June 07, 2007

New nest

Writing about web page http://scislander.blogspot.com

This petite islander has drifted to another tuft in the cyber space.

feel free to drift by!


April 04, 2007

London fog

On the bank

Russet haze. Orange ball. Red cap. Through black eyes. On the bank.

On Westminster Bridge

Harmonious blend of orange and blue. On Westminster Bridge.

These two were taken before my debute visit to National Gallery. Big Ben doesn't lie about the time. Read on to see why I stress this...

Houses of Parliament, Sunset 1902

Monet's Houses of Parliament, Sunset, painted in 1902.

He once said, "'What I like most of all in London is the fog. Without the fog, London would not be a beautiful city'" (cited from Manet to Picasso).

Maybe that's true. Universal. I too was captivated by the feathery colors in the air, in the river. 

Maybe, I could practise some basic Impressionistic brushstrokes on my little island, which is so very often foggy and hazy? Then come back, with my painter's case to the Thames to paint?

But I really really am not at all fascinated by the haze on my island... Will I ever get back my once blue, bright blue, cloudless blue sky?


London – Impressions

Yellow. Mud yellow. Lemon yellow. Sunrise yellow. Sunset yellow.

If warm, flamboyant colours can hurl me into dark and somberous mood, it has to be those that were whirled and dabbed onto canvas by Vincent van Gogh. More than two months passed since I last admired The Sunflowers and The Yellow House and Vincent's crabs in Amsterdam. I miss the city because it houses an enormous collection of Vincent's works - paintings, letters, sketches. So, when last week, during my first ever visit to London those paintings with the unmistakable brushstrokes and sharp contrast of colors, generous splashes of yellow bounced off the wall of National Gallery, amongst the gentle, placid light of Impressionist paintings, I was dazzled.

There was a sense of dejavu. I thought I saw Two Crabs in Amsterdam. Also Wheatfield with Cypresses. Weren't they the permanent collection of Van Gogh Museum? I remember leaning close, stepping back, moving left and right to look at the back and stomach of the crabs, how the different, namely, hard and soft, textures were conveyed by colors and brushstrokes. I remember the embarrassing close distance I attempted with the cypresses painting, giving the impression I was sniffing at the paint to get a high, just to follow the twirl of the brush, this sculpture Vincent made with paint. After Amsterdam, when the campus was under gale attack last term, when the library was closed after a brick fell in the 'attack', I remember seeing the swishing trees and violently shaken grass, musing they looked exactly like the wheatfields painted by Vincent.

But Two Crabs and Wheatfield with Cypresses are with National Gallery.    

Maybe the two were on loan to Vincent's home country when I visited it? Maybe I just mixed up the turned-over single crab in Amsterdam with the pari of crabs here? Maybe I just need to leran to distinguish the numerous cypresses paintings he made?

 National Gallery

Two Crabs is sad. for me, at least.

I stood on aching soles after a day's roaming in the city, staring at the orange crabs. Still life. It sucks me in. There were only three things left in my world - the crabs, the RP English from the audio device, and my eyes. The painting was done, it was believed, shortly after he left the asylum, with an unromantic purpose - to get back to the painting mood and skills. Sheer hardness and softness, as represented by the shell and 'stomach' of the crabs, were painted here, to brush up the basic skills. It is also believed that though there are two crabs, they are the image of one; Vincent just turned it over and painted it twice, on the same canvas, over a deep green background of broad brushstrokes. 

Painted in the year before his suicide, I couldn't rein my sentimental side and made free associations. Dumped on a shade of ocean green, with brushstrokes imitating, I think, waves, the crabs are oblivious to the fact that they are in a 'faked' home, their breathing will slow down, they are to die of suffocation. They are not in water. If it is just one crab here... no matter what positions, how one carries oneself in life, crawling in this 'faked home', one is but a peg in a hole.

Free associations. Wild imagination.

A destructive combination. That's my problem.

Fortunately, I was not submerged in dark clouds for long. Glad they got Sunflowers here. Blissfully warm after Two Crabs.

My favourite remains the Yellow House though. You can see Vincent in a straw hat, hurrying to a cafe (to breakfast?). How I long to have green doors and shutters.

from Manet to Picasso

from Manet to Picasso


March 21, 2007

When an old couple…

Thick blood coughed up from the gravel road,

In the café, a waitress dropped a Latte.

When car swerved left, straight ahead an old couple strolled.

Both were hastening to a date.

They say time is eternally graceful

At dinner table, one at a time,

Lives are sliced under uneven arms

To exactly sixty even nibbles.

Aching, ancient, whitewashed bones, one set on the bench,

The other under sheets in the hospital -

Transparent plastic veins and human tubes eagerly bent

Over, to lined flesh gnawed by wheels.

