Posts Tagged ‘National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts’

musings: Why is it raining feathers?

February 27, 2013

Stretching after a run, I noticed a feather float down to the ground from the tree above me. Pretty, I thought. Then another and another fell. A few more seconds and a literal (albeit soft) rain of feathers was floating down around me.

This is weird. I stopped mid stretch and walked around under the tree. Looking up, I saw a hawk pulling apart a pigeon, feathers puffing with each jerk of its beak. It spied me spying it, and paused in its ravenous ripping to stare down at me, head cocked to one side.

What a poignant contrast between the soft and really quite beautiful downward drift of the numerous feathers and the sharp beak and jerking motions of the bird as it tore apart its likely freshly caught fodder.

A Chinese Goshawk. Was this what I saw pulling apart a pigeon?

A Chinese Goshawk. Was this what I saw pulling apart a pigeon? Image by Hiyashi Haka.

I was running in the grounds of the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts and didn’t have my cellphone (or a camera) with me, so I didn’t get a photograph. (Gah!) I can’t remember the exact size of the bird, but from my angle (looking up from almost directly under the branch it was feasting on), it looked at most a third bigger than the pigeon it was eating.

So, using my awesome powers of deduction and (the most reputable source online ever) Wikipedia, I’ve come up with a shortlist.

  • Crested Serpent Eagle A medium sized bird of prey that lives in tropical Asia, including Taiwan. According to this source, this eagle is a commonly-sited Taiwanese residentThis bird sounds so lovely I simply WANT to say that I saw it.
  • Eastern Marsh Harrier A migratory bird that winters in Taiwan. It prefers open spaces and marshlands and preys on small mammals, birds and frogs. OK, so the Taiwan National Fine Art Museum isn’t exactly a marsh (well, not at all, really) and I’m not sure that pigeons could be called “small” birds, but I still feel that this little harrier could fit the bill.
  • Crested Goshawk This small raptor likes to hang out in trees and is apparently secretive. Rare, you say? I like the sound of that! In the right circles, I could say “Yes, I once saw a rare Crested Goshawk in a park in Taiwan. Imagine that!” and really impress people.
  • Besra Medium-sized and living throughout the Asia region, it relies on surprise to catch it prey. What caught my eye with this bird is that in winter, it heads into open, cultivated land.
  • Eurasian Sparrowhawk This bird winters over in parts of Asia and usually plucks the feathers from larger quarry. There’s a picture of this bird with a pigeon in its claws! It’s holding it on the ground, though, and not tearing it apart, but the bit about feather plucking is promising.

I also stumbled across a story of a pair of Peregrine Falcons living among the high rises of Kaohsiung City. Clearly this bird likes urban living. Maybe this is what I spotted?

I just shot off an email to Birding in Taiwan asking if they could help me to identify the bird. Fingers crossed! I’ll update you if they get back to me.

UPDATE | 28 March 2013 According to Simon from Birding in Taiwan, I laid eyes on a Peregrine Falcon, a rare sighting in Taiwan, says this website. Mystery solved!

Oh, and I just remembered, this is the second bird of prey I’ve spotted in Taichung City. When I was running in the botanical gardens I almost got hit by a hawk/harrier/kite/EAGLE-like bird that was chasing down a heron!

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Copyright © 2013. This website is for personal non-commercial use only. All written work and imagery copyright to jar of buttons unless otherwise stated.

finds: Tsai Chih-Hsien’s iron sculpture

February 20, 2011

Images from an exhibition of work by Tsai Chih-Hsien, a 50+ year old Taichung sculptor. The exhibition began on Saturday at Taichung’s Espace Lin. The works upstairs are solid iron and the two pieces in the downstairs gallery are iron found object.

We turned up on Saturday expecting an opening event and an opportunity to meet the artist but it turns out the opening event will actually happen later in the month. Hopefully I can have more on the artwork for you then but in the meantime, enjoy the images or better yet, visit and see the works for yourself.

