CNY 2017

Chinese New Year came a lot earlier this year as it follows the lunar cycle rather than a set calendar date. I missed most of our lion dance performances this season so only did Friday and the weekend but that was exhausting enough! Usually I feel this tired after doing 2 weeks worth, not three days – I must be getting old.

I’ve written (plus sketched) in more detail in previous posts about what lion dancing is so if you would like to check them out please click on these links 2014, 2016.

cny_2017_001_lr
Supplies – graphite pencil and inktense pencils

Lion dancing is always on the move – not just the performances themselves. We cover so much of Sydney and constantly broken up into teams that at anytime we could be sent off in different directions. So everything we need is carted around with us.

cny_2017_028_LR.jpg
Unloading – 6B Pencil
cny_2017_029_LR.jpg
Outside Star City – 7B pencil
cny_2017_002_lr
Waiting for a car space – 6B pencil

It can also make parking an issue. This sketch was done at the Marigold restaurant in Chinatown. It’s four levels up with a very small ground level and basement carpark. Despite the number of years we have been booked here they still never leave car spaces for us. There is this constant ritual of having to negotiate space so we can unpack.

cny_2017_019_LR.jpg
Macquarie Centre loading dock – 6B pencil

When we do shopping centres some at least allow us to use their loading docks.

Raise a glass

cny_2017_004_lr
6B Pencil
cny_2017_007_lr
6B Pencil

During this period large Chinese restauarants offer banquet deals – you book a table and they serve you a set menu with a lion dance included. Its such a celebrated event that in some restaurants its become more of a spectacle. When the lion dance starts it gives everyone the licence to go mad.

 

 

cny_2017_005_LR.jpg
6B Pencil

Traditionally what happens is a table will offer the lion a red packet of money. The lion will come over to their table and collect it in its mouth. Many people place their red packet on a cup of tea or a glass of wine or beer with the intention that the lion also shares a drink with them, like spreading good cheer amongst the table.

Some like to take it to another level and cheekily stack the red packet on a tower of wine glasses, beer bottles, saucers, cups, bowls or teapots. The idea is that the lion “swallows” the entire tower and when its finished pulls away to reveal a different combination of cups and so on. Occasionally they are a little too high, or the lion head is a little too drunk (can happen) that it all comes crashing down. Thankfully the atmosphere is so lively and jubilant even the managers aren’t upset with the mess and damage. Though not so pleasant when the lion reverses into a chandelier or expensive light fitting.

 

 

marigold_1
Image courtesy of JWK LionDance Assoc

At the Marigold there is a low stage at one end where we set up the drummer and cymbal players. We also pop colourful paper confetti that makes the kids go crazy. They flock to the stage and collect it handfuls. Basically once they’re on the stage they don’t leave and jump and dance around.cny_2017_006_LR.jpg

 

A couple of little girls watched me draw, almost sitting right on top of me. As I was doing this sketch below, I hadn’t drawn the faces in yet as the drummer and cymbal players swapped with new people halfway through my drawing. They were completely different sizes or stood differently so it threw me a little. One of the girls asked me to finish the face of the cymbal player [left hand side] which was completely blank. I just drew in his glasses and left it, but she wasn’t satisfied so she took my pencil and drew in the eyeballs for me. They were so good I decided to leave them in – she drew with the book upside down too you know!

cny_2017_008_lr
7B Pencil and Inktense pencils

Chinese New Year is all about family, and we are seeing a young generation of lion dancers taking shape with my friend’s kids. cny_2017_009_lr

cny_2017_010_lr
6B Pencil

Lion Frenzy

It’s amazing how fanatical people get over the lion, especially the Chinese. I suppose because I am a part of it I have a different perspective. There is no other way to describe it than they just go apeshit for lion. I apologise for my language but you watch mature well respected or at least mild mannered adults go manic over a lion, like Beatlemania or Beliebers. So when there is more than one in a room its a lion frenzy.

cny_2017_011_lr
7B Pencil and Inktense pencils
cny_2017_013_lr
6B pencil with inktense pencils

Later that night we performed at Sze Yup Temple in Glebe, one of the oldest Chinese temples in Sydney and still visited frequently by the Chinese community. During this period it is incredibly busy and on the eve of  the New Year it’s standing room only. The dragon dance performed by another group had already finished. This temple has a very small forecourt and dragon dances need some decent floorspace so I don’t know how they managed.

 

Even before we started the crowds already encircled us, they crept closer and closer like sharks around prey. Not only was it tight on the ground the air above was thick with burning incense or joss sticks both in and outside the temple.

It burns!

cny_2017_014_lr
6B pencil
temple.jpg
Sze Yup Temple 2015 – Photo courtesy of JWK Lion Dance Assoc.
cny_2017_015_LR.jpg
6B Pencil

One worker who was dressed more like a hazchem cleaner would push his way out of the temple every ten minutes with a bucket loaded with lit joss sticks and candles because they were overwhelming the small urns inside. Only inches from your head were handfuls of lit joss sticks clutched in people’s hands as they pushed past to make their prayers. That’s why I drew this picture, it reminded me of a torch relay but one that stings your eyes from all the ashes.

