Travel: Da Nang, Vietnam (Part 1)

As promised, I am going to share my summer holiday trip to Da Nang, Vietnam. It is my first time visiting the country and I would have loved to do a long trip but because of other commitments, I was unable to and settled for just a short stay in Da Nang. However, from my first impression, the history, culture, nature and food is worth another visit! This post has been split into two parts just so I could give each place enough attention ūüôā so here goes Part 1!

Where we stayed

Da Nang is located in central Vietnam and the main reason we ended up there was because I wanted to stay at a Banyan Tree resort. Probably not a criterion that one would consider when deciding a family holiday but I wanted a bit of luxury and a place I knew I would be able to relax. My parents had visited the region previously and spoke highly of it. Asking other friends and colleagues who have visited Vietnam before, I was comforted that many said it was one of the prettiest regions in the country. With that in mind, we went ahead with our stay at Banyan Tree LńÉng C√ī; which is part of the Laguna LńÉng C√ī resort.

Honestly, it is one of the best resorts I have ever stayed at. I am a big fan of the Banyan Tree group, and as usual, the service was impeccable and we had a “villa host” take care of us and all our needs throughout our the stay. I mean we had her Whatapp number so we could ping her a message!

From Da Nang airport, the hotel provides a complimentary shuttle service from the airport (at scheduled times) and it is c. 60-90 minute drive to the hotel. Originally we had booked a two bedroom villa for the 4 of us but was upgraded to the three bedroom villa with the best view of the resort. It was HUGE (260 sq meters) and with our own private infinity pool. It was paradise and, quite frankly, there was no reason to leave the room! Unlike me, my dad left the villa to play golf in the late afternoon sun; so for those who are keen golfers, you can play an 18-hole, par-71 championship course designed by Sir Nick Faldo. He said it was amazing and a really well maintained and designed course (if you take his word for it).

I really recommend this wonderful resort for those who are looking for something special and luxurious. I would go back again to take advantage of the many activities that are available at the resort and because it is conveniently located in central Vietnam with various UNESCO World Heritage Sites, there is no excuse not to go back!

Where we visited

As you are aware now, I am not one to just sit by the pool all day (much to the dismay of my parents and sister). I can’t truly say that I have been to a country if I have not at least learnt and seen a bit of history and culture. Given that I love Vietnamese cuisine, I couldn’t wait to get out and try some street food as well (more in Part 2).

Marble Mountains

Unfortunately, given the relatively remote location of the resort, for ease of planning, I used the tour service organised the hotel for our day trips. They ended up being a private tour which is always special as I could ask as many questions I wanted! Our first stop was the infamous Marble Mountains which are a group of the five limestone and marble hills in Ngu Hanh Son District, each representing a basic element: Kim (metal), Thuy (water), Moc (wood), Hoa (fire) and Tho (earth).

At the foot of the hills is the Non Nuoc village where generations of family skillfully carve statues from marble (now imported from other places in the country as it is not possible to mine in the area). Though I found the shops more of a tourist trap, the temple at the top of the Thuy Son (the water mountain) is worth the elevator up and the very long climb down. For those who have bad knees, I would not recommend the climb down, my sister (who had knee surgery a year ago) and mother really struggled. I believe it is possible to take the elevator down but it is a large circle round; so do let your tour guide know if you have difficulties or if you are organising the walk yourself, you have been warned!

Thuy Son is a popular destination with many visitors, and it is not surprising. At the top of the mountain, you are greeted with this spectacular view of the valley.

What is most surprising and unexpected were the peaceful temples located in the caves and crevasses of the mountain. It is not something that I had experienced before, wandering around the caves whilst bats rested above our heads. Remember to bring your camera as every turn was a surprise. The caves were also a respite from the scorching summer heat!

Linh Ung Pagoda

Our next stop on the tour was another Buddist temple, the Linh Ung Pagoda which is considered as one of the largest in Da Nang City located in the Son Tra Peninsula on the top of a mountain. This meant it provided one of the best views of Da Nang City. The most striking feature of the temple is the tallest Lady Buddha statue in Vietnam overlooking the peninsula. Even for those who are not religious, the architecture and gardens of the temple are worth a visit.

