Contingency plan

There was an incident in the park the other day which made me realise that I needed a contingency plan in case of losing Bella’s ball.

It was mid-afternoon and Bella and I just enter Regent’s Park through the gate near Chester Road. We saw a large Labradoodle and its owner playing with a tennis ball in the distance – a familiar sight, so I didn’t think much of it and let Bella off from the leash. As usual, Bella begged me to throw a ball for her and I obliged to her request.

However, the Labradoodle galloped towards us as soon as our ball landed and snatched it from the ground. Bella was only very happy to see another dog and started to dance around it like a butterfly around a luscious bloom. I sent a pleading look to the owner of the “ball-snatcher” and she came over to sort out the situation.

It didn’t work, unfortunately. The harder we tried, the more the dog resisted. While we tempted him with treats and his own ball, this naughty Labradoodle kept us at his paw length, gnawing on Bella’s ball like a chewing gum. I could see the neon orange ball gradually losing its shape through his teeth and saliva. Alas. ‘Never mind our ball. But you make sure that he won’t swallow it.’ I told the embarrassed girl and we walked away.

Then, we moved on to the rugby pitch and looked for a ball we lost a few days ago. Again, exactly like it happened in Hampstead Heath last Sunday, the ball disappeared like magic under the mud and the fallen leaves in the sports field. I combed the ground with the ball launcher and kicked up leaves but failed to find it.

Oh Bay-bay, what can we do?

Out of desperation, I throw the launcher for her…

She went for it but looked a bit confused. Where is my ball?’

Never mind that, Bella. So we continued to play with the launcher…

 

At first, Bella was happy to carry the stick because it was new. She was showing off her new trophy and trotting around with it.

But then, she realised that the launcher didn’t fly very far and it didn’t bounce either…

 

“No! I am not playing with this crap! Where is my BALL?’

Sorry, Bay-Bay, I shall bring a spare ball or a frisbee as our contingency plan next time…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Freaking cold @ Hampstead Heath

Brrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!

It was too damn cold! Despite donning several layers, a beanie and a pair of sheepskin fingerless gloves, I found the top of the windswept heath too cold to hang around.

Last Sunday, Hubbie, I and Bella decided to have a little post-lunch stroll in Hampstead Heath. The forecast was sunny but chilly. ‘I’m gonna take my camera!’, Hubbie packed his crossbody bag, and I armed myself with Bella’s treats, a tennis ball and a frisbee.

Lime Avenue was rather crowded…

Everyone seemed to have the same idea about a Sunday stroll and the heath was teeming with people and dogs. Our girl Bella was beside herself with happiness and excitement by meeting so many friendly four-legged and two-legged creatures!

Hubbie suggested us to walk towards east instead of continuing to follow Lime Avenue because he wanted to go to Parliament Hill Viewpoint.

Then, Hubbie stopped and started to take photos of the distant woods, so Bella and I decided to play with a ball.

I threw the ball with a launcher, and Bella gave a chase. However, the vegetation on the slope was really dense and the ball seemed to have been tucked away in the overgrowth. Oh no! It’s our second ball to be lost this week!! I cursed and looked around in vain but the ball was nowhere to be seen.

Ok, a back-up plan kicks in! I pulled out a frisbee and threw it for Bella…

 

Yippee! Bella was just so happy to be running around the heath with her beloved frisbee.

“Fatigue” is a word to be found only in the dictionary of humans, according to Bella…

Do it again, PLEASE.

What is the matter with you? Are you crying??

‘I don’t wanna cry but I can’t help it!’

The wind which was whipping us up was so cold and it made one of my eyes welled up with tears.

Eventually, Hubbie decided to move on to the viewpoint, so Bella and I picked up the frisbee and pressed on.

A view from the Parliament Hill Viewpoint was spectacular…

But the place was very exposed and too damn cold! A few people tried to fly kites but the wind was too unforgiving. The kites were slapped down to the ground by the beating gust as soon as they were in the sky.

‘Let’s go home!’ Apart from Bella, Hubbie and I were only too happy to head home. We desperately needed something warm in our system…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Hot Tug on Regent’s Canal

Because of the approaching Storm Elena, last Tuesday was rather wet and windy. The weather improved slightly in the afternoon and I decided to take a box, which contained a spent HP inkjet cartridge, to the post office near Islington Town Hall so it could be sent back for recycling. Since it was the first working day of 2018 and the office would be better if we had less of the clutters from the previous year, I thought. Some may think if this sort of things should have been done before shutting the office for a Christmas break. Well, you don’t have any idea how chaotic the post office could be before the biggest annual holidays…

After depositing the box, Bella and I headed back home on foot. We walked through Camden Passage and found most of the shops were still on holiday.

