Dubliners for a Few Days

Here are some of the sights we took in on our wanderings around Dublin recently.

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The Garden of Remembrance in Parnell Square near the Dublin Writers Museum

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O’Connell Monument

2.GPODublinGeneral Post Office known as the headquarters for the Easter uprising in 1916

5.InsideRestoredGPODublinThe Interior of the GPO as it appears today.  It was virtually destroyed during the Easter uprising and restored in the 1920s.  The GPO now houses the GPO Witness History Museum, a chronicle of the 1916 uprising.   You should not visit Dublin without seeing this remarkable exhibit.

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Christ Church Cathedral

6.Leprechaun MuseumSignDublinLooks like the Leprechauns have gone and started their own museum.   (We skipped this one.)

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The Old Library at Trinity College

Another View of Edinburgh

This has been a good week for spinning my wheels, losing things and taking forever to get things done.  I will not bore you with the sordid details.

I had the good fortune to visit Edinburgh, Scotland recently and took hundreds and hundreds of pictures.  I decided to skip the scenic travel pictures and share the more unconventional ones  ones with you.

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My husband, apparently encountering a clown on his way to  a circus dress rehearsal.

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It’s no stranger than an English sign in China, but the juxtaposition of “Tartan Weaving Mill”  caught my eye.

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What us this world welcoming us into?

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A new world disorder?

 

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We can meet at the pub at The World’s End

 

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And if the Zombies find us.

 

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We can escape to Edinburgh Castle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Return to Rothko’s Rooms

here.I plan to return to London soon and one of the items on my list of things to see is the Mark Rothko exhibit at the Tate Modern Gallery.  I had heard about the paintings Seagrams commissioned from Rothko to hang on the walls of their new Four Seasons Restaurant in New York City.  I know that the paintings never made it to the restaurant and  wondered what happened to them.

 

 

 

Well, on my last visit to London, I learned that they are in a room at the Tate Modern Gallery.  The pictures you see here are not meant to be accurate representations of the paintings, but rather, to give you an idea of their scale.

A placard accompanying the exhibit stated:  “ROTHKO was influenced by Michelangelo’s Laurentian Library in Florence with its blind windows and deliberately oppressive atmosphere.  Rothko reportedly commented that Michelangelo ‘achieved just the kind of feeling I’m after – he makes the viewers feel that they are trapped in a room where all the doors and windows are bricked up, so that all they can do is butt their heads forever against the wall’.

Wall Text Accompanying, In The Studio Exhibit, Tate Modern Gallery, London, England.

 

 

I am not sure how these paintings would have looked in an upscale restaurant, but I did not feel trapped in the room where they are displayed at the Tate.  In fact, I found it hard to leave.  The paintings have a singular calming effect.   Viewers can get close to them or sit across from them and look as long as they want.

If you want to learn more about Mark Rothko and these outstanding paintings, watch film documentary Rothko’s Rooms.  The film charts his life, artistic development and includes commentary from his family and friends.   Rothko’s Rooms used to be available on YouTube.  You can order it from Amazon.  Just click on the graphic below.

 

 

For additional information on Mark Rothko, go to artsy.net’s  Rothko page here.

The Kiln Waster

I had jury duty and when you are on jury duty in Philadelphia, you bring a few books, maybe a crossword puzzle, some snacks and whatever else allows you to pass the time because there is a lot of waiting before you are either selected to serve on a jury or dismissed. You serve for one day or one trial. 

I brought a couple of old catalogs from a pottery auction in the early 1990s.  I spent my waiting time pouring through pictures of work by the likes of  Bernard Leach, Lucie Rie, and  Mary Rogers.  

Which brings me to The Kiln Waster.  The Kiln Waster  is the opposite of inspiration.  If it were possible to have a front-end car collision in a kiln, The Kiln Waster would be the result.  See for yourself:

Kiln Waster refers to tin-glazed earthenware dishes that collapse in a kiln during firing and fuse to each other and to the  kiln furniture.  The above example is from Delft, Holland  circa 1655.  

I came face to face (or face to plate) with the Kiln Waster at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.   I had gone to the V&A to see its well-known jewelry collection.    I did not know, however, was that the V&A is also home to a fabulous, HUGE (huge as in rooms and rooms and shelves upon shelves) collection of ceramics and pottery dating from ancient times to the present day.  And while pottery from the Americas is not largely represented,  you’ll find just about everything else in the V&A collection.

Unfortunately, the V&A does not have a book or catalog of the collection for sale in its museum shop.  I would would have loved to buy one.  But the museum allowed visitors to take pictures and I snapped and gawked and gawked and snapped.    If you get to London, run to the V&A to see this astounding collection.  The next time I am in London, I plan to go back.  If you want to search the collection online, press here.

Here are some  pictures of pottery that fared better than The Kiln Waster

 

 

 

 

Rembrandt Huis

Rembrandt bought a house on Jodenbreestraat  in Amsterdam in 1639 and lived there until he went bankrupt in 1656 and lost everything.  There is a debate over whether Rembrandt’s  lavish taste caused his financial problems or whether he was a victim of  a shift in the art market.

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Rembrandt made his fortune as a portrait painter (and-this was a surprise to me-an art dealer!)  Prior to Rembrandt’s time, only the nobility could afford to sit for portraits. But social, technological and economic changes changed that.  By the early the 17th century,  the social fabric that had carried Europe through the last 1000 years was starting to fray at the edges. Holland was a Protestant country where to profit by one’s hard work was considered a virtue. Amsterdam was a commercial town with a wealthy merchant class. Then as now, the existence of a group of people with disposable income  was  good for business and a boon for artists.  Rembrandt did so well that he was able to buy his  grand house  on Jodenbreestraatin.   The house  is still there  and it’s open to the public

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Rembrandt Huis was a must-see for me because I have always loved his work. Rembrandt’s paintings make an impression on the viewer  because they do more than reproduce people and scenes in pictures: the tell stories. When you look at one of his Biblical paintings, or example,  you think about the people in it and what they must be doing and thinking. They look like they are engaged in something  rather assuming poses for a painting. Their engagement, in turn, engages us because on a fundamental level, we humans are story telling beings.

