Happy Christmas

“Imagine all the people living life in peace. You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us, and the world will be as one.”  John Lennon

 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6

Having recently remembered JL on the 30th  anniversary of his death and now about to celebrate the 2010th anniversary of JC’s birth…  it seems appropriate to wish everyone a Happy Christmas using the talented musician’s song alongside images of peaceful and happy events with friends and family throughout my year. 

 

My wish is that we take Christmas into every day of the year because I think only then can we give peace a chance.

“We need Christmas because it helps us to be better people, not only in December but in January, June, and November.”  Hugh W. Pinnock

Changing Paradigms

RSA Animate – Sir Ken Robinson

Sir Ken Robinson, the world’s leading authority on creativity, is still questioning the methods born out of the industrial revolution that we continue to use to educate our children.

Recently a friend sent me the video below! Hallelujah! Sir Ken speaks AND I am given visuals! I could ask for no more…

I am a teacher with 30 years of experience teaching and my speciality is Visual Arts. While I appreciate a good artwork and quite enjoy hanging a few, I believe this subject teaches far more:

1. The choices children make about which tool to use, what line to draw, what shape to cut and onto what surface to apply… gives them the confidence to make choices at other times in other subjects and out of school.

2. When they began to understand that the idea that started in their mind doesn’t always transfer easily to a material or surface then they adapt their approach, change the tool, experiment with new techniques, observe mistakes, restart and sometimes even try something new … and they learn from each seesawing step… this develops their thinking skills and sometimes they even do that laterally. How creative!

As a student myself, I knew I learned things a little differently to many other children. I never thought of myself as academically clever and indeed often felt the things I enjoyed and did well were not important. Often I could see several possible answers and wondered why I was limited to only one as the ‘right’ one. I also needed to visualise ideas and see how they fitted together. For this I needed to ask questions and the more I asked then the more information I could visualise. However, I soon learned that if I asked too many then it was assumed that I didn’t understand a concept and this resulted in being given more work or a poor report card. I soon learned to parrot back the expected  ‘right’ answer so I could get on with enjoying other things in which I was really interested. How many other children do this? How soon do they learn to ‘play’ school correctly? How soon do they get bored with the game with dire consequence?

Listen, watch and think for 11 minutes! Thank you RSA! Thank you Sir Ken!

New Life

 “Dubito ergo cogito; cogito ergo sum. (I doubt, therefore I think; I think therefore I am)” Rene Descartes

Is it Art? Science? Creationist? Fantasy?

How can it help us? What can we learn? Does it have an educational purpose or is it purely for entertainment?

I find Theo Jansen’s creatures clever and mesmerising but is it an animal? It doesn’t reproduce independently from its creator! It doesn’t think for itself and is only reactionary. Is it art? Jansen thinks outside the square and his creation is beautiful but is it just too fantastical or popular to be considered an artform?

Is it a commercial product? Not yet!

 Like all TED Talks I find these concepts challenging…  so what do you think?


Sculpture By The Sea

Sculpture monumentalises everyday life.

28 Oct – 14 Nov 2010

‘Bondi’s spectacular coastline is transformed into an interactive canvas as an estimated 400,000 visitors engage with more than 100 sculptures.’ Dr Andrew Bell SC

I love this annual exhibition because it’s always exciting to see how the artists use this extraordinary exhibition space. 

'm.100901'
'm.100901'
'Leaf Vessel'
'Leaf Vessel'
'Bondi Venus'
'Bondi Venus'
'At The Table'
'At The Table'

 

'The Adaptable Migrant'
'The Adaptable Migrant'
'Splash'
'Splash'
'What Have They Ever Done For Us'
'What Have They Ever Done For Us'
'The French Litter' detail
'The French Litter' detail
'Sea Cells'
'Sea Cells'
'Transfiguration Link XXIII'
'Transfiguration Link XXIII'
A soaked sculpture walker
A soaked sculpture walker

 Which artworks are symbiotic to this environment? 

 

 

 

 

Which artworks encourage me to question context?

 

 

 

 

Which artworks exhibit beauty?

 

 

 

 

Which artists show quirky originality and make me smile?

 

 

 

 

What is unique about the form?

 

 

 

 

What materials have been used and how has an artist manipulated line and space?

 

 

 

 

 

In the past I have enjoyed sunshine saturated sculptures… but not this year.

