Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘ideas’

A little Luzerner Graffiti

Street Art in Lucerne varies from the most basic kind of vandalism…

Read more

Not seeing how long it took is part of the intrigue…

Last week, PJD shared an in-depth glimpse into one of the art exhibitions that we have been most impressed with, ever. This was the incredible Slow Art exhibition at the Nationalmuseum, which we were lucky to find by chance when we were in Stockholm recently.

We were so surprised at the beauty of the pieces collected together in this small exhibition. In keeping with the theme, due to our captivation with what our eyes saw, we slowly took it all in.

Slow Art has really lingered in our minds; we have discussed many of the pieces we saw in the exhibition a number of times since we returned home to Leiden, reflecting on the fact that an overarching characteristic of the works was their exquisite beauty and uniqueness. So, today I thought I would share a few more of our favourite pieces. Sure, we loved them all, and the ones that PJD has already documented in his post were certainly amongst the most impressive. Yet, the depth of the quality in this small collection was quite astonishing, and these pieces really are quite something… Read more

Weekly Photo Challenge: Merge

At first, this week’s photo challenge seemed rather tricky. But with deeper reflection, and a number of conversations travelling to and from Utrecht, CIA and I settled on some photos from the Louvre. It’s been a week heavy with posts about Museums, so hopefully this will not push all you readers over the edge, but here are three efforts at finding a merge in the photographic world – without utilising photoshop™.

Architecture into Art; Art into Architecture

I.M Pei has already been congratulated once in this blog, for his Magnificent MUDAM. And we have MUDAM to thank for introducing us to the glorious work of Wim Delvoye. In this case, we get the interaction of Pei’s architecture-as-art Pyramid in the Louvre, and Delvoye’s art-as-achitecture beautiful, refined twisted gothic tower pointing straight at the pinnacle of the pyramid. The ominous Parisian sky above adds a sense of foreboding to the image.

Art, History, Literature – accident or intention?

When I saw this piece, I immediately thought of Animal Farm, I don’t know at all if Delvoye meant to evoke the novel, but that novel’s excoriating exposition of the perils of totalitarianism certainly would seem to align with the artist’s dislike of establishment. Additionally, this was the Napoleon Apartments, and so:

The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.

The Louvre, literary references, the weight of history. What more could anyone want?

Architecture and the epitome of modern consumer design

So, an inverted pyramid (thank you again Mr Pei), and in the background, an Apple™ store. What else? There’s a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow?


Photos by CIA and PJD, le Louvre, Paris, June 2012 (Merged).

No one sees how long it took…

A trip to Nationalmuseum in Stockholm turned into an unexpected highlight of our time in that wonderful city. Over breakfast, we planned out our day. This is not something we do very often, but there were so many things we wanted to see and experience, it seemed necessary. Our planned day required us to walk right past the building, inspired by North Italian architecture, which houses Sweden’s national collection. It seemed foolish not to have a look.

As is so often the case with these things, our intended stay of 30 minutes turned into 45, trickled into an hour, and time melted away as we were engaged, first with the general collection, then with an exhibition (briefly discussed already), and then we came upon something completely unexpected, Slow Art.

Read more

Love locked in Paris

During the course of one of our many long and winding walks around the city of love (Paris, of course!) in June, we crossed le Pont des Arts, one of the many bridges criss-crossing the Seine (it’s truly impressive the number of bridges crossing the Seine, and these are the ones in Paris alone!). However, this was a bridge with a difference: little did we know when we stepped onto this footbridge that we were about to cross one of Paris’ love-lock bridges.

Read more


I heard someone describe the Olympics as a “regular but misdirected orgy of nationalism and navel gazing”*. This seems, in equal measure, absolutely true and untrue. I agree that some of the flag waving, some of the bias, some of the support is unsavoury. On the other hand, I loved to hear how a friend of mine was made to feel physically ill at the defeat of his beloved Icelandic Handball team – whom he hoped could get gold this time – to Hungary. Not that I wanted Iceland to lose, mind, or that I enjoyed his pain, but rather that he was so invested! It was exciting!

Another aspect I love is that once every four years obscure sports (Women’s 10 metre air rifle, for example) get a chance for some major attention.

