Dali in Detroit and other beautiful decay

The Beeb did a spot on the rather wonderful photographic work of Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre, The Ruins of Detroit.  The images are hauntingly lovely depictions of decaying grandeur or nondescript workplaces lent an odd kind of glamour by their ageing disarray and abandonment.  For instance this ordinary office clock has become Daliesque, the wall is texturally fantastic and the composition is perfection itself.

the persistence of memory

Apparently the photos are being exhibited at the Wilmotte Gallery in London until 5th April so I’m going to make an effort to get in and see them.  The use of light is dreamlike and superb, as in this shot.

the lightshaft really lifts the picture from the ordinary to the sublime

The atmosphere created makes me think of Cuba (though I’ve never been) and abandoned Berlin, with all the buildings I never went to explore.  It also reminded me of this extraordinary photo from National Geographic, by Chris Gray.  It was taken in Kolmanskop, an abandoned diamond mine near the coast of Namibia and is ridiculously gorgeous.

view through, colours, shabby chic - love

So much beauty through a lens. Happy me.

Neon and smiles too

Image

A few more neon words for you. I might have already mentioned that I like words. A lot. I like art with words in too. As I’m not much of an artist myself I can’t create the wonderful scripts/word pictures/… I admire so much from others but I can take photos of words. In neon is nice. Messages from around Berlin, maybe?

in honour of Alex - looking after me in Berlin

shop under construction near Alex (also had RUG)

very posh lingerie shop near Alex

outside the opera

and here is another smiley song. This lady has the best dimples ever, and I covet her umbrella almost as much as I have coveted the Steve McQueen umbrella, the Rossi umbrella, the see through umbrella with dangling strips of bubble wrap that was the most genius jellyfish costume I have ever seen. And I don’t even like umbrellas. Or jellyfish. Inconistency thy name is woman…

Schon Dezember

The days are rushing past crazy fast at the moment.  As my lovely tandem partner/friend Sonja said: Die Zeit rennt-oh je es ist schon Dezember.  The Weihnachts Martks are in full swing in Berlin now, and they’re actually putting me in a good Christmas mood, despite the complete lack of present selecting I’ve done so far.  Well, just look at the pretty lights…

Gendarmenmarkt

Weihnachs Markts mean tented stalls and music and food and drink: Glühwein, Dresdner Handbrot, Germknödel, Thüringer Bratwürst, Lebkuchen…. nom nom nom.  What do you mean you don’t understand?  Okay, explanations:

Glühwein = mulled wine, basically, but somehow tastier cos it just seems more proper.  Plus it’s really cold here and I’ve decided that you need to be freeeezing to fully appreciate Glühwein.  I say this with all the authority of having been at Vienna and Budapest markets, altough I think Hungarian Forralt Bor is the overall winner in the hot wine stakes.
Dresdner Handbrot = quite probably my favourite snack here in D-land, tasty bread filled with melty cheese and ham, with sour cream in the split on top.  Lecker.
Germknödel = yeasty dough dumplings, eaten with hot sour fruit like cherries or plums, and vanilla sauce. Sooo good.
Thüringer Bratwürst = the sausage inna bun.  Top notch. Nuff said.
Lebküchen = spicy biscuits, often covered with chocolate or sugar, yum.  Have to be careful though, as they often conceal sneaky almond content. Naughty.

When you’re lucky, there’s also a giant tree covered in fairy lights.  This one is quite epic, particularly next to the Französicher Dom (right) and Konzerthaus (left).

Gendarmenmarkt

Christmas apparently also means little pop up markets inside, with all kinds of random stuff to buy.  Best named so far – Holy. Shit. Shopping.  It was huge!  A bit pricy but some very cool stuff, and so Berlin – taking place in random rooms in the old royal mint.   Suffice to say I’m having fun exploring….

Guarding the Pergamon

I’m beginning to think that I’m not very good at going to museums.  I get sleepy quickly when the lighting is low, and audio guides often make me go a little bit loco (with the notable exception of Mr Ro-co-co who has to be heard to be appreciated but made my first Sanssouci visit even more of a pleasure than it otherwise would have been).  Escorts have had to top me up with tea and cake in the past, to avert a serious case of the droops.  I think it runs in the genes, Mum always needed regular tea breaks too.

This little bit of self knowledge comes as a result of my Sunday culture vulture effort wherein I finally made it to the Pergamon part of the Museum Isle.

- from flickr

The ‘gigantic’ Pergamon Altar that gives the museum it’s name was pretty impressive but I enjoyed the Ishtar Gate and Processional Way rather more.   That’s probably because I’m a magpie the Babylonians didn’t bother with unadorned stone, they had glazed tiles in indigo, turquoise and ochre, with lions, bulls and chimeras that paced alongside you. Or maybe because they were commissioned by Nebuchadnezzar II, and I just like that name.

