A Visit to Moco

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Near to the Rijksmuseum, there’s a much smaller gallery called Moco.

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They had, and still have I think, a substantial exhibition dedicated to the work of Banksy. I found it immensely enjoyable. I think this Mickey Mouse swallowing constrictor was my favourite, but it was a close run thing.

There was another exhibition – which sadly looked more interesting on their web page than it did in reality.

They also had artworks from their permanent collection which I think had been selected as being precursors of Banksy or in some way relevant to his work. I seem to remember works by Warhol, Koons, and Lichtenstein amongst others.

I was more impressed by these paintings by Keith Haring…

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…and this…

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…by Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Little S, meanwhile, not always a lover of art galleries, was very taken by this sculpture in the small garden outside…

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A Visit to Moco

Amsterdam

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One reason, possibly, why I’ve fallen so far behind with the blog, is that I’ve struggled to know what to say about Amsterdam. TBH and I have wanted to visit Amsterdam for a very long time, but when we got there is was extremely busy and much, much too hot. I didn’t want to go to the Anne Frank house, the kids weren’t really struck with the idea of the Rijksmuseum, and we couldn’t book a boat to tour the canals despite all of TBH’s efforts.

I took lots of photographs of massed bicycles, and impressive architecture and canals and such like, but looking at them now – they’re a bit rubbish to be honest. My heart can’t have been in it. So – just a couple of photos. The first, taken by a waitress, is from a little road side cafe where we had a superb lunch. Decent vegan food even! The boys had burgers, which became a bit of a theme for a while, although in Germany they discovered the delights of Schnitzel, which became their new favourite. I had a delicious salad and really enjoyed the cafe’s soundtrack of 70’s reggae and 80’s rap. I even managed to smile for a photo, which is virtually unheard of.

We did walk ‘through’ the Rijksmuseum – there’s an archway/tunnel which walkers and cyclists can use – and were all impressed by the giant spider sculptures in the gardens…

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These are the work of Louise Bourgeois apparently – you can find out more here.

We were on our way to another, much smaller gallery, of which more to follow…

Amsterdam

Sunderland Point

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Looking across the Lune.

Oh, I haven’t done that for a while: this post ought to have preceded my last one. Not to worry.

This was another, short, half-term wander. One of our cars was booked in for a warranty service at a garage on the White Lund industrial estate between Lancaster and Morecambe. At the last minute, the offer of a courtesy car was withdrawn. Since we had other things to do later in the day, that left us with some logistical difficulties. We decided to try to make something of the morning, so TBH followed me to the garage and then we continued south to the small village of Sunderland Point.

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The causeway road which is the only one in and out of Sunderland Point.

It’s a crazy thing that I’ve never been to Sunderland Point before, even though I’ve lived in the area for nearly 30 years. Twice a day, the tide rises over the access road and the village is cut off from its neighbours.

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Sea Beet.

It was an overcast and windy day and we were pushed for time, so we kept our walk short and I didn’t take as many photos as I might have done. I noticed a lot of seashore plants – these Sea-beet, some Horned Poppies, Sea Campion for example – and was thinking that I must return some time to have a more leisurely look around.

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Dryad’s Saddle.

I was keen to see this…

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Horizon Line Chamber by artist Chris Drury.

Which is just a little way around the coast from the village. It’s a camera obscura, with a small lens in the wall which projects an inverted image onto the opposite wall.

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Image inside the chamber.

There’s more about the project on the artist’s website here. Including this delightful film…

Visiting on a gloomy day probably wasn’t a great choice, so I intend to come to have another look when the sun is shining.

The chamber is close to…

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Sambo’s grave.

A relic of Lancaster’s history as one of the ports engaged in the transatlantic slave trade. Sambo was a former cabin boy who came to Sunderland Point in 1736 and, having died of a fever, was not buried in consecrated ground. This plaque…

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…dated 1796, features a poem written by Reverend James Watson.

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Sculpture by Ray Schofield, who lived in the house opposite where the sculpture is now sited.

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Unlisted Lancaster.

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A weekend of absolutely glorious weather – blue skies and beautiful sunshine – but a very busy one for me, so another opportunity to make the most of whatever spare scraps of time were available. B was away with school, on a rugby tour, playing a game in Essex somewhere on the Friday and then at Twickenham watching England squeak past Japan in one of the Autumn Internationals on the Saturday. TBH was also away, I think on Guiding training, which left me as chief cook, bottle-washer and taxi-driver.