Da Nang City

We arrived back into Da Nang City in the late afternoon, to stop at Da Nang Cathedral. Coming from Europe, I would consider it more of a small church than a majestic Cathedral, however, it is on the map for tourists because it is pink and very Wes Anderson-esque. To the locals, it is warmingly known as the “Rooster” because of the weathervane that sits on top of the church.¬†Unfortunately, by the time we arrived, we were unable to go inside as it was time for Mass. It is worth stopping by to admire the French architecture and a reminder of the colonial past of Vietnam.

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I hope you enjoyed this instalment on the Pineapple Chicken Blog, can’t wait to share more on my trip to Da Nang!

With Sweet & Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken x

 

 

Thought of the Day: Comfort Zone

Comfort Zone (1)

It has been a while since I have posted, I have taken some much-needed recovery during my summer holiday with my family. I will provide an update on my trip to Vietnam and Japan in future posts which I can’t wait to share that with you all! It was a great holiday, though I can’t say that is always the case with my family, see my previous post on Vienna. This time I visited¬†places I have never been to before and really tried to relax. Despite this, I was struggling with guilt as I wanted to spend a lot of time on my blog and work towards my “5-year plan” or “whatever I should plan because I am an adult”.

I tried listening to my body but my mind kept wandering and ended up spending time thinking what is my next topic for the blog should be. I have decided to tackle the difficult topic of comfort zones, it is something that has been on my mind and would love to hear your thoughts about the topic too.

What is a comfort zone?

My comfort zone is something that is very routine and depending on my mental health it could be considered monotonous. It is waking up the same time for work, going to work which I am quite comfortable in doing, then coming home chilling on the sofa watching TV or scrolling through Instagram for the next materialistic item to lust for. It is cushy, chilled and can be considered boring. Yet it is safe so why should I not be happy with this?

There is a lot of literature on this topic and a majority believe that leaving your own comfort zone is necessary for success. Every management book and self-help book would preach this. Yet why should this be the case? Why do we need to stretch ourselves, why is status quo not okay? It can be frustrating when you see diagrams like the below:

https://images.app.goo.gl/GgUWvgeeshZWYvJz8

In particular the one below –¬†“where the magic happens” – unless it is my acceptance letter for Hogwarts, I find the illustrations unhelpful. Yet I couldn’t help thinking during my holiday that I have been in my comfort zone; bordering on lazy. Now, this should not be an issue if I am happy with where I am. It is okay to be comfortable and lazy.¬†However, when I ask myself whether I am content with life, I can’t honestly say that I am. This may not be applicable to you and it is really awesome if you have found your equilibrium. For myself and probably others, we have to consider what can we do to change this. The school of thinking is that our optimal performance should be when we feel a little bit stressed – “optimal anxiety“. It seems a little sadistic but you know it is true!

https://images.app.goo.gl/NgsJ376buBndejcu7

Stretch Zone

In order to be in a space of “optimal anxiety”, I need to put myself in what others have called the “stretch zone”. This is where you feel pressured but not so much that you have a debilitating anxiety attack, which I have had also experienced in the past. Finding the right amount of pressure is a constant flux, sometimes it can get too much and you need to relax a bit (what I call recovery); but other times, you need to ramp it up – the so-called “kick up the butt”.

https://images.app.goo.gl/WuB4busmPr7jEco37

There are different ways of doing this:

  • Moving the goal posts – have you gotten that new promotion? have you beaten a personal best at the gym? Celebrate what you have achieved, however, you need to think what is the next step – it may not be a huge step but it should be planned out. Break down your goals into baby steps means that you can smash and move the goal post daily.
  • Be curious & learn – for me, this is the most important thing to keep me happy. Continuous learning is my raison d’etre, I love reading and experiencing new things. This is probably why I love travelling so much. I would encourage you to do the same for whatever you are interested in. By learning and being curious, you know what will find what is out there and break away from monotony.
  • Scare yourself once a day – what have you been putting off? Is it asking for that new opportunity you have been researching? Or having that difficult conversation with your manager/friend? I assure you that it will definitely be uncomfortable but I encourage you to go for it! You got this! If you need some ideas to break yourself out of your comfort zone, here is a list of things you could potentially do to ignite that fire within you!

Are fears holding you back?

