Monday, 26 November 2012

London Calling

2010 was the year of indecision.
2011 was the year of big things.

As 2012 begins to end it is time to reflect on what this has been the year of. To be honest I have not quite gotten around to any reflecting yet. I am too busy trying to finish my brothers birthday present, going to work, reading Twelve, the long awaited sequel to Justin Cronin's The Passage, occasionally going for a walk up a hill, trying to get some writing done and scheduling all the Christmas parties I have to fit in in December.

In between all that I did go to the movies for the first time in an age, and watching Skyfall- the new James Bond flick it became very clear to me that one thing 2012 is -
is the year of London.

Earlier in the year we had the Queens Diamond Jubilee celebrations drawing everyones eye to London.
London Bridge

Then of course London 2012 Olympics bombarded us with tales, sights and sounds of the city at its most jubilant.

Skyfall capped things of nicely – I wont go into too much detail for those who have not seen it yet – but it shows the city off all over again.

Close up of the British Museum ceiling

Houses of Parliament

Luckily though – to ensure that I don't get a complex about living in a place that has not had quite the same level of world exposure, Skyfall did manage to make its way to Glencoe – so perhaps when all is said and done 2012 can be the year of Scotland as well.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Water of Leith walk

The plan for Sunday was a bike ride to the Gallery of Modern Art. Unlike the National Gallery, which is right in the heart of Edinburgh city centre –  the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art is a bit more of a trek to get to. A perfect his and hers plan – some physical activity and some culture.

It was Sunday though so things took a little while to get going, and then we needed a little while to gather our things together. I put on my mascara and the boyfriend made sure the bike lights were functional and we had high vis garments. It is dark here at the moment by 4pm – so even a short-ish day out on the bikes requires lights.
Then as everything appeared to be ready problem one arose. Where was the key to his bike? The search began. Twenty minutes later I found it tucked into a bag buried under this and that hanging from the bed post.
So we left the flat.
Then problem two arose. My bike key mysteriously no longer fit my bike lock. I tried. No luck. He tried. No luck. We frowned. We puzzled. We sprayed the lock with something-or-other. We frowned some more.
Then we took the bike lights and high vis garments back upstairs and went for a walk to the Gallery.

It took us through the Old Town – still wonderful to this colonials eyes.
Crossing The Mound -from old town to new- Edinburgh

Then we passed through the New Town, and dropped down into Stockbridge.
A new neighbourhood for me to explore – and a Sunday Produce market.

Stockbridge Sunday Produce Market

After we dragged ourselves away from the tasty produce – with the backpack a little heavier, we took the steps down to the Water of Leith path.
It was a lovely Autumn day, the sun was out, the sky was blue – but in November the sun does not reach down to the little humans down on the ground. It was still a very pretty walk.
Water of Leith

I loved getting to see this different part of the city along the river – and being on foot rather than on the bikes allowed me to see much more, and dawdle taking photos. Gardens, grand old homes, new homes, historic monuments, the water burbling away, other people out enjoying their Sunday – magic.


Waterside monument - Water of Leith

Autumn sunlight

Dean Bridge

Then we got to the gallery. Housed in two grand old buildings, one on either side of the road, the landscaped surrounds are art works themselves and Gallery ONE and TWO each have their very own Tracy Emin neon light sculpture. I love neon, and I have followed Tracy Emin ever since I saw a video of hers in an exhibition in Sienna in 2005, titled 'Why I never became a dancer.' As with so much of her work – the neon sculptures are in turns uplifting and melancholic.

Tracy Emin - 'Everything Is Going To Be Alright'

Tracy Emin -'There Will Be No Miracles Here' and castle view

My other highlight from the day was seeing Sir Eduardo Paolozzi's studio. Entering a room of still life’s you suddenly find yourself transported into the artist's chaotic, crammed studio. I wont pretend to have ever heard of his work before – but I loved immersing myself into the mind, living space, workspace of this sculptor.

After all that I was well and truly ready for a coffee – and the galleries coffee shop provided the perfect fuel to power us home, good coffee sitting under our very own giant robot sculpture. Now that is a good day out.  

Monday, 5 November 2012

My Trash

I thought I would follow up last weeks Lost Things blog post with a piece originally published in The Mirboo North Times way back in 2007. It continues the theme of the irreplaceable nature of so many of my things.

A little while ago my housemate suggested that we take out contents insurance. On the surface it is a simple and sensible idea: for less than a hundred dollars I could have the security of knowing that if we were robbed or flooded or if the house burnt down, my possessions would be replaced. But when I looked around at my things the idea become a little more complicated.

At first I thought the microwave and CD player could be easily replaced, they are after all practical tools without any particular sentimental value. But then I remembered how much the CD player has been through with me. Hours and hours of essay writing, house parties, private parties…, and the microwave, well my grandmother gave it to me when I first moved out of home, so I have quite an attachment it. And from there the idea of replacing things just got more difficult.

