art with a difference

I’ve just posted this on my other blog, and thought it would interest you who love life stories, which can be visual as well as textual.

On Sunday, I went with my daughter Filippa and her husband Kosuke and their two little children on a trip to Tamborine Mountain, which is about an hour’s drive from their place. After a hearty breakfast, we piled into their old Subaru, and drove up the steep and winding road that takes you up to the top of this mountain plateau, about 75 kms south of Brisbane. Many people live up here, for the pleasures of living next to remnant rainforest, with views of the coast. It has become very touristy, and at the weekend, the world and his wife and children throng the favourite haunts. But there are also many artistic people living there, and some lovely galleries and cafes.

The main purpose of our visit was to connect with some friends of Filippa’s and Kosuke’s; they are a couple who live on the mountain, and are artists and potters. Maki Horanai is Japanese, and her husband Hillei Weintraub is American. He lived in Japan for many years, and met and married Maki there. Maki has an exhibition of her paintings at the Marks & Gardner Gallery. So after a cup of green tea, poured from Hillei’s delightful teapot with an elongated spout topped by a bird’s crest, and drunk from handmade mugs in asymmetrical shapes, we set off to the gallery.

Maki’s exhibition is titled ‘the sound of the moon descending into the sea’.

Her paintings are strange, other worldly, yet not New Age. They have a timeless feel, presenting a world beyond this mundane familiar one, inhabited by characters that are stately and static, like medieval courtiers transfixed in a dream landscape. Some of the paintings are of dark, symbolic, landscapes:

town of moon watchers

And some of people, usually a woman, or a man and woman, or a woman and a child — the family triangle, but with a difference.

the mind in the heart of the moon

loss and gain

There are stories here, but each of us will read our own stories from these magical paintings. My favourite is one I call the Red Queen, though the woman is more like a nun than a queen, but she wears royal red, and her presence is regal. Her serenity and beauty transfixed me and kept me returning to this painting.

transforming beauty

I asked Maki how she did the background to this painting and the other paintings of figures; when I looked at them, I thought it was done by block printing. but she said she did each square separately, by hand. It reminds me of the intricate patterns of medieval tapestries, and of traditional Aboriginal paintings, where dots or cross hatching are used to create a deeply textured and symbolic landscape for the figures of animals and humans that act out their rituals.

Also in the exhibition are some exquisite hand made books by Hillei and Maki, with haiku poems by Hillei and sketches by Maki.

And at the back of the gallery are more paintings and pottery, and a very enticing small bookshop.

After we’d browsed for a while, we sat out on the verandah and shared coffee and snacks with Maki and Hillei and friends, while the children played on the lawn that sweeps down a gentle slope to a border of trees. This is a delightful place to come and spend a few hours. After we’d talked and supped, we went back to the gallery and fed some more on the paintings, before leaving. Food for the soul and heart.

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2 Comments

Filed under Maki Horanai, Marks and Gardner Gallery

2 responses to “art with a difference

  1. Looks like a fascinating gallery. I haven’t been to Tambourine in about ten years. Strangely i recently decided that i need to interview my cousin who lives in Tambourine to flesh out a bit of family history for the manuscript I’m writing. You have made that decision all the more inviting. Thanks. beautiful photos and paintings. the Red queen really imposes herself on the page in the most positive way.

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