Downstairs gallery shot. Work by Tsai Chih-Hsien. Gallery: Espace Lin, Taichung.

Downstairs gallery shot. Work by Tsai Chih-Hsien. Gallery: Espace Lin, Taichung.

Upstairs gallery shot. Work by Tsai Chih-Hsien. Gallery: Espace Lin, Taichung.

Upstairs gallery shot. Work by Tsai Chih-Hsien. Gallery: Espace Lin, Taichung.

Work by Tsai Chih-Hsien. Gallery: Espace Lin, Taichung.

Work by Tsai Chih-Hsien. Gallery: Espace Lin, Taichung.

This one reminds me of a movie camera. Work by Tsai Chih-Hsien. Gallery: Espace Lin, Taichung.

This one reminds me of a movie camera. Work by Tsai Chih-Hsien. Gallery: Espace Lin, Taichung.

A nice space. Work by Tsai Chih-Hsien. Gallery: Espace Lin, Taichung.

A nice space. Work by Tsai Chih-Hsien. Gallery: Espace Lin, Taichung.

Here’s a bit of biographical info in English on Tsai Chih-Hsien.

Espace Lin is across the road from the Taichung’s art museum. I’m working on a Google map at the moment and will be sure to add the gallery to that. Up on JoB soon.

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Copyright © 2011. This website is for personal non-commercial use only. All written work and imagery copyright to jar of buttons unless otherwise stated.

finds: new taichung food and art places | part three: vintage shopping

August 8, 2010

Here’s some pics of the little vintage shop, nestled amongst the artist studios in the old market art area by Taichung’s art museum.

I bundled up a great plastic blue 80s handbag, an old Taiwanese movie poster and a couple of old paper advertisements. There’s more than a ton of other things I want.

Peering through the door of the little vintage place of heaven.

Peering through the door of the little vintage place of heaven.

Handmade paper "stained glass" windows outside vintage shop.

Handmade paper "stained glass" windows outside vintage shop.

The vintage shop. Lamps.

The vintage shop. Lamps.

The vintage shop. Odds and ends.

The vintage shop. Glass.

The vintage shop. Jewellery.

The vintage shop. Jewellery.

The vintage shop. Frames.

The vintage shop. Frames.

Address: I’m not going to tell you. Part of the fun of this place is trying to hunt it down. I will say, however, that it’s somewhere near the corner of the art museum parkway (beside the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts) and Wuquan Street. Bring a fan with you as the whole place is unbelievably hot in summer.

Read part one of this series
Read part two of this series

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finds: new taichung food and art places | part two: z gallery

August 8, 2010

Part two of a three part series of images, in this post you can explore the inside of Z Gallery. The gallery is located in an old covered market that independents are slowly converting into a series of artist spaces and shops.

At the moment there are five establishments nestled under the corrugated iron roof of the market: a contemporary art gallery, an independent film production studio and screening room, what looks like a literary space for writers, a vintage shop and a contemporary photography gallery and studio. The rent is super cheap in the area and because it’s so old, it looks like people can do what they want with their rented spaces. As a side note, the film studio plays screens independently produced short films from around the world every Saturday night. Entry is NT$50 per session.

Currently on display at Z Gallery are contemporary ink works by three Taiwanese artists, Lin Fan-wei, Tsai Yi-ru and Jung Jiang-je. I particularly love the art created by Tsai Yi-run.

Z Gallery.

Z Gallery.

Z Gallery. First floor.

Z Gallery. First floor.

Z Gallery. Window box.

Z Gallery. Window box.

Z Gallery. Third floor.

Z Gallery. Third floor.

Z Gallery. Another window box.

Z Gallery. Another window box.

Z Gallery. The bathroom.

Z Gallery. The bathroom.

Z Gallery.

Z Gallery.

Address: I’m not going to tell you. Part of the fun of this place is trying to hunt it down. I will say, however, that it’s somewhere near the corner of the art museum parkway (beside the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts) and Wuquan Street. Bring a fan with you as the whole place is unbelievably hot in summer.

