As some of you may know last month we spent a week visiting the beautiful country of Morocco (see my travel column about our time in the Atlas Mountains here). While in Marrakesh we spent quite a bit of time wandering through the maze of souks (markets) and admiring all the various stalls and shops selling leather purses and slippers, ceramic bowls, carpets, jewelry, antiques and pretty much anything else you could ever desire.
One of our favorite shops to visit were the spice shops. They were full of bottles upon bottles filled with every kind of spice and herb you could ever imagine. The aroma these shops give off can be smelled from far away and is almost intoxicating while you’re actually inside.
At the shop above we bought little plastic sacks filled with freshly ground cumin (did you know in Morocco they put salt and cumin on the dining table instead of salt and pepper?), Moroccan 35 spice, the most intense yellow tumeric I’ve ever seen, Moroccan curry and the most amazing and pungent smelling cinnamon ever. Since returning home I’ve tried all my spices and they are absolutely amazing. They add so much flavour to any dish.
But the most intriguing items we bought in one of these little spice shops were the coloured powdered pigments. At first we had no idea what all the jars full of coloured water were but the kind shop owner Mohammed explained that these are pigments used for painting and dying clothing. As a lover of bright colours and anything creative I decided to buy some to experiment with back home on a rainy day. As luck would have it, the week after we arrived home we had a stay-at-home day and these pigments were the perfect activity to stay warm in front of the fireplace.
Mohammed told us to mix small amounts of the pigment powders with lemon juice. I think the kids had just as much fun doing this than the actual painting. The colours turned out so vibrant and reminiscent of the colours we saw everywhere in Morocco.
The paint has quite a different texture to normal paints and actually dries with a beautiful smooth and almost shiny finish.
It’s not often that these big kids of mine have time to sit down and paint for a morning like we did so often in the past. I have to admit that I loved every single minute of it.
Last week-end some friends and I organised a felting morning for all of our children. We’ve done various felting workshops in the past with our kids and they’ve always really enjoyed it. They’ve tried needle felting (a few painful stabs were felt) and the hot water with soap method (the room was SOAKED). Either way the kids loved doing it and always finish feeling very proud of their work.
This time the kids were asked beforehand to make a relatively simple drawing of something they love or find beautiful.
They then had to cut out pieces of different coloured felt to re-create the drawing. We put the drawing on the table with bubble wrap over top so it was easy to see. They then placed all the pieces of felt on top of their design.
Then they placed a piece of cream coloured felt on top of their “felted drawing” and slowly poured hot soapy water over top. They gently patted it with their fingers to start the actual felting process.Slowly the kids can start to see their designs coming through. The fun part…patting, rubbing, rolling and throwing the felt around.Checking to see if it’s the desired size (the more you work the felt the smaller it gets).
A Japanese inspired temple gate and a lighthouse of her dreams.
A sunny sunflower and a winged princess (5 year old artist).A cherry blossom branch and a clown with umbrella.
Next month my family and I are going to Japan for a two week vacation. It’s a trip I’ve been fantasizing about for years and I am so excited to go. I’ve always been so intrigued by Japanese culture, art and food (who isn’t?). The last while we’ve been busily organising and planning our trip and trying to find all the most interesting activities and places to visit with a family. One of the most exciting ones we’re in the process of organising is a trip to The National Museum of Art in Osaka to see an Yayoi Kusama exhibit. We weren’t planning on going to Osaka but when we saw this exhibition we decided to fit it into our plans as a daytrip from Kyoto (where we will be staying for almost a week).
Yayoi Kusama is an amazingly interesting and talented Japanese artist who has been voluntarily living in a psychiatric institution since 1977 (she is now 82). She’s famous for her paintings, sculptures and installations that almost always include polka dots. She was quite prominent in the modern pop culture scene in New York City in the 60′s where she is said to have had a huge influence on artists such as Warhol. She has actually just opened a big exhibition at the Tate Modern in London which includes one of her largest “Mirror Rooms” to date (on from February 9th to June 5th).
I pretty sure my polka dot obsessed daughters are going to love this exhibition!
For those of you who are familiar with the famous photographer Robert Mapplethorp you’ll be surprised to hear that we took our three young children to see one of his exhibits last week-end. And I must admit there were a few photographs that were very explicit (if you get my drift). We’ve been taking our children to all sorts of art exhibits and shows since they were months old. Most have been thoroughly enjoyed and a few a bit less (I remember one Paul McCarthy exhibit in Milan where we had to carry out a few of the kids in tears). Some people disagree with exposing kids to topics that are out of the average comfort zone. We decided long ago to expose them to a wide range of different artists and types of art. We find our kids don’t register or even really see the stuff they’re not ready for. And the animated conversations we’ve had with our kids after these exhibits have been amazingly interesting.
The kids have been refering to this art show as “the penis exhibit” due to…well….the hundreds of photos of penises. But there were also Mapplethorp’s beautiful flower portraits (also quite erotic but the kids don’t see that). If interested the show is on at Fondazione Forma in Milan until April 2nd. Go on…take the kids as well!
I don’t know why but the last few days I’ve been thinking about the Belgian artist Jan Fabre. We went to see an exhibit of his at the Kroller Muller Museum in Holland last year and I still catch myself thinking about him and his art. The exhibit that we saw was one with his jewel beetle pieces. Paintings, sculptures and installation pieces were covered with these beetles. At first glance you can’t even tell that it’sactual beetle shells that are the medium he uses. He actually did a mural of jewel beetles on the ceiling of the Royal Palace in Brussels (1.6 million were used). His art definitely lingers in the mind for a very long time.
The famous jewel beetles.
The whole foreground is made of thousands of beetles. The paintings in the back as well.
Beetle covered street lamp.
In the garden of the Kroller Muller Museum there were some of Fabre’s bronze head statues.
If I remember correctly a lot of these statues are actually of the artist himself.
We all found the whole exhibit very fascinating. The kids still mention the beetle exhibit often and are still in awe of the works of art that they saw that day.
For an interesting article about Jan Fabre (with explanation of his human bone pieces) look here…
A sweet little film made by one of my daughters…