Rembrandt is also known as the master of light and his skills were unmatched.  He could make the paint look like lace, gold, sunlight, or gossamer layered fabric. He did not use gold paint, but he could paint gold so convincingly that it is hard to believe he did not use gold in his paint.

Rembrandt  was an art dealer as well as an artist, and sold the work of other artists that he displayed in   a showroom in the main room of his house.

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He also ran an art school on the top floor of his  house and taught several students at a time.

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Rembrandt  had a well-stocked room full of costumes and props that he used in his paintings. Some say that he was more of a shopaholic, buying anything that caught his fancy.  His profligate collecting  did not do his pocketbook any good and when he was forced to declare bankruptcy, all his belongings and his house  were sold at auction to cover his debts.

I learned about how Rembrandt’s paints were mixed  when I went to the Rembrandt Huis this past summer.  I made a short film in which a docent explains how it was done.  I hope you enjoy it.  Be sure to visit Rembrandt Huis if you are ever in Amsterdam.

 

 

 

Lessons from London Street Art

Two photos taken on the streets of London this week seem to provide timely advice given recent events.

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Graffiti in Bordeaux

Some cool graffiti seen in the streets of Bordeaux, France this summer.

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The Katten Kabinet

A charming side trip in Amsterdam is a visit to De Katten Kabinet, a museum set up in an old mansion that is devoted to displaying art depicting cats.  You’ll see everything here: paintings, prints, sculpture, movie posters-even a mummified pussy cat.  The Egyptians loved their cats, too.

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The story is that a rich Dutch banker wanted to do something to commemorate his beloved orange tabby John Pierpont Morgan (Tom for short).  So he turned his house into a museum and put J.P.’s image on a fake dollar bill.   This seems strangely appropriate cine De Katten Kabinet is located on Herengracht, a street in  Amsterdam that is home to numerous banks and investment firms.  On the other hand,  I have yet to meet a cat who gives a fig about money.

After we went through the museum, we went into a back garden area where two kittens were engaged in some serious play.  

And then out sauntered three chickens who were more concerned with sunning themselves than worrying about the kittens!

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Cat who Walked by Himself

The Cat Who Walked By Himself

If you are a cat lover, De Katten Kabinet is worth a visit your next time in Amsterdam.

Herengracht 497 – 1017 BT Amsterdam

Big, Bold Jewelry Designs at Synergy

I am finally home after nearly three weeks in Europe.  Past of the reason for the trip was to attend the EuroSynergy Conference in Bordeaux.   I rekindled many friendships, made some new friends, attended fabulous programs and mostly tried to keep my head from exploding with all the artistic influences, new products, wonderful people and the inspiring and informative program the conference offered.

One of the highlights for me, however, was meeting Jude Parker and seeing her big, bold, colorful jewelry.  Jude,  who  was attending Synergy with her mother Ann Parker is from Sanderstead, England just south of London where Ann has a business selling craft supplies called Monkey Ann. Visit the web site here.

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Jude’s work is large, colorful and light because  it is composed of hollow forms. It is big and bold and she carries  off the look  beautifully.    Here she is modeling some of her creations.

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This neck piece has a fabric-like feeling to it , but it is all cane work and  deceptively light because it is hollow.  I love the limited palate.  Jude made the findings because she will never find ready-made clasps for the scale of jewelry she creates.

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You can see Jude wearing the neck piece in the above picture.  Below are some close ups of her jewelry.

 I will write more about Synergy in the weeks to come.  Tomorrow I am head to Connecticut  for Clay ConneCTion 2016

A Detour in Corning, NY

I don’t know about you, but it has always mystified me  how ancient peoples discovered processes like glass making.  I mean, we have all heard about how Rouquefort cheese came to be-you know the Shepard leaves his goatskin of milk in the moldy cave, finds it  6 months later and voila! Quelle fromage! But that was an accident.  And in his play John and Mary Doe, playwright  Christopher Durang  speculates on how a caveman might have invented the, er-if you really must know, click here.    But glass?  Glass is basically sand that is heated to about 1700 degrees F. until it melts.  (The color and other characteristics the glass might have comes from added chemicals.)  Historians believe that glass making  started around  3500 BCE in Mesopotamia and that  the first  glass was made in coastal north Syria, Mesopotamia or ancient Egypt.   But who wakes up one day and tells his wife or his boss that he is going to the beach so he can bring back some sand and try to melt it?  I mean, seriously.  But where would we be without glass?  In the dark probably.

It was in this spirit that intrepid fellow traveller Patty and I decided to make a detour on our way home from the Morrisburg Polymer Clay Retreat and stop in Corning, NY, home to the famed Corning Museum of Glass.    We got into Corning the evening before our planned visit and got to explore the town a little.  Here’s what we saw.

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Corning is a charming town nestled into the rolling hills of Southern New York State on the Chemung River. It’s home to Corning Incorporated and to the Corning Museum of Glass.   Corning is also home to the Rockwell Museum (not to be confused with the Norman Rockwell Museum)  which specializes in American Art. The main of the town street is dotted with restaurants, art galleries and antique shops.  It really looks like it would be a nice place to spend a day or two window shopping, dining, visiting the museums and enjoying the countryside.

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We stayed in the Staybridge Suites right next to the museum so we could get an early start the next morning.  It was a good choice and I recommend it.

 

Next week: The Corning Museum of Glass.