It is easier said than done to leave your comfort zone and take the leap of faith into the stretch zone. It is scary and our fears hold us back. Jari Roomer summarises this succinctly in this article and I have highlighted some key takeaways below.

Four types of fears

  • Fear of Rejection – one of the biggest fears for most people. It can make you feel inadequate and lower self-esteem and confidence. We are biologically programmed to be social creatures and this is why acceptance by others is so important. The easiest way to be accepted is not to stand out – be part of the herd. However, don’t abandon your self-development because others aren’t doing it. Grab that opportunity because you owe it to yourself. Use this to elevate others rather than hold yourself back.
  • Fear of Failure – this is pretty self-explanatory, this is the fear that makes us procrastinate. This is one of my greatest fears and this explains my chronic procrastination but remember, not doing anything is the biggest failure than “failing” at your goals. This is a great disservice to yourself, go for it because you will always learn more from doing something that sitting in the back seat. As my boyfriend always like to say “Live & Learn”.
  • Fear of Success – this might be surprising to some, but success can be scary because you are in unchartered territory. Personally, I think this should be renamed to “Fear of the Unknown“. The unknown is scary; have you turned down that great opportunity because you are safe where you are. Would people reject you (fear of rejection)? Are you afraid of new responsibilities? Do you fear success because you don‚Äôt actually feel worthy or capable of handling success?
  • Fear of Ridicule – This is closely aligned to Fear of Rejection, it is subtle, but are you afraid of what people will think of you? Would they think your business idea is stupid and think it will fail? Would they laugh at your failures? Do you think you look ridiculous in your new “influencer” photos? Do you fear that no one would watch your YouTube videos? In order to succeed, a lot of self-improvement books advise that you need to be comfortable and willing to look stupid for a while. Those who stand out because they are willing to take the initiative, try out new ideas, follow unexplored paths or create a better life for themselves, will always be ridiculed by someone.¬†

Overcoming the Fears

It is easy to identify the type of fear we might have, but it is not always as easy to overcome them. This is is why the comfort zone is so comforting! This is a challenge to my readers and myself to try and overcome one of your/our fears this week; I would love to hear how you get on. Remember: it is never as scary as it looks.

Here are a few tips and thoughts that I think are useful to consider:

  • You are not alone, fear is human nature.
  • Identify and write down your fears and then consider how to tackle them one by one. Remember only to stretch yourself – take that baby step towards it, it is not necessary to push yourself so hard that you enter the “panic zone”.
  • Identify and write down the realistic worst case scenario – is it really that bad? Knowing what you is the most you can lose/fail will always give you the upper hand.
  • Replace fear with gratitude. Instead of thinking that your business idea will fail, be grateful you have this awesome idea and your entrepreneurial spirit! Gratitude is a powerful tool.
  • Rocking chair test – what do you want to be remembered by when you are 80 or 90 years old, are you going to let fear hold you back? You can change the world if you want to.
  • Success doesn‚Äôt demand a price. Every step forward pays a dividend.¬†Take that first step, even though it is scary because every little helps (Tesco Slogan is surprisingly useful).
  • If at first, you don‚Äôt succeed, you‚Äôll know you‚Äôre aiming high enough.

Best of luck everyone!

With Sweet & Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken x

 

 

 

Art: Food – Bigger than the Plate

The latest immersive and interactive exhibition at V&A museum explores our current and future relationship with food, available until 20th October 2019, it brings together different innovators, communities and organisations to consider what collective choices will lead a more sustainable and delicious food future.

It is a topic that is close to my heart, food sustainability is a key concern of our times and rightly so. One has to consider how we will feed the world in the future where population growth is expected to reach close to 10 billion people by 2050  and without damaging our world even further. The V&A tastefully explores this question and gives us hope that there are people out there doing their best to change the world.

Key Highlights

The exhibition is split into 5 key components, starting with composting and navigated all the way to eating; representing the natural food cycle. I have highlighted my favourite pieces and new ideas from the exhibition below.

Composting

Compost is the organic matter that has been decomposed in a process called composting. This process recycles various organic materials otherwise regarded as waste products and produces a soil conditioner (the compost).

