Photo is of small gathering prior to my talk today (Sunday) at NexUs Culture Nepal, one of Nepal's premier arts organization, in Kathmandu (Feb 17). Woman holding the book is Ashmina Ranjit, Director of the center and the country's top performing artist/activist. Man to my left is K. Chitrakar, one of Nepal's finest artist/painters (in the Newar tradition). Woman on end at left of photo is Lorraine Bertier, Paris-based Manager of the Shekhawati Project and a heritage restoration specialist also working in post-earthquake Nepal on architectural restorations.
What a beautifully produced coffee table book, with sumptuous photos of India’s rich visual culture in one small area of Rajasthan. Shekhawati (meaning Garden of Shekha) comprises several areas bordered by desert and mountains, formerly a rich trading route in the 18th and 19th Centuries. It is the decrepit nature of the buildings and their frescoes that inspires and saddens in equal measure. The art is crumbling, there for all to see and admire, yet belonging to no-one and therefore no-one really takes responsibility for the upkeep; these wonderful frescoes continue to erode and crumble.
The paintings are a clear legacy of a once wealthy area populated with mansions and havelis. Traders had to pass through and taxes were levied to sustain these encampments. Now, although there are road and rail links, the purpose of these small towns has long since vanished and the locals are eking out a much poorer living.
The photographer and chronicler of A Fantastic State of Ruin captures the fading glory of many of these wall paintings and the people he encountered. The images are full of exquisite detail and colour. My only thought is the writing is quite light and tiny, and therefore sometimes hard to read with the glossy finish of the paper; there are innumerable blank pages throughout the book which seems just a little odd. But those issues notwithstanding, this is a terrific tome that will inspire you to visit this little known area of India.
You can also find out more about the conservation work going on through the Shekhawati Project and more in the Afterword.
This is a beautiful gift for someone who loves art and India. Just a stunning collation of photos.
For a full immersion into Rajasthan we suggest you also read novels set in the area and you can find several titles on the TripFiction database
Sharing books with legendary French photographer Roland Michaud
Author, David Zurick with Roland and Sabrina Michaud (Eric Valli in mirror)
David Zurick and renowned French photographer and filmmaker Eric Valli, enroute to the event.
Arbiter of good taste, Bonnae Gokson, puts her inimitable eye for wedding style—and her flair for creating exquisite cakes—on display in her new book, "Weddings, Butterflies and the Sweetest Dreams"
A towering mauve and pale pink wedding cake over two metres tall, studded with moonstones and Swarovski diamantes; a spectacular creation suspended from a ballroom ceiling, featuring 200 kilos of sugar flowers; simple but stylish one-tiered beauties—all hail from the impressive repertoire of creative visionary Bonnae Gokson.
See also: 4 Ways To Say 'I Do' At InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort
She began her career as a visual merchandiser and fashion buyer, before working with her sister Joyce Ma—founder of Joyce—where she launched Joyce Cafe. In 2008, she opened dining hotspot Sevva atop Landmark Prince’s, where she personally designed the exquisite interiors. Sevva proved to be a huge success, as were the cakes Bonnae created for its diners, and Ms B’s Cakery soon followed.
“I’m proud to be the first person in Hong Kong to have changed the dynamics of the cake industry. We added aesthetics, texture and dimension to cakes and it’s been a great hit ever since,” says Bonnae, who soon added Ms B’s Weddings and C’est La B cafes to her portfolio. In 2013, Bonnae published her first book, Butterflies and All Things Sweet, which won awards in France, the US and Australia.
She is following up this year with Weddings, Butterflies and the Sweetest Dreams. Her second book provides insight into Bonnae’s creative process, particularly when it comes to wedding cakes—from inspiration to realisation.
See also: Inside The Design Mind Of Bonnae Gokson
The idea for Weddings, Butterflies and the Sweetest Dreams came to Bonnae after she saw photos from the wedding of a celebrity couple. “I just thought their cake was quite a let-down. It looked roughly finished and didn’t match the romantic setting of the rest of their wedding.”
In jarring Bonnae’s innate aesthetic eye, it inspired her to present a more refined approach to the subject of wedding cakes. The book features stunning wedding-related images from celebrations around the world, ranging from Indonesia and India to Mexico, Nigeria and China, to name a few.
It examines all aspects of a big day, from the dress and decor to artistry, architecture and age-old customs. These celebratory scenarios are accompanied by exquisitely crafted cakes, envisioned and designed by Bonnae to work coherently within each unique setting.
See also: 6 Luxurious Real Weddings To Inspire Your Big Day Plans
The beautiful assemblage has been more than two years in the making, each image painstakingly considered, with many sourced from high-profile photographers to accompany her carefully imagined cakes. “The book is not just for brides-to-be but for anyone who appreciates beauty, artistry and love in all its forms,” Bonnae says.
The cake which Bonnae is perhaps most proud is a sweet creation crafted to pair with a stunning couture wedding gown by Vera Wang. “I designed a cake that has our signature topping of cotton candy and hand-painted macarons,” says Bonnae. “It is unique, as it takes great skill just to style and twist the cotton candy.”
Bonnae was also honoured that fashion icons Vera Wang and Iris Apfel wrote the foreword to her book.
