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A final (unsolicited and unpaid) plug for my friends at Cash Palace Emporium in Leichhardt which closes tomorrow.

They are quite literally giving stuff away now. I’ve just popped in to say goodbye and came home with these gorgeous indigo cotton scraps as a gift…

I’ve bought some wonderful pieces of clothing at 50% off, but the greatest treasure for me has been the unusual vintage and ethnic fabrics, like this adorable old kimono cotton…

I’ve replenished the juggling ball bowl three times now, using their Japanese prints…

It’s impossible for me to leave without actually buying something, and today it was this labradorite ring, set on a thick band of sterling silver, reduced to just $30(!!)…

If you’re in the area today or tomorrow, do pop in for a visit. Luke is manning the shop this weekend and he’ll do a really good deal for you, just so that he doesn’t have to move it all next week. Elaine and Rini are working at the Quilt Fair in Darling Harbour – everything there is 50% off as well.

No affiliation (I never do paid adverts or promos) but these guys are sooo nice and I’m keen to support them. Plus, you know how much I love being able to share a bargain with you! ♥

Cash Palace Emporium
139 Catherine St
Leichhardt NSW
(02) 9569 5977

Whenever I visit the White Rabbit Gallery in Chippendale, I’m reminded of what a privilege it is to be able to view this astonishing collection of contemporary Chinese art. The gallery is owned and funded by Judith Nielson, the exhibitions are curated by David Williams, and entry continues to be completely free.

The Dark Matters is currently on display, showcasing select pieces with a primary focus on black, white and grey tones, with only the occasional splash of colour. Williams has curated a cohesive, brilliantly presented exhibition, with artworks perfectly complemented by their surroundings.

As always, we began on the top floor.

Yang Mushi’s Grinding is a collection of over a thousand hand-hewn, black lacquered wooden blocks. The polished aluminium base makes it difficult to distinguish where each piece ends and its reflection begins…

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Contemporary Chinese art is often full of angst and pain, so it was a joy to view husband and wife Kung Wen-Yi and Ko Yu-Cheng’s Water Drops, a Buddhist-inspired work which “celebrate(s) rain as an analogy for creative imagination”…

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One of my favourite works of the exhibition was hidden away behind the elevators!

Chen Chun-Hao’s Twelve Animals – Rabbit, Monkey, Chicken are “drawings” made with headless nails, hammered in from the back. At first glance, they appear clever, but on closer inspection, they’re actually genius…

The details of the animals  – hair, fur, feathers, mouths, eyes and ears – are all carefully “drawn” by the shadows cast by the nails…

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Chang Nai-Wen’s AIP-PF is a series of three marble sculptures, each enlarging and enhancing the details of the previous one, adding extra “pixels” (detail) with each step, much as a 3D digital printer would do…

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I think art succeeds when it elicits a true emotional response in the viewer. Wen-Ying Huang’s Searching II is an intriguing and haunting work, created on a computerised loom which enabled the artist to “hide” a second image woven with reflective thread, and revealed only when illuminated by flashlight. In its unlit form, it’s deceptively drap and grey.

When I shone a torch over the fabric, I felt shaken and teary – the glowing scene of armed soldiers and someone cowering in fear made me feel as if I’d exposed them with my light. Powerful stuff indeed, at least for me.

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This is just a tiny snippet of The Dark Matters exhibition at the White Rabbit Gallery. Because of the focus on black, it’s difficult to capture many of the pieces in photos, so it’s definitely worth a visit in person!

White Rabbit Gallery
30 Balfour Street
Chippendale NSW 2008

Open 10am to 5pm, Wed-Sun.
The Dark Matters exhibition runs until 30 July 2017

Furoshiki are traditional Japanese cloths, used to store clothing, transport goods and wrap gifts. They’re seriously cool, and they may just save the world.

My darling sister bought me this book earlier in the year…

Inspired, I hemmed a basketful of square cloths, declared them to be furoshiki, then proceeded to use them to wrap everything from coats to groceries to iPads to fossils…

A furoshiki has two advantages over a bag…firstly, it can be untied and thrown into the washing machine, and secondly, it can be folded to specifically suit the item in question. I’ve been making them out of my stunning fabric finds from Cash Palace Emporium.

