Posts Tagged ‘museum’

Going Underground in Stockport

Thursday, October 30th, 2014

As part of our active discovery of Manchester and anything within a 30 mile radius of the city, on Sunday Sir Pubert and I decided to explore another level and headed underground. We went to Stockport to the air raid shelters that were set up prior to World War II. Stockport is built on sandstone, therefore allowing for some fairly easy digging and there is an extensive length of tunnels and shelters built underneath the city.

One of the shelters has been turned into a museum and you can walk through the tunnels learning about what life was like underground. The tunnels were used when significant bombings occurred in the area as well as during times of threat. It was difficult to imagine what it must have been like to spend time in these underground shelters, hoping you would come back out alive and with your house intact. The camaraderie that occurred amongst those who sought shelter was incredible and I wondered if this sort of compassion would happen today if we were all required to seek shelter in a hole in the ground.

Stockport air raid shelter

Underneath Stockport.

The air raid museum was quite well done but the tunnels themselves are just worth seeing. They don’t have the same impact as the catacombs in Paris with the stacks of bones piled high as you walk through limestone underground graves, but the air raid shelters are a very special part of Stockport’s history.

Jade’s Jewels

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

This afternoon I attended a Collection Bites session at the Manchester Museum. Run once a month, these are one hour discussions about items in the museum’s collection. This month it was hosted by Jade Mellor, a jewellery designer based in Manchester who uses natural minerals and stones incorporated into resin rings, pendants and bangles. Jade is inspired by items she has seen in the museum’s collection such as asteroids and ancient stones. I randomly met Jade about a year ago while listening to a talk at the Manchester Art Gallery. She then invited me to the opening of the new space within the Manchester Museum despite only knowing me for half an hour. Jade is one of those people who is just SO NICE. She deserves an award for ‘Being genuinely lovely.”

Jade's jewellery along side the artefacts from the museum that inspired her

Jade’s jewellery along side the artefacts from the museum that inspired her

Jade’s work is just as wonderful as her personality. Her rings are my kind of jewellery – big chunky pieces that fill your fingers and could act as a weapon in desperate times. The way in which she mixes colours and natural materials is organic and seamless – she manages to make large chunks of quartz and pyrite appear naturally embedded in the resin structure. Not normally a fan of shiny things, Jade brought in samples of pyrite and I am now in love with bling. This amazing substance, also known as “Fool’s gold,” naturally forms in cubes (or cuboid crystals according to Wikipedia.). It’s amazing. During the talk we made faux pyrite by sticking gold gift-boxes together. Bee-u-de-fool.

Pyrite is awesome.

Pyrite is awesome.

I am now trying to choose which ring I want to ask Jade to make me for my birthday. Jade’s black resin rings with pyrite are currently top of my list. Yes, that’s a HINT.

Going Inside the Giant White Bubble

Friday, October 28th, 2011

For a few months I have wanted to go to an exhibition being held at the Institut du Monde Arabe. The glass fronted building of the institute is impressive in itself, however there has been a large white bubble-building in the front courtyard that has intrigued me. I finally got around to visiting the exhibition this week as it closes at the end of the month.

Institut du Monde Arabe

The wall of the Institut du Monde Arabe

The exhibition focuses on the work of Iraqi architect, Zaha Hadid, and is located inside a moveable building designed by Hadid herself. The building is organic in shape – like a freeform bubble – and has been designed to be moved and relocated as the exhibition moves between cities. The exhibition had already been shown in New York and Tokyo and yet the quality of the materials and the solidity of the building made it difficult to believe that it was transportable.

Zaha Hadid building

Amazing.

The exhibition itself was a bit disappointing. Its key focus was the way in which Hadid’s architectural firm is redesigning the concept of a skyscraper – turning it from being an individual entity that is designed to impress and stand out, to amalgamating towers into the surrounding landscapes to produce a more useable space. The exhibition had examples of the company’s work and highlighted some of the techniques used, however, like most ‘conceptual’ exhibitions, the audio guide merely prattled on about modernity concepts of space and how towers were symbols of power blah blah blah. While that is all very interesting and so forth, I didn’t come away feeling like I really knew what Hadid’s motivations were and how she managed to get from being a female in Iraq to running a multi-million dollar architectural firm in London. Plus the examples of her work were all current works that were either recently or near completion. I couldn’t gauge a sense of progress, development or future aspirations. Pity.

