Thursday 30 September 2010

Liverpool biennial - Lee Mingwei

I spent Tuesday morning rambling around Liverpool city centre, touring the Liverpool biennial – an International Festival of Contemporary Art.

I have a fairly catholic taste where art is concerned and am not one of those people who dislikes all forms of contemporary art. My reaction to modern art varies according to the individual piece. My i9nitial response to each piece varies ; it may be ‘OK’ or ‘that’s attractive’ or ‘I like that’ or ‘clever stuff!’ with the occasional ‘Yer what?!?’ (see GB’s post from Tatton Park). A few pieces leave me cold (especially video which is not a medium I enjoy) whilst others have that real ‘Wow’ factor. I have yet to see all the pieces in the Festival but of the ones I saw this week four really struck me as good and one – the Mending Project - had that absolute ‘Wow’ factor. I shall feature the others - together with some of the ‘OK’ and ‘Clever’ ones in future posts

The Mending Project is by the artist Lee Mingwei who was born in Taiwan and graduated from Oakland with a degree in Textile Arts in 1993 and went on to do a Masters in Fine Arts at Yale concentrating on sculpture and New Genre Public Art. Lee Mingwei currently lives and works in New York City and Berkeley, California, but has been over in Liverpool for the first couple of weeks of the Festival and I was fortunate enough to meet him at the Mending Project.

The project, first created in 2009 at Lombard Freid Projects, New York, is an interactive installation involving a 10 foot wooden table, 2 wooden chairs and 400 cones of thread, each of a different colour. Its dimensions vary depending upon where and how he sets it up.

Lee describes his artistic orientation as ‘social conceptualism’. His works are participatory and he invites strangers to join together in such everyday activities as eating, sleeping, writing letters, or, in this case, mending clothes. Visitors are invited to bring along items of clothing that need mending and they sit with the artist while he darns at their side. The concept is brilliant and the setting so simple and yet so attractive.

As the Liverpool Biennial catalogue comments “The Mending Project creates a welcome respite from the humdrum noise of the street and the loneliness experienced by many people living in modern cities”. “At the heart of this is the desire to re-instigate moments of closeness and shared understanding between strangers.”

Wednesday 29 September 2010

Wednesday Wildlife - Pieris

The name of a genus is designed to be unique to a group of animals or plants but there are occasional lapses. One of the more notable ones is Pieris which is the generic name for certain white butterflies and for a group of shrubs including the Lily of the Valley Shrub – Pieris japonica.

Equally interesting is the fact that the reference to the foodplant in the specific names of the butterflies erroneously suggest that the Green-veined White (Pieris napi) caterpillars eat swede whilst they actually leaves crop plants alone and feeds on wild members of the Brassica family.

The Cabbage White is a name given to both the Large White (Pieris brassicae) and the Small White (Pieris rapae).

The Green-veined White (Pieris napi)

Tuesday 28 September 2010

East Anglian Place Names

Here are some East Anglian Place Names with unexpected pronunciations:-

Aldeburgh - pronounced awlbrer
Bashingham - pronounced bazingame
Beeston - pronounced beesum
Brome - pronounced broom
Caldecote - pronounced corket
Costessey - pronounced kossy
Garboldisham - pronounced garbleshum
Happisburgh - pronounced hazeboro
Horningsea - pronounced hornsey
Letherinsett - pronounced larnsett
Norwich - pronounced norritch
Stiffkey - pronounced stewkey
St Osyth - pronounced tozey
Tivetshall - pronounced titsawl
Walberswick - pronounced wobbleswick
Wymondham - pronounced windum

In Liverpool there is an area called Gateacre pronounced gettekker. Does your area have anywhere with an unexpected pronunciation?

Monday 27 September 2010

Sunday 26 September 2010

Hints on English pronunciation

This bints on pronuncition for non-native English speakers has been around for a long time. It seems to be anonymous.

I take it you already know
Of tough and bough and cough and dough?
Others may stumble but not you
On hiccough, thorough, slough and through.
Well done! And now you wish perhaps,
To learn of less familiar traps?

Beware of heard, a dreadful word
That looks like beard and sounds like bird.
And dead, it's said like bed, not bead-
For goodness' sake don't call it 'deed'!
Watch out for meat and great and threat
(They rhyme with suite and straight and debt).

A moth is not a moth in mother,
Nor both in bother, broth, or brother,
And here is not a match for there,
Nor dear and fear for bear and pear,
And then there's doze and rose and lose-
Just look them up- and goose and choose,
And cork and work and card and ward
And font and front and word and sword,
And do and go and thwart and cart-
Come, I've hardly made a start!

A dreadful language? Man alive!
I'd learned to speak it when I was five!
And yet to write it, the more I sigh,
I'll not learn how 'til the day I die.

