Poets, Artists, Lovers: A Novel, A Charming Review by Mari Carlson

A charming review of PAL, the first review to come in from a blogger 🙂

Mari's Book Reviews

At monthly parties hosted by a violinist at his cottage in Bucharest, new and long-time friends bond over whiskey, cherry dishes, sixties music, and maybe even a strip tease. Through a series of such colorful gatherings, and more intimate ones in between, we get to know Henriette, a sculptress, her sister Alice, a writer, Haralambie, Henriette’s lover and writer, Pamfil, the violinist and Don Juan to many of these women friends, Ela, a depressed piano teacher turned book reviewer, George, her stalwart boyfriend and mathematician, Anca, a poet and translator, Marcel her French teaching boyfriend, Vlad a trainer, Daria, a graphic designer and recipient of Vlad’s health wisdom, and Maria, an old friend of Anca’s, now a market researcher and newcomer to Pamfil’s parties. Mira Tudor fills in their back stories with memories from the past: trips to the beach and other cities. Together, past and present reveal character traits…

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Spiritual Bucharest and Crazy Bucharest

I went to visit several artist workshops last weekend, as this month over 70 artists In Bucharest and Mogosoaia are opening their premises to visitors on weekends on the occasion of the George Enescu Classical Music Festival.

One of the artists I visited was graphic artist Carmen Paraschivescu. Her workshop is filled with intricate designs in mixed media, the ornamental tracery pinning down vivid, effusive inspiration. Here are two works she did for an art salon on Bucharest. They are titled Spiritual Bucharest and Crazy Bucharest.

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Spiritual Bucharest (detail)

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Spiritual Bucharest (detail)

 

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And here are two other works of hers

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Carmen Paraschivescu will open her workshop next weekend too, so if you’d like to have a look at these pieces, she’ll be happy to receive you for a chat and a glass of wine at Str. Doamnei nr. 5 (the tower on the corner of Academiei and Doamnei streets) between 12 noon and 8 p.m.

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The Joys of Playing with Scrambled Dough

Ploytip Asawarachan, owner of Scrambled Art studio in Bangkok, Thailand, devotes her creative energies to helping young children (as young as two years old) fine-tune their motor skills and explore their imaginations. She and her staff mix batches of their own play dough (called Scrambled Dough), adjusting the recipes to the age of the children.

I asked Ploy to tell me more about her work at the studio. Here’s what she said.

MT: What are the things kids would like to create when they set their hands on Scrambled Dough?

PA: This definitely depends on their age, but we currently use Scrambled Dough with kids between 2 and 3.5 years old, which, in my opinion, is more interesting. Kids at this age still cannot identify or sometimes distinguish shapes and colors — so I do not expect them to make shapes with Scrambled Dough. What I expect (and what they like to do) is to smash, poke, pull, and squeeze the dough. My job is to create fun life-simulation activities that support those actions and make them stronger to develop fine-motor skills.

We like to play with farm animals by pretending the dough is a ranch, and to build fences by using real branches or sometimes straws. After that we make up a story about each animal and tell the story to the rest of the class. Kids at this age want to use everything that’s on the table.

The human brain can be manipulated by colors that are associated with different emotions and desires. For instance, Mc Donald’s uses the colors yellow and red. That is because yellow represents hunger, and red is the color of speed and excitement. These colors manipulate the human brain and change our perception of the situation we are in. Scrambled Dough actually uses the same concept. I create Scrambled Dough with natural coloring, avoiding bright colors, and that gives the children a calm feeling. I also avoid hard textures. In this way, toddlers can be less distracted and calm.

For more excitement and to appeal more to the imagination, I have created the Marble collection for the children to see the colors blending together while they play.

MT: What are some of the things the children say about being able to work/play with Scrambled Dough?

Most of them do not really ask about the dough — what it’s made of, or how to play with it. They actually get into the action and use all the tools that I provide. Their past experience might affect the willingness to play with the dough. For example, a bad experience during their play time at the beach might make them not want to play with the dough.

MT: Do kids interact with each other as they work on their projects? Do they tell each other things? Do they help each other out with their projects?

Yes. They are more likely to play with each other and to help each other to put different parts together.

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I found Ploy’s story inspiring, so I asked her to tell me a little about her background.

PA: As a child, I liked to draw all the time. My inspiration was my father. He always drew something on paper while I was doing my homework. His pencil left marks on the page underneath, and I traced them with my pencil. It was always a butterfly.

I grew up in a small town (population about eight thousand) called Ayutthaya in Thailand. Ayutthaya used to be the capital of Thailand before it changed to Bangkok. My life was not very exciting back then, but I could say it has changed when I decided to be an exchange student in Maine, USA in 2006. From a small-town girl who could not speak English, I was now traveling alone to a country I’d never been in. I adapted very well and explored so much! Then in 2008 I moved to Nottingham, UK as an exchange student again. It seems like I adapt myself very well and it becomes my strength. I get along and make new friends, and relish the new culture and the new environment around me. Finally, my degree took place in Sydney, Australia, a country so diverse in terms of culture and art.

All my life I’ve been busy making art and crafting things. When I was young, I was very into landscape and fine art, especially Georgia O’Keeffe’s work, but when I grew older I got a lot into improvisation with different materials from daily life, including many from nature.

MT: Thank you, Ploy, and good luck with your studio and your other projects!

Here’s Ploy’s blog.

An Interview with Lisa Tindale, Mosaic Artist

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The quaint fishing village of Staithes on the North East coast will host the 6th annual Art and Heritage Festival over September 9th and 10th. The village was once home to a group of 20 to 30 artists known as the Staithes Group of Artists and the CBeebies series Old Jack’s Boat, starring Bernard Cribbins, was filmed there. Staithes will play host to 98 galleries in cottages and other buildings displaying work by 157 artists, and Lisa will be exhibiting her mosaics for the fifth consecutive year.

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All artwork by Lisa Tindale

How did you first get into mosaics and what is it about this medium in particular that interests you?

A few years ago I went along to a mosaic making taster course run by a friend and by the end of the afternoon I knew this was for me. I like the freedom it gives, the possibility…

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“I like the search, the constant tearing apart of landmarks.”—Ciprian Istrate

Two weeks ago I had the pleasure of seeing Ciprian Istrate’s exhibition A’TOPIA at Galateca in downtown Bucharest. His portraits are arresting—which is no surprise given that he painted church murals for twenty years. Have a look for yourself! I could see speed, assurance, and “mirror eyes,” as the curator Iulia Gorneanu dubbed them, eyes which draw our attention in so many ways, and every time with a vigorous intensity which both pulls us in and keeps us at a distance as if in awe of their presence.

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Ciprian Istrate, A’TOPIA, Galateca

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Bride in Times of War

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Angel During War