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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An Evening with Kevin Smith

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kevin_smith_state_theratre_2015_2_LRLast Friday I went and saw Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes (aka Jay and Silent Bob) at the State Theatre. Smith directed one of my favourite movies Mallrats – its very rare to find a movie that throws in cool comic book related jokes. Anyway, couldn’t find any takers to come with me so went on my own.

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When you’re in a situation like that it comes in handy being able to sketch as it whiles away the waiting time. It was also held in the beautiful State Theatre so plenty to draw. I am amazed I got a bit of Kevin Smith’s likeness as I was sitting closer to the back. I loved his expressive hands, they reminded me of the kind you see in old school Jack Kirby illustrations.

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Socceroos meltdown in Brisbane

The safety demo on board our flight to Brisbane. Media - Japanese brush felt pen and watercolours.
The safety demo on board our flight to Brisbane. Media – Japanese brush felt pen and watercolours.

I received free tickets to the Asia Cup (Soccer/Football tournament, like a mini world cup but only encompasses countries from the Asiatic region).  I couldn’t get tickets for the Sydney game, and as I do like watching South Korea play too I opted to head up to Brisbane to watch them play the Aussies. Both teams are very strong in this region and in this particular tournament both had won their group matches so far…

View from our hotel on Roma St overlooking Southbank. Media - Japanese brush felt pen.
View from our hotel on Roma St overlooking Southbank. Media – Japanese brush felt pen.

It was only an overnight weekender and took one of my nephews with me. We had plenty of time to do and see other stuff around Brisbane but the heat was exceptionally intense. I don’t think it was even in the early 30s (Celsius) but god damn it was hot! The air was so thick and humid and the sun was just relentless. It didn’t let up, even after the sun had gone down the air was heavy and warm.

A quick bite to it at the Media - Japanese brush felt pen and watercolours
A quick bite to it at Lefty’s Old Time Music Hall. Media – Japanese brush felt pen and watercolours

So one distraction for me anyway was my sketchbook. I don’t like drawing when I’m travelling with others who don’t, but we were so lethargic because of the heat we didn’t get up to too much. Anyway, hope you like. And hope Aussies make their way to the finals! Fingers crossed!

The Press at Suncorp Stadium. Media - Japanese brush felt pen and watercolours
The Press at Suncorp Stadium. Media – Japanese brush felt pen and watercolours

The night at the game was almost overtaken with swarms(?) of moths EVERYWHERE. It was like some 1960s horror movie, “Invasion of the Moths”. They moved as frantically as all the press and media did on the sidelines. Sadly the home team lost, which was quite frustrating, but we’re still in contention once we hit the knock out stages.

The Socceroos (Australia) and Taeguk Warriors (Sth Korea) warming up pre-game. Media - Japanese brush felt pen and watercolours.
The Socceroos (Australia) and Taeguk Warriors (Sth Korea) warming up pre-game. Media – Japanese brush felt pen and watercolours.

Although we had a few hours to kill in the city before heading home, it was so damn hot to be walking around we decided to head to the airport. We had so much time I killed it by drawing this plane heading to Melbourne. While we were sitting there the South Korean team sat near us. I wish I had the guts to ask them to sign my book, but their captain, who sat closest, looked like he was dealing with a cold. And after seeing some Korean fans sheepishly approach them for an autograph – that was painful enough to watch it unfold.

Hours to kill at Brisbane Airport. Media - Japanese brush felt pen and watercolours.
Hours to kill at Brisbane Airport. Media – Japanese brush felt pen and watercolours.

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