June 28, 2012 Election Day in Ulaanbaatar

It is election day today and all is quiet.the streets are empty as people have left town and the day is a perfect sunny day. Sho Continue reading

Preparations for DESERT SHARING III EXHIBITION

Preparations for exhibition at the UMA Gallery in Mongolia are almost finalized. Today we delivered the works to the gallery.

Opening tomorrow evening at 6.00pm. We have Australian Consul and Trade Commissioner David Lawson to open the show along with the director of the Mongolian History Museum Dr. J. Saruulbuyan. We have also invited Saruul to exhibit with our work. Saruul as well as being director of history museum is also a very fine visual artist as well as a writer and poet.

The UMA Gallery is very large and we can accommodate Tugsoo and Saruuls large paintings. Unfortunately we were unable to bring large works because of the difficulty bringing from Australia.
We have smaller works and many photographs from various Australian and Mongolian landscapes taken over the past years travel together.i have had prints made in Mongolia 60 x 40.

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Ulaanbaata, June 23, 2012

We have been back in Ulaanbaatar now for a few days and mostly have been preparing for next Desert Sharing III Exhibition to open on Monday evening at the UMA Gallery in Ulaanbaatar.

Preparations have included working on some of the paintings started in the Gobi Desert, selecting and printing the large photographs for the exhibition. It is fortunate that most places here are open long hours so we can source materials and services.

As we have commented on previously, Ulaanbaatar is quite a different place to the serenity of the Mongolian countryside. The traffic in the city is chaotic and with the recently rain even more hideous to negotiate because there are huge puddles; or small lakes on the roads and footpaths. There are some crazy drivers who delight is speeding past pedestrians and soaking them with muddy spray. There is little attention paid to the drainage system and a mystery as to where the water is supposed to go.

Have met some Australian Soroptomist women for a second time in Tugsoo’s studio. They have been on a couple of adventures into the countryside and took a short horse riding tour. spring was not the best time to work with animals as the herds have recently come out of winter and as they described grossly thin and unwell. For a couple of mad horsey women this was very distressing. Summertime is when Mongolia comes alive. It’s the time for the large Nardam festival and all manner of festivities and holiday time. Schools and universities close for three months. Students often use this time to get out of the city and work in holiday ger camps to make some money, or anywhere they can find work.

Had another day in the country with Lkhamaa whol took me back to her relatives ger camp with the beautiful Yaks to meet Otga again and have a dress fitting for the traditional dell she is sewing for me. It’s a beautiful piece of Textile art and will be the most treasured spending I do in Mongolia. I plan to use the outfit as part of our Mongolian exhibitions in the Eltham South gallery. The dress is constructed from a turquoise blue silk with various bands of embroidery and the outer coat a red silk with black and gold braid. It is a traditional married woman’s celebration outfit. The sleeves will be made of green stitched silk and will hang down to my knees. This is so when the Mongolian cold weather sets in you can tuck your arms inside the sleeves. It is not a simple outfit for everyday use!

Staying at the ger camp currently as about 30 wrestlers in preparation for the Nadam Festival. We were lucky enough to be able to watch them training, in their colorful wrestling costumes. Otga usually does all of the cooking for the camp and at the moment is very busy with the wrestlers who need to be fed three Huge Meals a day! It’s hard to find sewing time between the food preparations, the wrestlers will train right up to three days before Nadam And have a couple of days at home and then fight for real against each other again.

It was surprising how quickly the spring brown grasses have turned to a healthy green and the scent of the new growth is unforgettable. I have probably talked about this particular smell of Monglian grass before. If only it could be bottled… The smell is a fine heady aroma of the best and freshest herbs including tyme, lavender, sages, clover and dandelions. The flowers are blooming now. Whereas Australia Springtime is usually the time our flowers come out here it is definitely summertime. The sad looking apartment blocks are becoming more alive with grass in the garden beds and many blocks have planted flowers such as marigolds. The city is changing and beginning to look less tardy.

The streets are also amass with political propaganda. Elections will be held on June 28, right in the middle of our exhibition. historically this has not been a good time I have found from experience to hold an exhibition. It has happened before that after booking a show the elections have been called. There are vans spouting party flags all over the city, huge billboards on the sides of apartment and city buildings, streets littered with faces full of promises to help the living conditions of everyone. One party is promising to pipe hot water into every ger in all the ger districts. That is according to locals a pipe dream… Other politicians promise to rehouse people in ger towns into the new apartment buildings. There are even promised to fix the traffic, the roads, cost of living and inflation. Speaking with people I meet there doesn’t seem to be a clear party that is considered Good. There are parties with members before the courts for corruption and all manner of questionable dealings. There is a flurry of road works taking place, but in most situations it seems cosmetic. It’s the big issues like drainage and complete resealing instead of ad hoc patching that needs to take place. The disabled here simply cannot get around, with any kind of ease.

