Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Full Pink Moon...

The light of the moon was shining through my bedroom last night - the Pink Moon or Sprouting
    Moon. I hoped this was an auspicious sign of a move away from stagnating, dull repetition towards newer, lighter, brighter things...Well, the promise of difference of some kind or another. And it seems it was.
The final signatures have been traced onto the last of many, many documents; enough said. 

Pink Moon - Nick Drake 
(Mollyty -   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qgVEvjsJn6g)


Saturday, April 12, 2014

Yellow April...

Each year, without fail, I regret that I didn't pay more attention to the month of April. Just before the plants and trees have fully burst out in May, we have this discrete month that marks the end of the cold period and during which many of the most interesting transformations take place.

And each year, I admire the dandelion clocks as if I'd never noticed them before, and look at the dandelions themselves in a different light.  Once you remove the 'weed' label, their infamous resilience is a source of admiration too , as is their jaunty cheerfulness as one of the first flowers of spring.

 I don't actually like the colour yellow, but it seems to be bursting out everywhere in nature, in defiance of the sober colours of winter, and the subtler ones of spring too. Hopefully, it will grow on me, just as it seems to grow, or invade, everywhere else...

Lawless dandelions seem to stake their claim over every space, to the point that they form bands of yellow that run parallel to the legitimate vegetation in the vineyards here.

This bold, brazen yellow ultimately gives rise to landscapes of nebulous forms...

These contrast the stark outlines of the vines - all of which looks striking in the late afternoon light...

And of course, which runs alongside the vast expanses of yellow from other crops - in this case colza...

Not only is this breathtaking to see, rolling out over the landscape, it also perfumes the air with a very delicate scent. Unfortunately this isn't the only air-borne substance at the moment - the allergies have been truly atrocious this year - but I'm trying not to let that spoil this yellow-fest!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

You know my keys won't fit the door...

Not a work of art, but I like it because it has lasted all these years - over 30 - and been everywhere with me...

The spring has encouraged the daddy-long-legs to drift into my room at night. Their funny, feathery flight is driving the cats wild as they stalk these beasts around the varied flotsam and jetsam that has accumulated on every surface. As I love butterflies, dragonflies, bees and beetles, many of the objects that the feline furies invariably crash into during their frantic hunt are associated with some form of insect. Trying to sleep in this pandemonium is quite an experience, and in addition to this animation I have been kept awake by anticipation of a Momentous Moment of Closure.

More of the same...
 This afternoon I was expecting to sign the papers to shut the final door of all those that have been closed over too many of the last years. It was called off at the eleventh hour due to the love of pounds, pennies and principles as the King really had been in his counting house. After years of falling down an Alice-in-Wonderland tunnel, wondering what is illusion or reality, what is outsized or shrunk I thought I was about to land on solid ground. But no, it might still be some time before I'm finally grounded. 

 I Had a King - Joni Mitchell - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LcGvR1OumjM

The song above was in my head when I woke up one morning, right at the very beginning of this long, long process of door-slamming, when I thought I'd carelessly lost the key, and had let myself get shut out on the wrong side of the door. How mistaken I was - the key never did fit; I just took years to realize...

                                            I Had a King - Joni Mitchell

                                                 I had a king in a tenement castle
                                                 Lately he's taken to painting the pastel walls brown
                                                 He's taken the curtains down
                                                 He's swept with the broom of contempt
                                                 And the rooms have an empty ring
                                                 He's cleaned with the tears
                                                 Of an actor who fears for the laughter's sting

                                                                   I can't go back there anymore
                                                                   You know my keys won't fit the door
                                                                   You know my thoughts don't fit the man
                                                                   They never can they never can

                                               I had a king dressed in drip-dry and paisley
                                               Lately he's taken to saying I'm crazy and blind
                                               He lives in another time
                                               Ladies in gingham still blush
                                               While he sings them of wars and wine
                                               But I in my leather and lace
                                               I can never become that kind

                                                                    I can't go back there anymore
                                                                    You know my keys won't fit the door
                                                                    You know my thoughts don't fit the man
                                                                    They never can they never can

                                              I had a king in a salt-rusted carriage
                                              Who carried me off to his country for marriage too soon
                                              Beware of the power of moons
                                              There's no one to blame
                                              No there's no one to name as a traitor here
                                              The king's on the road
                                              And the queen's in the grove till the end of the year

                                                                     I can't go back there anymore
                                                                     You know my keys won't fit the door
                                                                     You know my thoughts don't fit the man
                                                                     They never can they never can

Saturday, March 29, 2014

The character in a door.... and a doorway...

 There is the theory that, in the words of Ghandi, "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated."

 I wouldn't contest that, but I would perhaps go on to add that a great deal of the aesthetic aspirations and social advancement of a society could be measured by....its doors.

A door has a seemingly simple function, little needs to be added to that since it is quite literally an open-and-shut point. 

And yet many of the doors that I have come across around and about here, and in other towns, seem to have gone beyond that mere functionality and seem to reflect much more than this basic role.

The simplicity or intricacy of the whole, the massive or delicate approach, the unique form of the door and doorways, the design employed on a practical and aesthetic level - all seem so varied and enriching, even to excess. 

Everything seems to give voice to something unique, even when it's obvious that the door in question is but one of many from the same model, usually dating from the reconstruction years of the two post-wars periods. 

It's almost moving to see the workmanship and the mastery of materials used, even if the end result isn't necessarily to personal taste. 

 Whatever their style or age, the doors that I've admired all have in common an initial desire to create something of enduring beauty in terms of quality and aesthetics.

 The door seems to be the focal point of the facade, not just the mere entrance to the space beyond.

The carpenters, craftsmen, ironsmiths or artistic commissioners that span these centuries have all painstakingly worked to produce a piece of art that puts to shame the shoddy, loveless and unlovely articles that are churned out today. 

I don't know what's worse; that we don't seem to care sufficiently enough to bother about what will adorn a building when installing a new door, or that we neglect and/or deface the original one to the point that replacement is an obligation.

 Or the fact that we don't even notice either way. If indifference is supposed to be the worst slight, then creative and cultural blindness must be an offshoot of this.

 Of course, there is the valid argument that few people today have the means or inclination to throw away considerable sums of money on such an investment, especially on a functional 'object'. 

But when has the situation truly ever been otherwise? The lavish decoration of many of the doors and doorways here must have been largely reserved for those with sufficent finances to undertake such projects, but nevertheless these were realized. 

I have yet to come across their equivalent today, but I am looking!

Naturally, there must surely be many, many exceptions to this apparent dearth of decent doors, but I haven't come across any of these so far.

In fact, I'm on a bet with a friend to see if anything can be found that merits being called a modern-day earnestly-created door as a thing-of-beauty accessible to more than just the elite.

 In fact, I'd settle for anything that had some basic interest of any kind, was vaguely contemporary and was visible to the general public.  

 After all, some of the ones selected here are simply part of the urban landscape - the one above is just next to the tram stop. I like the ornate forms, with their strange decorations, even if somewhat 'overladen'.

There are human forms with religious references...

Or as an expression of married fidelity...


There are many animal figures used to represent figures of authority...

 And the insignia of the town... I love the dignified expression of the sheep sitting above the coat of arms.

And the typical symbols of justice...

And then there are beasts that assume both manly and animal shape...

Or are just plain weird shapeshifters...

With strange feminine forms...

Or mermaid attributes...

That are neither fully female nor male...

Some the doorways seem to be set quite high, with stone steps worn done over the years, and the wood warped through age and damp...

While others, presumably for practical purposes are low like burrows...

I like the scaled paint, odd additions, accumulations and alterations that have been made by the passing years...

However, the vacuous tags that cover these doors make me grind my teeth with rage...

Although some are a little more original than others...

....they aren't exactly creating anything new, just carrying out some creative freeloading on existing forms that are dizzingly 'busy' enough as it is...

Fortunately not all doorways give you such a visual overdose, and are a more understated affair. 

Nevertheless, even on the most sober of doors, attention is drawn to some detail or another...

Perhaps an ornate door handle, frequently featuring the weirdest of lions...

The expression on this king of the beasts is far from regal!


Whatever the door, there is always a history behind its creation, but all these stories are gradually being deleted as these doors are effaced from our lives. Two of my favourite doors have been damaged or virtually destroyed since I photographed them a few years ago.  I'll write a separate post to show the art nouveau doorways of Reims as many have been vandalized or have simply vanished in a relatively short space of time. It really will be a case of appreciating something while still possible, because once these have disappeared this particular door to our past will be shut.