Your typical day

 

 

cny_2017_016_lr
Flemington Markets – 6B pencil with Inkense pencils
cny_2017_017_lr
Flemington Markets – 6B Pencil with Inktense pencils

The next day I was out and about covering a whole lot of Sydney. That’s probably the most exhausting part to this side of lion dancing – the amount of travelling that happens from morning to midnight.

cny_2017_018_lr
For the papers, Macquarie Centre – 6B pencil
cny_2017_030_lr
Waiting at Blacktown – Inktense pencils

The only time I get to chill is when the others perform the lion dance poles – heartstopping, dramatic, highly skilled and disciplined moves. Admittedly I have drawn them jump before so gesturally I already know the most dynamic moments to draw. So even if I can only capture a fraction of it, I can, to some degree, fill in the rest of the sketch based on what I know and have drawn before.

cny_2017_021_lr
Market City – 6B Pencils with Inktense pencils

cny_2017_025_LR.jpg

cny_2017_026_LR.jpg
Market City – Inktense pencils

Happy New Year folks, hope its a great one!
Meegan

Advertisements

Chinese New Year 2016

cny2016009_LR
Waiting around to start

I’m part of Jin Wu Koon Liondancing and Chinese New Year is a massive month long celebration in Sydney where the whole city joins in. It also means there a constant and intense schedule of lion dance performances for us that can range from morning till midnight and take us to all regions of Sydney and further.

cny2016002_LR

Its a very physical thing and the long hours and minimal hours of sleep can take its toll – I didn’t go to all of them and I was exhausted! I think what compacts it more is all the time in-between waiting to do each performance – standing around on the street or in front of a restaurant. I find that quite tedious as its not necessarily enough time to really chill out but not short enough to keep your momentum going.

That’s why a few years back I decided to bring my sketchbook with me. Originally I wanted to capture what we do, click here to see. The second time it was to kill time, click here. This year it was a bit of both.

You also can’t carry much around with you – a small handbag or pack is about it, so that restricts what I can carry with me. I also need something that is also going to give me instant results as well.

So I used disposable Japanese felt brush tip pens.

cny2016003_LR

cny2016013_LR
“Behind” the scenes

Up on high

JWK have a team who also perform lion dancing on poles – normal lion dance takes some practice and experience, but this – this takes a huge year round commitment and you need something of a fearless character to do it. Below is footage from last year.

Its always hard to draw and capture fast moving objects, especially in this case where its a 360˚ performance. As I’ve seen them perform a few times before I had already worked out the moments I wanted to capture. Still not an easy thing but it helps you block out the temptation or natural tendency to want to capture everything.

cny2016008_LR

cny2016001_LR cny2016004_LR cny2016010_LR cny2016011_LR cny2016012_LRIts always a good opportunity to draw the crowds who watch with great anticipation.

cny2016021_LR

Lion? Dragon?

For those of you who thought it was a dragon, no it’s not. These next  few drawings are of a dragon dance, thanks to the Chinese Youth League.

cny2016005_LR cny2016006_LR cny2016007_LR

aaaaanndd if you still can’t tell what that is, here is some footage of them in action.

And when I’m not drawing the “entertainment” I look for inspiration elsewhere.

cny2016014_LR
Dixon Street
cny2016015_LR
Chinese New Year display

Lion dancing can have you performing at all sorts of events and venues. This was a wedding held on a restaurant boat. These couple of sketches are us waiting for our water taxi so we could head off to our next performance.

cny2016016_LR cny2016017_LR cny2016018_LR

Possibly someone’s dinner – a lobster waiting its fate at a restaurant in a shopping centre.
cny2016019_LR

The aftermath of a late afternoon yum cha.cny2016020_LR Hanging out at the gym and watching the Legacy Brazilian Ju-Jitsu students practice tumbles and moves.
cny2016022_LR

I ended up finishing off my sketchbook, so I went and bought the cheapest pad and pens I could find.

materials_LRIt was tiny, bigger than a business card. I also bought a thick marker which probably wasn’t the greatest of choices too, but I’m always up for a challenge. I did also buy a thin one to get some balanced detail in.

cny2016023_LR cny2016024_LR cny2016025_LR cny2016026_LR

Some scenes around Chinatown, as we waited for the State MP to rock up.cny2016027_LR cny2016028_LR cny2016029_LR

We also have the largest lion head in the country, again, probably not the best sized notepad for him, hee, hee.
cny2016030_LR cny2016031_LR cny2016032_LR cny2016033_LR cny2016034_LR
cny2016036_LR cny2016037_LR cny2016038_LR

Amazingly my last performance with them this season was at the Art Gallery. Sadly it was just for some sportscar promotional event, so I doubt many would have given a fig about the art around them. But at least it gave me a chance to visit.
cny2016039_LR cny2016040_LR cny2016041_LR

I think I broke my record on the number of drawings for Chinese New Year. Question is, how will I approach it next year…

Cheers, Kung Hei Fat Choi!

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: