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 …

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





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





More from the Ashmolean

23 03 2016

A few of my other favourite images from the trip to the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.

1. What is the collective noun for many ancient carvings of Venus?
A replica of the Venus of Willendorf is on the left (sad it’s not the original)
A replica of the Venus of Lespugue is in the middle (again, sad it’s a replica)

photographs taken under museum conditions, no flash

photographs taken under museum conditions, no flash

2. The Dutch still life painting room.
So excited to see this in person.

photographs taken under museum conditions, no flash

photographs taken under museum conditions, no flash

photographs taken under museum conditions, no flash

photographs taken under museum conditions, no flash

3. The Alfred jewel

photograph taken under museum conditions, no flash

photograph taken under museum conditions, no flash