Tuesday, July 24, 2007

With a Little Luck - The Southern Cross

Currently I am working on constructing flyingstartoys.com and I was doing a little research yesterday on the Australian Flag and the Southern Cross as it relates to the story of Star Boomers (the Kangaroo toy set above). While doing so I discovered a whole array of very surprising facts and stories.

Firstly, it was a coincidence that piqued my interest while reading about the Australian flag on Wikipedia. I had just added the details of the inspiration for Star Boomer into its Story page, noting its connection to my Mt Ainslie poetry pilgrimage to read Dante. (See my post The Divine Comedy - Dante for more on this story.) I thought I'd link the Wikipedia page to the Australian Flag text so that anyone not familar with the flag might quickly understand my point. Reading through what Wikipedia had to say on it I nearly fell out of my chair when I read the following:

"Ivor Evans, one of the flag's designers, intended the Southern Cross to refer also to the four moral virtues ascribed to the four main stars by Dante: justice, prudence, temperance and fortitude."


I had never known about the association of Dante with the stars of the Australian flag before and thought it quite beautiful as well as a striking coincidence. Then another funny point struck me - the person I was with for the reading of Dante on Mt Ainslie in Canberra (Australia's capital city) was named Ivor.....hmmmmm, what would Jung say?

I thought I'd read a little more closely when it came to reading about the Southern Cross or Crux. Reading along I discovered that the Southern Cross was visible to the ancient Greeks (c 1000 BC) but by 400 AD it had slipped below the horizon, officially it had become a southern Crux visible mainly to the lands down under. Acrux, the bottom star in the cross is the 13th brightest star in the night sky and was called Trishanku in Hindu Astrology.

The story of Trishanku is recorded in the Valmiki Ramayama. In short, Trishanku was a King who wanted to ascend to heaven in his earthly body. He asked one Sage to perform the ritual but he refused. After much trouble he met another Sage called Viswamitra, the rival of the first Sage, and he agreed to perform the ritual. As Trishanku was ascending to heaven Indra, the ruler of Heaven, forbade it as unnatural and sent the king hurtling back to earth, but due to the Sage's promise, Viswamitra sent forth his powers and suspended the king's fall. This uneasy situation was a cause for some concern. The sage had to create a way of fulfilling his promise. Viswamitra's solution was to create a second heaven and a second Indra to rule the new heaven. This caused great upset in heaven and so a compromise was reached that only Trishanku would live in this heaven, though not rule it, and he would abide there upside down.

This is why you might say that the head (or brightest star) of Trishanku is upside down. The illustration above shows the Sage Viswamitra creating a second heaven with Trishanku upside down in the sky.

The word Trishanku is used in India to this day to refer to an uneasy situation, neither stable nor unstable. The Acrux star looks to wobble from earth and is therefore said to be neither stable like the Pole star or unstable like a wandering star (a planet).

The Southern Cross was also known by the name Swastika an ancient sanskrit word which meant well being or lucky....In Australia we are said to be the "Lucky Country" and after reading the story of Trishanku, it could also be said to be a little piece of heaven :)

And finally, if Dante is to be regarded, Australians might find direction on the path by the virtues of justice, prudence, temperance and fortitude.....I hope so.

It certainly has been an interesting couple of days exploring mythology, toy making and the Australian flag.

Friday, July 20, 2007

The Muppet Cycle

I figure my life runs in cycles of at least these three moods.




you know what I mean... :)

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Name Tagged - another 8 things about me

Stacey from Sheeps Clothing has tagged me for another meme...this time it's 8 things about me.

Here's the rules.
A. Each player lists 8 facts/habits about themselves.B.
The rules of the game are posted at the beginning before those facts/habits are listed.
C. At the end of the post, the player then tags 8 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know that they have been tagged and asking them to read your blog.

1. My favourite thing to do when working in the studio is to listen to 80s music on my old Chrysler Stereogram record player. I turn it up really loud and belt out the songs while ironing fabric or on the sewing machine. I pick up vinyl records for $2 at the local op shops so I have an ever improving 80s selection to choose from.

2. I've always wanted to go on a hot air balloon ride....when I lived in Canberra I braved the early morning winter chill to walk down to the shores of Lake Burley Griffin to have a picnic breakfast while watching the balloons lift-off for the annual Balloon festival. What a beautiful sight.

3. I love the sound of Magpie and Butcher Birds warbling in the morning. I wish they would visit here more often.

4. Watching clouds sailing through the sky, following their mysteries curl into the shapes of all imagining, of both grace and cruelty, could occupy my entire life if I was an indulgent type.

5. When our backyard is not mown and the dandelions grow to full height and seed, the rarer parrots walk though the field nibbling the flower heads bent low, clutched delicately with a claw. I like it when the backyard is not mown.

6. I get cold easily. I have 4 blankets on top of a heavy wool doona on my bed and a hot water bottle this winter. I wish I had a bed beanie too.

7. I don't have a favourite colour...this has made life more difficult that one might first think.

8. and finally, I'm not a vegetarian.

now to choose 8 people to tag.....
I've had so many of these lately, that I'm going to not tag anyone, but I do solemnly promise to do so the next time.

Friday, July 13, 2007

In the Press - 100 Water Houses

As promised, the article about my work 100 Water Houses in the up coming "Threads of Change" exhibition at Reverse Garbage in Brisbane. I even got to plug the Flying Star Toys on Etsy shop :)

Also, this week I was the first feature artist on the new Plush Team Blog. If you'd like you can read the detailed interview at featured plush artist.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

100 Water Houses in Threads of Change

I had such a fun day today - I had a photo shoot for an article about my work in the textile exhibition Threads of Change being staged at Reverse Garbage. Most of the shoot was spent in a rather awkward position on the floor amidst my soft sculptures called 100 Water Houses. The article will be published next week so I'll post it then...I hope it turns out well!

100 Water Houses was created especially for this exhibition and since the idea was to use recycled textiles I was excited by being able to call upon all the wonderful fabrics I've been collecting from thrift shops for the last couple of years. I must admit, at first I was a little stumped as to what I might make...however, while wondering I picked up one of my books on Hundertwasser and inspiration just flew up and hit me between the eyes..so to speak :) The painting above called Yellow Ships - Sea of Tunis and Taormina (1951) spoke to me and I went immediately into the studio and began the process of making tall, soft sculpture houses.

I named them 100 Water Houses in honour of Hundertwasser, whose name means 100 waters. Hundertwasser was an artist well known for his "green" ideas. The title also reflects the intimate connection between water and the home brought to focus during our sever drought that has brought about the necessity of installing water tanks(houses) to collect the rain.

Threads of Change opens Friday 20th July at 6pm and runs until Saturday 11th August at Reverse Garbage, 296 Montague Road, West End, Brisbane. If you're in the area, why not come along to the opening and say hi :)