Containers of Surprise (and Delight)

Invitations: Potential “Surprise” Holders


invitation (Photo credit: Theis Kofoed Hjorth)

This blog post was not planned. The photos and words are the result of a day of surprises. They arrived in an invitation, in a new day, in a museum, and in the art it held. The surprises actually began yesterday. My husband and I were already out on an outing with our friend, Steve–an outing of “Western” proportions, involving Costco, Starbucks, and IKEA. Luckily, Steve and Dave were going to hang out at Steve’s apartment between Costco and IKEA, which gave me time to get some work done at Starbucks. That was my compromise for taking an afternoon away, to get a couple hours of work done sometime during the day, and the guys didn’t mind.

While I was sipping my iced latte and working on a literature review, my cell phone rang. I was surprised to see it was my regular taxi driver, Mac, calling. Surprised because classes don’t start until next week, and I didn’t really expect to hear from him until then. But as he’s done in the past, he and his wife wanted to take Dave and me on an outing the next morning. The connection was awful and I couldn’t make out everything Mac was saying, but I did get that they would pick us up at 9:00 and something about the afternoon. If he gave me specifics about where we were going, I didn’t make them out.

A New Day: More Surprises

English: Taipei County Yingge Ceramics Museum ...

Taipei County Yingge Ceramics Museum (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I woke up thinking I probably should have declined the invitation and stayed home to get more work done, but the one thing my moratorium allows for is social events. The reason is I tend to hole up too often and not get out and do fun things. So I got ready, but wasn’t really looking forward to it. But my reluctance changed quickly to excitement when Mac greeted us with the plan for the morning. We got into his SUV (not the taxi) and headed to Yingge Ceramics Museum in New Taipei City. Dave did a lot of ceramics in college and I love anything in arts and crafts. In fact, this was a place on my “wish” list, and we were on our way! I was glad that I had not talked myself out of going.

Museums: Another Kind of “Surprise” Container

Three floors of exhibits and more out in the back of the main building. We did not get through everything in the 2 1/2 hours we spent there. Here’s a view of the open space from the third floor.


Beyond the amazing exhibits, there were loads of other surprises in this museum. For starters, admission is free! Not just on special days or at the holiday time, but always. Even the audio tour players and head sets were free. You left your ID card with them; you could punch in numbers at various exhibits to hear lots of details. They had the audio sets available in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, English, and one especially for children. There may have been others, but you get the idea.

Some of the exhibits were so delicate, I had to remind myself that they were ceramic. For example, this piece, Unread Books, looked so real that I could almost picture the pages turning.


Another piece I really enjoyed. The English title is something like, Look Up and See the Blue Sky.


And the kitty lover in me couldn’t resist the whimsical rendering of cats in the afternoon sun.



Surprises in Art

A huge kimono type garment hung in the museum. It was exquisite. It was clearly, decorative only. It’s hard to get a sense of the scale from this picture, but let’s just say that it was too large for any one to wear. The real surprise of this piece though are the thousands of ceramic butterflies sewn (or clipped) to the cloth. (No clear indication of how they are attached.)


Prepare to be amazed!


The sheer volume of these butterflies and the size of this piece of art are just breathtaking. The museum makes great use of lighting to highlight many of these pieces.

Another surprise was a piece with an English title, Sad Child with Short Wings. I’m not going to try to figure it out. But it was cool looking. Stands about 15 inches high. (In this photo, it appears a little bigger than life.)  hehe


My Personal Art Surprise

This piece had an English name of Dilemma. As I looked at it, I was baffled. People kneeling in a circle facing one another, holding their dismembered heads in their hands. Two of them had empty hands and one head was on the ground. I thought the dilemma pertained to some sick game of “Musical Heads” in which a head is taken away before they start the music back up, and that the dilemma was how to decide who leaves the game, or who no longer has a head. Like I say, I was baffled. You take a look! (The lighting for this piece makes it hard to get a good picture, but I think you get the idea.)


