Friday, August 29, 2008

Vienna Part 2: Saturday Morning

After a leisurely start to the day (well the previous evening had featured cocktails and Ottakring beer) and a slap up breakfast from the well stocked buffet we wandered out to the Museums Quartier (very odd seeing all these "MQ" logos about - usually mean something rather different in my neck of the woods), this area were the former Imperial Stables (must of had an awful lot of horses). Here it was decided to track down the gallery that was featuring an exhibition entitled: "Bad Painting - good art", unfortunately this did not mean that just because I am a bad painter there was hope for me. This was one of the exhibitions being staged at MUMOK - Museum Moderner Kunst - Vienna's Museum of Modern Art. This museum or gallery was located in the centre of the Museums Quartier, the collection is held in the building pictured below, its basalt covered bulk sitting incongruously alongside the historical buildings surrounding it. It seemed to be balanced out by the Leopold Museum the otherside of the main courtyard.
Inside we found a varied selection of 20th& 21st century art, a good amount of it conceptual. Hmmmm. Anyway, a lot of the museum houses various exhibitions some temporary and others more or less permanent. We started from the middle floor with the last room of the aforementioned exhibition, but later discovered we would have been best getting the lift to the top floor and walking our way down.

The Bad painting - good art exhibition draws attention to the "Bad painting" phenomenon - I hadn't realised there had been one. The period covers 1920s to as recent as the 80s and beyond. Some of the more 80's paintings reminded me of some of the mixed media techniques used today using mirrors or broken crockery to disrupt the paintings. I liked one artist Lisa Yuskavage who had several of her works in the exhibition. On first impressions they look like pretty pastel crowd pleasers but portray overtly sexulized nudes, my favourite was Brood. (I get a kick out of non PC). In a way I was reminded of an exhibition at the Knitting and Stitching Show 2004 where 3 embroiderers each with a solo show were grouped together (like in the naughty corner) because their subject was deemed likely to cause offence. We drifted upstairs and saw works by among others Francis Picabia and Rene Magritte.
We then did the next exhibition back to front as well "Multiple Perspectives" this was in honour of the museums founding director and celebrated the forming of the collection which he managed to build with limited means. So a lot the contents of this exhibition were of early to mid 20th century art which whilst not being singular masterpieces, represented a good mix of the many styles of that era. There were paintings and scupltures by Picassio, Klee, Kandinsky, Matisse as well as some lesser known artists. I particularly liked Green House by Ernst Kirchner.
After this, before moving on to the lower floors we stopped off at the cafe en route for my first cocktail of the day, non-alcoholic of course, a "Muddy Water". I did get strange look from our waitress for asking for an orange juice as well as a diet cola, pretty sure it wasn't my dodgy German as like a lot of the kind Austrians we met during our visit her English was very good. Whilst the mixture of equal parts of OJ and cola looks a little yukky (hence the name) it is a fine concotion if you need caffeine, vitamin C and hydration after an evening off not-so-alchohol free beverages. (I wasn't that bad just fancied a little pick-me up)

On the lower floors we entered into the land of the truly weird and conceptual. The Weiner Aktionismus is a permanent exhibition of performance art a lot of the installations are videos with the odd glass and foot print encrusted canvas (ouch!) thrown in. This movement was in the 1960s and quite literally spilled blood and guts. There was a distrubing video of a woman brushing her own hair in a particularly violent way - what she needed was a nice mummy like I had as a little girl (despite being a major wriggle fidget) who brushed my hair for me and put it into bunches or a ponytail. If I was especially good she would plait it.

A further couple of exhibitions were explored, one looking at architecture and the body "Mind Expanders" and a solo exhibition by Josh Smith. There were some silver ring things hung in the central atrium by Roland Kollnitz, but have to confess to being almost as much as an art pleb as M when I thought the pile of rings at the bottom were more of a hanging mishap than intentional.

