Constable exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia

Posted by jerry on May 6th, 2006 — Posted in Journal

This is a must-see exhibition of John Constable’s (1776-1837) work. The exhibition includes his Diploma piece for the Royal Academy depicting a boat passing a lock (painted in 1826, accepted by the Academy 1829). It depicts the Dedham Lock on the River Stour – there are many sketches on this theme included in the exhibition.

The painting “Vale of Dedham” (1827-8) was his last painting of the Stour Valley. Interestingly, the foreground has a poor woman and baby huddled next to a small cooking fire adjacent to a makeshift humpy. They are depicted as part of the landscape, rather than as focii, and are clearly on the margins of the society of the time – perhaps a displaced person from the industrial revolution, and clearly the woman is excluded from the town and its comforts.

This painting of Salisbury Cathedral (1823) shows the spire framed by trees. Churches in Constable’s landscapes are often depicted almost in isolation in otherwise undeveloped sites – as though depicting the enormous use of local resources by the church – leaving no room for the people.
Salisbury Cathedral - Constable

Constable’s cloud scenes – experimental sketches – are almost impressionist in their treatment of the light. Constable concentrated on unique atmospheric effects, which he recorded in sketches. On them he noted the date, time, direction of light, wind, temparature and humidity – they form an excellent historical record of the atmospheric conditions prevailing in England at the time.

Throughout Constable’s work the landscape dominates humanity, and the clouds dominate the landscape as though to show the insignificance of humankind on the landscape. His paintings remind me of Thomas Hardy novels from around that period, in which the landscape is also a character in the novels – always lowering darkly over the human condition.

The other constant in Constable’s paintings was the presence of cows ๐Ÿ™‚

Constable said: “We see nothing until we truly understand it”. I think one could also reverse this thought to say: “We understand nothing until we truly see it”.

shadows at the National Gallery of Australia

Outside, the sun cast sharp shadows on the ground, and the cement structure contrasted with the trees in the background.

National Gallery of Australia

The exhibition is on until 12 June



Knitted tank cosy

Posted by jerry on May 3rd, 2006 — Posted in Journal

Another small textile oddity – this time from Copenhagen, at an exhibition of artists responding to the theme of “time”. Artist Marianne Jรธrgensen exhibited a military tank wrapped in pink knitted squares, which she solicited from people all over the world. Well it does get cold in Copenhagen – and there are many wonderful ways of reading this … er… warm fuzzy tank ๐Ÿ™‚

pink tank cosy



Sistine Chapel in cross stitch!

Posted by jerry on May 2nd, 2006 — Posted in Journal

I’ve done a few small cross-stitch kits, and I’ve seen some extraordinary embroideries, and know how much work goes into them. But this one represents a herculaean achievement. This embroidery, of the complete Sistine Chapel ceiling took stitcher Joann Lopianowski-Roberts, nine years to complete – some 2800 hours. It was displayed at a show in Austin, Texas (USA) called: THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS-A CELEBRATION OF THIRTY YEARS OF THE AUSTIN STITCHERY GUILD from 10-12 February 2006 – and understandably, it took off a few prizes ๐Ÿ™‚

Sistine Chapel cross stitch

The things you find at swap-meets!

Posted by jerry on May 1st, 2006 — Posted in Journal, Music

This would have to have been one my more successful swap-meet scavenges… About 2 weeks ago I spotted a mandolin for sale at the Woden swap meet – but I was ina rush and didn’t try it out. This time the mando was back, so I sauntered up – casual like – so as not to seem overly interested, after all this was a flat back mandolin and I had tried a few AU$250 mandos in a couple of music shops, so I knew what I should expect for the money.

I picked it up and had a quiet pick at it hmmm – then I asked the bloke for a plectrum and went through a few chords – this was not a $250 mando – though that’s what he was asking for it, no, it sounded much better than that. After parting with AU$220 and ensuring the nicely-made case and a new set of strings came with it, I walked away with a Greg Bennett MA3 McCoy mandolin worth AU$469 – I think this might be just what my daughter Eve might be looking for ๐Ÿ™‚

Greg Bennett mandolin


Travel technology – wifi

Posted by jerry on April 14th, 2006 — Posted in Journal

With my phone battery sputtering to a halt, and no sign of a charger being available anywhere in continental USA, how do you stay in touch back home?

Here is where my travel technology holds its own… I am writing this blog entry in a Washington DC hotel room using the hotel’s wifi system on the ipaq 2750 handheld, and a bluetooth keyboard. Who needs a laptop? I have the means to type anywhere – on a plane in a coffee shop or in the hotel.

Okay so I can’t connect wifi on the plane, but in the hotel, for US$9.95 a day I can have unlimited access to the internet and email. Need to download a map or send an email? just go online. So how difficult is it?

First open the bluetooth connection to the keyboard (or not if you are happy using a stylus for input), then open the wifi application and click on ‘site survey’ in the ‘manage’ button – that will tell you what networks are available at that location. Then when it says “connected” 0pen the browser – in my case Internet Explorer and fill ou the form on the hotel homepage and that’s it, you’re online.
So here I am using the browser to write this blog entry over my morning coffee ๐Ÿ™‚