and engineering prowess, the precision of each solder.
Now do you see Remco's milk carrier right beneath the drying rack? That is to be my bottle garden of natural dyes. There will be little babies of dahlias and french marigold, rosemary and hibiscus. What is there not to love I ask, of this everyday object, right down to every rusty bits.
Finally, there's the tub, a gift from my friend Eva. A lotus pond in the making perhaps? But for now, it makes the chore of washing one of smiles and nostalgia for it reminds me of all the times I have the pleasure of spending with her. Here's a thank you to my friends, for making washing day at the abandoned house a really special day.
She is Amitis Shahbanu and she's the reason why I haven't been able to get back to working on minis like I was planning to this weekend.
I, who am not Persian.
We brought Amitis home from the local animal shelter (SPCA) only yesterday. Our meeting was serendipitous to say the least. In the course of the past week since we have decided to finally adopt a cat again, she was my 7th and only successful attempt.
Ginger aka Pretty
It all started with Ginger, who had to be returned to the shelter because someone in the new adopter's family was allergic to the cat. We got back to the new adopter too late and that cat went back to the shelter, to be renamed Pretty.
Then there was Coco, Sisi, Naim, Golem (the kitty above and I don't know her real name but don't you think she looks a little like Golem, and I mean it in a cute way) and Sherry, not counting Pretty. If only you could see me the 6th time I heard the words Sorry but...
Amitis in the living room
You see, once upon a time, we had 2 long haired cats and we had them for a long, long time. The white one we named Xerxes and the other a solid blue with just one eye, we called Moshe. They were both named after Persian rulers. Xerxes was the last to pass on and it was only now, after 4 years that we were finally ready to adopt again.
Artist Impression of Queen Amitis Shahbanu
Imagine my thrill when after the 6th sorry, the staff, Ellen from the SPCA, to whom we owe our eternal gratitude, pointed her out to me and said I think maybe Misha is still not taken. That was when I first laid eyes on 2 year old Amitis and I swear I thought I saw the reincarnation of both Xerxes and Moshe combined. Except she is a girl and the other 2 were tom cats. Like Xerxes and Moshe, Amitis who was named Misha by the SPCA was also listed as a Persian which accounted for why we named her after a Persian queen.
I am not sure what is her breed but I doubt very much she is a Persian. She has the characteristics of a Maine Coon cat but it really does not matter because she is a Queen in our book.
Hiding in a dark corner when she first came
I still don't understand how anyone can bear to give her up of course. The story was that it was due to family problems.
I don't mean this flippantly but I guess that family's problem has turned out to be my family's fortune. After a mere day, Amitis is no longer hiding and depressed. She's eating and pooing in the litter box, torturing bugs and jumping at lizards. And of course, she's already got all of us at her beck and call.
I have yet to see her or hold her or experience her in any way up close but already she is singularly my most precious possession. You know, the kind where someone ask, if there is only one thing you will rescue if your house is on fire... Ya, she's it.
It was this year, 3rd January, a little before 10 am and I remember sucking in my breath sharply and then going ooooooh. My memory of that 1st encounter is as vivid as if it happened only yesterday. The piece was Duet, the 2nd one of hers in the series of the same name. I was of course, bowled over.
An artist painting an artiste and in the true sense of life imitating art, we see the artist in a dance pose with her painted dancer as if they were in a pas de deux. The idea for this evocative masterpiece was germinated from something as simple as a mini canvas Renata found in an art shop. It gave her the idea of sculpting an artist painting the canvas and then it progressed into a figure painting a figure.
The piece spoke to me in a way that was at once rousing and intimate. Intimate because the themes of art and dance were so close to my heart, rousing as I watched the lyrical reaction of the artist to her art. She might as well be depicting me, lost to the world that I have created, living in my abandoned house.
4 hours later, I found myself typing an email to Renata asking if she would create another Duet for me.
Re-reading those January email reminded me of how tentative I was. Awkward and too terribly shy to tell her outright that I wanted the subject matter to be about me, I was actually glad when she replied to say she could not start another project till July. Our exchange ended with her promise to contact me some time after July or at the end of that month.
To my immense surprise, she really did write and on the dot too. 25th July 2013, I received an equally tentative are you still interested because if you are not, please don't be worried to tell me,it's perfectly fine and I won't be offended email from her. It was only a few days ago that I found out what was behind Renata's discomfort. She was concerned about writing after so many months to ask if I still wanted to commission her as she thought I would go oh no, now I would have to say
yes even though I really didn't want to anymore! That could not be farther from the truth as this dream sculpture that I felt only Renata could realise had been looming large and real in my head and it had refused to go away.