We wandered out via the shop for a couple of postcards (Mondrian, Kirchner and Kupka) and found G who had already escaped and had sought out a cola. She was reclining on one of the lurid purple blocks which we took for painted concrete. In reality though they were more like purple coated, high density foam and were quite comfortable to lounge on for a minute or two before departing the area and returning to our hotel to prepare for the wedding celebrations.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Vienna Part 1: Friday

After a slight delay we arrived in Vienna to be met by a friendly English speaking taxi driver that G had pre-booked. As there were 4 of us travelling together this was better value than catching the train in to the city centre. Unfortunately we hit a weekend rush hour and got caught in traffic in a hot taxi (& half of Vienna seems to be in the middle of being dug up - at least north of the Danube canal - with men laying new asphalt by the small bucketload) for an hour or so. Eventually we got deposited in front of our hotel The Levante Parliament, this hotel is a design hotel with a gallery attached and restaurant inspired by an Romanian glass artist Ioan Nemtoi. This was not to be though - the hotel had been overbooked an we were to be moved on to another hotel in another part of Vienna (I'm not sure whether G & Mr.T - were to be moved on or not, but they were anyway after I wailed "but we're with them"). To make up for this disappointment they put us into another taxi (which at least had the air con on) and we spent another 3/4 of an hour in it, looking at traffic and more road works. We were taken to another design hotel "Das Triest" , with interior architecture by Terence Conran. It wasn't as quite as central and as near to the wedding venue the next day but I think we ended up with a good deal. For starters, M and I ended up with an insanely large room (G & Mr T had a palatial bathroom), and the reception staff were extremely pleasing to eye (well for the females in the party at least). Breakfast was generous with a great buffet and on sunnier days we had the option to eat breakfast outside in the very pleasant garden courtyard. Once we had cooled down and chilled out over a cold drink in the aforementioned courtyard M "encouraged" me to join him in the fitness room. Although this was a holiday I could not have a holiday from training. Training was constructive as M showed me how I could improve my cycling fitness by using the equipment effectively (and not just using the cycling machine). I thought I would be bored but luckily I had packed my ipod shuffle with some cheesy tunes.

After this workout we freshened up and wandered through the city (no photos as I, erm, forgot to take any) to go back to our previous hotel. As we had been "inconvenienced" they also gave us a free meal in their own design courtyard (very swanky) with potted trees and glass sculptures. The barbecue menu was good, but I think we all agreed that the desserts were the strongest point.

We then travelled over to the inner city to catch up with those who had already arrived for the next day's wedding. We had originally planned to join them earlier for a meal but stood them up when we found we were getting a free meal. They were just finishing up and we arranged to meet them in a wine cellar which we subsequently found wasn't open. G, however, remembered that she had seen on her already extensive meanderings cocktail stalls near the Rathaus where there was a free film concert. This film concert was coming to an end but this did not prevent us from enjoying our time there. Just before crossing the road to get to this area however, we came across -what appeared to us - a total random roller blading procession, dunno what that was about.

Cocktails were ordered as soon as we reached our destination. In honour of the bride I felt I should try out her favourite cocktail a Caipirinha although she did not join us (something about an important day tomorrow). G had a cosmopolitan and Mr.T a Mango Daiquiri.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


In Vienna for the weekend celebrating the wedding of my two friends X & S. The rest of my trip will hopefully involve the odd visit to a gallery.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

New beginnings

I have started stitching again - unfortunately I have forgotten to photograph any of my efforts. A couple of weeks ago I acquired a new nephew (the 9th nephew/niece if you combine M & my tally). A couple of baby grows and a bib got duly embellished with bonded fabric appliqué with a little free machine embroidery and hand stitching thrown in. I chose fabrics from my "fabric compost" in blue and yellow and did the stitching in red. I did something similar about a year ago for a friends baby shower and got the inspiration from Angry Chicken. The ones I produced were almost as quick but with a little extra embroidery.

