Thursday, July 28, 2022

Dusky Pink...

Strange how even ragged, rain-damaged flowers have their own beauty... with their faded petals and browned tattered edges. These ones caught my attention for their dusky pink colour that I then kept looking out for in other flowers...
Not sure if this would rather be a dusty pink but the honeysuckle had a rich orange pink that was magical...

Metamorphosis or Loss?

Walking home yesterday as the day drew to a close, I saw a sight that actually made me gasp in shock and brought tears to my eyes. The old conciergerie that has stood at the entrance of the Cimetière du Nord in Reims since 1839 had been partially demolished as part of the metamorphosis of the City of the Consecration of Kings.
Although this lodge had been no spectacular piece of architecture in itself, it formed an integral part of the view of the approach to the cemetery. Indeed, it somehow offset the massive wrought-iron gate that now looks strangely vulnerable and not without reason, for this will no doubt be over-shadowed by some towering sample of soulless concrete 'modernity' in months to come. The three odd arched windows and quirky little steps leading up to its front door that were so familiar to me on my walk home are now quite literally rubble.
Today I actually saw some of this mutation taking place, with a huge digger sprawling over the ruins like some grotesque carrion-eating beast, jaws greedily gnawing and grinding up the remains of the city architecture, pulverizing another part of the collective past so that no trace is left, even in individual memory.
Is nothing sacred? The new housing scheme will flank the tranquil plots of this 'Père-Lachaise rémois', built in 1786 with the evocative, Romantic beauty of tombs and monuments set amongst a tranquil landscape-garden setting. What will happen in the future when such sites - this and others - are deemed socially irrelevant and culturally inappropriate in a modern-day society that has little time or inclination for peaceful reflection on a past with all its flaws and imperfections?
The cemetery is, of course, just behind the vast Monument aux Morts built on Place de la République to commemorate those who lost so much in the Great War. Reims was largely decimated during the hostilities (1914-18), making this ville martyre a symbol of French suffering and resilience. Le Cimetière du Nord did not escape unscathed, as much of the grounds and masonry were likewise damaged during the war years yet it was restored again. How ironic that it should now witness new scenes of destruction just some hundred years later, at the very behest of the city authorities...
The war monument bears the inscription; 'For the new generations so that they may know and remember'. How are they going to do that when, little by little, the slate has been wiped clean? The old bell hung by the cemetery entrance has been torn off and that in itself seems to be a sign of ill-omen...

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Golden Brown, Raw Sienna, Burnt Umber...

Trying to describe the beautiful rich tones of the flowers that are positively glowing in the blazing sun at present reminded me of the magical names of colours that were marked on the wax crayons and watercolour paints I used as a child. These sounded so sophisticated and somehow remote - foreign lands of colour and mystery that could suddenly be explored in their own right, in addition to offering escape into some secret world via some childish creation or other. You could tumble down a tunnel of colour and creativity into another realm of Wonder, rather like Alice. Indeed, her Tiger Lilies, as drawn by John Tenniel to illustrate Carol's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland do look a little like the flowers I saw...
Even today, I automatically use these names to greater or lesser degree of accuracy, depending on the colour in question, of course. Why settle for plain 'red' when you could use Cadmium, Carmine, Cardinal, Vermillion or Magenta to describe its hue? Modest 'blue' sounds far more intriguing preceded by Cerulean, Cobalt, Prussian, or Ultramarine
The magic of descriptive colour names cast such a spell over me in childhood that I automatically look out for these on nail varnish, lipstick etc today from pure curiosity even if the enchantment is generally broken by the rather more down-to-earth albeit witty labels employed. So I would rather stay with the classic names as I gaze at green, that is Celadon, Chartreuse, Malachite, Viridian, Verdigris and so much more...