Luckily the building the exhibition was showcased in was so wonderful. It allowed for a very easy flow within the space and the exhibition was clearly designed to fit within the area. What was also interesting was that it was France-specific, with information about buildings that Hadid is designing in Marseille and Montpellier. Clearly as the exhibition moved between cities, the exhibits would change somewhat to highlight what was more relevant to that country.

Jolly Good London-Town

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

Jolly good. Rightio. That’s rubbish. Woh?!

As you can see, I became fluent in Pom while in London. Considering I spent the first two days apologising in French every time I bumped into someone, I think I have done quite well. I have since returned to Paris and appear to have forgotten how to speak French. Not so good.

Anyway, London was fun although it is one of my least favourite capital cities in the world. I don’t know what it is about London but I always find it confusing, over commercialised and lacking personality. Perhaps it is because I haven’t spent enough time there but usually when I go to a new city there is something about it that really interests and excites me. I don’t get that with London. There is plenty to see and do and I love the ‘free museums’ concept but it feels a little bit stale. I do think it is a beautiful city when the sun shines and the buildings turn a brighter shade of grey and the parks are lovely, but there really is something miserable about London. I honestly felt that Paris looked bright and cheerful in comparison when I returned home, despite the dirt and grime.

A highlight of the trip was our adventures with Tom’s family. We met a few of Tom’s mum’s cousins and were taken on a tour and out for lunch and dinner in the English countryside. Now THAT is something I enjoy. English countryside is beautiful, no matter what the weather, with its rolling hills and green, green grass. It is so fresh and colourful and the little country towns are quaint and adorable. We had good weather for our outing in the country which made things even better, but it was so nice to meet some of Tom’s extended family and to experience a bit of England outside the capital.

England

Green grass, blue skies, white clouds.

We were generously housed by my friends Angela and James who let me sleep on their blow up mattress every time I come to London. They are great hosts and always take me on out-of-the-ordinary nights out – this trip was no exception. On our first night in London, they had organised a dinner at an Austrian restaurant where we ate huge pieces of pork, drank giant steins of beer and Tom and I played the cow bells with the restaurant owner/entertainer who sang Austrian songs throughout the night. It was quite a spectacle. Once again I left thinking, “London has one crazy night life, or maybe it is just Angela and James.”

Austrian bells

Ring a ding ding!

We did manage to visit a few pubs while in England which is something I enjoy. France doesn’t have the same pub culture and seriously lacks good beer and cider. We also gorged on a few decent burgers to fulfil a desire that had been burning since we left Australia and Jus Burgers.

Byron Burger

A Byron Burger

One thing that London has done right is its museum and art gallery culture – I presume it is because everyone needs somewhere to hide while it is raining outside, so they make galleries free to enter. Fantastic. It means you can wander into a museum or gallery and not feel bad about just seeing part of the exhibitions. You can pick the bits that really interest you and then head to the next gallery when you’re done. We managed to visit the British Museum and the British Library and thanks to James’s membership card, we got into the Miro exhibition at the Tate Modern for free. I had been to see a Miro exhibition in Paris a few months ago and saw an extensive range of his sculptures. This time it was mostly his paintings and it was nice to see some more of his work. I really like his style and found it a particularly pleasing display.

So that was London. I have already prattled on about the concert and the mud on my shoes so I won’t go into that again. Tomorrow we catch a plane to New York (it seems the hurricanes have moved on) which I am now very excited about. I’m not so excited about the flight over but I will survive. I will try and write from the Big Apple, even if it is just to say, “IT’S MY BIRTHDAY ON THURSDAY!”

A Fun Day in Paris

Sunday, July 24th, 2011

On Friday Tom and I met up with our friend, Pip, for an afternoon of lunch and cultural enlightenment. We went to a market in the Marais district called Marche des Enfants Rouges that has stalls selling food from various parts of the world – Moroccan, Italian, French, African. We chose Japanese as none of us had had decent Japanese food since arriving in Paris. We all had the same Bento box with fried chicken. Not bad but it was still a French version of Japanese food. And it wasn’t cheap.

