news: a new space

If you happened to happen across this blog looking for writings by Kate Nicholson, please go here.

This blog is now somewhat redundant.

Thanks for finding me!

Kate x

Brand New Soon

Plans to relaunch jar full of buttons are currently underway. There will be a content overhaul with a focus on what’s locally relevant to me currently, with a particular focus on what’s happening around Taiwan.

Tell me what you would like to see:

If you are interested in submitting to the new site (written or visual):

Writing: creative, reviews, travel, cooking, craft, film, art…

Visual: photography, illustration, design…

The hunt is on.

Wow! Who would have thought teaching English to a few kids would be so hard! Teaching a second language is particularly tough because the students understand very little of what you say to them, making communication about the most mundane things very difficult.

But… it’s getting easier every day. And the kids are just awesome. They are so much fun and I really do smile and laugh all through my day. And the hours are pretty good. Only working four hours a day with a bit of planning on top of that. I pretty much have the whole day to do whatever I want.

Ah, this is the life!

But, I am starting to crave some writing time so I’m going to start scheduling it in. Hmmm, it seems another project is at hand. It can be very hard for a newbie to find information on, well, anything here in Taiwan. So, as I mentioned in the last post, I’m keen to start up a very simple, grass roots kinda blog, which lets everyone know what’s going on here in Taichung and around the country.

It sounds a bit lame when I read back over what I just wrote but I think that’s because I want to create something that has no pretension. It’s just a few people writing about the things they come across in their area, or the gigs they go to, or the shops they stumble across. I guess interesting writing style and good editing would be the only criteria for submission.

Now to think of a name…

Writerly goings on in Taichung

I’m going to start up a zine here in Taichung. I really don’t have much time on my hands right now but has that ever stopped me? Ha, ha, no!

I’m going to take it easy and just make it a simple, photocopied, traditional zine to begin with. Contributors from all over Taiwan are welcome. I’ll accept any style including illustrations and photography. I’m keen to keep the growth organic, just see where the zine goes in it’s own time.

I’m also hoping to do some work for a new lifestyle-type magazine called Soup. It’s still in prototype stage so I can’t link to it yet but will post more details in time. 

Um, here are some pics to fill the space because I haven’t posted in AGES. I am just feeling quite lazy at the moment.

My dreams were charcoal-drawn last night

p1020556I didn’t think to have a look at what was on at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum before I went to check it out for the first time. And what a nice surprise it was to step right into Mind as Passion, a video art exhibition full of wonderment, simplicity and innovation.

This collection of video installations was definitely the highlight of my three or so hours spent at TFAM and a great introduction to what this part of the world has to offer in the way of video art. Seventeen new generation creators from Taiwan and Japan were selected because their works reflect the conundrum faced by modern humanity, both in the East and the West: obsession with the individual self compared with a drive to challenge stereotypes and highlight issues which affect our society. Throughout the exhibition, themes and feelings were varied and at times intense. Nostalgia, tradition battling or blending with modernity, sadness, dreamlike moments, natural elements, progress, even scents.





Two works that stood out for me were Mami Kosemura’s Flowering Plants of the Four Seasons and Out of the Blue by Hiraka Sawa. Although quite different in style, content and presentation, when I parted with these works I took away with me satisfying feelings of peace and nostalgia. Without doing any research into the works I noticed themes of nature and domesticity, although Kosemura’s art felt more traditional than Sawa’s. I like the way the works really enveloped you with their presence, in particular the use of scent in Flowering Plants of the Four Seasons. You had to duck through a low entrance to enter the space of the piece and were hit with the smell of fresh cut grass and bamboo matting. I immediately fell in love with the bird imagery and wallpaper patterns in Sawa’s Out of the Blue.





But by far my favourite piece, captivating me for its entire run time, was Naoyuki Tsuji’s Children of Shadows. To create this dreamlike, childlike stop motion animation Tsuji draws images in charcoal and pastel, erasing them after photographing each stage. This leaves a trail of faint pencil marks behind each movement, a permanent reminder of both the process used by the artist and the past action of the story. I was absolutely engrossed with this film. It felt as though I was in a dream the whole time I was watching, like time no longer existed and all the action somehow took place in just one moment. The experience was raw, pure, innocent and fluid. A fairytale for adults.









Here are some words from the artist himself, written in 2007. I found the quote here.

“One of the main characteristics of animations created using charcoal is the afterimage. With this method it’s easy to erase or draw over or add details to a previously drawn image, but the previous image never completely disappears. My method is quite simple. I sit in front of the paper and wait for an idea. When I get an idea, I draw it down and click the shutter a few times. Then I erase a bit and redraw and click the shutter a few more times, and so on. So it’s random, yet with direction, ordered towards the future. I start with no set idea for the film. Each image I draw and photograph creates suggestions which lead to the next image, and these images build up inside me as the work advances. I enjoy the unique possibilities of this particular medium, which doesn’t require anything else but charcoal and paper.”

A quick note on Story To… Unfortunately, for various reasons, it’s been necessary to put the project on hold. More here.

Taipei times

thumb-fan2Well, I seem to have dropped this blog for a while in favour of writing in the beautiful travel journal my good friend Betsy gifted to me when I left Melbourne. But I am now in the mood to again jot down my thoughts in the interwebby realm. Don’t worry, dear Journal, I shall endeavour to ensure you do not fall behind the bookshelf neglected and gathering dust.

Many, many things have been happening for me in the past few months. I have spent some time in New Zealand, catching up with family and friends, swimming most days, soaking up the sun and generally relaxing. Then, I jumped on a plane and come to Taipei (Taiwan) where I have been residing for the last three weeks.

My experiences of Taipei so far…

The pungent and strangely appealing aroma of stinky tofu at our local night market








The blues and greys of the Danshui River

New technology and modernity mixing so perfectly with tradition
People, people everywhere – much of their lives lived on the street rather than in their homes
Skyscrapers abruptly stop where mountains begin (no suburbs here, thank you)
Dancing at a dubstep gig to a DJ from Hong Kong, through clouds of cigarette smoke












Temple dragons peering out from the smallest of laneways or shop fronts

Tofu noodle soups and dumplings, oh how I love you both
Having chilli with everything
Using the pictures on the labels of supermarket products in an attempt to decipher their contents
Runny yoghurt












Fireworks being let off in the street amongst crowds of people

Office buildings holding competitions to see who can let crackers off for the longest period of time
Pulling out a map and collecting helpful locals almost immediately
Public buses being driven like race cars
Never having to wait longer than two minutes for a train
Dehua Street before Chinese New Year












Stone pathways that massage your feet

Butterflies that look like fallen, decaying leaves

I could go on forever but I won’t.

In case you’re interested, I have added my writing and project portfolios to the About page of jar full of buttons.

Fun with records

Oh, how I love you, Sleeveface. Guaranteed hours of entertainment when trying to wile the time away at work.

Go on, have a hunt through your record collection for something that might suit you – your very own sleeveface may only be the click of a camera shutter away.