Wooden smiles

This time last year I was embarking on a three week trip in the US and Canada with my mum.  It was an amazing experience, and we managed to visit quite a few cultural and historical sites.

The scenery was awesome in the true sense of the word, not just some overused adjective.  But the reason I started thinking about the trip was in relation to the word “face” for a photography challenge; and these images popped instantly into my head.

Oar face Horse head Face 1

I was completely captivated by the various masks I saw throughout the journey; some are from the north west coast of British Columbia, near the town of Prince Rupert.  The museum there was small, but very interesting with lots of statues, masks, and tools.

Red mask

And the Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver was overwhelming, with a comprehensive collection of artefacts from indigenous communities all over the world.

Totem 3 Totem 2 Totem 1 Totem 4

But the faces on the totems are in many ways the most striking, particularly the brightly painted ones.  I wonder what the originals were like as the artists surely didn’t have access to such strong colours.  I wish I had taken more notice of their stories, but as usual, I was more interested in framing the shot and getting to the next spot.


Old news

“Old” is such a subjective word.  What’s old to me may be young in terms of the age of the universe.  And what’s young to me could be positively ancient to a ten year old. It depends on your perspective, doesn’t it?

Representing ageing in human terms, “old people” can therefore be somewhat problematic.  Should I do a self-portrait?

So I tried to think about something that no one can argue is old, and this led me back to Newspaper Rock, a petroglyphs site in Utah in the US.

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Located in the wondrous Canyonlands National Park, Newspaper Rock is thought to be about 2000 years old and to have been left by people from several Native American cultures living in the area:  Archaic, Anasazi, Fremont, Navajo, Anglo, and Pueblo.

There are over 650 different symbols signifying animals, people, places and events – somewhat like a newspaper.

While it’s not the oldest rock art that I have seen, it resonated with me – more than the caves in the south of France, or some indigenous rock art in Australia – possibly just because it’s called Newspaper Rock.


Gigantic parade in Barcelona

Heralding the end of summer, the Mare de Deu de la Merce, the Patron Saint of Barcelona, festival is Barcelona’s major cultural event.

Held over five days in September each year, concerts, exhibitions, displays and parades mean that there is sometimes too much to do if you are in Barcelona as a normal tourist, which takes you to see the Gaudi buildings and the Barcelona Markets.

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In 2011, we were in coincidentally there (fortunately booking our accommodation very early on in our trip planning) for four of those days of Merce, and I can confirm that the celebrations are extensive and run through the course of each day, well past midnight.

My favourite event was the Parade of Giants. We first came across the giant statues around the corner from our accommodation in the Ciutat Vella.  At that stage, we didn’t really understand what Merce was about, but managed to inspect the statues in detail where they were being stored prior to the parade.

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On the last day of Merce, there was a huge parade that started from the building where the gians were house.  There were people bearing banners and playing lots of drums and other percussion instruments.  The Giants depict kings and queens and other important figures from Catalan history. They are mounted on platforms that are steered through the streets, with the drumming calling attention to their presence (it didn’t take much!).

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The noise just from the parade was overwhelming, and in fact, the whole week was a highlight of that trip.  But if you want to go, book your accommodation early.  And take some ear plugs.

This is a more traditional parade story, as part of the A Word a Week Challenge, http://suellewellyn2011.wordpress.com/a-word-a-week-photography-challenge/

Further information: http://barcelona.de/en/barcelona-la-merce.html

Parade’s End to unhappiness

Parade’s End is a tv mini-series that has recently been broadcast on Australian television.  It tells the story of Christopher Tietjens, (played by Benedict Cumberbatch) an uptight aristocrat, who is saddled with a wife that he met and had a liaison with on a train.  Her baby may or may not be his, but even though he is unsure of the situation, Tietjens does the right thing and marries her.  He’s that kind of chap.

Parade's end book

Drawn from four novels written by Ford Maddox Ford set before, during and just after World War I, Parade’s End refers to the end point of Tietjens journey.  By the end of the war, there will be no more parades for soldiers, and he won’t have to keep fronting up to meet his commitments and responsibilities.  The war has changed so much, and despite his resistance, it has changed him.  If his paradigm has historically been that one must do the responsible thing, the lesson from the story is that doing the responsible thing can damn near well kill you, and at the very least make you very unhappy.  And it’s that acceptance of unhappiness that stands out as being so different from the norm today.  Today, we are constantly exhorted to be happy, but for many of that pre-war generation, unhappiness was just part and parcel of life.  And you just lived with your lot.

So while Tietjens starts out believing that his life is one of responsibility and honour – the symbol for this is the ancient Groby Tree on his family’s estate propped up and never to be cut down – the changes wrought by the war result in his acceptance that his life can be different.  He is the one who can change it. This acceptance is symbolised when he throws of some of the wood from the tree, gleefully chopped down by his wife, onto a fire.  Soon after, he takes up with his mistress, at long last ending the sexual tension between them.

The performances by all involved were fantastic, but it was such a complex story, I did find it difficult to follow. (I understand the books were the same.)  The dialogue was complex and fast moving – you had to concentrate, like in West Wing – and the story jumped about a lot.  I have no complaint with this, but I am glad I was able to watch it on line, and not interrupted by long-winded advertising.

This mini review aims to encourage people to watch it for themselves if they get a chance.  If you like good drama, it’s worth it.

And, it was a good way of linking in to this week’s A Word a Week Challenge, Parade! http://suellewellyn2011.wordpress.com/a-word-a-week-photography-challenge/ – it doesn’t have to be a photo, does it? 🙂

Action photo challenge

I’m starting the Word a Week photography challenge from fellow WordPress blogger, Sue Llewellyn http://suellewellyn2011.wordpress.com/a-word-a-week-photography-challenge/ .

The current word is action. Rather than take any new shots, I’ve gone back through my existing images, which is a really useful and interesting thing to do, reminding me of what we’ve done and where we’ve been.

I don’t have a lot of “action” shots, and many of those I do have are sport related.  But here is a selection.  Thanks Sue Llewellyn!

Nightfest 1

Juggling at Canberra’s Floriade Nightfest 2012 meant lots of action in these lighted tumbling sticks.

Netball 2 netball 1

There’s always plenty of action at netball

Long jump Cait 2012

The long jump and the flying hair

Footy 2012

At the Australian Football League match between Carlton and Essendon in April 2012