The exhibition starts off with the consideration that if you are a consumer, you are also a producer. If you eat, you produce waste – not just the fundamental human poop but also the by-products that come with food production.¬† It is a lot of waste and our usual reaction is just to get rid off it, it is “undesirable” and ends up in landfill or our oceans. It breaks the cycle of nutrients. This is exactly why we need to familiarise ourselves with the natural cycle of reproduction, growth and decay which returns organic waste to the soil to provide nutrients for future growth. Luckily there are a lot of smart people who have started to think outside the box!

  • Loowatt (2019) – Closes the loop on human waste, they have developed a waterless flush toilet and manages the collection, transfer and treatment of faecal sludge. Waste is converted to energy and fertiliser. An innovative and sustainable way to manage human waste across the globe.
  • Urban Mushroom (2019) – Oyster mushrooms growing on a bed of used coffee beans from the visitors of the V&A museum. This was an extraordinary way to recycle used coffee grounds which normally just end up in the landfill. Is this the future of farming in our cities?

Farming

Farming is the fundamental way to grow our food, however, there is a disconnect between us and how food ends up on the table. With the rise of human convenience, everything is packaged and beautifully displayed in our supermarkets; often from far-flung and exotic places. Recently I bought green grapes that came all the way from Brazil, and I had to stop and think – wait .. is this right? Should I not just eat produce that is in season? By being removed from the process and the slick machine of globalisation has meant that produce is available all year round – do we stop and think – how was this grown? where did it come from?

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Key highlights for this section of the exhibition is the beautiful wall art by Fallen Fruit, which was inspired by depictions of fruit from the V&A collection.

Having lived in Hong Kong for two years, I was surprised and humbled to see that there is a small food revolution occurring and is being displayed back in London, my home town. HK Farm is a collective of artists, designers and farmers who grow food locally on rooftops and questions the values of the contemporary city in the process. Being able to grow and produce food right in the heart of one of the world’s greatest concrete jungle was refreshing to see.

I would also recommend everyone to take time to sit down and watch a video montage on European food production Our Daily Bread by Geyrhalter and Widerhofer (2005). It is not an easy watch, but necessary.

Trading

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How do we get our food? How is it transferred to us? How many hands does it need to pass before we get to consume it? This section of the exhibition explores the globalisation machine and how it is easy to hide the environmental and social costs of food production.

  • Ester Hernandez: Sun Mad (2008) – This iconic poster (above) is by the Chicana (American – Mexican) artist Ester Hernandez, it was created to draw public attention on the human cost of the grape harvest, including the harmful effects of pesticides on pickers. In 2008 as displayed above, it was updated to include an “ICE” bracelet to signify the fate of many immigrants farmworkers working in the US.
  • Johanna Seelemann: Banana Story (2018) – This was another enlightening video on the world’s most popular fruit. It challenges the simplistic narrative of the “Made in” label. The video is a story of one banana who travels 8800km, crossing multiple national borders and 33 hands before landing on the shelves of a consumer.

Cooking

Evolution of cooking by Ferran Adrià was explored in this part of the exhibition, the head chef of El Bulli from 1987 until 2011, changed the way restaurants cook and serve food around the globe. His cooking extends beyond cooking and explores the deep history, in what he considers the fundamental part of human evolution. The drawings reflect his understanding and analysis of the development of cooking in human history.

Eating

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Eating – my favourite part of the cycle and comes to the end of the exhibition. The most memorable display is “Self Made” by Christina Agapakis & Sissel Tolaas (2013)¬† and it is definitely not for the squeamish! Some of our tastiest food is made with the help of microbes. Cultured from some famous individuals such as Heston Blumenthal’s, their bacteria was used to produce cheese forming a “microbial portrait”. The project was to challenge our perceived notion of bacteria and develop understandings of the microbiome and its role in how our bodies function. Grim, but a must see.

A wonderful display and truly enlightening experience. I did come away feeling that I should reconsider becoming a full vegetarian though! As always, I would love to hear your thoughts on the exhibition and your thoughts of food in general.

With Sweet & Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken x

 

Art: Sorolla – The Master of Light

No painter before or since has painted Mediterranean sunlight like Joaquín Sorolla

In 1908, Sorolla was considered as one of the greatest living artists and his works has finally returned back to London a century after his exhibition at the Grafton Galleries in Mayfair. The National Gallery has curated 58 spectacular pieces of work, many of which are from private collections, spanning his whole career. It is a rare opportunity to see them all together in the beautiful Sainsbury Wing and I cannot recommend the exhibition enough!