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I think that these are Muscovy Ducks. They aren’t native to the UK, but there were half a dozen on the canal that day, presumably feral birds.

Little S had BJJ in Lancaster on the Saturday morning and then a birthday party with a new friend (he’s moved up to ‘big school’) in the afternoon. I drove him in for BJJ and then took him for lunch afterwards and kept him company before his party.

I needed somewhere to leave the car; there’s not much in the way of free parking in Lancaster, but there are some spots on Aldcliffe Road, by the Lancaster Canal, which had the added advantage of leaving me with a bit of a walk to meet Little S after his grappling.

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Owl sculpture in a community garden sandwiched between Aldcliffe Road and the canal.

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Having passed through the town centre, my route to meet Little S took me along St. Leonard’s Gate. I wondered how properties which get listed are chosen and others are not. This building is fairly old, and the City Council have deemed it interesting enough to warrant one of their Green Plaques, but it isn’t listed.

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The Grand Theatre, just across the road is listed, but I didn’t photograph it, because it was in heavy shade. Another time.

Some of the properties in this area are looking a bit rundown to say the least….

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I walked past this building again recently and noticed that there was a pigeon stuck inside which was flying repeatedly into one of the few remaining panes of glass in a window.

This building…

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…is St. Leonard’s House, which is listed. It was built 1881-2 and was a furniture factory, for the Lancaster firm Gillow and Company. It too was looking a tad dishevelled, but has been hidden behind scaffolding for quite some time now and is clearly being tarted up for some purpose.

There’s been a fair bit of building work in Lancaster over recent years. This…

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…is part of Caton Court, which will provide student accommodation when it’s finished.

Little S was in no doubt about what he wanted for lunch – there’s a street market in Lancaster On Wednesdays and Saturdays and one of the stalls does a hog roast. Very nice it was too. After that we still had some time to kill, so I took S to the Music Room cafe and finally got to see the interior. Unfortunately, I didn’t realise at first that there’s seating upstairs which is presumably where we needed to go in order to see the ‘very richly decorated plasterwork walls and ceiling of c1730’. I would have known that if I’d thought to check the Historic England listing in advance. Oh well: next time!

Having dropped Little S at his party I went scooting home, hoping to get out again around the village whilst the weather was so benign.

Unlisted Lancaster.

Doddington Hall -Wagons, a Pyramid and a Pond

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After touring the gardens, we wandered a little farther afield and had a poke around in the grounds. Like last time, I was taken with a collection of old wagons, which was housed in a characterful shed…

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An arrow straight path runs through the gardens to a ha-ha wall, giving uninterrupted views of the fields beyond. A fainter path continues to a distant focal point…

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This pyramidal folly has been added since our previous visit.

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We felt we’d like to have a look at it, both outside and in.

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But not climb on it obviously.

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True to form, the DBs were better at clambering on the pyramid than at reading, or complying with, the stern notice.

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Looking back to the Hall.

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And a zoomed view from the same spot.

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Small White on Common Knapweed.

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Bird’s-foot Trefoil.

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Deep in conversation.

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This is a sculpture which I omitted from the previous post. I took a few photos of it whilst we were in the gardens, but there always seemed to be people close by spoiling the view somewhat, so I tried again as we approached the house on the way back from the pyramid.

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My Mum and Dad with their granddaughter. I realised today that, taking their initials in order that they are sat on the bench, they are T, E and A. TEA!

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A pond with an elegant bridge in the grounds of the Hall.

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Little Grebe or Dabchick.

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The bridge again.

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Assessing the depth of the pond.

These two benches don’t really belong in this post, but I’ve tacked them on anyway.

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I took the photos the day after or visit to Doddington Hall, during a damp walk around the village where my Mum and Dad live.

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Cleverly done, I thought.

Doddington Hall -Wagons, a Pyramid and a Pond

Doddington Hall – Sculpture Exhibition

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As I mentioned in my last post, Doddington Hall has a biennial sculpture exhibition, which was the principal reason that TBH and I were keen to go back there. I’m really glad we did – I really enjoyed viewing all of the works on display in the gardens. I took a huge number of photos, many of which are here, but some of the sculptures which I liked haven’t made it into this selection, simply because my photos haven’t worked too well in some cases.

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The extensive gardens were littered with sculptures – some tiny, some huge and all points in between. I think I remember the exhibition brochure saying that there were over 600 works on display. We didn’t see them all – some were ceramic and on display inside somewhere and we didn’t get around to those. We probably missed some in the garden too.

