Calendar: April 2016

31 03 2016

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Norway : part 5

30 03 2016

Some more of my favourite images from the trip to Norway.

The light here is beyond stunning.

image not to be reproduced without author permission

image not to be reproduced without author permission

image not to be reproduced without author permission

image not to be reproduced without author permission

image not to be reproduced without author permission

image not to be reproduced without author permission

You’ve indulged me enough. I promise no more.





Bejewelled Treasures : The Al Thani Collection @ V&A

29 03 2016

While in London I visited a favourite museum, the Victoria and Albert.

I was quite excited about seeing the exhibition ‘Bejewelled Treasures: The Al Thani Collection‘; I had booked my ticket many many months ago.

at the V&A

at the V&A

I went through it in less than 15 minutes.
It was overwhelming in the unfortunate way.

Too much ‘bling’. Too gaudy.
Someone else said it was too vulgar (so British).

It was basically a show of large stones put in, sometimes admittedly beautiful, metal settings.

It was just hit after hit; dazzling in the unpleasant way of feeling like you’ve been through a hurricane or repeatedly dumped in the surf (so Australian).

exhibition media; click on image for original source

exhibition media; click on image for original source

And the exhibition design … when are curators going to tire of the ‘dark room with bright cabinet lighting’ trope?

I’ve said it before, this ‘jewel box’ exhibition design – where the only lighting is bright and on the objects, with the floor/walls/ceiling painted black – is exhausting and disorienting (not to mention headache-inducing).

I was so sadly disappointed. I have no idea how you could make this a more visitor-friendly exhibition … but it would have been lovely to see some of the objects in natural light and displayed against the kind of textiles they would have been worn on/with.

Lastly though: look closely at the first photograph above. The exhibition conditions included no photographs (understandable) and no sketching. The latter is quite unusual from my experience. And disappointing too – for I do like to sketch objects I’m not allowed to photograph (in pencil of course), for it allows time and room for a connection with the object.

Happily though, the remainder of the museum is still a total delight to visit.





Norway : part 4

28 03 2016

This is just a little photo essay really …

Norway, I do love thee.

image not to be reproduced without author permission

image not to be reproduced without author permission

image not to be reproduced without author permission

image not to be reproduced without author permission

image not to be reproduced without author permission

image not to be reproduced without author permission





How did you get there?

27 03 2016

Today I was watching an art documentary … you know, as I like to do.

During said passive education I was presented with a painting, a collaboration no less, between Jan Brueghel the Elder and Peter Paul Rubens : specifically, ‘Hearing‘ (1617-18) in their ‘The Five Senses‘ series.

Hearing ; from Prado Museum in Madrid ; click on image for original source

Hearing ; from Prado Museum in Madrid ; click on image for original source

Look a bit closer at this little birdie …

cropped from above image

cropped from above image

Unless I’m very much mistaken, and I absorbed nothing from my Grandma’s copy of ‘Complete Book of Australian Birds‘, that is a sulfur-crested cockatoo. This raucous little feathered fellow is native to Australia and New Guinea.

So … this was painted in 1617-18.

Mmm … time for me to check my history.

The Dutch apparently were visiting Australia’s coast line (north-west) from 1606 – though most of these visits seem to have been accidents of incorrect navigation and quite a proportion perished.

It seems more likely that perhaps the bird was brought back instead from New Guinea – considering the Portuguese and Spanish were gadding about there from the mid 1500s.

Or perhaps they were traded by Indonesians in touch with New Guinea, who in turn were trading with the Dutch and others.

Oh. I was hoping for a strange story.
This isn’t strange but actually quite reasonable.
Best you go about your day.





Norway : part 3

25 03 2016

Another photo essay.

Not tired of sea, snow and sky just yet.

In fact, these may be my favourites … so far … maybe …

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image not to be reproduced without author permission

image not to be reproduced without author permission

image not to be reproduced without author permission

image not to be reproduced without author permission

image not to be reproduced without author permission





The last word on the Ashmolean

24 03 2016

I was lucky enough to get a ticket on a rare tour of the conservation department in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.

It was incredible to see what goes on behind the scenes in caring for objects.

photograph taken with permission

photograph taken with permission

Above: restoration of The Great Bookcase by William Burges.

Below: painstaking restoration of a crewel-work bed hanging, representing the tree of life …. if memory serves, from the 18th century I think. Years of work have gone into this to date, and there’s more to do; I hope in a few years time to revisit the Ashmolean to see it all done and on display.

photograph taken with permission

photograph taken with permission

After the visit, I was looking at exhibits with new eyes … thinking about what it takes to keep the objects in beautiful condition.

Like the below … imagine being the person responsible for polishing ALL that silver (and more) and keeping the environment in the case to minimise tarnish.

photograph taken under museum conditions, no flash

photograph taken under museum conditions, no flash