Ode to Munich

(Sung to The Twelve Days of Christmas)

 
And we'll celebrate and buy another beer!
And we’ll celebrate and buy another beer!
On the first day in Munich,
my new friends said to me,
“We’ll celebrate and buy another beer!” 
 
 
On the second day in Munich,
my new friends said to me,
“Scrap the glockenspiel,
And we’ll celebrate and buy another beer!”
Glockenspiel dncing figures
Glockenspiel dancing figures
On the third day in Munich,
my new friends said to me,
“Three pretzels please,
Scrap the glockenspiel,
And we’ll celebrate and buy another beer!”On the fourth day in Munich,
my new friends said to me,
“Let’s order sausage,
Three pretzels please, Scrap the glockenspiel,
And we’ll celebrate and buy another beer!” 

Five golden mass... well here's three of them
Five golden mass… well here’s three of them
On the fifth day in Munich,
my new friends said to me,
“Five golden mass…
Let’s order sausage, Three pretzels please, Scrap the glockenspiel,
And we’ll celebrate and buy another beer!” 
 
 
On the sixth day in Munich,
my new friends said to me,
“Drink till the last drop Five golden mass…
Let’s order sausage, Three pretzels please, Scrap the glockenspiel,
And we’ll celebrate and buy another beer!” 
 
 
On the seventh day in Munich,
my new friends said to me,
“Sing and dance together,
Drink till the last drop
Five golden mass…
Let’s order sausage,
Three pretzels please,
Scrap the glockenspiel,
And we’ll celebrate and buy another beer!” 
 
Sing and dance together
Sing and dance together
On the eighth day in Munich,
my new friends said to me,
“Jump up on the chairs,
Sing and dance together,
Drink till the last drop
Five golden mass…
Let’s order sausage,
Three pretzels please,
Scrap the glockenspiel,
And we’ll celebrate and buy another beer!” 
Go to the beer hall
Go to the beer hall

On the ninth day in Munich,
my new friends said to me,
“Go to the beer hall, Jump up on the chairs, Sing and dance together, Drink till the last drop Five golden mass…

Let’s order sausage,
Three pretzels please,
Scrap the glockenspiel,
And we’ll celebrate and buy another beer!” 
 

 

You wear a dirndl
You wear a dirndl
On the tenth day in Munich,
my new friends said to me,
“You wear a dirndl,

 

Go to the beer hall, Jump up on the chairs, Sing and dance together, Drink till the last drop, Five golden mass…

Let’s order sausage,
Three pretzels please,
Scrap the glockenspiel,
And we’ll celebrate and buy another beer!” 
We'll get ledenhosen!
We’ll get ledenhosen!

On the eleventh day in Munich,
my new friends said to me,
“We’ll get lederhosen, You wear a dirndl, Go to the beer hall, Jump up on the chairs, Sing and dance together, Drink till the last drop Five golden mass…

Let’s order sausage,
Three pretzels please,
Scrap the glockenspiel,
And we’ll celebrate and buy another beer!” 
Oktoberfest is party time!
Oktoberfest is party time!

On the twelfth day in Munich,
my new friends said to me,
“Oktoberfest is party time!

We’ll get lederhosen,
You wear a dirndl
Go to the beer hall,
Jump up on the chairs,
Sing and dance together,
Drink till the last drop
Five golden mass,
Let’s order sausage,
Three pretzels please,
Scrap the glockenspiel,
And we’ll celebrate and buy another beer!” 
 
 

THANK YOU MUNICH! THANK YOU FAMILY! THANK YOU NEW FRIENDS HERE AND OLD FRIENDS BACK HOME … FOR ENCOURAGING ME AND HELPING ME TO ENJOY THREE OF THE MOST INTERESTING MONTHS OF MY LIFE!   

PROST!

Bohemian Rhapsody

‘Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?
Caught in a landslide, no escape from reality
Open your eyes. Look up to the skies and see….’
Freddie Mercury
 

Prague Bridges
Prague Bridges

All I could hear reverberating with every step were the words from Queen’s infamous song…. until finally all those voices in my head joined in one brilliant operatic crescendo!

 

‘(Galileo) Galileo (Galileo) Galileo, Galileo Figaro’.
Oh the joys of my own personal karaoke!

View from the Old Square
View from the Old Square

Prague (Praha) is the capital of Bohemia and must be one of the most picturesque cities I have ever visited. It’s winding, cobblestone streets draw each visitor into its world of ancient cathedrals and fairy-tale castles adorned with magical spires.