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As I say, we had a brochure, but for the most part I don’t remember which artists made these sculptures. These two, above and below, however, must be by Heather Jansch; her horses are so distinctive and well-known. The one above is actually bronze and not wood – an original wooden model has been cast in bronze. I think it was priced at £70,000. We’ve decided to buy three of them. Perhaps.

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About the remaining sculptures here I can’t tell you much at all, apart from the fact that they gave me great pleasure.

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This one…

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…has water flowing down between those three hollows.

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The boys were very taken by this enormous seat…

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At the back right of this photo…

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You can see A and TBH examining this sculpture…

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It was mesmerising: a very geometric design which looked quite different from different directions, even slight changes of perspective could create radical shifts in it’s colour and pattern.

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I think we all liked it.

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I don’t know why Little S wants to box these huge seeds. Perhaps he was taking his lead from this nearby hare?…

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There’a a rang tang in my garden, anyone?

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I decided, on the day, that if I could take just one statue away with me it would be this one…

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As usual, I find it almost impossible to say why. Partly, perhaps, it’s because, like Heather Jansch’s horses, a very lifelike image is created from seemingly unpromising elements. And then there’s a lot going on, both visually and emotionally, in the image: the figures are about to kiss, but are also apparently flying apart; it’s both touching and poignant. Maybe it’s just because it reminded me of a very arresting panel..

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…from Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons ‘Watchmen’ comic. Who’s to say?

Presumably, the next show will be in 2020, anybody up for a visit? Better start saving your pennies now.

 

Doddington Hall – Sculpture Exhibition

Doddington Hall – Picnic and Gardens

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Many moons ago, we toured Doddington Hall with my Mum and Dad. It’s not too far from where they live. On the second day of our trip to Lincolnshire this summer, TBH and I were eager to go again. For some reason, Dad wasn’t so keen, and kept turning up alternatives which he thought might appeal to the kids. He balked however, at the idea of accompanying them on a treetop trek, so in the end Doddington Hall won out.

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There was a wedding in the hall that day, so we were restricted to the gardens, but that kept us well occupied beyond the advertised closing time, so it wasn’t really a problem.

Be warned, if you’re planning a visit: there are signs near the entrance forbidding picnics in the gardens. There’s a lot of green space at the back of the carpark though, which was a halfway decent alternative, but a bit rough on my Mum and Dad who prefer not to sit on the ground these days (or prefer not to have to get up again, anyway).

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There is a cafe in one of the many estate buildings, which looked to be doing a roaring trade. I’m told that the cakes that some of the party sampled there later in the day were very good. The wasps certainly liked them.

Just by where we picnicked, there was a small pond…

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And so some potential for flora and fauna…

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Common Darter (I think).

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Tachina Fera on Mayweed – both very tentative identifications.

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Tachina Fera again.

This photo shows the strong black stripe on an orange abdomen which makes me think that this fly is Tachina Fera. The larvae of this fly parasitise caterpillars.

The plant is Gipsywort…

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“Rogues masquerading as itinerant fortune-tellers and magicians used in past centuries to daub their bodies with a strong black dye produced from gipsywort, in order to pass themselves off as Egyptians and Africans. Swarthy looks were supposed to lend greater credibility to these vagabonds when they told fortunes; it was this use that gave the plant its names of gipsywort and Egyptian’s herb.”

Reader’s Digest Field Guide to the Wild Flowers of Britain

Moving into the gardens…

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Little S was particularly impressed with the huge…

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…squashes, pumpkins? I’m not sure which.

He won’t really remember our last visit, since he was barely a year old at the time.

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Small Tortoiseshell.

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Large White.

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Moorhen.

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Another Tortoiseshell.

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This bee was absolutely coated in golden pollen, having just emerged…

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…from a courgette flower.

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Something that really stuck in my memory from our previous visit were these gnarly old Sweet Chestnut Trees.

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They predate the hall, making them very, very old indeed.

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One more Tortoiseshell.

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The gatehouse.

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Unicorn topiary.

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The Hall is Elizabethan and was built, between 1595 and 1600, by Robert Smythson, who was the master stonemason when Longleat was built and who also designed the highly impressive Hardwick Hall, among others. Apparently, it has never been sold, which must be highly unusual. These days it seems to be the centre of a thriving industry, with several shops in the grounds, as well as the cafe and weddings. Not to mention the biennial sculpture exhibition in the gardens….of which, more to follow…

Doddington Hall – Picnic and Gardens