‘Have I ever brought you to the canal, Bay-Bay?’ Regent’s Canal was a stone’s throw from our place, however, for some crazy reason, I never came here with her.

How do you find it, Bella?

Bella seemed to be very much intrigued by the sound of water lapping against the canal boats.

Bella met a couple of dogs near the lock…

One was a whippet and another one was a CavaPoo, and they were very friendly. I was sure they would have enjoyed a jolly fun run together if they were off-lead in the park. Instead, they had to be tight-leashed because the path was rather narrow.

Then, we noticed something unusual floating on the canal. ‘What the hell is that??’

OMG, it was a hot tub! I had seen a similar boat on a TV programme which was featuring the canal life of Amsterdam. Wow, I didn’t know it was available here too.

Nobody on board appeared to be steering the tub and the vessel was floating down the canal eastward…

The speed of the boat was slow and Bella and I overtook it very easily.

I wanted have a better look of the vessel, therefore, I waited for it on a foot bridge at the end of Shepherdess Walk…

According to Hot Tug, a company organising a floating bath tub tour, the 75 minutes experience costs £220. So those passengers / bathers paid £73 approx each then?

A pair of policemen also came across the sight…

‘You lots look like having a good time! Can we join you if we take our clothes off and jump in?’, they bantered.

They all laughed and the boat drifted away further and further…

Hope you guys aren’t gonna catch a cold! The sight was surreal, I must say…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Retrospective of Rachel Whiteread @ Tate Britain

Every time I see Whiteread’s artworks, a famous quote by the mountaineer, George Mallory, pops up in my head – “People ask me, ‘What is the use of climbing Mount Everest?’ And my answer is ‘Because it’s there’.”

Rachel casts because it is there…

And she has been casting a numerous objects in resin, rubber, plaster and concrete over the decades. What she casts is another thing which makes her works most unique and captivating.

Rachel captures what is not there. Or it exists yet it is not tangible nor tactile to us. She traps the emptiness…

Shallow Breath 1988

In this work, she casted the void beneath a bed. The space captured and solidified in plaster and polystyrene represents multiple emotions which are associated with the space under a bed.

In her “Torso” series, she casted the inside of a hot-water bottle…

Again, she was capturing the warmth of a hot-water bottle. The artworks appeared as if she also managed to jog and trap the memories associated with this intimate household object.

Untitled (Amber Mattess) 1992

The cast of the mattress was made from rubber. The manner of the way the artwork leant against the wall resembled how some people abandon a worn-out bedding out on the street. Did she imply discarded intimacy?…

Untitled (Hive) II 2007 – 2008

The interior of a beehive was casted in honey-coloured resin. The visualisation of the space filled with liquid honey.

Ghost Ghost 2008

A doll house was casted in lavender-coloured resin. Behind the semi-transplant mass, details such as a staircase and walls were seen, trapped in a dreamlike manner, and it was hauntingly beautiful.

Sadly her most famous work, House – a temporary public sculpture in East London, no longer exists. I remember how raucously the piece was received by the general public. While some of them, including me, were pro, the rest was aggressively anti and the controversy raged until the artwork was demolished after eleven weeks.

Untitled (Room 101) 2003

This piece reminded me about the aforementioned work. Would the sculpture be spared from being torn down if it were built in a more affluent area of London? Like Hampstead or Chelsea? I couldn’t help wondering.

Stairs 2001

With this piece, which occupied the centre stage of the airy gallery, the artist finally resolved the issue which had been bugging her for eight years. During the BBC programme, Imagine, Rachel was recounting to Alan Yentob how she was left unsatisfied with the staircase of the “House” in 1993. She was not happy with it because the staircase was like a mere imprint on the wall and it did not represent architectural quality she wanted. Then in 1999, opportunity was presented to her in the shape of an ex-Baptist church in Shoreditch which she and her partner bought so they could convert it to a studio/family home. While she rejigged the space, she made the casts of the existing interior, including the staircase.

Untitled (Floor – thirty-six) 2002

In Out-IV 2004 (left), Circa 1610 2012 (right)

A.M. 2011

Due Porte 2016

Line up 2007 – 2008

Drill 2008 (front), Lean 2005 (rear)

While studying her works, the sensations, such as scents, temperatures and touches, I felt while I was making things during my art student days, came back vividly.

Her retrospective show is on until the 21st of January.

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Hello, 2018!

Wish you all a splendid new year! I sincerely hope this year will be a much better one than the previous year, not only for me but also for all the creatures on this planet.

And rejoice! Because it is my year! Bella says…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

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