Similar high-precision work is on display throughout the book. There is a red cake made entirely of sugar-crafted ruby roses; a naked cake intricately covered in lace-like icing; an Indian wedding-inspired cake with gold and jewel-like decoration atop richly hued pink, orange and red tiers.
One cake is adorned with beautifully handwritten poetry; another is inspired by the details a bride might find on her wedding cheongsam; and there are cakes imagined to fit perfectly into the weddings of high-profile couples such as Prince Rainier and Grace Kelly, and Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
Following the success of her first book, Butterflies and All Things Sweet (Goff Books), one of Asia’s most accomplished female entrepreneurs and international style icon, Bonnae Gokson, is back, but this time focusing in on weddings from different cultures, and celebrating beauty, creativity, individuality, artistry and love in all its forms.
Bonnae Gokson launched her second tome, the lavishly produced and sumptuously photographed Weddings, Butterflies & the Sweetest Dreams.
Weddings, Butterflies & The Sweetest Dreams is a book like no other. With contributions by Vera Wang, world-renowned couture wedding gown designer, and Iris Apfel, iconic fashion industry personality, it is a unique visual feast, exploring couture wedding celebrations in a completely fresh and unexpected manner. Through exquisite, sophisticated and surprising imagery – from Paris haute couture to a ranch in Montana to bridal gowns from Ines Di Santo, Monique Lhuillier and Vera Wang – it reveals the way Bonnae sees the world, inspired by everything from poetry to fine art resulting in a timeless, contemporary aspirational journey through a treasure trove of multi-cultural artistry.
By Omnipresent Gioconda
Fascinated by the legacy of Mona Lisa, I’ve decided to publish ‘Mona Lisa Reimagined’, an anthology of hundreds of pieces of art that have been inspired by this priceless world treasure.
This book features nearly 300 both established and emerging artists from over 50 different countries, making it the largest, most comprehensive collection of Mona Lisa-inspired artwork ever assembled in history.
No painting in history has been reproduced as often as Mona Lisa. Just what exactly is the mysterious allure of this portrait that has inspired unparalleled levels of imitation? Though many explanations abound, there really can be no definitive answer, as the ambiguity of Mona Lisa is certainly one of the major factors of its indelible appeal.
It was quite a struggle finding the right publisher for this project. Though the entire process was frustrating at times, I never gave up and always felt strongly that it was just a matter of time until I find the right one and I did.
American artist Mark Stephens was commissioned to create this painting in 1989, commemorating the 67th birthday of PEANUTS comic strip creator Charles M. Schulz.
“My portraits need to be viewed in two ways: from a distance to recognize the person depicted, and close up to identify the materials and appreciate the intricacies of how all of the pieces fit together.” Jane Perkins
The apparent playfulness of his work disguises a deeper reflection on the complexity of postmodern existence and the mystery of personal identity. “In the contemporary digital age, our fingers are the tools we use to handle touch screens, mouse devices, and keyboards, connecting us with the world. Thus, in a sense, each of us are hiding behind our finger while surfing the internet or communicating online. The finger is the image we project of ourselves, the mask we wear, even in real life” explains the artist.
In 2009 Timothy White photographed comedienne Whoopi Goldberg portraying famous women throughout history who may have had issues with LBL (light bladder leakage). These popular advertisements sought to reduce the embarrassing stigma associated with the condition so that women would feel empowered to deal with this issue. The Mona Lisa ads were accompanied by a tagline, which read: “There’s a 1 in 3 chance that wasn’t a smile on Mona Lisa’s face.”
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By Edge of Humanity Magazine, September 10, 2018
A Fantastic State of Ruin: The Painted Towns of Rajasthan
Scattered within the rural Shekhawati hinterland of Rajasthan in northwest India are pockets of a bygone urbanity…towns filled with mansions built by wealthy Marwari merchants, painted over in some of the world’s most beautiful frescoes and wall murals. These places often seem like abandoned settlements. Their extraordinary havelis, once filled with the sounds of large joint families, now lie mainly locked and boarded up, with the descendants living far away in distant lands.
An architectural patronage in Shekhawati emerged in the early 1800s wherein the Marwari merchants sent money from distant business outposts for the construction of havelis (houses with introverted courtyards), chhatris (memorial cenotaphs), mandirs (temples) johras (stepwells), dharamshalas (community resting houses) and kuis (wells) in their home towns. The structures incorporated elements of Rajput and Mughal architecture. The courtyards, doorways, and exterior walls were lavishly ornamented with wall paintings depicting varied motifs ranging from floral and animal themes, to folk art, religious themes, images of British kings and queens, military men and memsahibs, to novelties such as motor cars, trains, gramophones and clocks whereas inner rooms and private chambers often would hold erotic images discreetly hidden away. The wall frescoes give a unique glimpse into the life and aspirations of an entire community – from their religious beliefs, folklore and day to day life, to the wonder of faraway lands that beckoned with promise of riches and trade.
While some historic structures have found a new lease on life as homestays and heritage hotels, many others face abandonment, dereliction and eventual collapse. Family subdivisions lead to multiple ownership patterns, with family members spread across an international diaspora, and, as a result, the buildings too often are relegated to a lone watchman or are locked away or abandoned altogether.
Abha Narain Lambah, conservation architect (from “Introduction” to A Fantastic State of Ruin: The Painted Towns of Rajasthan)
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