..and so beautiful.
I put on quilted coat, another scarf, woolly hat and gloves and stood out in the garden till my eyes adjusted a bit to the dark. The moon had a bright halo, and to the left of it Orion stood out first. As I watched more and more stars seemed to switch on until the sky was brilliant with them. It's awe inspiring, isn't it - a frosty starry night!
Indoors again before my nose froze, to a glowing fire and a late supper of ripe pear, feta cheese and walnuts and a little glass of wine.
The water is heating for a deep hot bath.
for a superb exhibition of Medieval Sculptures. Here are some of my favourites.
St Helena and St Katharina were carved from limewood between 1490 and 1500 in Germany and still have some traces, over 500 years later, of the original paint.
St Helena (left) was the mother of Constantine the Great and travelled widely in the fourth century seeking holy relics and having churches built. I wonder what travel was like then? She was thought to be in her 80's when she went to Jerusalem and the Holy Land. There is a St Helen's church in York where Constantine was proclaimed emperor on the death of his father, and she was known in Cyprus too, and I have a special admiration for her. For some unaccountable reason I always get a little thrill when I come across her.
It felt rather special to meet her this afternoon at the first exhibition I have been to for ages.
Here is St Anne teaching the young Virgin to read. She looks like a very severe teacher. Made about 1400 from oak with original paint and gilding, this comes from southern France. Imagine making the fabric of the headdress from solid oak.
St John the Evangelist is also German and carved from limewood around 1520. It was the beauty of the carving which struck me most in this one.
I wondered who made it all those years ago with such skill and attention, even to the fingernails, and what their world was like.
This beautiful exhibition took me out of myself for a couple of hours.
I sent this photograph to my sister, commenting that they are British grown. I wondered whereabouts in Britain they grew and was saying Not in Argyll. I was dictating the message and predictive text wrote Naughty Naughty girl.
She wondered why she was being told off by her big sister...
Curious, I Googled and found this nice feature.
..about this lovely project?
some beautiful things are happening in the world.
On an evening walk I saw this magical effect on the water when the waves were coming in in one direction and the surface ripples were going in the opposite direction - I hope you can see the effect in the photographs...We stood looking for ages.
Eat your heart out Bridget Riley (must see the exhibition in Edinburgh).
This is the post I was about to publish when I heard of the fire.....
We fitted a lot in - sunrise at Trocadero (yesterday's post), sunset from the roof of our apartment block in Montparnasse (header photo) and Notre Dame at midnight - though not all in the same day, and with rests in the afternoons!
A few days in Paris were a tonic and a thrill.
I am reminded of the atmosphere in York in 1984 when the Minster was badly damaged by fire - there was a palpable hush over the whole city the following morning as people wordlessly acknowledged each other by making eye contact, and the only sound was that of a helicopter circling. The south trancept and the rose window are now fully and beautifully restored.
A grey and grieving day in Paris as one French commentator said, but mercifully there were no fatalities.
My word for 2019.
I'm still trying to work out what I mean by it!
I know what I don't mean. For me it has nothing to do with wizards, fantasy and fairytales, legends and mythology. No casting of spells. No crystals. It's not even about magic.
It's more about wonder.
Wonder at real things in nature, like snow falling down, or a meadow of wild flowers, or just the way a shaft of sunlight strikes the water. Or at a live performance of dance or music by real people that is so good you are transported, or amazement at the skill of an artist or filmaker so dedicated and patient, the infectious giggles of two tiny children being a little cheeky and testing their harassed father's patience on the ferry.....it is everywhere if I am open to it.
Even today in Glasgow - a really dirty grey day, crowds of busy shoppers returning Christmas presents that were wrong, that slightly aggressive atmosphere around serious bargain seekers, traffic fumes and noise as I waited at the bus stop in the gathering gloom when the fumes seemed smellier and the lights seemed harsher and I was getting tired of waiting. But much amplified above the hubbub floated the voice of a young street musician singing Hallelujah and it was suddenly beautiful - all of it. That someone would even do such a thing. That human beings sing in streets. A new atmosphere was created in that moment. Enchantment can send a delightful shiver up your spine!
Do you remember this?
I am going to love this word.
I like the sound of this word in French.
I remember seeing one on the top middle stone of the Rialto Bridge in Venice in the early hours one morning about twenty five years ago. It was a small candle, a leaf and if I remember rightly a piece of fruit. A beautiful mystery. A homage to beaury or love, an offering to the gods, who knows...
Another in a remote part of eastern Sweden - a large flat stone, almost circular, part of the top of a low wall. Something about it had prompted an unknown person to carefully place a tiny bunch of flowers in it's centre. A homage to nature perhaps
I've always called my little collections of things arrangements but looking at this arrangement on the bathroom wall - something to look at while I dry my hands - I see it as un homage to a friend in Sweden whose barn I sketched, to Venice, to joy and to hope in troubled times.
This wee town has been host to a Robert Mapplethorpe exhibition, Andy Warhol and now a tiny Degas!
The restored Burgh Hall has been a great success on every level (see here). I particularly like the idea of just one painting and associated talks and classes, and sixty or so people had already visited today when I arrived at about 2pm.
A quote from Degas which I had not heard before...
A painting is an artificial work existing outside nature, and it requires as much cunning as the perpetration of a crime.
The spirit of things, the essence of things, the pathos of things, the way you can be moved and touched by inanimate objects...isn't it fascinating?
I was reminded of a bowl I saw years ago in the British Museum which stopped me in my tracks and I searched my (not well-catalogued) photographs to find it.
I felt such an affinity with, and admiration for, the artist who made this exquisite object, I was astonished at the date!
The hand-made has special qualities which we respond to at a deep level.
Much of the British Museum collections can be viewed online. I put in Quyang, Hebei BRitish Museum and 'my' bowl came up and I browsed and found many other pieces from this period, all of which look so incredibly modern. The wonders of the internet that I can look at this from a remote village in Scotland, and the wonder that I can also share it with you....Love it.
Do you have a favourite museum object that stayed in your memory?
There was also that little hippo (which is even older) from the Sainsbury Centre at UEA - that is online too!
An artist seeking a simpler life - (but not too simple!)