Sorolla, The Master of Light

Sorolla was born in Valencia and his talent and determination to be an artist developed through his work retouching plates for a photographer. His talent led him to be admitted to the¬†Academy of San Carlos in Valencia at aged 15. His further studies in master painting led him to Rome and Paris. Very early on, Sorolla’s strategy was to send large scale paintings on dark and troubling social themes to major exhibitions in Spain and abroad, where he sought and gained recognition. No subject seemed to restrict Sorolla’s¬†paintings, he also painted his family, portraiture and landscapes, my favourite which are explored further below.¬†

Sorolla painted a variant of impressionism, which can be considered the first distinctly modern movement in painting. Developed in Paris in the 1860s, it spread throughout Europe. The style focuses on colour and light, which Sorolla was particularly infamous for. In 1906, Sorolla exhibited for the first time at the Galerie Georges Petit in Paris, one of the main impressionist galleries. The Master of Light, interestingly, did not capture the British audience at that time but his works were particularly revered in the US. In 1908, Sorolla met philanthropist and collector Archer Milton Huntington, who made him a member of The Hispanic Society of America in New York City. This led to one of his largest commissioned works, which took 7 years to complete the 14 paintings known as Vision of Spain which adorn the walls of the gallery of the Hispanic Society.

Sorolla suffered from a stroke in 1920 which meant that he was no longer able to paint and died three years later at home with his family by his side. Unfortunately, after his death, his work went out of fashion and Impressionism was replaced by personal expression and avant-garde movements such as Dada, Surrealism and Expressionism. It is only in recent years where there have been a series of exhibitions in Spain, Germany, France and the US has reignited his popularity.

Social Painting

Since 1884, Sorolla had set his sights on the coveted first-class medals in Madrid’s¬†Expoicion Nacional de Bellas Artes¬†that was held to stimulate national artistic production and it was an opportunity for Spanish young artists to be recognised. During this tumultuous time, there was a shift in paintings of classical subjects to the dramatic changes that Spain was undergoing. Sorolla’s most famous social paintings include Another Marguerite! (1892)¬†and Sad Inheritance (1899). My favourite paintings were¬†And They Still Say Fish is Expensive! (1894)¬†and Sewing the Sail (1896).¬†Though contrasting in mood, the thoughtful depiction of emotions and light is truly captivating; the size of the paintings and the use of colour and light can only be appreciated in person.

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Family

Evident through his paintings, Sorolla loved his family and the portraits of his children and his wife are some of his greatest works. Though the female model was not identified in¬†Female Nude (1902) it has been suspected that it was wife, Clotilde. Inspired by Sorolla’s visit to London and seeing¬†The Rokeby Venus¬†displayed in the National Gallery, he captures the beauty of the female form and the luscious silk and lace fabric on which she laid. Other notable paintings include¬†My Children (1904);¬†Mother (1895-1900);¬†Clotilde in a Black Dress (1906);¬†Maria Painting at El Pardo (1907); and Joaquin Sorolla Garcia (1917).¬†

https://images.app.goo.gl/cpyEZVoebmWmWSPm8

Beach & Landscapes

Sorolla grew up by the sea and after 1900 he created a large body of work outside capturing the pleasures of families and intimate scenes of the beach. These paintings brightened the exhibition as if capturing a sliver of the sun in each and was a breath of fresh air (it was also a stark contrast to the terrible summer we are having in London). Notable pieces included Young Fisherman, Valencia (1904); Running along the Beach, Valencia (1908); The Smugglers (1919) but my favourite was After the Bath, the Pink Robe (1916). 

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Dynamic, vibrant and vivid; Sorolla was a true Master of Light. Obviously, this exhibition is awarded 5 out of 5 pineapples. I would love to hear your opinion of his work and whether any of you have seen any of it before? What are your favourite pieces? Have a sun-filled Sunday!

With Sweet & Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken x

P.S. For those are interested in learning more, the curator wrote a wonderful article here. 

