Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Biscuit Bunnies in Charity Exhibition London

Flying Star Toys has donated 6 Biscuit Bunnies for the charity exhibition Cancer Sell for Cancer Research and The Florence Nightingale Hospice, Aylesbury, Bucks, UK.

Cancer Sell will be held on the 31st July 2008 at 98 Leonard Street, London, EC1V 9AY. 6pm - 11pm. FREE ENTRY

You can see images of the exhibition in the Cancer Sell Flickr group

Monday, July 21, 2008

Lions, and Tigers and Bears

Not everything is as it appears, Dorothy. Here are a few thoughts.

This frightening looking creature is actually a Japanese temple guardian. A lion (shishi) protector, a type of offering called Koma-inu, that once stood guard in the inner sanctum of a temple before the Buddha. Why does such a being exist at the entrance to the holy place?

(Edo Period, dated 1742, Seto ware, H. 40cm. Aichi-ken Toji Shiyokan, Nagoya. from "Folk Traditions in Japanese Art", Kodansha, 1978.)

This highly detailed 15th century Medieval, English stained glass panel shows a dragon or fish man swallowing sinners. He wears a collar because he is really a servant of God in the underworld. He holds a trident sceptre showing his authority within this dark and fiery world. Most notable is his belly or torso showing the fierce face of his digestion which will process the course nature from the souls of those he has caught up. Is it simply retribution or is its purpose refinement?

(West window of the nave, St Mary's Church, Fairford, Gloucestershire, 15th Century. from "English Stained Glass", John Baker, Thames and Hudson, 1978.)

This dark, mysterious face might be frightening to some, but it is a beautiful black faced Okina (old man) - a Japanese Noh mask of a character called Kokushikijo. I found this image on the website nohmask21 he makes me very happy. An Okina dance is traditionally performed at the beginning of a Noh program. To understand why that might be what follows are some quotes from the Fushikaden (The Flowering Spirit) by Zeami, the renowned 14-15th century Japanese Noh actor and playwright.

"I have mentioned the importance of the principle of longevity, happiness and prosperity. If you get caught up in the ways of the world and are consumed by greed, it will be the first cause of the decline of the Way. If you take great care in these things for the sake of the Way, you should have a long life, happiness, and prosperity. Nevertheless, if you do so merely for the sake of a long life, happiness, and prosperity, the Way will surely decline. And if the Way declines, so too will longevity and happiness of their own accord. You should take great care to live honestly and with clarity; this will be the cause of revealing the mysterious Flower of ten thousand virtues to the entire world."

"Playing the role of the old man involves the deepest principles of our Way; as the ultimate level of your ability will be apparent to the spectators, it is of the greatest importance."

Kokushikijo's face is dark because it has been burnt by the fires in the vessel of refinement. Maybe this aspect makes him scary but really he is a happy old man who appears after the deepest trials when one has succeeded after a great inner journey....maybe we should call him the Wizard of OZ.

("The Flowering Spirit: Classic Teachings on the Art of No", Zeami, a new translation of the Fushikaden by William Scott Wilson, Kodansha, 2006.)

C. G. Jung writes in Psychology and Alchemy, "The dread resistance which every natural human being experiences when it comes to delving too deeply into himself is, at bottom, the fear of the journey to Hades." (page 336) The hero has "volunteered to die in order to beget a new and fruitful life in that region of the psyche which has hitherto lain fallow in the dark unconsciousness, under the shadow of death." (page 334) You can see how scared the hero Hercules is in the picture above! The Way is not with out trails.

Lions and Tigers and Bears! Oh My!

Follow the yellow brick road, Dorothy, because there's no place like home.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Sam Sparro - Black and gold (lyrics video)

This goes out to all the kids enjoying Catholic World Youth Day this week in the "great southern land of the Holy Spirit". Have fun!

Speakin' Russian - Moloko+ Issue 6#

Moloko+, a Russian internet graphic design magazine, asked if I'd like Flying Star Toys to be featured in issue 6 - "Yes!" I said. I just received an email telling me that it is now available for download in both English and Russian versions. The image above is the section on Flying Star Toys. I must admit I should have done a lot more editing before I pressed the send button, so I'm really hoping you don't squint and try to read it in the photo ;-P

Having a little look through the magazine I particularly like the mixed media paintings of artist Fumiko Toda for their gorgeous, blending dreamlike scenes. I was also proud to be featured along side fellow soft toy artist Lizette Greco, her family make toys based on children's drawings. I also discovered a toy artist I didn't know about from Argentina, Juan Pablo Cambariere, he creates wooden marionette puppets in a minimal style that have heaps of personality. Worth the look!

(If you do download the free magazine I must warn you it's a whopping 30MB!)

The Bitter Sea

"Therefore saith Morienus: Despise not the ashes, for they are the diadem of thy heart, and the ash of things that endure." C.G. Jung Mysterium Coniunctionis, quoting from the Rosarium.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Over heard in the toy studio...

"I really do think a strong Russian Caravan is better that a pot of Queen Anna on a cold morning," said one blue meringue Biscuit Bunny to the other.

Biscuit Bunnies are the most delightful guests to have to tea but you'll have to watch that they don't hop into the tea cups. When they're not investigating the blend you prefer, they like to sit quietly listening to the wind in the trees, thinking on buttons and balls of string.