I think one of the differences between life as I understand it and living in Monglia is that the people do not have expectations as the western life has. If you lived with the same expectations you would be very disappointed.

An example of normal life is after returning from our Gobi trip Unench parked his car, as he always does in his garage. This is not attached to the apartment but around the block in a car parking lane.

Overnight there had been some construction works, or perhaps it was from the new apartment block being built next door, a large chunk of concrete dumped outside his garage door. The concrete waste is far too heavy for one man to attempt to move alone. Phone calls were made to try and have the concrete moved. No success and who really is responsible? Unench has not been able to get t his garage since. Eventually this afternoon we found a shovel and a short of crowbar in our units verandah and between Mervyn and Unench they managed t move the lump. There are bits of building waste and rubbed all over the city dumped anywhere. I was surprised how calmly Unench and Tugsoo treated the inconvenience, in Australia we would have been jumping up and down and someone perhaps would have been sued.

Unench tells me there are laws in place here for such things as we have in Australia as far as people being injured from dangerous public works. The difference is if you tried to act upon it there would be no hope of any success. Perhaps somehow the blame would be put back on the injured party.

That’s enough for now, have to finish cataloging the new works. We hang the show tomorrow.

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Desert Sharing II Opening at the History Museum UB Monglia

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The exhibition was a great success tonight. We had all of the ceremony Mongolian Exhibitions present. The labels were finally translated and printed a couple of hours before the opening and the last thing before people arrived was the timber floors were washed and polished. Once the official museum closing time has passed out came the carpet for the foyer outside the gallery and a red tape with blue rosettes was placed at the gallery rooms entrance. My video was playing on the tv outside of the gallery, images from wild places from the Antarctic, Australian dirt to the arctic, Norway and Mongolia. Guests began to arrive and speeches made. I gave a small talk about our Project of Desert Sharing and how I met Tugsoo in Australia, our travels together into the Flinders Ranges and later Mongolia and our continued friendship and Desert Sharing project. After each sentence I had to stop while the assistant director translated my words into Mongolian. Unfortunately the director of the museum, J. Saarul is in hospital and was unable to come. He is very worried about missing our show. It all went smoothly, lots of photos taken and people were interested in our work and the way we perceived Mongolia. We had many invitations to people’s homes and another gallery.

No photos to post as I was too busy talking. Later, I may be able to post pics, one on the Australian girls assisting the museum took photos with my camera.

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Ulaanbaatar May 26

We are still in Ulaanbaatar planning our first exhibits at the History Museum to Open on Monday May 28. We have been back to gallery to measure walls and study the available showcases. There are some Australians who will be assisting us through Austrade. We have sent in details of work so labels can be made and ordered large posters.

I have posted an article I have been asked to write for the Mongol Messenger newspaper about our exhibition.

Our time in UB is as always very busy. Tugsoo has been taking our out to all sorts of Opening Ceremonies and cultural events. yesterday we attended an Opening at the lovely UMA gallery with an exhibition by Mongolian artists. Some pictures are posted below. Mongolians rivière their artists much more than we do in Australian. They appear very generous and respectful of the colleagues of their fellow artists and honor them with speeches and most often gifts of flowers and plagues.

At each theatre event we have been too including the wonderful Japanese singers we watched last night there is an array of speeches. Often the speeches will be in two or more languages. There many interpreters translating speeches from Mongolian into English or Chinese or as last night Japanese. Wow! Those Acapulco singers were so good. Six of them singing the instruments to the songs and it was hard to believe they did not have instruments or recorded music. They were students.

We have done a lot of walking around into and home to the city. We hailed a taxi after the show and that was entertaining and a somewhat dangerous experience to end a very long day. Being Friday evening, like most places on a balmy night (yes the temperature has soured since the snow a couple do days ago) the traffic was out in usual Mongolian chaos and seemed to be at full sipped dodge-em-car pace. There are road rules but no one obeys them and it’s each for their own at full speed ahead. We had to take the long route home because it was impossible to take some turns; only option to follow the mass.

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