That is the kind of person Renata is. She is completely humble and void of any self importance, so unassuming and always thoughtful. In the past months from late July to October when we were emailing back and forth about the work, I found Renata to be everything you could hope for in someone you want to entrust something important like realising a dream. Where I was unsure, Renata was patient, coaxing and gentle. When I was insecure, she was encouraging, generous and sweet. There were so many times when I was desperately trying to convey something significant without the right words but Renata knew exactly what to do. What I couldn't tell her, she read it at my blog.
With time, she made it easy for me to tell her how I felt and she in turn, shared with me something of herself.
Art has always been a big part of Renata's life. At college, she studied textile design and was a designer of fabrics for bedding and curtains for 12 years. She had jokingly mentioned that she could paint a flower with her eyes shut but I believe her. She still loves painting but apart from painting the walls on the bases of her sculptures, these days, most of her time is taken up with sculpting. Renata started sculpting in 2006/2007 which makes this only the 7th year that she has been doing so. It all began when her daughter wanted to make friendship bracelets to sell at a fund raising event at school after the 2004 tsunami and Renata thought maybe they should make a face from polymer clay for each bracelet.
While researching online, she found artist making amazing faeries and then Mark Dennis or the madsculptor who was and still is a true inspiration for her. From there, she was hooked. Hours were spent surfing sculpting forums and scouring tips and know how. So while she waited for her birthday to get clay and tools as presents, she started sculpting in her head.
Renata told me how when she finally started really sculpting, she was terrified, wondering if she would really be able to do it.
When I shared with her my own insecurities about creating, she has this to say:
Feeling wobbly when it comes to your creating is just the right way to be. It is then that you push yourself. Doubts are good only if you can push through them and keep going, they can make you do better because you are never satisfied. The one thing is to not let your doubts make you feel so down that you don't want to do anything.
Art should first and foremost be about loving what you do. It is about doing things that'll make you so excited you can hardly think straight. Don't ever worry about whether something will sell or if you will do something others will like. Just do the things you love and the rest will sort itself out. The most important thing about creating art is how it makes you feel.
I love it because I can be in a bad mood when I start sculpting and in about 5 minutes, I will have forgotten what upset me. It relaxes me and excites me and makes me feel like my life is buzzing with energy!
3 months, 80 email and hours at my blog later, Renata was finally ready to unveil Sans! I remembered it was in the wee hours of 25 Oct that I saw the 1st picture (also the 1st picture in this post). So thrilled and excited I was that I barely slept that night.
To say that Renata has a gift is stating the
obvious. And an understatement, I might add. It's the thing she does with her gift, now that must surely be the domain of a
mere handful. She has the ability, with her incredible talent
and art, to make a person feel like she's God's special child
because that's exactly how I felt like when I saw the "me" she has created. An ideal version of oneself forever immortalised
in a happy state, doing what she loves,what more can a girl want?
Many of Renata's friends thought it was a self portrait and even when she told them no, it's Sans, look, this is her blog, one or two still insisted. What a huge compliment that was for me.
Yet, despite all the accolades and acclamation, Renata still refuse to acknowledge or accept her own brilliance. She said in an email : San, ... I can't take the credit for how your sculpture
turned out in the end ....I didn't know how she would turn out
and didn't plan it...Sometimes I really think these things come from
somewhere else and we are just the hands that do the work! She evolved
into what she is now and ...I think she was always
going to be like that...you were there in her before she was even made.
Ren, I don't care what you say. You are everything everyone says you are: superb, amazing, brilliant, not of this world! I am in awe of you, as an artist, as a person, as a friend.
To you, Sans! may never be a a great piece of art but forever for me, it is a masterpiece that will always affect me in the most profound way. I had wanted to freeze time so that I can remind myself whenever I am down how much happiness I have had doing what I love. You have done that and more, Ren. You have truly encapsulated for me that moment of consummated satisfaction, that intoxicating thrilling instant when I have made something successful.
Thank you Ren, for surpassing my expectations in every way and for making my dreams come true.
These blogs chronicle my journey into the wonderful world of miniatures.
"The Beginning" is the prequel to it all, the one that triggered my obsession with the weird and wonderful world of doll houses.
"My Maharajah's Palace" is a journal of the trials and tribulations en-route to the building of my Indian Palace.
"Projects, Musings & AOB" is like my workroom or scrapbook of anything minis.