Indeed, Freddie! Open your eyes. Look up to the skies and see… Oh, what a site!

Bohemia has an area of 52,750 km² and is home to 6.25 million of the Czech Republic’s 10.3 million inhabitants. It is bordered by Germany, Poland, Moravis and Austria. When visiting Prague you might spend a night at the opera and think of Freddie, although I decided instead, to spend an evening with Mozart, Bach and Vivaldi in a cathedral along with some new German friends I had met on the train coming up from Munich.

Changing of the Guard at the castle
Changing of the Guard at the castle

The next day, I joined another group at the castle to watch the changing of the guard and to gaze from the ancient stone walls.  ‘I’m easy come, easy go. Little high, little low’ The city unfurled below like an ornate blanket embellished by mystical towers and crowned by bejewelled turrets. A short stroll down the hill brought us to a local restaurant hidden amongst the vines where, on such a lovely day it just made sense to stop and enjoy a goulash and red while the world wandered by.

Cathedral
Cathedral

The river Vltava flows through the middle of this age-old city and is crossed by seventeen bridges.

Looking up to the castle and Charles Bridge from the river
Looking up to the castle and Charles Bridge from the river

The Charles Bridge is the granddaddy of them all and in the middle of the day it is cluttered with hawkers and tourists so a cruise under it with mulled wine seemed a great solution. I returned later one evening to stroll across the bridge when I didn’t have to share it with quite so many.

To complete my bohemian experience I travelled to the beautiful township of Kutna Hora.  From the 13th to 16th centuries the city competed with Prague economically, culturally and politically. It is easy to see why this precious treasure hidden away in the countryside was declared a UNESCO heritage site since 1995. Cobblestones, courtyards, cathedrals, churches and cemeteries were all fascinating but nothing could prepare me for the Sedlec Ossuary!!

Ossuary Ceiling
Ossuary Ceiling

Macabre decorations on the walls and the ceiling have been created from tens of thousands of human bones. Henry the abbott and Frantisek Rint were an interesting team! Bizarre!!

Ossuary Decorations
Ossuary Decorations

It even has its own happy little motto: ‘What you are, we were! What we are, you will be! ‘Thunderbolt and lightning, very, very, frightening me!’

I’ve always thought there was a bit of bohemian within me. I really enjoyed my journey in this part of the world and I can’t wait to return one day… maybe one Christmas when I can toast Good King Wenceslas with gluhwein.

‘Anyway the wind blows… doesn’t really matter to me… to me.’ (fade)

Wanderlust

‘She soars with eagles and navigates by rainbows’ Lesley Hazleton

Soaring with eagles in Budapest
Soaring with eagles in Budapest

I like to live in the moment and I find that nothing brings me into the present better than travel.

Margaret Mead, anthropologist and world wanderer observed that the traveler who has once been from home is wiser than he who has never left his own doorstep and therefore knowledge of one other culture should sharpen our ability to scrutinize more steadily and to appreciate our own more lovingly.

Long lunches with new friends
Long lunches with new friends

My favourite aspect of travel is experiencing new sounds, sights and delights of different cultures but meeting people in those places and making new friends adds excitement to a destination.

‘Travel is more than the seeing of sights. It is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.’ Miriam Beard

Top Tip Towards Terrific Travel

As part of my quest for world peace and in the pursuit of real happiness for all travellers, I’d like to suggest that men and women never travel together.

Why?    

Well, according to my research (chatting with fellow moment livers during recent wanderings), I discovered that females look at the small details to make their travel experience unforgettable…. while mostly, men just turn up!

Enjoying the views
Enjoying the views
Exploring back streets and laneways
Exploring back streets and laneways

 What Women Really Want…                                    …Why Men Turn Up

  • Accommodation with stars                               * Roof on building
  • Welcome drink served on arrival                      * Minibar stocked
  • Dining experiences                                         * Food available
  • Vegetables (meat optional)                              * Meat (grease optional)
  • Fine Wines                                                      * Beer
  • Meandering along cobblestones                       * Map committed to memory
  • Finding new friends                                         * Mate attached
  • Optional extra tours                                        * No decisions
  • Slowly strolling museums                                 * Pubs open
  • Unlimited exhibitions                                       * Bartenders awake
  • Unhurried evenings at concerts                        * Stadiums accessible
  • Chocolates on fluffy white pillows                     * Sleep (bed optional)
  • Turn down nightly                                           * Turned down daily
  • Extra leisure time choices                                * Extra bars
  • Shopping at thirty paces in every direction.       * Last minute souvenirs at the airport

Listening to Symphonies
Listening to Symphonies

 So… it is suggested that on arrival at the airport separation must take place until the end of the travel period. If holidaying in the same vicinity then paths may cross occasionally but interaction should be kept to the evenings.

