Friday, 23 December 2016

Stories we tell ...

As I was trying to select the next film to use in the English Language lunch time gatherings I came across one documentary film that touched me profoundly and which I will no doubt want my students to watch and discuss ...
It's profound ... complex ... emotional ...  and beyond no doubt, despite being based on a personal life  story, one which makes us (as viewers) ponder on the validity of the stories we tell others ... and ourselves ... or even those we choose not to unveil ... because no two accounts of an event are ever the same and our own memories or the inquest into our own life path unknown existence can astound, hurt, deceive and even betray us ... or affect those around us.


"(...) is one of those movies you watch on a screen and replay in your head for days (...) it's a scrapbook seen through a kaleidoscope, where each photograph somehow reveals the person looking at it."


Christmas gathering ...

Specific dates, such as Christmas day or the New Year often  lead to gatherings which are not necessarily "heartfelt" and mostly taste of the "for the record" type of "reunions", I must confess I rarely participate in.

This year though  I decided to accept to get together with some "retired" colleagues", the resident co-workers and teachers, the recent administrator responsible for the Training Centre related issues, as well as the students currently attending courses at the Training Centre, in what ended up being a fairly pleasant lunch gathering.
I went around the room taking pictures ... which will certainly outlive the moment ...


Tuesday, 20 December 2016

From North to South ... another group of beloved students ...

I have had the pleasure of recently welcoming official and future Aerodrome Information Traffic Agents in my Aeronautical English refresher course and "feel" their commitment and enthusiasm throughout the whole period of time.

I don't really know what it is about all these students that come and go and yet leave a void ... a mere twelve hours were easily turned into a friendly-like type of atmosphere, that has born visible fruits at the end and has led to success ... a success that is based on having provided them with the best possible "tools" within a limited amount of time (and beyond) and having received the necessary recognition every committed teacher "craves" for ... 

It may sound both disproportionate and repetitive but I can't help but call them my "beloved students",  who will be carrying out their duties in aerodromes that spread from North to South.

May they be "blessed" ... 

With the coordinator of the course and myself (right)

The Chinese Opera - temporary exhibition at Museu do Oriente, Lisboa - The 10th of December 2016

Fascinated as anyone would be for Chinese Opera and everything it entails I didn't hesitate to go to the second floor of Museu do Oriente, where a temporary exhibition on such a theme was being held, in search of those visual images. 
I was immediately drawn to the beauty of the costumes and the meaning of the designs therewith associated, as I walked into the first exhibit room.

Ceremonial court costume for a male character (sheng) with embroidered dragon and waves - Beijing c. 1970.

Female character costume (dan) with phoenixes, peonies and "sleeve waves" (to add to the movement in dance and thus produce a visual effect as seen in the image underneath) for an empress, imperial concubine, princess, female warrior and general or a bride of a hish society rank family - Beijing - c. 1980.

Bamboo knit apparel (left).

Budhist Monk costume - Beijing c. 1970 (right)

Costumes for female monk and boatman (main characters of the Autumn River opera) - textile - Beijing c. 1970.
Another exhibit room further enhanced the value of the opera characters subdivided in a vast array of typical ones  and the importance of their individuality together with the role played by not only the costumes, but hte accessories and make-up.

Caoxie sandals (for low class social status characters) and shoes for officials - Beijing c.1979/80 - vegetable fibers, synthetic materials, wood and textile.

Hairpins with zoomorphic and leaf shaped ornaments to be used by female charaters - Hong Kong - 20th century - metal, pearls, jade, rose quartz and other semi-precious stones. 

Sichuan masks - papier machĂȘ and horse-hair - 1992 (right).

On either side of one of the exhibit rooms one could just sit and watch some opera being played, which I did, though I must confess I had no clue as to which type of vast opera repertoire it was from.


I was equally impressed by the number and wide variety of instruments in display, though the one that mostly caught my attention, not only because of the central position it occupied, was the Yangqin dating from 1925 similar to a psaltery with 28 strings and played with very light sticks.

The embroidered wall hanging on the Three Kings opera (dating to 1993) was very impressive, but what wasn't, to be honest (!) - from the the book of sketches for propitiatory operas, the designs on the variety of well known operas to the rod puppets ...


Character from the Journey to the West opera - Beijing c.1980

Painted rod puppet head

Rod puppets from XuXian, white serpent and blue serpent - Guandong c.1950.

Character (1970) from the Romance of the Three Kingdoms, as well as engraving therewith associated (1920).
I may not have been able to fully understand the whole tradition associated with Chinese Opera but Icame out of this exhition with a certainly deeper understanding of what it is about.