Saturday 25 September 2010

Writers’ unusual pets

Do you know which writers had the following unusual pets:-

1. A lobster which he took for a walk each evening around the streets of Paris using a ribbon as a lead.
2. A pet donkey with which he travelled.
3. A scorpion which he kept on his desk.
4. A pet ewe about which he wrote poems
5. A bat which he kept in a cage on his writing desk.
6. A pet bear, three monkeys, a parrot and a lot of other creatures.
7. A pet monkey which he took to sea with him.
8. A crane which followed him everywhere he went.
9. Llamas.
10. A zebra, a wombat, an opossum, a raccoon, an armadillo, and a host of other animals.
11. An anteater and a coatimundi.

1. Gerard de Nerval - who went n to hang himself with Marie Antoinette's garter!
2. Robert Louis Stevenson
3. Henrik Ibsen
4. Robert Burns
5. Charles Baudelaire
6. Lord Byron. Keeping the bear was a response to Cambridge Universitiy's rule forbidding the keeping of dogs!
7. Joseph Conrad
8. Anton Chekhov
9. Eugene O'Neill
10. Dante Gabriel Rossetti
11. Horacio Quiroga. After being abandoned by his second wife the Uruguayan writer turned the empty swimmng pool he had built for her into a a serpenatarium.

Friday 24 September 2010

Friday My Town Shoot--out - Hot or Cold

This week's Friday My Town Shoot-out theme is - Hot or Cold.

In the foreground is the Spiegelei - a perspective altering work in which a three-way camera obscura projects a 360 degree upside down visin of the Japanese garden. Unfortunately the weather was too dull for it work when we were there.

In the background of the top photo  is "A Weight of Ice Carried from the North for You".   Neville Gabie travelled to the Arctic in February 2010 to harvest this 10,000 year old piece of ice.

This highly experimental work in the gardens of Tatton Park  queries the issues of global trade and sustainability.

The freezer cabinet is kept cold by means of 12 solar panels and a heat exchange unit in the nearby Golden Brook.

Why not check out other people's my town shoot-outs this week.

Thursday 23 September 2010

A Week with Big Brother

GB arrived on Thursday last week and on Friday we wandered around the city of Chester. Chester has been an important places since Roman times as it was not only a port but a major crossing point of the roads from South to North and East to West. It also sits on the border of Wales and was an important base for making incursions into that country in days gone by. The Cathedral was far more interesting than either of us remembered it.

In particular the cloisters were delightful.

If I were a lot younger I would begin a series of photos of Saints as depicted in stained-glass windows.

The Medieval carvings in the quire included this elephant - obviously carved by someone who had never seen one.

And some other weird and wonderful creatures.

We had lunch in the college refectory and after a wander around the city we had a coffee in Duttons. When GB is not doing crosswords he's sending texts...

On Saturday we went to Tatton Park - the best part of which was the gardens. The Japanese garden was probably my favourite.

Sunday saw GB take Jo and I to Llangollen where he treated us to an excellent lunch at the Greenbank Restaurant.

It had a fine view of Castle Dinas Bran.

After lunch we visited Plas Newydd, the one-time home of the famous Ladies of Llangollen.

Since I was last there, in the 1960s, the back part of the building has been demolished and the right hand end tidied up.  You can see how it looked earlier in the twentieth century here.

We came home past World's End and over Esclusham Mountain.

On Monday GB and I had coffee at Roses in Heswall then the three of us went to Carr Farm garden and gift centre and then on to New Brighton.

There were Redshank and Greenshank on the sands.

The view of the Liverpool Pier Head from New Brighton.

On Tuesday Jo was back in work so GB and I went to the Welsh Mountain Zoo near Colwyn Bay. The best part of the day was the bird display which included this Barn Owl.

GB thought this bear looked sad but I'm sure he's smiling here!   Well, his mouth turns up at the corners.

The Green-winged x Scarlet Macaws were preening their feathers.

GB was taken with the Harris Hawk display.

I was more enamoured of the two Blue and Yellow Macaws which flew free.

"Gerrofff. That tickles."

 We had a quick trip through Old Colwyn Bay and needless to say we gravitated towards the second-hand bookshop there.  I bought 'How to Read a Church', an interesting looking volume by Richard Taylor.

We returned via St Asaph, where we had coffee and stopped off at the Cathedral where a recital rehearsal was in progress.

Wednesday saw us visit Church Farm for coffee and West Kirby for charity shops - where I bought Sam Savage's 'Firmin - Adventures of a Metropolitan Lowlife' and 'The Great Plague' by Pamela Oldfield. 
Then GB departed for a  friend's house and began the trip back up to the Isles.

A most pleasant week and even if the weather was not brilliant it was reasonable for most of the time.

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