Japanese

Bento Box au poulet

After lunch we decided to hear towards a contemporary art gallery in the Tuilleries but on the way we changed plans when we stumbled across the Musee de la Chasse et de la Nature – a bizarre, creepy and hilarious museum about hunting and nature. But mostly about hunting. There were so many stuffed dead animals in that place – I have never seen anything like it. In one section you walked into a tiny room that had the heads and feathers of three owls spread across the ceiling. We spent most of the time with our eyes popping out of our heads and trying to stifle our laughter.

A highlight of the exhibition was a large room filled with hunting weapons and on the walls were the heads of every possible animal you could possibly imagine. One of those heads was a wild boar with a motorised mouth and eyes that growled and I think spoke French to you when you walked in the room. His eyes rolled around in his head at the same time. It was fantastically awful.

Animal heads

You can see the talking pig in the bottom right of this photo

We left the museum feeling somewhat unsure about what we had just seen – it was an interesting insight into the importance of hunting in the past but it was also just plain creepy. We needed a drink. So we went to La Caféotheque so that Tom could have a hot chocolate, Pip a coffee, and I had a cup of tea. The perfect ending to a fun day in Paris.

Cafeotheque

My new favourite place in Paris

Sunday, Lovely Sunday

Monday, July 4th, 2011

Every now and then I fall in love with Paris all over again. I am always ‘in like’ with this city but every now and then I see something or do something or discover something that makes me completely infatuated. Yesterday was a delightfully sunny Sunday in gay Paris and as it was the first Sunday of the month, all of the museums and art galleries were open for free. BRILLIANT. Tom and I met a visiting Perth-ian, Amanda, at L’Orangerie – an ex-orangery, or Napoleon III’s greenhouse, that now houses Monet’s water lilies.

The glass building contains two curved-walled rooms which allow you to be surrounded by eight of Monet’s works. It is one of my favourite places in Paris – when there aren’t many people in the rooms it is a particularly relaxing experience. The free-entry did mean that there were far too people in the gallery yesterday but I highly recommend the L’Orangerie to anyone visiting Paris. I plan on visiting the real garden in Giverny sometime soon. I think I might wait until after the French holidays when tourist numbers die down. There are so many people around at the moment – it’s a bit overwhelming.

Monet

So pretty.

After the gallery we headed into Saint Germain for food before we headed to the Shakespeare and Co bookshop. WOW. I love bookshops but I never knew I could feel this amazed by books on shelves. Shakespeare and Co is an English bookshop near Notre Dame that I had read about but never been to. On one of the tours that I have been on lately, the guide pointed out the bookshop so off I went to see why it was so amazing. Every single book you could possibly imagine is in this place. The room is a mess of shelves, covered in books of various sizes, ages, quality. There are chairs where you can sit and read (if you are lucky enough to score one as the shop was full of people) and upstairs is a library full of old books that you can read at your leisure on one of their couches. It is a bookshop of intellect and cultural development – there were so many books on philosophy, history, art and cultural theory. I couldn’t buy anything I was too overwhelmed by what I was seeing. I need to go back when it isn’t a Sunday afternoon and the place isn’t full of English-speakers. I almost asked if they had any jobs available and probably will next time I am there. It was one of those dream-like places that you see in movies. I can’t wait to go back.

Shakespeare and Co

Look at it! So lovely...

Discovering Dali

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

Yesterday while wandering through Montmartre, we went into the Dali gallery which houses a collection of Dali’s work. There aren’t any particularly exciting works, but it is a nice showcase of his less well known pieces. I quite enjoy his view on life although I suspect he would have been a bit of a challenge to work with. I did enjoy his take on the Old and New Testaments – having visited the Louvre a few days ago and seeing painting after painting of Jesus on a cross, Jesus eating supper, Jesus as a baby etc, I found Dali’s version light and refreshing; almost comical.

There was also an installation piece of a chapel which when you first see it looks like a genuine chapel that has been there for centuries. It was actually made from cardboard and plaster and he had used a trompe d’oeil affect to create the allusion of space. While it appeared to be a big chapel, it was, in fact, a very small area and just like in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Alice in Wonderland, it just got smaller and smaller the further back you went. Very clever.