She sees him not, so carpets fingerprints on his scared cheeks.

He sees her no more but feels his wrinkles plucked by her fingertips.

This lame piece was a true story, once again, my clumsy pen and tongue did not do justice to the story. An old couple was crossing the road, on their way to an appointment of an optician. The wife was almost blind for the past twenty-odd years they were married, so whenever they went out, the two were 'obliged' to go hand in hand since she could not go anywhere alone. On that unusually warm and sticky spring morning, the two carried on as usual, for the regular check-up at the hospital. This habit was broken, eliminated by a lorry driver. The husband remained unconcious at the ICU for three days before turning his back on this world.

Kept thinking about the wife. Apart from some bruises and scratched skin, she was fine. But imagine, being flung off the ground on a sunny morning, then getting up, in near pitch-dark, groping about for the wrinkled hand and bony body you'd been clinging to for the past two decades, how would one cope with the terror of unknown and darkness?


Family movies

The pair of blue eyes are weathered, like his skin, I'm sure. More than twenty years ago, a couple sighed with admiration at the glint of the same blue eyes - the young man at the courage blazed in them, the woman thought of the glaze of dainty porcelain. Blond hair, fairer than the golden sand in the desert, flaired in the dark of the cinema, tugged at the heart of both sexes.

The couple got married eventually. conversations dwindle like oasis in the desert, in the domestic desert only bubbling lava shimmer from the soft sand. They still talked about the old movie - separately.

-Oh, Lawrence of Arabia! What a hero!

-Oh, Peter O'Toole, how his blue eyes twinkled! 

So, it's ironic that the latest movie of the 8-time-nominated actor is called Venus. Where is Venus? She once perched over the shoulders of a young couple, between them, pulling them together so their arms shuffled against each other. If you're busy match-making others, at least, send little Cupid here.

Anyway, the couple's girl went to see Venus the movie. She sat in the first row. She blinked back salty body fluid pricking at the back of her eyes when he recited Shall I compare thee to a Summer's day. She imagined, between the present and the young couple's past on a warm remote island, stood only the thin silver screen. She was happy after a good sob. Between her and the couple, there was a pale, wrinkled, tall blond man, with lively blue eyes.

The girl told her mother about O'Toole's new movie,

'What's he still doing in the movie industry - he's old already!' 

'But you liked him -'

'Yes?'

Cause of death of Venus: thirst/dehydration in desert


March 20, 2007

Moo cow lost in city

It was taken when I got lost in Amsterdam on a drizzling January night. It looked like I was not the only one whose sense of direction was all twirled up by the canal-ridden city; the cow was just as confused, especially with her back vandalized.  

Dutch cow has something to say

We need an interpreter here, please. I can't read Dutch.

And he speaks English - when moody and grumpy

Oh, so she speaks English, after all. And what a snobbish grumpy cow!

This is a chic greeting of an art gallery, isn't it?

Getting lost is not neccessarily a worrying and depressing experience, it's my loyal travel companion, after all. There's no way I'll try to lose getting-lost, it brings surprises to my carefully planned trips! 


March 19, 2007

In love – with weather?!

Can one fall in love with weather?

I mused as I penguin-walked through the sodden carpark to my room, amidst the extraordinary March snow. While I was shoving my essays in plastic folders in Costcutter, something clicked, clicked, tacked tacked against the window and fused my already grumpy, desparate mood. But upon the first glance, realizing it was the illusive March snow which I missed yesterday, I grabed up everything and ran outside.

It was pelting teeny tiny ice cubes. When the cubes darted against my face, it stung. Dozens sneaked into my purple box folder and swooshed around. Sorry, tutor, for the slightly wet and crumbled essay. It would not be kind to turn the little cubes out in the chill, though. But how exciting! Never been stung by 'snow' before. I merrily walked on. As it got heavier, though and stung my legs (stupidly, I wore skirt after the compulsive jeans-wearing month of essay writing), my eyes and the ground turned muddy mushy slippery. Arts Centre was my refuge.

Despite the fact that I was wearing short-sleeves and a skirt and the thinnest but cheerful baby blue coat in my wardrobe, the mush rushed stroll in the 'ice' was uplifting. This is cruel, but thanks, global warming, for the ever-changing weather. The snow and fitful sunlight in this country never cease to amuse me. Yet I miss the blazing, gaping sun back home. Once I told someone here that I missed sweating in the sun. Needless to say, that brought the already stagnant conversation to a long halt - how filthy, miss sweating! Her silence was appalled, I'm sure.

Will global warming bring a globalization weather? Maybe I could enjoy a little bit of snow on the side of the moisture-inducing sun in five years?


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