Thursday, March 31, 2011


When I think of Japan, my heart aches and I am at a loss of words. I am in awe at how the country has coped today and in the past. The Japanese people continue to inspire and therefore, against all odds, there is always hope.

One of my favourite poems that I came across while taking O'level English Literature was James Kirkup's Ghosts, Fire and Water. This poem is based on his impression of the infamous 'Hiroshima Panels' paintings by Iri Maruki and Toshiko Akamatsu (in response to their intense anger at the nuclear bombings). I believe if Japan could recover after the catastrophic tragedy in 1945, it will regain it's strength this time around too.


Ghosts, fire, water
On the Hiroshima panels by Iri Maruki and Toshiko Akamatsu

These are the ghosts of the unwilling dead,
Grey ghosts of that imprinted flash of memory
Whose flaming and eternal instant haunts
The speechless dark with dread and anger.

Grey, out of pale nothingness their agony appears.
Like ash they are blown and blasted on the wind's
Vermilion breathlessness, like shapeless smoke
Their shapes are torn across the paper sky. 

These scarred and ashen ghosts are quick
With pain's unutterable speech, their flame-cracked flesh
Writhes and is heavy as the worms, the bitter dirt;
Lonely as in death they bleed, naked as in birth. 

They greet each other in a ghastly paradise,
These ghosts who cannot come with gifts and flowers.
Here they receive each other with disaster's common love,
Covering one another's pain with shrivelled hands. 

They are not beautiful, yet beauty is in their truth.
There is no easy music in their silent screams,
No ordered dancing in their grief's distracted limbs.
Their shame is ours. We, too, are haunted by their fate. 

In the shock of flame, their tears brand our flesh,
We twist in their furnace, and our scorching throats
Parch for the waters where the cool dead float.
We press our lips upon the river where they drink, and drown. 

Their voices call to us, in pain and indignation:
'This is what you have done to us!'
Their accusation is our final hope. Be comforted.
Yes, we have heard you, ghosts of our indifference, 

We hear your cry, we understand your warnings.
We, too, shall refuse to accept our fate!
Haunt us with the truth of our betrayal
Until the earth's united voices shout refusal, sing your peace! 

Forgive us, that we had to see your passion to remember
What we must never again deny: Love one another

London, 1955

Illustration: New Yorker Cover (March 28, 2011) by Christoph Niemann

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Day Dreaming...

Love, love, love this kitchen workspace...

(via mixr)

Map of the World

I grew up with a world map in our hallway and a globe on my desk. Our favourite childhood in-car game was 'countries, cities, places'. Coincidentally, one of the first few gifts I gave A while we were dating was a vintage world map. Needless to say, I love maps and having one around definitely improved my knowledge of places.

For the last few months I've been on a the lookout for a world map for Z. I'd love an illustrated map like this one by Julie Mercier or an interactive map such as this absolutely fabulous felt world globe hand-made by Jen Talbot. I'm inspired to make one for Z myself. 

Monday, March 28, 2011

!nkspiration: Jillian Tamaki

While looking for inspiration for a project I'm working on, I came across these exquisitely beautiful images on pinterest. I covet Penguin Classics' covers and these are just perfect; I love the details, the colours and the choice of titles (Emma and Black Beauty are on my list of favourites). They were hand-embroidered for Penguin Books by the talented Jillian Tamaki, an award-winning illustrator and comics artist. The covers took her almost two months to complete; below are a few pictures of her work-in-progress.

Jillian is a woman of many talents; she illustrates for magazines, newspapers and books and also teaches at the School of Visual Arts in NY. 

I have been in search of a vintage over-sized Penguin Classics cover to frame in Z's room, however wouldn't these embroidered covers look beautiful too?

photos: Jillian Tamaki (with permission)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Thursday, March 24, 2011

How to be an Explorer of the World...

Z started attending Montessori five full days each week, when I started work last April; it was a transition of sorts, emotional and physical. Her constant bout of illness eventually led to my resignation and I'm back to being a stay-at-home mom/freelancer (and loving it!). This April, she will only spend three days at school and two days at home. I'd like her to stay in school because Z is an introvert and the constant exposure to and interaction with children her age has allowed her to develop her social skills tremendously and she loves her time at school. But at the same time, I think we're both super excited about the days we get to spend together.

It's always been an effort to find activities that stimulate Z; she's super-curious, gets bored easily and tends to drift towards art-related activities. On our recent travels to Austin, and in my constant search of new resources; I came across a beautiful book, written and illustrated by the talented Keri Smith. "How to be an Explorer of the World - Portable Art Life Museum" is a guide to exploring your own environment with new eyes. What I particularly like about it is that it encourages activities that allow you to stretch your imagination and explore something familiar in a new way. It's certainly not a traditional parenting book and nor was it meant to be, but it is certainly perfect and exactly what I had in mind to inspire both Z and I on our days together.

What resources do you use to inspire your parent-ego?

So, you need a new typeface...

While looking for inspiration for a project I'm currently working on, I came across this ubercool infographic by Julian Hansen, originally created for a class at the Danish School of Media and Journalism at Copenhagen.

I particularly like the path from "Are you alone?" to 'Comic Sans'.

(via on Swiss Miss)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

!nkspiration: Joan Platt Pottery

While backpacking across England during my year abroad at university, I stumbled across a local potter in the Lake District. He worked from a beautiful shed-converted-studio and I spent several hours watching him work. I left inspired by his patience and creativity.

Recently, I tried my hand at the potter's wheel. It had been a while since I worked with clay; the last time was when I was a child and I spent quite a few weekend mornings at the Clay Studio at the British Arts Council, keeping busy while my mom taught art classes. 

The two-hours flew by; not only was it fun, it was really relaxing. I made two bowls which were left to be glazed and I need to go back to complete them and perhaps spend some more time on the wheel. While looking for inspiration I came across the work of Joan Platt. Aren't her bowls just so pretty? I am loving the spring green colours..

"Ceramics is a process, and I love that each step is separated by stretches of time," says Joan. I think that's a part of the reason I love ceramics too.

Above are a few pics of her studio converted from a farm shed. Such a dreamy workspace!

(photos via Country Living)

Happy Spring!

We just got back after a week of soaking up the glorious heat in sunny Austin. We couldn't have asked for better weather! Toronto has been sunny yet chilly, however the days are long so Z and I have been pretending it's spring and enjoying long walks along the lake... We're anxiously waiting for our tulips to blossom so we can enjoy homegrown flowers all over our home.

(photos from the saipua website)