Two drawings done in a Spanish restaurant called “La Caja de Musica” (The Music Box), hidden away in a tiny alley in central Taipei. It’s a great place with awesome tapas, filled with music and good people. There’s a tiny room downstairs for gigs and sometimes when there’s one, the kitchen closes really early, because Chef Luis goes up on the stage to do some of his brilliant piano playing. Most weeks there’s a flamenco night; the second drawing began as a sketch during a performance of two flamenco musicians from Sevilla. It’s really bizarre to see Asian people singing in Spanish and doing palmadas – flamenco would seem like almost the single most alien music genre when it comes to the Asian taste. And still… Goes to show music knows no borders. In between sets everyone goes outside to chat and smoke and watch the many fat cats sauntering in the little street. And sometimes after the people are gone, the owners sit down with the musicians to play some music together, and when that’s done – everyone emerges into the hot Taiwanese night to flag a cab home. Thanks, La Caja, for some great memories!
And Merry Christmas to you all, wherever you are in the world!
Two views from Taiwan. One from the South, from a holiday resort called Hengchun (aaah, hanging out at a coffee shop and the beach… beautiful memories!), the other one from the North: the view of the street from my friend’s flat. Taiwanese streets are almost nothing like European ones – close and noisy, full of small businesses, scooters, comings and goings, and the constant sound of the convenience stores’ buzzers. Vibrant, I guess, would be the word. Not a good choice for peace-lovers, but definitely have their charm.
Three quick drawings from Jinmen (or Kinmen) – a tiny archipelago of islands just off the coast of China, which by some strange stroke of geopolitical luck found itself belonging to Taiwan. It’s a great place to chill out after a big city pressure – you get a bike or a scooter and just spend a day cycling around, and no one pays any attention to you, unless they want to ask you if you’d like some cold water or a sunshade. Brilliant.
This is an image I did after an amazing night at Bobwunday. Every Wednesday there’s an open mic night there. On that particular day some of us stayed on after everyone had left and my friends started jamming: guitars, cajons, singing, trumpets… There was an accidental Polish girl, who turned out to be a really great musician, in Taipei for a jazz festival; there was a friend of mine who’s a fantastic guitar player; another one who plays the violin… Myself, I just went crazy and danced the night away. It was a brilliant experience and I went home about 4 am buzzing with joy and energy, feeling like the world was beautiful – and mine.
I’m posting it tonight because I’ve just spent a great evening with a couple of old friends and ended up performing a song on a guitar in an old pub in London – it felt embarrassing, but also great, and the fact the people didn’t laugh counts as an extra point. Another thing on my list of Things To Do In Life – checked. I’m by no means a gifted musician, but I wish I was, and regardless – I think music is something that speaks to people, never mind the words and languages. It’s such an inspiring force in our lives. I feel really lucky to have met so many musically gifted people in my life and to have been able to see them perform and jam.
Am I rambling? Possibly. It’s half past midnight and we consumed about a bottle of wine each. No wonder I’m getting maudlin! But then, as the ancient Romans used to say – in vino veritas, so maudlin doesn’t necessarily mean untrue.
Just a quick one today, since I’m preparing for a trip to London and have a mass of things to do. I think the picture’s self-evident… Have to say, when I was going there, I didn’t expect that much. I mean, it’s a… wall. Plus I was going to see it in Badaling, the most frequented place. But to my surprise it turned out to be pretty amazing, even with the crowds and the fact that you can’t really go that far. I was lucky enough to have a moment when I was actually alone. Of course there were locals climbing up to sell some nuts and snacks (and hurriedly climbing back when the guards were coming), and a whole bunch of other people, including Poles (we’re everywhere). I was also very impressed with how convenient it is to get there from Beijing (an impeccably clean train for mere 6 kuai, with great views – only the passengers made it scary as they would start running towards it the second the gates were open – and let me tell you: you don’t want to stand between a crowd of Chinese people and their non-numbered seats…).
Just realised that I forgot to give a title to my last post and also made some typos… That’s what comes out of posting in a hurry with bleary eyes. Oh, well…
A few drawings done in Xiamen in the south of China. Definitely one of the best cities I visited there. Above is the view from my friend’s balcony. It was lovely just sitting there in a hammock and sketching away – but then, can anything be not lovely in a hammock?
Above and below: view from the promenade. The picture on top is of the Gulang Yu – the Island of Thundering Waves. A beautiful and quirky, if slightly overcrowded place. It’s full of old Portuguese architecture and strange corners and alleys (Xiamen used to be a Portuguese protectorate, which gives it an aura of and old European city).
Here’s a little drawing I did while on a train in China (Guilin to Hangzhou). The landscape in the south of China is amazing, with layers and layers of mountains and strange rock formations. The green is unbelievably vibrant. On this particular moment it felt both foreign and strangely familiar, maybe because of the poplar trees.
And here are some sketches I did on the same trip of a family that was sitting in front of me. I was enchanted with them – it was an overnight train, about 20 hours, enough to get anyone tired and cranky, and yet the two little kids didn’t complain even once and sat peacefully all this time, talking and playing, with the girl taking care of her little brother and covering him with a blanket while he slept. The father too seemed very patient and loving. They would seem like an unusually nice family anywhere in the world, but especially in China they struck me as a particularly loveable little bunch (I’m sure anyone who’s had anything to do with Chinese long-distance hard-seaters would agree if they were there).
So one day after we finished our weekly drawing session in Revolver, I was talking to one of the owners of the bar and he started leafing through my drawings. “Hey, these are cool” – he said. – “Maybe you’d like to draw something for us? Or I tell you what – why don’t you design a T-shirt image for our 2nd anniversary?” After a second of speechlessness (and let me tell you, that doesn’t often happen with me…) I naturally jumped to the occasion and sat down to it. When I got a stamp of approval and started inking the pencil design in. Of course the second I did it, I realised there is something horribly – horribly! – wrong with the lady. What a fail! I then spend a whole night browsing the web and trying to find ways to remove ink from paper – not an easy thing to do, apparently. Finally I gave up, took the finished drawing to the guy and told him about the little problem. “No, leave it, it’s great and I love it. It’s just like us: 99% okay, with 1% of weirdness!” Phew!
The design includes a dog, because there’s a bar dog called Hendrix. A naked lady because of the Monday drawing sessions. A bunch of musicians because of the live music. A “No Coldplay” sign because there is one in the bar. And the little Chinese lamps are the ones that hang next to the entrance.
Now – can you figure out what’s wrong with the naked girl?