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.

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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.

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Unloading – 6B Pencil
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Outside Star City – 7B pencil
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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.

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Macquarie Centre loading dock – 6B pencil

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

Raise a glass

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6B Pencil
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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.

 

 

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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.

 

 

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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!

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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

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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.

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7B Pencil and Inktense pencils
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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!

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6B pencil
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Sze Yup Temple 2015 – Photo courtesy of JWK Lion Dance Assoc.
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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

 

 

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Flemington Markets – 6B pencil with Inkense pencils
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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.

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For the papers, Macquarie Centre – 6B pencil
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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.

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Market City – 6B Pencils with Inktense pencils

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Market City – Inktense pencils

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

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Mersey Paradise

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One of my all-time favourite bands from the UK came to Sydney in December. The Stone Roses were only ever an alternative (i.e. not mainstream/Top 40) band in Australia. Although they have fans here, their impact was not to the extent of say Oasis or the Cure. In the UK however, they were on the cover of every single music and urban lifestyle mag around. Everyone was dressing and walking like them and several bands even imitated their sound. They were also known for not doing the typical touring regime, but put on stand alone stadium sized concerts. I have only seen them perform once before at Wembley Arena and that was in 1995! It was close to their demise, but have since reunited in the last couple of years.

I was a bit reluctant to buy tickets when it was first announced as the venue was the Sydney Opera House. Not that its a bad venue, on the contrary, I’ve seen many performances there and enjoyed it. However, they have been classical  concerts or at least “sit-down” affairs.

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The Roses were known for crossing indie music with dance, whichever way you look at it, the music they play is upbeat and poppy. From all my years of seeing live music, one thing I was certain of is that in Australia when people see bands, irrespective of what type of music it is, if you give them a venue with seats they will sit down, like there’s some magnetic attraction between their arses and their seats. They will not raise from it unless everybody else does or its the last song, i.e. the big hit/the only song they know/the song that they’ve been waiting for. Which sucks because they also don’t like it if you want to get up and obstruct their view. I find it infuriating, don’t they know part of seeing a live band is also audience participation? How do they think an atmosphere is created?

So, I had succumbed to the belief that this was going to be a sit down affair and decided if this was the case then I’d at least get some drawing in. Not a great consolation considering the price of the ticket – a very expensive life drawing session indeed!

sroses_soundcheck_lrAs usual, I got there early, sat down and started drawing the stage and roadies doing sound checks. I was at a good vantage point to be able to get some details. However, only moments into the bands intro music starting up, everyone was on their feet. And nobody sat down at all!! What I attribute this to is that the majority of the crowd were Brits – either living here or holidaying. I’ve seen bands in the UK and watched concerts filmed there on tv and know that this embracing of the moment is typical. It doesn’t matter if you are sitting in the nosebleed seats EVERYONE gets up and dances and sings along. If you think I’m being unfair to Aussies – that night the only ones sitting down were two behind me who were Australian (because I knew one of them) and the following night’s concert I was next to an Aussie couple who stood up BUT spent the first 20 minutes of the concert texting and reading their smartphones!! His girlfriend spent most of the second half sitting down as well. I think our relaxed attitude is sometimes too relaxed.

Although we were in a prestigious and refined venue where I have seen the Sydney Symphony Orchestra perform Profkiev and Mozart. At this moment in time it was like being in a crowded pub on a Saturday night. Or in the stand at a England vs Germany football game. I’ve never seen (or felt) spilt beer on the Concert Hall floor before. Guys next to me were standing on the chairs swaying back and forth becoming a thorn in the sides of security and the people in front of them. I went by myself but I was singing and dancing with everyone around me. It was one of the best shows, nay best experiences, I’ve been a part of in a very long time.

It was so good, I went back the next night and it was more of the same. Its moments like this where you wish you could bottle it or Command Save and repeat all over again. I was surprised that I managed to get any sketches in at all. My legs were aching and I was covered in sweat and beer but I would do it again anytime of the year in a heartbeat.

All sketches were done with a black Artline pen and waterbrush pen.

Sydney rocks!