I love that I can go out in a scarf made from vintage kimono silk (please excuse the bed hair)…

…then whip it off dramatically and fold it into a purse…

…or a grocery bag…

…or a flower pot carrier…

This is how I BYO wine bottles to restaurants these days…

I cut the back out of my torn dressing gown and used it to wrap up all my surplus knitting yarn…

My matching scarf and furoshiki wrapped veg gave the neighbours a good giggle…

…and when we were caught short on shopping bags at Costco recently, my furoshiki came to the rescue…

We’ve been making handbags…

…and wrapping gifts…

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My sister reckons she’s created a monster, but it’s great fun and good for the environment. In 2006, the Japanese government created a furoshiki in an attempt to reduce household waste from plastic bags. They provided this instruction sheet with it (here’s the higher resolution pdf)…

If you’re interested, the two books by Yamada Etsuko are fabulous and both are available in Kindle format through Amazon…

The only important thing you need to know is how to tie a square knot – if tied properly, it shouldn’t pull out. It’s worth practising a few times to get it right. Here are the instructions from Etsuko’s book…

If you’re a sewer, this is the perfect excuse to use up some of those beautiful pieces of fabric you’ve been hoarding. Originally, furoshiki sizing was based on kimono silk, which was traditionally 14″ (35.5cm) wide. The fabrics were sewn into pieces two or three widths across.

If you’re making them at home, I recommend 70cm and 100cm squares – the 70cm ones are a good size for wine bottles and iPads and books, whereas the larger ones are great for groceries and shoulder bags.

Let me end by sharing this hilariously wonderful video clip with you – the Furoshiki Samurai is a young man determined to spread the environmental message throughout Japan. Enjoy!

Have you ever cooked with kelp?

The Japanese call it kombu and they use it to make dashi stock, the backbone of many traditional dishes. The Koreans refer to it as dashima (pronounced “dah-sheema”) and it’s readily available in grocery stores like Komart in North Strathfield (providing you know what to ask for).

There are both dried and fresh salted versions available – I found this bag in the Komart fridge section for about $2.50…

It was heavily salted, so needed a good rinse and an hour’s soaking time before use…

I squeezed the water out and chopped up the prepared seaweed, stirring a handful into my sourdough…

It was a huge hit with the boys and the neighbours, with the kombu adding a little bit of salt and a subtle umami kick to the loaves…

Here’s a second batch that I made last weekend. This time I added more kombu – 100g (soaked and drained weight) to my four kilo batch of sourdough…

The leftovers made spectacular croutons…

Kombu/dashima is more readily available in dried form, which rehydrates brilliantly for use in stocks and soups…

My clever hubby tried grinding up a little of the dried seaweed in the spice grinder with flossy sea salt (50/50 by weight) and ended up with this delicious blend. I’ve been sprinkling it on everything from focaccias to steaks – it adds flavour with less actual salt…

Do you cook with kombu? I’d love to know what you do with it!

When the sun is shining and our timing is right, Big Boy and I get to experience this magnificent light show on our morning walks. It’s created by the sunlight on the wind-driven waves bouncing off the concrete pillars on the underside of the pedestrian footbridge. If it was a contemporary art installation at the MCA, I’d happily pay to view it, so you can imagine how chuffed I was to be standing in the middle of it!

It  was particularly glorious earlier this week, so I took a video to share with you. This is exactly as my iPhone captured it – I haven’t added any filters or special effects…

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In case you’re having trouble figuring out all the angles, here’s a photo taken this morning from the outside…

…and a middle of the day pic from a couple of months’ ago…

dw6

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Pete suggested I upload the wider video as well, so you can see a bit more of the bridge (click on the fullscreen tab on the bottom right of the video for a better look)…

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If you’re walking the Greenway or the Leichhardt side of the Bay Run in the mornings, the best time to catch the light show is around 8.30am, on sunny, windy days when the tide is high (I’m adding that info for you, Greg!).

Wishing you all light and happiness every day!

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