November 12, 2015

Today was another old friend’s birthday. Sandy and I studied Asian art together in London on the diploma course run by London University’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) and Sotheby’s. We then went on to do our Masters at SOAS and worked together teaching on some of the SOAS-Sotheby’s courses. Sandy, like me had a passion for Japanese art, and more specifically Japanese ceramics. When I left the UK for my museum job in the US, she began her PhD in England, and I guess we both imagined we wouldn’t be seeing to much of each other living thousands of miles away, but a job in Japanese art history came up at a Japanese art center in Central California and soon she moved out here too. It was a job I’d have been interested in but I couldn’t face living in such a rural area as a single woman in my mid-thirties. Sandy made it work though. While she was living there, she met a Japanese art dealer and they fell madly in love. She now lives with him and their two lovely children in Basel.

Sandy has always been someone who gets things done. Her brightness, her positive attitude and her boundless energy have meant that she lives life very fully, and shoots for the moon in all areas of her life, something I am not sure I always do. When I knew her in London, she was studying while also working, maintaining a rich social life and traveling all over the world. When she came to California, she brought her positive energy with her, buying a used Mazda Miata and driving that cute car all over the place. And she met her Prince Charming. In Basel, even though she didn’t speak German when she moved there, she has managed to build a full, rewarding life there. She is still working in the Asian art realm, is clearly enjoying being a mother, and has pushed herself artistically by becoming a ceramic artist – and she’s really good! (


Today, I sent her a little gift that I hope she’ll appreciate – a set of four Japanese porcelain chopstick rests (one for each family member), each with an underglaze blue designs of a rabbit prancing about in front of the moon. In Chinese mythology, a rabbit is believed to live on the moon and pound the elixir of immortality for the Daoist immortals. In the Korean and Japanese version of the myth, the rabbit pounds rice cakes. The image has always been one of the most uplifting motifs on Japanese porcelain and it seems perfect for someone like Sandy who has such a deep love of Japanese art, of ceramics and of life itself.


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