A more recent crafty exploit was inspired by a recent purchase I made in the Bluewater Waterstones when I visited my folks at the end of June. I should have been looking for fascinators, underwear and hosiery but in the end couldn't resist the lure of a bookshop. (BTW Mum - the Southampton JL in IMHO is way better than the Bluewater one - nicer staff and better selection - including fascinators). Anyway the book I got is the Alabama Stitch Book and it shows appliqué and reverse appliqué techniques with cotton jersey along with some good projects. Even the projects are not massively prescriptive and there is plenty of scope to do your own thing in the choice of stencil, paint, colours, thread, stitches and finishing.

I had received a request from G for a t-shirt with a crustacean on it and her birthday was approaching. I found a good source of good quality t-shirts and set about with a prototype. I found that my Pebeo spray paint was a bit too runny for jersey but it still made a reasonable design. Instead of using up another new t-shirt for the reverse appliqué fabric I rooted through my old t-shirts and found one that I no longer wore (way too short in the body). The stitching was relaxing and spent a few comfortable hours in front of the TV to complete it. I particularly liked the process of "loving your thread". Whilst it could be nerve wracking cutting the shapes of the design out it was made easy by the use of my Carrickmacross scissors (haven't regretted that purchase once). I further customised my t-shirt by restyling the neck as I am a little too blessed by Mother Nature in the chest department to wear crew neck t-shirts. I traced the neckline of a t-shirt I did like, drew it on with disappearing marker, chopped away, turned over the edge and stitched it down with one the stitches which would stretch.

The birthday t-shirt differed in that I did not customise the neck as a crew neck suits G and felt that the lobster design should dominate. I chose purple because that is a colour I associate with her (G please let me know if you are now sick of purple) and went for an orange design (ex-work sports day t-shirt). I used a more reliable paint this time which I daubed on with a sponge (although it took much longer to dry) - Jacquard Lumiere in copper. Anyway G seems pretty pleased with it and is modelling it very nicely over on her blog (and yes.... I forgot to photograph it AGAIN).

As the designs were intended to be one off I decided to cut the stencils from waxed freezer paper and iron them on before applying paint. They peeled off easily enough afterwards. The colours I used were brighter than the ones Alabama Chanin typically use but I guess that is where my own style comes in.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

I was playing with flickr and mosaic maker the other day and this is what I randomly created

Flickr Meme

Here is what I did opened three windows.
1. One with a list of questions, here.
2. another open to Flickr and ready to do an image search,
3. Big Huge Labs' Mosaic Maker (create a mosaic with 4 columns and 3 rows).

I then answered the first question, put my answer in the search field on Flickr and chose one of the images from the first page to represent your answer (I chose the most obscure possible). Clicked on the photo then copy and pasted the url into the #1 spot on the Mosaic Maker. I did that for all 12 questions, then clicked create and posted the result.

As for my own answers to the questions - they would have to remain secret ;-) .

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Kitty Power!

No doubt you may have noticed my cycling adventures have recently increased. These have not been limited to the weekend. I am now cycling as much as possible to work. This morning I made a comfortable sub 40 minute cycle into work and recorded my best time in (38 mins and 13 secs). Admittedly one or two of the traffic conditions were favourable and the headwind down Poles Lane was not too fierce but I am pretty pleased with my efforts.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Recent Adventures, part 2

My adventures resumed last weekend with a meal out with the girls on Friday night to celebrate my friend X's forthcoming nuptials: Hen Do! We continues the next day with a day out in London to watch the Red Bull Air Race Qualifying round. So about 12:30 I found myself sitting down with my companions with the O2 arena behind me facing the River Thames and some inflatable pylons and discovered a whole load of metal in front of me. I felt a wee bit stupid because it took someone to point out to me that there was a figure inside what was becoming obvious to me to be a sculpture. Then I felt really stupid because after following CheshireCheese's recent adventures you would think I would recognise an Anthony Gormley :

Anyway the show started with some amazing demonstrations of aerial demonstrations from the Army and the Navy. One of them made me feel quite queezy as it involved rolling about at all kinds of angles in a specially adapted helicopter. Very impressed. But as I get sick as a parrot (think its my tinnutis) just going on the lamest of roller coasters, I think I would give that kind of ride a miss (although I am an excellent traveller on land, sea or air).