Art: Lee Krasner – Living Colour

A phenomenal pioneer of Abstract Expressionism who has been overshadowed by her more famous husband, Jackson Pollock, finally gets her time to shine. It has taken more than 50 years for her works to return to Europe in the latest exhibition at the Barbican. Lee Krasner: Living Colour presents her artwork throughout her life and provides an intimate insight into an extraordinary woman. The power of her art is evident throughout the exhibition reflecting her vivacious character. The major retrospective of her work is a rare opportunity to see some of her work all once space, in place better than the wonderful Brutalist vaults of the Barbican.

This is so good that you would not think it is done by a woman – Hofmann

Lee Krasner: Her Life

Though the exhibition was not presented chronologically ordered, I feel that her life story is the best way to showcase her art. In the below, I have selected a few of my favourite pieces from each decade to give a glimpse of the gems you will find at this exhibition.

The 1920s – Born in Brooklyn 1908, Krasner knew she would be an artist by the age of 14; which I think is amazing as I wasn’t sure of anything myself at that age. Her determination meant that she applied to the only school in New York to offer an art course for girls – Washington Irving High. One of the earliest artwork displayed was a self-portrait drawn having after graduated from Women’s Art School at Cooper Union. This small, easily overlooked, drawing is not as colourful as the others on display but what I believe to represent her changing identity, where she moved from her birth name of Lena to the more androgynous Lee.

https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/486924
Self Portrait, c.1929-30

The 1930s – The Wall Street Crash in October 1929 marked the beginning of the Great Depression. It forced Lee to leave the National Academy and enrol on a teacher’s course at the City College of New York because the tuition was free. During this time, she was completing life drawing courses with Job Goodman who focused on classical methods of drawings – think Renaissance Masters. Her life drawings were one of my favourite series of her work because of the remarkable detail captured of the human body, and the use of line and shadow.

Studies from the Nude, 1933
Studies from the Nude, 1933

The 1940s – This was a particularly tough time for Lee because in 1945 she moved to Springs, Long Island after her father’s death the year before, which rendered her unable to paint anything more than “grey slabs”; despite her marriage to Pollock in 1945 as well. Surrounded by nature and the change of scenery, there was a transformation in her and the “Little Images” were created. It was in 1947 when Lee created my next favourite piece where she turned two old wagon wheels from the farm into mosaic tables. Using bits of costume jewellery and any random colourful knick knacks, she created this charming piece.

Mosaic Table, 1947
Mosaic Table, 1947

The 1950s – After the “Little Images”, Lee held her first solo exhibition at the Betty Parsons Gallery in October 1951. It was the start of her large contemporary pieces, however, like many other contemporary artists at the time, the painting had failed to sell. Ripping them up (as you do) and painting black and white drawings and shredding those as well, the shreds became the beginnings of a series of collages. This technique, reworking and destroying previous works, is seen throughout her later years as an artist. It was the Summer of 1956 when she painted a series of paintings unlike any other. By this time, Pollock’s alcoholism was acute and it was on the 12 August when she received that fateful call with the news that Pollock died in a car crash killing himself, a friend of his lover and only his lover as the sole survivor. The warped pink of the flesh and abstract eye or face is a shocking contrast to her earlier work. I personally found it almost too painful to look at.

The 1960s – Lee took over Pollock’s studio after his death, she was a pragmatic woman and recognised that it was the largest space she had with natural light. This was the beginnings of her large artwork, unrestricted in space, her pieces fill the lower floor of the exhibition space. In the period when she was suffering from chronic insomnia, she worked in the dark, but because she only works with colour in the natural light, Lee opted for a restricted palette of white and umber (a dark brown). These pieces differ again from her previous style – another rebirth. It is as if she let loose to let her energy and emotions spill and rupture onto the canvas. This period of darkness was relatively short lived as by the early 1960s, colour bursts back into her paintings but Lee continues with a limited palette. She embraces her inner Matisse and nothing seemed to have held her back.

with colour one obtains an energy that seems to stem from witchcraft. – Matisse

The 1970s – Another decade, another change. Lee refused to have a “signature image”, she was a formidable force that is ever evolving. The change was stark, moving away from the energetic and dynamic strokes of the 60s to the hard edge and calculated forms of the 70s. She continues to extensively use colour but in a very different way. She paints a piece entitled Palingenesis during this time, which is the Greek word for re-birth. As noted above, this been a fundamental and consistent theme throughout her decades as an artist.