Most of my money over the years has gone on books. I don’t have a car, or a washing machine or a lot of shoes, I have books. They are new and second hand- bought in country towns across Victoria, art galleries in Italy, university book stores, and garage sales. They have been scribbled in by me and earlier owners, stuffed with post-it note’s and book marks and they have grown furry with repeated readings. I value them- but I don’t think I could assign an actual dollar value to them, and I certainly couldn’t go into Borders with a list and just replace the lot in an afternoon.

Aside from my books one of my most favored possessions at the moment is something that would hardly fetch a gold coin at a garage sale. It is my Matisse poster: an enlargement from his 1947 series ‘Jazz’– One half is a colour stencil cut out of a flowing dancing figure and the other half is loopy French handwriting that I cannot read or translate. I love the composition, and it is by no means an irreplaceable image, but the tatty edges and grey smudges from frequent re blu-tacking tell stories that a fresh poster simply would not.

The poster was purchased at the NGV in 1995 when the Matisse show toured. I would have been a fourteen year old, country high school girl when we went to the show, and what a show it was. Capital A Art on a truly grand scale. All those high ceiling-ed rooms given over to the great Matisse. His pattern crammed images, his simple flowing figures, his bold colours have all stayed with me over the intervening years- and so has the poster. It moved with me from home in Mirboo North to the many share houses’ I have inhabited over the years; from high school to university and beyond. Obviously the memories exist without the poster- but still it is not something I could part with easily.

I watched the first episode of Wendy Harmers Stuff on the ABC the other night- so at least now I know that it isn’t just me and my family that have an attachment to our ‘stuff’. The things some people horded on that show were just… well worthless in my eyes… but to their owners I am sure every single thing had its own stories and memories.

           If I or many of the people on Wendy’s show were to divide our things up into two categories, those with monetary value and those with sentimental value you can probably imagine where most things would end up.

The notion that my treasure is your trash was reinforced when we were robbed a few years back. They didn’t really take anything of mine. This tells you a lot about what I think is valuable and what thieves (and possibly the general population) think is valuable. But none of that changes how I value my stuff. I place a future value on my olive tree; yes at the moment it is just a gangly youth that I carry around with me from house to house, but one day- in eighty years or so it will begin to be a spectacular tree. My collection of sewing machines has spilled into the hallway and I have boxes of fabric in just about every room of the house and they may seem like junk to my housemates, but they have the potential to be all sorts of amazing creations just as soon as I have the time to imagine and sew them.

My appliances, my poster, my books, not to mention my photos, diaries, letters and my favorite (completely un-wearable) ripped jeans are all the stuff of my life: my belongings, not my possessions and therefore un-insurable. Which means that the hundred dollars earmarked for the insurance is probably going to be spent in Readings.

Re-reading the above made me a little melancholy – because while the things mentioned are not lost, they are out of reach to me in Australia. And the sewing machines mentioned got new homes in my pre-trip garage sale. Of course new adventures and new collections of things have found me since I packed up the old ones. But I still miss my books and my fabric baskets. 

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Lost Things List

my pencil case - lost someplace in the house- all paper based craft projects have halted

my watch - last seen on Sunday near Hadrian's Wall, very pink and chunky, still hoping it will turn up.

Hadrian's Wall - October 2012

pocket knife and leather cover, the knife was inscribed with my name and was a Christmas present many years ago from my mum. The cover belonged to my dad. Lost in Wales - this one hurt.

blue crochet hat - sent to Scotland by my mum to keep me toasty, came off my head while I was out running and had vanished by the time I retraced my steps.

replacement grey hat with fur bobble, scavenged by the boyfriend - mysteriously lost someplace between H&M and work. (Mother gave me a replacement blue crochet hat on her recent trip - not lost yet.)

toasty city glove. Bought from MEC in Vancouver, fell out of my overstuffed handbag on Princes Street between Vodafone and the bank.

pink snow glove, Christmas present from the boyfriend - lost from my raincoat pocket on a Lowlands ramble or possibly North Berwick. Guess what I am getting this Christmas...

Scottish Lowlands - April 2012

purple felt mini purse I used to keep my ipod in. Handmade with embroidery by myself and my mother - lost on a night train in Norway.

agate stone from my chunky ring purchased in Kahn el-Khalili, Egypt - came adrift from the ring getting off the Edinburgh to Glasgow train.

Lost Agate stone

blue homemade kimono silk headband - lost someplace in Tanzania

copy of Microsoft Word - lost when I rebooted my virus riddled computer in Greece.

swingy heart earring, bought in New York 2008  - lost on a play day in London 2011. I still wear the remaining earring pirate style.

postscript: On the way home from work this evening I went into the art shop and bought some new coloured pencils and paints because I was frustrated having non. I got different kinds than the ones I lost, just in case the others turned up. Walking home I had a brain wave of a place I had not looked for the pencil case... they were not there unfortunately, but while I was scrambling about under the bed I found it had fallen down beside my bedside table! So perhaps I had to extend my collection of colourful mark makers in order to get my pencils back? 
Still no sign of my watch.