As the weather had been so bad the day before we got treated to extra warm up from the pilots (although there were some serious gusts of wind which put paid to a lot of pylons). After a nutrious luncheon of pie, chips and beer the qualifying then began in earnest. Pictured below is (I think) Paul Bonhomme, the British favourite, performing the top qualifying time of the day:

Unfortunately I gather this was not transferred into a win the next day as he hit a pylon (a costly 10 second penalty). We were mainly supporting the Austrian pilot Hannes Arch in honour of our Austrian bride, and had nothing to do with the fact that he was, ermmmm, the cutest pilot ;-)
Still Paul Bonhomme is still leading the title race with Hannes tied for 2nd place with the London winner Kirby Chambliss (who made up for a stinker of a qualifying day).

Despite coming home at 2am in the morning (the rest of the day consisted of a meal off The Strand, a merry-go-round ride on the South Bank and FINALLY a last drink before the train home) I still went out for cycle ride in the country.

Whilst I had spent the day away, M in a fit of domescticity and all round super humaness had tidied the house and devised a crash fitness plan for the big cycle in September (which I don't have enough time to prep. for but when I start whingeing within 1 hour they will be sorry). The route chosen took in one of the many killer hills which I will be cycling walking up. Unfortunately part of the ride had been completely slaughtered by pesky motorcyclists and was well nigh impossible to push through, let alone cycle. I did acheive another fall but this time onto my rear end which got a generous coating of mud. Still, it ended well with M being able to cycle all the way to the top of Salt Hill, before returning to the car which was at Butser Hill (but I remember more as Turtle Hill). We then drove over to the QEP cafe for a bacon and egg roll. M then spent a really pleasant afternoon washing our bicycles off.

Disclaimer: I am sorry to P & Mrs T for mentioning the time when M and I walked the SDW in 2005, but I was pretty certain you never listen to a word I say.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Recent Adventures, part 1

Whilst I have not been tremendously creative since the exhibition - I am sure I have made something.

College Exhibition
Hmmm I remember now - a piece of "embroidery" that M wanted me to make during my course, but I really didn't think would count as a samples or a finished piece.

Cycling activity has increased however. I joined G & Mr T on a couple of rides with M.
Poppies on the Clarendon Way 1
Then they abandoned me (makes a change as I have been the absent Sunday cyclist) and so I toddled off for a lovely weekend at my folks back in Kent. M however made it quite plain that just because he was living it up at an all weekend drinking session cum music festival in a field somewhere didn't mean I could get away without a major cycling marathon. My ride was selected and in the high temperatures of that weekend (the summer hadn't totally gone - just got lost for a while) I pootled between the district of Sevenoaks and the district of Tonbridge and Malling. Quite pleasant really (erm, ok it was exhausting and I felt the absence of someone to whine at keenly). The full picture story with commentary is over here in a Flickr set.
Kentish scene

The ride was not without incident, however. I guess I got a little cheeky and was enjoying myself a little too much down a bit of single track, when my pedal/back wheel pranged against a rut edge and I found myself being thrown towards a barbed wire fence on my right. Whilst I managed to only get a little scrapped on the fence I did manage to bang my inner right knee against my pedal and cross bar whilst toppling off. This produced one of the biggest bruises I have ever managed to create, this is what it looked like 3 days afterwards:
Impressive. The colours are quite interesting its now more pinky with a little bit of yellow. Nice. Anyway, I managed to haul myself back on track and up the odd extra hill and back to my car, lob the bike onto the top of that and drive back to my parents. There, I inhaled all the carbohydrate I could get down. The roast beef sandwiches (with a liberal dosing of horseradish) were the best ever and followed a large slice polenta cake (which did defeat me). All this was eaten whilst holding my Mum and Dad's medicinal peas between my knees.

One "creative" thing I have done is taken my poppy photos from this ride and played with them using this (from the previously mentioned course) to come up with things like this:

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