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Olympic, 1974

Obviously, this exhibition is awarded 5 out of 5 pineapples! An exceptional exhibition for an extraordinary female artist in her own right. No longer does she need to be remembered as the wife of Jackson Pollock, but as Lee Krasner – a rebirth. As always, I would love from you and your thoughts, so leave a comment below!

With Sweet & Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken x

Thought of the Day: Self-Discipline

Self Discipline

Discipline, even the sound of the word is serious and triggers rolling eyes. It alludes to routine, rules and restraint. It has been used interchangeably with motivation and willpower; but should that be the case? There is little doubt that it is necessary and important for success; though the question is why and why is it so hard to have self-discipline?

This topic is timely as my boyfriend and I have had our half-year review to assess whether we are on track with the resolutions/objectives we set out at the beginning of the year. Overall, we aren’t doing too badly but recognise that there is still a long way to go and for the remainder of the year we both have to be focused, effective – we have to be disciplined (ugh).

The One Thing this year for myself is the development of this blog. My recent efforts have been lacklustre; despite having identified that this is a passion of mine. The blog has brought me to places where I have not been before; my interest in art and culture has grown by leaps and bounds, yet, I lack the discipline to stick to a blogging schedule. Weekdays are particularly difficult, when the motivation is low, after spending all day at work. Energy levels are low for creative writing… or anything else for that matter. Yet, should this let this stop me? Is this an excuse for myself?

Success vs. Self-Discipline

There is a huge selection of self-help books and articles devoted to motivation and self-discipline. As society increases its obsession with success and accomplishments, the literature has naturally ballooned with it. Supposedly the one thing that is common across successful people (depends on what you define as successful…) is self-discipline. Individuals that come across as lacking in motivation are often accused of “not wanting something bad enough”.

Motivation is what is needed to start something new, but let’s face it, it is not sustainable. Peak performance is not sustainable. When the initial excitement and motivation wears off, it is discipline and determination that will turn something successful.¬†If it is discipline and determination is the sustenance to keeping our dreams and goals alive, what can one do to develop self-discipline?

Remove the barriers

Self-discipline seems like a lot of work, but remember it is not about being at your “peak” 100% of the time. Motivation, as mentioned above, is your spark, self-discipline is used to keep the fire burning. By removing barriers to your goal and tasks, this will enable self-discipline which in turns lead to consistency.¬†There is a lot of literature around this, so here is a summary of tips from others have cracked the code to self-discipline.¬†

  • Narrow down to what you enjoyment – nothing is sustainable if you do not enjoy it to some degree. Self-discipline is hard, it is even harder if you hate it; if you don’t enjoy or care about it, scrap it. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to self-discipline. Know what is necessary, know what you like to do within that area, and then go all in on that tiny area. Spend that time to know yourself better and find your passion.
  • Start small – not only should you find something you enjoy, but building self-discipline should also start small. Start off with some “low hanging fruit” and the sense of accomplishment would drive you forward. We all know that trick, but it works. One win then move onto the next thing. Marginal gains should be the focus and always celebrate small wins!
  • Process over product – Some people give up before they even started when the goal is too great or daunting. It is not necessary to worry about the outcome, similar to marginal gains, concentrate on just moving forward. Stick to the process as the outcome will naturally come.
  • Routine – I have previously blogged¬†about this before; by removing the decision process and focus on building a solid routine, it should make self-discipline easy. You already have the right environment so all you have left is to put things into action. For myself, I have my computer set up in the office and now I have set days where I will sit down to blog. No excuse, just do it as part of my routine, like my gym sessions or waking up for work from Monday to Friday.
  • Patience – this is not something I have a lot of but is important. Self-discipline is to build something that is sustainable, but you have to build expectations that things take time. Be kind to yourself if things are going slower than you would like and recognise that as long as you keep it up, you will get there.

Challenge

As I continue to blog about my thoughts of the day, I am starting to see a consensus of ideas.

Success = to leverage off the motivation of an initial idea and sustain it by building a good routine and form habits through self-discipline. Focus on marginal gains and just keep at it.

If this consensus is true, challenge yourself today to focus on one thing? Can you do it for 30 days non-stop? Or challenge yourself further and do it for 66 days to form a habit? Everyone is different and there is no judgment here. You deserve this, you can be one step closer to your aspirations and dreams.  You got this! I would love to hear how you get on. Have a wonderful week ahead.

