Looking for the unseen things

The architecture in Leiden and Amsterdam is mostly 17th-19th century and has a Protestant, northern European restraint about. The 20th century stuff is out of the city centre as you’d expect but I did begin to wonder where the Dutch hid their art deco.

I mean, they know rather a bit about early 20th century architecture, what with the Amsterdam School and all. After hearing about the different gable styles it occurred to me to simply look up. If the buildings didn’t have the room to be obviously deco maybe the windows did.


It makes me think that there are quite a few quilt ideas in there.


The writing’s on the wall

Public art in Leiden – wall poems.

Visiting Rembrandt

Over my last two days in The Netherlands, I did my Rembrandt tragic thing. I found the Latin School in Leiden he attended before enrolling but not attending university (hey, it was enough to get him drinking rigths, it seems).

The next day I walked over to the Rijksmuseum from my hotel (the main consideration being its location in the museum district). The group of people sitting on the grass were a group of French art history undergraduates, taking it in turns to give their tutorial presentations.

A note on tour guides: follow the French ones. More likely to be an art historian and far more interesting. Of course I wasn’t on that tour as such. I just happened to be looking at Vermeer’s ‘The Milk Maid’ at the same time. And testing out my French listening skills.

This next is the side gate of the Rijksmuseum, in use until the restoration project is complete.

I could have walked out and around to the Van Gogh museum. I didn’t though. I think I was still recovering from the Dutch masters and to have encountered the genius of Van Gogh on the same day would have been too much.

The only word I could use to describe my reaction is ‘swoon’. The Rembrandt portraits are astonishing in their beauty and compassion. Vermeer’s milkmaid is breathtaking in its simplicity and solidity. And the colours! Any reproduction you’ve seen does not do it justice. I was breathless at the luminosity of the yellow and brilliance of the blue.

And as a little taster the museum also had a room looking at three of Miro’s pieces based on some works by Jan Steen.

I’m going back to the Netherlands later in the year for more field work. I’ll take a good look at Van Gogh then.

Olá and goede middag

I’m up, up and away in four weeks’ time for my first academic travel overseas in thirteen years. According to my career plan then, it wasn’t supposed to take that long for the second trip to happen.

It’s Oporto in Portugal for six days and then 4 days in The Netherlands. Mostly Leiden I think (hey, I’m not organising that part of the itinerary), though I’m hoping for at least one day in Amsterdam. To whet my appetite and yours, I found these two photos:

I’m sure you can imagine the pretty canals and houses, I just got very excited at the idea of Rembrandt’s birthplace. And this kind of travel is right up my alley: it’s academic, it involves alcohol (Oporto is the home of port), and art history. The fact that it all looks fabulous is just a happy coincidence.

It does mean that I have to finish one or two summer craft project a little sooner than I expected. A chocolate, sage and mustard floral shift is ready to go and there’s a lovely wrap over at Twist Collective that will be divine in a spring green bamboo yarn. A linen skirt, a blouse or two, the creation of 36-hour days, I’ll be ready in no time flat.

I’m boooooored

Not me, the lass. Early Sunday afternoon, your parents are complete hippies and say you’ve used up your screen time for the day and everyone else has something to do.

So I invited her to join me. Not that she had to, just if she felt like it, in case she couldn’t think of anything else.


This was my effort:

I’ve signed up for an ink and pencil workshop at Lauriston Press at the end of the month. I’m quite looking forward to it and I enjoyed getting my fist around some pencils and paints again. The lass is getting more confident with her colour mixing and attempted a shade of purplish brown for a dried gum leaf.

From left to right: botanical study of a gum leaf, dried gum leaf, and tracing around the bottle brush before watercolouring.

The Bloke and I have spoken about how it’s important for each parent to have a particular activity that only they do with that child. It’s a way to build up a one-to-one conversation, for the child to build up their special knowledge, and  to feel that there’s one particular thing that’s special with each parent. I think the lass and I have found ours.

And just to demonstrate that her skills aren’t limited to drawing, here’s a completely untouched photo she took of Lake Mulwala (Yarrawonga on the Murray):