Wednesday, September 9, 2009

What I've been up to

Before...

After...
Painting
and scriptwriting, on the sly. Oops, that was a secret. Dialogue is hard. It sounds super fantastic in my head, but when spoken aloud... yuck.

Proposals, artist statements, proposals...
So much effort without knowing the outcome. I console myself with the fact that architects are forced to prepare proposals, too, but in a costlier fashion than artists!

Gardening and exercising again
after a long bout of sickness.

Immersing myself in New Zealand poetry and a bit of local history.
I'm a not-so-recent immigrant but am still trying to find a place for myself in my adopted country. New Zealand poems seem to help me understand the local psyche better than any history book can. I'm discovering how the older generation (Allen Curnow, Keith Sinclair, Jim Baxter) tried to carve out a cultural history for New Zealand. Their hang-ups about living in a remote country ("A country with no momentous present, but with a future," as CK Stead explains Curnow's take on the subject) is comforting to me, in fact, because Malaysia is going through an identity crisis herself. As far as Malaysian art and literature goes, we've only just started finding our own unique voice.

Speaking of which
Funny to think of a time when the "New" in "New Zealand" actually did mean "new". In those days, the pioneers, including the generation that followed, looked back to England for an identity. This act of looking back interests me greatly, for I often 'look back' to whence I came - the distance provides a tension that is useful in my creative life. Hence I completely identify with CK Stead's sentiment that "remoteness is not something our writers should deny or regret, but something to be acknowledged, and exploited as an analogue for the immovable tensions which are universal in human experience" (from his award-winning essay (wah, essays in New Zealand can win awards, ar?) For the Hulk of the World's Between written in 1961).

As for contemporary poets, I'm dipping into some Manhire, CK Stead and Sam Hunt whose lyrical evocations of the New Zealand heartland feel like a welcoming hug.

Feeling fresh again!
Spring, la la. Makes one feel young, la la. Few months ago, I was struck with a case of mild career anxiety. You know what I'm talking about. "I'm pushing thirty and what have I achieved? I may as well die glueing paper tole in the suburbs!" or something like that (for the record, I don't actually indulge in paper tole). But now I've got that fresh-out-of-art-school mojo back. I don't know how it happened, but it did.

Related post: from a year ago

Above images (c) Lydia Chai

2 comments:

YU said...

yeah in the land of artists and art world I find 30 is the new 20 - wouldn't worry about it too much, age is pretty much just a number

YU said...

i can see how malaysia might go through an identity crisis, i see that occurring in most asian nations at the moment -some speeding up, others slowing down