With Sweet & Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken x

Art: Phyllida Barlow

Phyllida Barlow

Phyllida Barlow’s¬†cul-de-sac showcases an entirely new body of work at the Royal Academy of Arts located in the contemporary art galleries, The Gabrielle Jungels-Winkler Galleries, which will be open until 23 June 2019.

The British Sculptor is famous for her use of inexpensive everyday materials to create precarious structures filling spaces which they are held.¬†In the form of a ‚Äúcul-de-sac‚ÄĚ, with only one way in and out, there are no barriers for visitors to explore the artwork. The guide that accompanies the exhibition explains that there are usually¬†three protagonists when it comes to her artwork.

The first protagonist

The first protagonist the artwork itself, her use of materials such as plywood, plaster and polystyrene, in addition to the transparency in how her artwork is created. This is part of her wonder as she breaks the conventions of traditional sculpture. Barlow takes inspiration from her surroundings; particularly domestic and street worlds. The untidiness of urban leaving, repairs of buildings and infrastructure repairs holds a fascination for Barlow and is often expressed in her work.

Using such inexpensive materials enables Barlow, unlike bronze, stone or steel; to retain the freedom to make changes to her artwork as it develops, or even change/redo previous works; conveying a sense of transience and impermanence. The unrefined quality of her work, combined with the appearance that it will topple over any minute reflects the chaos and messiness of urban life.

Her work may not be considered beautiful but it certainly emits great energy; when looking at the art close up, the creative process is clear. A visitor should also consider whether you have space to run should the artwork decides to shift from its position of zen!

The second protagonist

The second protagonist is the exhibition space which Barlow considers to be of equal footing with her artwork. The relationship between the two is crucial and the placement of the installations are carefully considered. This is demonstrated wonderfully in this exhibition where her voluminous work fills the whole gallery space. When one looks up, it is difficult to separate her towering structures with the ornate gallery’s curved ceiling. They are as if one.

The third protagonist

The third protagonist is us – the visitors to the gallery. How the individual pieces are placed and how one might circumnavigate around them (such as there is only one way in and out); to explore and wander around spaces is of critical importance in Barlow’s work. The encounter and the residual memory that the visitor is left with has long preoccupied her. This is particularly explored when she represented Britain at the Venice Biennale in 2017. She considers how the public reacts and interacts with inanimate sculptural installations (normally one would just stand and stare). This is carefully considered in this exhibition and as a visitor took the opportunity to weave in and out of the artwork and get up close without being reprimanded. Being able to explore is freedom.

Arte Povera

When searching to understand Barlow’s influence of her work, or what art movement she is part of, it is clear that she remains undefined and does not follow convention. Her work shows¬†influences from Arte Povera, Pop Art and New British Sculpture amongst others. Arte Povera means “poor art” where poor refers to the use of inexpensive materials compared to traditional ones such as bronze or carved marble in sculpture. Using such dispensible materials was to challenge the values of the commercialised contemporary gallery system. The term was coined by Italian art critic Germano Celant in 1967 to describe a group of young and anti-elitist artists. It is considered as one of the most significant and influential avant-garde movement to emerge in Europe in the 1960s. The movement was in contrast to the sensibility of American Minimalism by using performance, and unconventional approaches to sculpture, such as installation. There was no manifesto drawn up for the Arte Povera, as a key factor of the movement was the rejection of rules and pre-existing structures.

The movement was at its height from 1967 to 1972, but its influence on later art has been enduring. In Japan, the Mono-ha group looked into the essence of materials and stepped away from technological modernism. In the US, the terms anti-form and post-minimalism was used to describe work that also rejected the sensibility of Minimalism.

Barlow’s influence

Barlow had an important influence on younger generations of artists through her teaching a the Slade School for Fine Art where she later became a Professor of Fine Art. Her infamous students include Turner Prize-winning and nominated artists Rachel Whiteread and Angela de la Cruz. She became a Royal Academician in 2011 and continues to live and work in London.

What a phenomenal and accomplished female artist, I would recommend this exhibition for anyone interested in contemporary art or one who is curious to try a different art experience. 4 out of 5 pineapples.

With Sweet & Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken x

P.S For another splendid review of another exhibition of her work please see this article here.