I turned to my husband and told him my insane “theory,” and he asked me if I had listened to the audio for it. I didn’t realize that one had an audio, so I was excited. He told me the number of that entry, #94. I don’t think I’ll ever forget. When you enter 9-4-Enter, you hear the story of this ceramic piece. Here’s the English version.

With no more strength to move forward, those people melt down. Each looked around and found that the others were in distress as well. They had no one to help them. When looking forward, they only saw a pitch black road that led to uncertainty. When looking backward, they found the road they just took had disappeared. So where to go and what to be? “That’s too painful. Could I not think about that?” they cried out! And they pulled off their heads.

WOW! And I thought MY interpretation was a little odd. I think desperation of that sort would go beyond “dilemma” to something more, well, desperate. I thought about the times I get frustrated and don’t know what to do next, but pulling my head off isn’t usually in the list of options. The words of the people, “That’s too painful. Could I not think about that?” was done with such a whiny tone, too. Once I heard this interpretation, I knew that I had to include it in tonight’s post. So let me know what you think about it in the comments below.

So that was our unplanned trip to the ceramics museum. Our hosts only had the morning for the outing, but Dave and I could have spent the day. We didn’t even get through all the exhibits and demonstrations. We are already looking forward to a trip back when we can spend the whole day. Dave already found out the museum is a ten-minute walk from the train station. I’m sure I’ll have more things to share. Until then, look up and enjoy the blue sky!  :

13 comments on “Containers of Surprise (and Delight)

  1. I showed Dannie the pic of Dilemma and he said, “Now that’s cool, really cool!” Granted I read the audio description you posted (and he didn’t), but even if I didn’t read the description, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have used the word “cool.” My opinion would maybe be “morbid,” and definitely “odd,” but certainly not “cool!”

    I just wanted to comment about different perceptions of things. Your perception changed before and after you heard the description…but perceptions also vary among people, whether guided by description or not. The range of views and possibilities make Dilemma a great work of art.

    In my opinion, of course 🙂

    • Yes, our personal interpretations mean a lot, and I think your point about a great work of art lends itself to a variety of interpretations. For me, I thought my own take on it was morbid enough, but then the desperation represented by the description made it even more so. It would be interesting to take a piece of art and ask many people for their interpertations and look at all the variation. But then, you and I can be pretty geeky! 😉

  2. What a lovely surprise for you, the museum looks great, and I can imagine you needing to go back again .I find there is always so much to experience . I feel I should apologise to the later exhibits ( when i am getting tired and my brain is about to burst ) for my failing concentration, so I always have to go back ! .Although overall I always feel energised ,inspired and creative after a gallery or museum trip.
    I love the cats ceramics so much, they make me happy to look at , and the beautiful butterfly kimono.

    The circle of people sound terribly depressed don’t they . I’ve heard people say ” i was pulling my hair out” when they were frustrated , but this takes it a bit far , i think .

  3. I totally understand about feeling the need to apologize to later exhibits! haha My husband did ceramics in college, so that’s part of the reason we were so taken with the place and why we want to go back so soon. I think that when I get back to the US this summer, I’m going to need to find a quilting exhibit to go see. While all art and museums inspire me, I need a good quilt fix. 😉

    As for the circle of people, I was surprised at the desperation over something as basic as “not wanting to think about it.” Obviously, they were depressed or even far beyond it. The desperation of not feeling like there is a future or a past could be frightening, but the missing element might be they couldn’t just “be” in the present moment. Maybe we don’t always have to understand the rest. Take a break from worry, and focus on the present moment. Just a thought.

    Hope you have a good day!

  4. Pingback: Invitations: My Path to Taiwan (Part 2) « Container Chronicles

  5. Pingback: A Three-Week Container | Container Chronicles

  6. Pingback: If We Were Having Coffee: The One That Almost Wasn’t | Container Chronicles

    • Glad you liked it. I’m going to get more pictures today, so maybe there will be something you haven’t seen yet. 🙂 Or more butterfly pics 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s