Painted evening skies
Painted evening skies

Hmmm… maybe this is my opportunity to start a travel company with tours designed just for women!

What do you think?

‘When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money.  Then take half the clothes and twice the money.’ Susan Heller

Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest is the largest folk festival in the world. It is held annually in Munich, Germany and over 6 million people are expected to attend during its 16 day run.

Oktoberfest - Early in the afternoon before the crowds arrive.
Oktoberfest - Early in the afternoon before the crowds arrive.

In 1810, Bavaria’s Crown Prince Ludwig married Theresa of Saxony and so the happy townsfolk held a party in a large field to celebrate. It was so popular that they held it again the following year and have ever since in that same field named Theresienwiese. It originally was held during October but the Wiesn began to start in September in 1872 to take advantage of better weather.

A parade to welcome the beer
A parade to welcome the beer

 It now begins with a traditional parade of draught horse drawn carts hauling in the beer, accompanied by women dressed in dirndls and men wearing lederhosen.

Traditional Dirndl
Traditional Dirndl
Dirndles & Lederhosen
Dirndles & Lederhosen

 

Apart from beer tents at the site, there are food stands, rides and so many interesting people to watch… oh, and family day is held once each week.  2010 is the 200th Anniversary and… the rest, is history!

What’s it all about?

Well, for most people…

“It’s about the Bier!” 

Making New Friends
Making New Friends

Beer gardens, beer tents and beer halls all offer a ‘mass’ which is one litre of beer and a whole lot of fun! There are no difficulties in meeting and making friends. In fact, I felt no barriers from age, sex or nationality… everyone gets along!

Hmmm, I’m thinking that maybe these Germans have stumbled upon the solution for world peace!

The Bier Tents are not ‘tents’ but more extravagant timber constructions decorated with thousands of kilos of hops. Each one takes months to construct and are rebuilt every year.

Inside a beer tent
Inside a beer tent

Entering a huge bier tent for the first time is awe inspiring! I have only ever seen crowds like this at the Olympics or maybe at a great stadium rock concert. But the meaning of the word ‘crowded’ was redefined when our group finally landed ourselves in one late one night. This ‘tent’ was full and jammed packed with at least 8000-10000 people standing on their chairs, singing, dancing and drinking along with the band. I don’t think there are any laws about maximum occupancy so they packed us in and closed the door… wall-to-wall, a sea of happy sweating swaying people!

At the very end of the night everyone rolled out the door and wandered down to a train where we once again were patiently packed in like sardines and distributed home. The most amazing thing was that during all this time I didn’t see one fight and everyone stayed happy!

Now, THAT’s what I’d like to bottle and take home with me! Or better still… how about attendance in a beer hall be made mandatory before all sessions of parliament… or attendance at the UN!

Prost!
Prost!

  Prost!

 

 

 

 

 

Creation

Vik Muniz

‘Creativity is how we cope with creation’ – Vik Muniz   
Jackson Pollock in Chocolate
Jackson Pollock in Chocolate

Born in Brazil in 1961, Brooklyn-based fine artist Vik Muniz has exhibited his work all over the world.

Clown Skull - the remnant from a very evolved race of entertainers.
Clown Skull - the remnant from a very evolved race of entertainers.

He is a great observer of life and uses unexpected materials to create portraits, landscapes and still life works which he then photographs.

This creative thinker has an interesting way of looking at the world. In the 15 minute TED Talks video below he describes the thinking behind his work and takes us on an amusing tour of his incredible images made from cotton, wire, thread, sugar, chocolate, dust, earth, clouds and food.

I feel privileged to have been given a glimpse at creative genius. Enjoy! 

