Dichotomy: a division into two classes, parts etc, especially of things that are opposed or entirely different; a sharp or paradoxical contrast. “Dichotomy” became the title of one of the biggest coloured pencil drawings I have ever drawn. At 530 x 640 mm, that is a lot of space to fill with the point of a pencil.
The story began in December 2009. I was in Kyoto and thanks to my friend, M, who I had only met the day before, I found out that the annual kabuki performances were on at Minami-za Theatre. All the maiko and geiko of Kyoto were invited to the performances which meant an absolute field day for photographers as each day for five days one could be sure of seeing maiko and geiko walking to and from the theatre. (M, I will always be grateful that you told me about this!)
If one waited with the pile of photographers then any photos one took had photographers’ heads in. No good. I cottoned on to this fact and waited further up the street. And then a golden opportunity: two geiko nipped into a convenience store. All I had to do was wait for them to come out. But it was a very busy street with pedestrians going back and forth every second. Please please could nobody come past at the crucial moment. I waited and waited – silently asking for a clear moment at the crucial time.
Eventually – here she comes. The doors slid open. Out came Koai. Click. JOY JOY JOY. No pedestrians blocked my shot. I knew at that very instant that this would be a drawing.
Later that day I saw the words, “The Fleeting and the Transient” advertising an art exhibition at Kyoto Museum of Modern Art. I wrote in my journal, “I think my work is about the fleeting and the transient too”.
It took months before I gathered up the courage to attempt to draw this. It was so complicated and I wrote in my journal that I nearly gave up on it soon after I started. Yet I so believed in the idea of it; the visual clash between traditional and modern Kyoto, that I pushed through fear of failure.
Here is an entry from my journal on 9th March 2010 explaining one of the battles: “What turned out to be one of the hardest parts was the supermarket ceiling. It really went to mud but somehow I think I’ve weaseled my way out of catastrophe. Matt said Koai was on the same plane as the inside of the store so I had to bring her forward. This meant pushing the inside panel back by darkening it. That’s when I turned the ceiling to mud. Matt said I’d be able to fix it by applying grey and he was pretty much correct.” [My civil engineer husband has an uncanny sense for solving art problems.]
In 2011 the drawing won the City of Belmont “Open Acquisitive” section of their annual art award and now it is part of their public art collection. Perseverance rewarded – the fleeting and the transient was captured and given permanence in a public space.
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