Despite enjoying all the statues very much, I was getting serious artefact fatigue after about an hour, and so I almost missed what turned out to be for me the best part of the museum – dedicated to Islamic Art.

from David Baggins on flickr

Here I found examples of everything which I love: beautifully carved wood  and stone, lustrous ceramics, sumptous tiles, glowing carpets and tapestries, geometric patterns, flowers and script in a breathtaking variety of forms.

Each room had something new and wonderful, and I was both completely overwhelmed and loving every minute.

But the guards, they take their work seeeeriously.  They were hundreds of them wandering around in blazers and watching everyone most intently for the slightest hint of misdeed.  And they never smiled.  I find this most disconcerting in museum guards.  And once I made the mistake of resting my hands on a rail guarding a mosaic – a guardman rushed over and told me not to lean on it.  They should learn, if you put a rail up, tired tourists will lean.  Anyway, the moral of this story is that as I forgot to take my camera with me I was going to go back and take some pics of the most beautiful things, but the guards scare me so I won’t (this means you have internet images).  However, you should go there, avoid all rails and see everything for yourself.  The end.

swinging Saturday

It wasn’t just the woolly aspect that made this Saturday rather delicious, it was lovely rambley Berlin day.  I started the morning with tea and chick lit auf Deutsch in bed, then dusched and took myself off to the market.  Ostensibly this was in hunt of presents, but I ended up scoffing a sausage and buying myself souvenir necklace so that didn’t quite work.

And then my day went even more pleasantly off plan, as I joined the crowd around Rob Longstaff and stayed there for ages, drinking coffee, enjoying the vibe.  It was all that is best of Berlin for me, there were even random folks swing dancing next to the little kids bobbing in their warm and toasty onesies.  He was chatty and versatile and since I’m feeling seriously sentimental at the moment I bought myself his CD to remind myself of all my happy mornings just standing with strangers in the sunshine, listening to live music and feeling lucky.  That will always be Berlin for me.  I may not have made it to many museums but when I’ve been waylaid in this way, I really can’t regret it much.

No major diorama, just visiting dinosaurs in Berlin

I’m in my pajamas with heavy eyes, thinking about going to bed, but I want to get a few thoughts onto the page before sleep.  I just had a wonderful Berlin weekend with LTN (and his Mo), doing stuff.  Okay, we didn’t actually fit all that much stuff in, his plane was late, so we missed many museum windows and Saturday turned into a lazing and eating yummy food day (Gnocchi Berliner art: with red cabbage, bacon and apple in a red wine sauce. YUMMEH!), and Monday had teaching in it but we made it to more things than last time.

F’rinstance, we went to the Museum für Naturkunde .  They have the biggest mounted dinosaur skeleton in the whole world.  Fact according to Guinnesss and yes indeed, it’s pretty tall.

from the museum website

We mused on how the accepted format for natural history museums wherever you go seems to be to take a cool building with a big hall very near the entrance, add a dinosaur skeleton and arrange other stuff around the edges.  Whatever, it works.  This one got extra interactivity points though, lots of buttons for instructive clips including very exciting cladograms, plus 3D binocular doodahs on stands which magically clothed the skeletons in muscle and then set them wandering around the oldtime landscape.  Muchos exciting.   Berlin also has a world famous Archaeopteryx fossil, the ‘Ur vogel’ which was discovered 150 years ago in Bavaria and shows the hitherto ‘missing link’ between reptiles and birds – exciting stuff for scientists and, with dramatic storytelling as part of anniversary celebrations, for me too.

My favourite part of the visit was “Feathered Flight” a special exhibition celebrating this anniversary. There was a lot of fascinating science, but the outstanding element was a series of glass boxes suspended around the room which held a series of individual feathers, all absolutely stunning.  It really was outstanding, one of the most beautiful things I’ve seen for a long time.
Just one of many beautiful cases of feathers

Another two sections which I found particularly interesting were the Wet Collections and an exhibition detailing the preparation of items for the collection, both for scientific and display purposes.

Admittedly they may have contributed to some nightmares I had that night, but they were still worth seeing.  The wet collections are kept in a climate controlled room, and are both grotesque up close and strangely beautiful when viewed from a distance.  Like nothing I’d ever seen before.

Some people claim that this might not be the most romantic ‘date’ venue, but we both thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.  At which point I should confess that the title of this post is an in-joke, sorry, and I’ll have to love you and leave you there.  Tales of the  Christmas Markt and German excellence in snack food shall be told tomorrow.  Auf wiedersehen.

Ed’s note – all pictures are from the museum’s website.