At the end of the gallery you arrive in the boutique where you can purchase your very own Dali masterpiece. A few spare thousand Euros can buy you a great conversation piece. While I like his work, even if I had the money I don’t think I would buy one. It would be difficult to find the right place to hang it and it would always just look like the mass-produced postcard copies that you can buy in the gift shop on the way out. Maybe one of his lesser known scribbles… What am I talking about? I have plane tickets to purchase – I’ll leave the art to those who know what they are doing.

The Latest

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

So long, grey skies! Hello sunshine and blue! The last few days have brought glorious weather – although the wind is still biting and has a habit of getting through all layers of clothing. It’s bloody cold, really. I’m used to consecutive days of sunshine equalling warmer temperatures but so far this hasn’t happened. They forecast some higher numbers for the rest of the week which is a bit of a relief. Every time I try and put on a skirt the wind suggests otherwise.

But sunshine does bring general happiness – my mood seems to lift greatly when the sun is out. Paris looks so beautiful when it isn’t contending with grey clouds – the buildings shine, the trees seem to instantly fill with new buds, birds flutter and Parisians make out on park benches. The past weekend was particularly glorious. Saturday was Tom and my two-years-and-six-months-versary which we celebrate just for the excuse of going out to eat food. We had had a rather late one the night before (getting home at 3am is apparently early in Paris) so we didn’t get up until almost lunch time. We headed to Les Enfants Perdus – a cosy little restaurant in the next street. We treated ourselves to a fancy lunch – I had lamb, Tom had prawns, we both had chocolate cake. The restaurant was a delight – amazing food beautifully presented, lovely staff and a very cosy place to sit. Definitely one to go back to.

Lamb lunch

My lamb – so good.

Prawns

Tom's prawns – apparently also so good

Chocolate pudding

Chocolate cake with delicious, gooey innards. So so so good - although the menu said it had chilli in it. I couldn't find it... Clearly French "chilli"

After lunch we walked in the sunshine along the canal to Parc de la Villette – a large space with parkland, museums, giant glass domes, kids’ play equipment, concert halls… Tom described a conference hall located in the park as “Like the Perth Convention Centre, but with style and it actually works.” It’s nice to discover new places and to find places we want to go back to. So much to see.

Parc de la Villette

Parc de la Villette

Sunday was the first Sunday of the month so all of the art galleries were open for free. We caught three trains on the metro to get to Musee Rodin and wandered through the gallery and gardens looking at Rodin’s work. I had seen many replicas of The Thinker so it was amazing to finally see the real thing. Sundays are always ‘days out with the family’ for Parisians and they were all out in full swing, enjoying the rays of sunlight. People had clearly come to the Musee Rodin to simply sit in the sun in the garden. Poor French people with their lack of sunshine. That said, France gets heaps of sun compared to England. Give me Paris over London any day.

The Thinker

He's a thinker.

We walked back home through Saint Germain which was completely closed and made me think about everyone complaining about Perth’s lack of Sunday trading. Paris is just as bad. Everything closes on Sundays. Bakeries close at lunch time, just when you want some bread. Tom and I walked for miles trying to find a baguette – we ended up having lebanese.

Today I went shopping with my friend Pip (a fellow Perthian who has moved to Paris at the same time as me) and bought a lot. I went shopping with a list of necessities and came home with some added bonuses. I bought:

  1. Moisturiser for my excessively dry skin due to France’s stupidly cold air (necessity)
  2. Jeans (necessity as I only have one pair and my other pair of pants are too big)
  3. A tshirt (You always need tshirts)
  4. A grey skirt that has cool angles and is just great (it was half price so it would have been wrong not to buy it)
  5. Books (Books are educational (and these are beautiful) which means they are a necessity)
  6. A statue of a pig (added bonus)

The pig needs a name and I am currently undecided. I will post a photo of him soon so that everyone can meet my new pet. Maurice is a possibility – all I know is that he is a French cochon.

Ok well it is my bed time and I am going to post this sans-photos. My internet can’t handle uploading photos at this time of the day so I will add them later. So you can read this post TWICE. Lucky you!