The Intrepid Traveller

We wander for distraction, but we travel for fulfillment.  Hilaire Belloc

I believe the most fulfilling consequence of travel is the opportunity to immerse myself completely and enjoy a different culture. As this visitor in another country however, I am constantly surprised at the change that overcomes me as I begin to assume a new identity and for some unknown reason do things I wouldn’t dream of doing at home. The intrepid traveller emerges from within and I become this invincible tourist, naively enthusiastic and totally unaware of any danger!
One of the many spectacular views from the winding road up to the Eagle's Nest
One of the many spectacular views from the winding road up to the Eagle's Nest

Towers taunt me to climb them to the highest heights and mountains become challenges that must be scaled. Why? Why can’t I just be content with flying over them? Where did this inner mountaineer come from? I don’t enjoy heights any more than I do exercise. They both scare me.

And yet during my most recent Bavarian treks, I have ascended the Zugspitze, climbed St Peters’ tower and soared to the Eagles Nest!View-below-from-St-Peters-Tower 

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore! Dream! Discover! Mark Twain  

That's not a smile! that's hanging on very tightly at the top of the tower
That's not a smile! that's hanging on very tightly at the top of the tower

Thanks Mr Twain!  You inspired my newly acquired Teutonic temperament and this week I felt compelled to climb the tower of St Peters in Munich to get a view I could quite easily have found on the internet. There were 306 steps… or was it 360? I lost count around 200 while I had my heart attack!!  

And so the question remains… why? Why do I have a need to walk in these footsteps of the robust and brave? When I’m at home, I don’t even walk up the street.

Not having learned my lesson, I joined a strangely, trippy, little tour group to the Eagle’s Nest. We follow our guide like mindless lemmings onto a specifically designed bus that winds six kilometres up the knife edge of a mountain. The views are as spectacular as they ride is terrifying but finally we are dropped at the entrance of a tunnel.This eerie passageway leads us two hundred metres straight into the mountain to a circular marble holding room that is lit by candles.

Entrance from the tunnel to the elevator waiting room
Entrance from the tunnel to the elevator waiting room

On the opposite wall is a heavy doorway and we wait. Finally, the golden doors slide open and we enter the original elevator and ascend one hundred metres directly into the Eagle’s Nest.

Propoganda Photo of the Eagles Nest
Propoganda Photo of the Eagles Nest

I’m told that this building was Hitler’s 50th birthday present from his favourite mates in his very own inspired Nazi party. What a guy! What a present! What a party!! Explains so much… totally insane!!!

I met a lot of people in Europe.  I even encountered myself.  James Baldwin

As part of my new emerging character I begin to hanker for the local ‘look’. Store front mannequins kitted out in traditional costume lead me to imagine occasions where wearing a pair of lederhosen could be the hit of the party. What’s with that?

Lederhosen
Lederhosen

 I don’t ever wear shorts… hmm, then again…maybe it’s the leather!

Thanks to travels past, my family and friends have glimpsed previous passing personalities when I have returned bearing gifts of colourful cheongsams, vividly highlighted happy coats, tastefully painted clogs (definitely an oxymoron), traditionally embroidered Romanian shirts, regional smurflike hats and one amusing mandarin skull cap with lengthy plaited pigtail attached… to be fair, my youngest child was not quite one year old and just couldn’t run yet.

If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home. James Michener  

There was also a period of time when I cooked cabbage rolls for a month determined that the whole family should delight in the distinct flavours of Eastern European cuisine. I can’t wait to serve up some of the 1500 different German sausage tried and tested: bratwurst, leberwurst, zwiebel mettwusrt, rindswürste, rotwurst,knackwürste, bockwürste, leberkaese, frankfurters, nürnberg sausage and everyone’s all-time favourite weiβwurst. I just know how excited the family will be!

Inside-CathedralI wander historical towns and ancient cities enthralled by the architecture of the exceptional and the anomalous. I was therefore quite surprised while eyeing the interior of a beautiful Munich cathedral when my thoughts turned from bricks and mortar and my newly emerging identity discarded my cynicism of Catholicism with gay abandon and pondered the possibility that just maybe the Pope might serve a higher purpose in our world. For what, I now ask? Turning rosary beads into a fashion accessory or for bringing back a new enthusiasm for long frocks, medieval chanting and kissing rings??

 

The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land. GK Chesterton

Interestingly, I live in a tourist area back home in the beautiful world heritage area of the Blue Mountains outside Sydney. Often, I see buses passing by overflowing with tourists armed with flashing cameras. Apart from the amazing scenery, I often wonder what these people find interesting about our Aussie lifestyle, our audacities, our parochialism and our appropriated culture.

I can only imagine they have listened to the inimitable Mr Twain when he profoundly observed “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.  Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”

Or maybe they are just discovering their own intrepid traveller within!