As per usual around this time of year the Festival of Sydney is on which hosts all types of performing and visual arts, both national and international artists. Then on top of that a lot of Northern hemisphere bands like to tour the country in our summer to make the most of our weather (although we’ve had gail force winds and serious flooding in some parts lately). So in the span of about two weeks I have seen four bands, which also means I’m absouletly broke too.

It started off with the crazy, loveable Hives (see last post) and continued on with the following:

WEEZER

Weezer at the Sydney Entertainment Centre - inktense and pen
Weezer at the Sydney Entertainment Centre – inktense and pen

I missed them the first time they toured, and 15 years later (I think) they returned. It is not my favourite venue in town but beggars cant be choosers. The only best spot in that venue is down the front. Next time I might leave the inktense pencils at home as they didnt give me enough colour, and I will admit I added a bit more when I got home that night because I wasn’t satisfied.

Post gig - Inktense Pecils and pen
Post gig – inktense and pen

It was also the start of a new sketchbook and it is really hard drawing on the left hand page while standing up with nothing to steady yourself or your book on, so I decided to leave the left page and I filled it in later that night.

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Weezer at the Sydney Entertainment Centre – inktense and pen

They played a ballady-type number which meant they stood still for a little longer than normal, so I drew Brian and Rivers who were closest to me.

NORMAN BLAKE & JOE PERNICE

One of my all-time favourite bands is Teenage Fanclub, and Norman Blake is one of the lead singers/guitarist with them. They came out for the Festival of Sydney, so I decided on an impulse to go and see them perform at the Spiegeltent.

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Spiegeltent, Festival of Sydney – inktense pencils and pen

As it was the day after the Weezer concert, for once I was happy to see seats at a music show. I got up close but sat to the side as sitting front on isn’t always the best sketching angle.

Norman Blake & Joe Pernice at the Spiegeltent, Festival of Sydney - watercolours
Norman Blake & Joe Pernice at the Spiegeltent, Festival of Sydney – watercolours

I found the paper in this sketchbook isn’t overly suitable for watercolours (and colour inks) – it tends to absorb them and the saturation is quite murky. So  I did another page with only pen. I love drawing hands, and being so close to the stage I could see their ‘fingering’ quite well. It was wonderful to draw – not sure if I drew them with any justice tho.

Norman Blake & Joe Pernice at the Spiegeltent, Festival of Sydney - artline pen
Norman Blake & Joe Pernice at the Spiegeltent, Festival of Sydney – artline pen

OSAKA MONAURAIL

This was one of the most awesomest, fantabulous shows I’ve been to. Osaka Monaurail are a soul funk band inspired by the likes of James Brown, and as the name entails they are from Japan. They take everything that is cool and hot about soul music and play it like they were born in the 60s. Highly recommend seeing these guys live – heaps of fun and heaps of gettin’ down.

Osaka Monaurail at Sydney Town Hall, Festival of Sydney - artline pen
Osaka Monaurail at Sydney Town Hall, Festival of Sydney – artline pen
Osaka Monaurail at Sydney Town Hall, Festival of Sydney - artline pen
Osaka Monaurail at Sydney Town Hall, Festival of Sydney – artline pen
Osaka Monaurail at Sydney Town Hall, Festival of Sydney - artline pen
Osaka Monaurail at Sydney Town Hall, Festival of Sydney – artline pen
Osaka Monaurail at Sydney Town Hall, Festival of Sydney - artline pen
Osaka Monaurail at Sydney Town Hall, Festival of Sydney – artline pen
Osaka Monaurail at Sydney Town Hall, Festival of Sydney - artline pen
Osaka Monaurail at Sydney Town Hall, Festival of Sydney – artline pen
Osaka Monaurail at Sydney Town Hall, Festival of Sydney - artline pen
Osaka Monaurail at Sydney Town Hall, Festival of Sydney – artline pen
Osaka Monaurail at Sydney Town Hall, Festival of Sydney - artline pen
Osaka Monaurail at Sydney Town Hall, Festival of Sydney – artline pen

So my feet are buggered. Only have enough time to recuperate before I head off to Abu Dhabi, stay tuned for that story.

Cheers,
Meegan

To check out any of these bands please click on the links.

Weezer  Norman Blake & Joe Pernice (from the same show)  Osaka Monaurail

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