Read part one of this series
Read part three of this series

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Copyright © 2010. This website is for personal non-commercial use only. All written work and imagery copyright to jar of buttons unless otherwise stated.

critique: is taichung soulless?

March 22, 2010

Can we really say that Taichung is a soulless city? Well, I kinda think yes.

A recent article is doing the rounds of all the English language newspapers in Taiwan. It discusses the possibility that Taichung is a soulless city, a city searching for it’s identity. After having lived here for a year, I must say that I think it is. It seems that there was once potential for it to become a culturally active city, but I feel that it has let those opportunities pass, or hasn’t promoted what it already has.

Stock 20

Being an inland, centrally positioned city often has its disadvantages and Taichung is not quite near the coast and not quite near the mountains. While the Dakeng Scenic Area is only a short scooter drive from Taichung’s Beitun District and is a really nice hiking trail area, the coastal areas near Taichung Port are underdeveloped and lacking promotion. In the same regard, central Taichung (the area around Taichung Train Station) has fallen into disrepair: “it would take at least five to six years to complete urban regeneration of the downtown area, the city’s earliest developed region which has lost its luster after business activities had moved elsewhere as Taichung developed into a multi-core city.”

Art Street

The article in the China Post goes into more detail regarding the past, present and future-planned developments of Taichung so I’ll let you read it for yourself here.

There are really only a handful of great places to eat, drink, view art and listen to music but overall, I feel there is a slim picking of cultural events, particularly public cultural events, to choose from each year. Perhaps I feel this way because I can’t access information in Chinese but I feel that after living here for a year and a bit I would know about at least the big events.

Sunday movies at Cat Lair

Of course, I don’t think the city is completely without soul. Here’s a quick list of my cultural, soul-growing spots and events:

Cat Lair (I just discovered that on Sundays they play movies outdoors just after the sun sets)
Stock 20
National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts
Art Street – particularly the shop Hukurou
Taiyuan Flea Market
Taichung Jazz Festival
Taichung International Food and Music Festival

Let me know if you know of any other eateries, bars, galleries or events by leaving a comment. I’d LOVE to learn more about the city. Prove Taichung’s soul to me!

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write up: viewpoints and viewing points – 2009 asian art biennale

January 17, 2010

I had two objectives in mind today. One: take a gander at Viewpoints and Viewing Points, the 2009 Asian Art Biennale, currently exhibiting at the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts. Two: try out a couple of the awesome new free bus routes that Taichung City have kindly supplied public transport users with.

Yes, you read it right, tons of art combined with free public transport. What a day! You can read all about then new free bus routes here.

So, onto the exhibition.

It was just wonderful to start my day knowing that I would soon be surrounded by artwork spanning three galleries, created by 56 of Asia’s best artists. And what a show it was. Every sense was stimulated as there was every kind of art form on display, from painting and sculpture to film and photography and everything in between.

Viewpoints & Viewing Points - 2009 Asian Art Biennial, National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts

My favourite pieces, in no particular order, included: Takehito Koganezawa‘s Propagation of Electric Current, all the works by Mia Wen-Hsuan Liu, a Taiwanese artist, and Bloated City and Skinny Language by Hung Keung.

The latter struck me with its beauty when I first entered the space and looked across to see what I assume to be stylised Chinese characters floating across the wall via projection equipment.

However, it became a whole new experience when a man and his very small daughter realised that if you stand at a certain point in the room the characters gently swarm around you and move with you as you move. It was beautiful to watch them interacting with the piece.

He picked his little girl up and they swung around the room together; she was giggling away the whole time. Then, as she was placed back on the floor, she reached up both her hands until they were just visible at the bottom of the wall. The characters clustered around her hands and she grasped for them like they were bubbles floating in a park.

Hung Keung

source

Propagation of Electric Current left me gasping for breath. A huge wall was covered in evenly spaced fluorescent light tubes; all were lit up when I came upon the piece. I stared at it, wondering if the few bars that weren’t lit had some significance.

Suddenly, there was a slight hum and all the lights shut off. It happened so quickly that I was left gasping for breath, my heart pounding, waiting. Again the short hum and the lights flicked on, not quite simultaneously, and I basked in the safety of that neon light once again.

Being plunged into semi-darkness is unnerving.

Takehito Koganezawa, Propagation of Electric Current, 2009

source

Mia Wen-Hsuan Liu‘s pieces were numerous and delicate. Wheels or circles, both large and small and constructed of folded Guggenhiem Museum tickets, revealed patterns and body parts which shifted in shape and design as you moved around the pieces.

From what I could tell, the patterns were created entirely by a folding and cutting process, ensuring the words on the tickets matched to create lines and shapes. Tiny hands and feet made, I assume, from white paper, stretched out from the folds ghoulishly and beautifully.

Her works reminded me of those snowflakes you can make by folding paper and cutting shapes into the folds. When you open the paper out again after cutting you find you’ve created your very own snowflake. Not to belittle her work in any way as her pieces were far more intricate and outstanding than any snowflake I made when I was seven. I did enjoy the nostalgia, however.

You can watch a video interview with Mia Liu Wen-Hsuan here.

The piece I found most disappointing was Australian artist Jon McCormack’s Eden. It promised in its description to be a work detailing the minute goings on of a self-generating, artificial ecosystem at a biological level. With its smoke machine fumes, soft projections of cellular structures and banal sound technique it was reminiscent of a mediocre VJ show.

I have read Impossible Nature: the art of Jon McCormack and found his work stimulating but this piece was a bit of a let down. Looking at the photographs on the Eden page of the Monash website I feel distinctly cheated. Why couldn’t I have had that experience?

Perhaps the virtual creatures were not very healthy or happy today. Would you be, with a ton of people a day watching you grow and develop?

Eden, Jon McCormack

source

I found the work of the Korean artists represented in the show reflected what I have heard stereotyped about Korean society. Their pieces seemed to contextualise the hypermodernity of Korean life or utilised it directly.

For example, Airan Kang’s The Space of Book – the Sublime.

The Space of Book – the Sublime, Airan Kang, 2009

source

I had actually seen a couple of the exhibited films before.

I really can’t remember where I’ve seen The Chess, a stop motion creation by Taiwanese filmmaker Po-Chin Chen. Perhaps it screened at Show Me Shorts? I wonder if the artist lived in Australia or New Zealand at some point? There was nothing in the credits to suggest this.

And a real treat for anyone who hasn’t seen it is the 90 minute film Waltz With Bashir. I saw this about a year ago at my friend’s cinema in New Zealand so I didn’t watch it again. However, it is an incredibly moving film that I would suggest everyone takes the time to go and see.

Waltz with Bashir, Ari Folman, 2008

I found myself viewing the exhibition from an outsider’s perspective, which of course is the way I view much of my daily life here in Taiwan.

It was a strange feeling, as most of the art I’ve been involved with in the past has been produced by my peers or artists from my own culture or one similar to my own. Therefore, I feel I had a greater cultural connection with their work.

Here, I felt somewhat alienated from the pieces that related directly to Asian cultural heritage and the changes Asian societies are currently undergoing. Of course, Asian society can’t really be bunched into one entity as the Asian region is hugely diverse. I’m sure there were other visitors that felt the same way while viewing works in which the motivation was outside their realm of experience.

I really appreciate and value highly this new insight and could also recognise international themes in many of the works. The organisers of the exhibition are living up to the expectations brought about by the title of this year’s biennale and highlighting the fact that everyone views the world differently and has different “ways of seeing.”

“…[this] encompasses our faculty of understanding, empathy, thinking and judgement, a complex process of using various senses to experience the world and make interpretations. The angle of seeing is always selective.” (source: museum exhibition pamphlet)

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Copyright © 2010. This website is for personal non-commercial use only. All written work and imagery copyright to jar of buttons unless otherwise stated.