For these Olympics, it is the Velodrome that has really caught my attention. Cycling as a sport really eludes me. I’ve watched the Keirin, Sprints, Pursuits, Time trials; and the Omnium, which seems to gather these things together. It doesn’t make any sense at all as a spectator sport, and yet, enthralled I was. First, just have a look at the Velodrome itself:

It’s like some kind of alien spacecraft. It’s beautiful. They keep the inside something like 28°C, which is just the optimum Velodrome temperature I guess**.  Now, the only problem I have experienced with my Velodrome-based viewing was that Australia wasn’t winning very much. I’m not super-patriotic, really, but somehow when I am in Europe I feel more inclined to support my compatriots than I ever would at home.

So imagine how happy I was to find this gem:

It combines everything there is to like about the Olympics into three-and-a-bit minutes of awesome. The Chemical Brothers are always interesting, and frequently excellent. I didn’t know this was the Velodrome’s theme song, and I love that the Velodrome has*** a theme song. It completely makes me forget Australia’s lack of cycling success (don’t even mention the swimming).

The video was played before every Velodrome session, and was created by Crystal CG. In their own words:

“We’ve created sweeping contours and sleek surfaces as the backdrop for an intense, futuristic cycling ‘duel’ as two animated riders power round the track,” said Darren Groucutt, creative director at Crystal. “It truly brings the Velodrome to life.”

I completely agree. The pseudo-futuristic animation matches the slightly-weird Olympic font. It builds with the music, and generates a sense of excitement. The only downside is that I completely wish I had been in the Velodrome itself.

What I like best of all, however, is the combination of design, creativity, music, craft and other intellectual activity and its prominence on the set otherwise dominated by sporting excellence. This kind of multi-dimensional media experience can so often go horribly wrong, but this judicious application of cultural capital amongst the quadriceps and flying wheels really helps to make the London Games stand out for me from what might otherwise be a bland international event.


Picture borrowed from London 2012 website; sorry London 2012 website, I hope you don’t mind!

*This was on Q&A, which I watch most weeks through iTunes. The ABC might just be the best public broadcaster ever; if there was a gold medal of public broadcasting, I think it would get it.

**I have no source for this factoid, but I probably heard it from the BBC commentary.

***Fun PJD fact: my English teacher from high school would be ill if he knew I used italics to stress my point, but as this is a blog and not a piece of formal writing, I break the rules.

What is the natural world worth to you?

Most days, I travel to Utrecht for work. From Leiden, it’s only 42 minutes (according to NS) and for me, it’s not too bad. I get a chance to marvel every day at the freakish green flatness that characterises the Netherlands. I also get to think about how strange it must be to not need fences, as the fields are generally surrounded by water. It’s not like farming in Australia, that’s for sure. It also presents me with a great chance to read. I read newspapers (sometimes I even read De Spits), I read magazines, blogs and books too, from time to time. And this morning I came across this one, by George Monbiot.

It started off with a reference to Rousseau. Good start, I thought. “Civil society” doesn’t usually pop up as something with negative connotations, but there it was. And then he really started to get to work:

In many countries, especially the United Kingdom, nature is being valued and commodified so that it can be exchanged for cash.

The effort began in earnest under the last government. At a cost of £100,000, it commissioned a research company to produce a total annual price for England’s ecosystems. After taking the money, the company reported – with a certain understatement – that this exercise was “theoretically challenging to complete, and considered by some not to be a theoretically sound endeavour.” Some of the services provided by England’s ecosystems, it pointed out, “may in fact be infinite in value.”

George (I am confident he won’t mind if I call him George), like myself was swift to recognise the “rare flash of common sense” in the last quote there. Imagine, rain, and the benefit it has for growing things, having something close to infinite value! As I read on, I started thinking more and more about the value of public space, the natural environment (or, more accurately, the non-urban environment) and the ways landscape enriches society.

All of  a sudden, I found myself thinking of how the memory of some natural place can be worth so much in moments of stress and darkness that every day living in the modern world brings, how they lighten

the heavy and the weary weight
Of all this unintelligible world

So, what is the environment worth? How do you price rain, and sunshine, and wind?

Read more

%d bloggers like this: