Friday, March 23, 2007

My Art

This is an oil painting I did about 6 years ago from our deck in Cincinnati. It was one of those paintings I thought I'd more to finish on it and then realized I liked it just the way it was.
This is on a box canvas - it stands about 4 inches out from the wall - arylic (Golden - they rock!)
This I intended to be a background for something and then Dazza said he liked it just the way it was - it reminds me of Louisiana swamp (or a little - OK a very little - like Turner's expansive skies).

This was inspired by the last - and I like to think of it as a Miami hurricane - the wind blowing, the green sky of a storm all framed in Art Deco pink.

This is the last in this inspirational mode. It reminds me of the formations we saw in Moab last summer.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Autism and Blogging

I have just seen the most incredible video on Apophenia blog. I urge you to watch it - its the youtube after her incredible photos of a deserted factory in Michigan. After watching the video click here.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Books and Their Covers

I've recently discovered the joys of Library Thing. I actually stumbled across it quite a while ago and was intimidated by the scale of the website and putting in my books. Then I saw a book widget on another blog and suddenly I was hooked.

You see, I love books. Really love books. I have an inherited problem whereby I find it next to impossible to pass a bookshop without entering and buying books. So much so that as an English Lit student at Edinburgh Uni I used to avoid walking on the same side of the street as the Waterstones on Princes Street. There is one at either end so I knew I was safe if I stuck to the middle (but I often lapsed - and that's not mentioning Thins, and the smaller equally yummy bookshops around George Square).

I love text, I like how it looks, even from before I could read or write. Books to me are almost too good to be read. When I look at a book I see the endless possibilities of what is within it. I almost don't want to read it because I don't want to be disappointed. But I also cannot wait to read it. That's why my favourite books are so inherently exciting to me because they fulfilled my dream of what they could be and why the ones that let me down are so disappointing. Have you ever noticed the emphasis that is always placed on settling down with a good book- what if its not?

I also love book covers. I like the different designs and graphics and I know "Never judge a book by its cover". I'm sorry but I do. There I said it! What a book looks like and feels like and what the typeface is so important to me.

I was lucky to have the most fantastic job during my masters. I worked in the university library's conservation department. My job was to repair the library's book collection. I had to mend tears, restitch book blocks, mend covers. I loved it. I was even luckier in that the guys who ran the department were not only the nicest guys and great for a laugh but also were kind enough to teach me how to make a book from scratch. I learnt how to make a small 'normal' sized book which I gave to Dazza for his birthday a few years back. And they helped me make our wedding album - which is huge.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Patriarchal Vienna

The Vienna Phil have long been renowned for their playing, for the gusto and bravado of their Mahler and Strauss, their exquisite molding of the classical melodies of Mozart and Haydn. They have also long been known for their adherence to tradition. They have a distinct sound, an exact idea of how things should be played in the Vienna Philharmonic.

They have also long been known for traditionally being an all male orchestra. In this modern era where orchestras have a much larger proportion of female musicians in the ranks (the New York Phil has a ration of 40% women; and the introduction of screens particularly in America has increased female musicians in orchestra by 50%), it is almost baffling that this orchestra is still in the dark ages when it comes to gender equality. Don't get me wrong they claim to want to increase their female membership (which used to consist of a lone harpist and substitute musicians - or musicians that are members of vienna state opera but not the phil). But they do not follow through.

They claim that their tradition is what gives them their greatness and their sound. Their tradition definitely keeps them in the nineteenth century. Their claims make it apparent that they still believe that women musicians are not as capable as their male counterparts. The they that I am referring to is the orchestral musicians themselves (who are, ehhhm, lets see ... oh .. yeah men) as they pride themselves on being a democratic organization where the members vote on everything. Saying that they wish to increase their female membership and then not hiring any women speaks volumes about how the Vienna Phil really feel about gender equality.

I heard this orchestra in Carnegie Hall a few years back. They were exciting and vibrant. Haitink was conducting and I was enthralled. The interesting thing is that this performance which had every ounce of me invested in every note had a significant number of women in the orchestra. I realise that they were probably all substitutes (orchestras commonly use quite a lot of subs when they go on tour - which is why when I saw Berlin at the Proms in London ten years ago there was a woman in the double bass section!). I would be very interested to hear if anyone would try to make the claim that the orchestra would have sounded better without them!

I have to sadly agree with Justin Davidson whose post on Newsday brought this sorry affair to my attention, that I too will forgo any chance to hear this orchestra until they start to play from the same hymn sheet as the rest of the twenty-first century.

Saturday, March 03, 2007


Just found these weird and wonderful scores!! Definitely a challenge to read - but then every since john Cage scores have been fair game for artistic license - I do wonder how some of these sound though but I'd love to have them hanging on my wall.
For more see here.

Friday, March 02, 2007

St Kilda Opera

I am excited to hear about a new and innovative project that the Gaelic Arts Agency is developing involving St Kilda (see here). An opera of sorts has been commissioned. I means of sorts because the "performance" on June 22nd & 23rd of this year will take place in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany and Scotland simultaneously. All places will view the same script, score, pre-filmed material and satellite link-up to St Kilda itself. There will be vertical dancers (see here) from France and traditional and new song in Gaelic. The basis of the story (although they're not giving much away on their website) is the tough life of the St Kildans before they were evacuated in the 1930s.

I have a soft spot for St Kilda. Not just because of the romance of "the islands on the edge of the world" or the tight knit community that clung to traditional ways for survival in such an inhospitable place but because when I was a child my Dad used to go off to St Kilda for two week trips. He went with the National Trust to help in the rebuilding of the only village on the island. He would come back with stories of the St Kildan mouse, wren and soay sheep. We would sit as family around our big oak dining table and watch the slides he took of this magical place. He told us also of the little boat that would carry the team out to the islands and how the sea was so rough that the boat would be almost vertical at times but that didn't bother him as he inherited his sea legs from my great-great grandfather who sailed schooner ships from the west coast of Scotland to the 'New States of America'.

My sister, brother and I were always fascinated by the St Kildan 'post' which was a slightly more sophisticated "message in a bottle". They would put postcards and letters in a vessel and make it sea worthy and set it off to be carried to the mainland by the waves. We were always fascinated when the postcards he sent us arrived - normally after he had been home for a few weeks.

He told us of the St Kildans who developed an unusually large big toe to be able to climb down the enormous cliffs (one being the same height as the Empire State). The St Kildans ate sea birds to survive and would use every last bit of each bird to make oil, soap etc. They had little connection with the outside world until Calvinism arrived in the form of a minister in a boat and a Kirk was built. They were a democracy. Every morning the men would meet in the street to decide the day's business. When little needed doing this meeting was more like a sewing circle. All the food that was caught was shared out equally regardless of who caught what or how much. And they had no mirrors. This last fact has always fascinated me.

I am deeply curious about this opera and hope it is a big success. I wish I could see it. The website says there will be a DVD so hopefully I can get a hold of one. I like how the definition of 'opera' is being broken down in this aspect. I know some die hard traditionalists will gripe and moan about it (because they always do) but I like the use of modern technology in Art. It adds perspectives that were unseen before and can link experiences thousands of miles apart.

Blog Facelift

I've decided what I'm going to use this blog for. Its going to be the receptacle for all the political ravings, silly ramblings, and probably some reviews or thoughts on the current books I'm reading.
I'm also going to post more links to stuff I find procrastinating online. Like this and this and this and maybe that.
I have no idea what will appear or if any of it will be worth reading but it'll keep me occupied and off the streets ....

to be continued ......