March 15, 2013
This is my contribution to a new photography assignment proposed by Scott Thomas: black-white photography. I find it always interesting to join in, visit other participants’ blogs, learning more about photography and seeing each one’s perception of a similar theme. March 20th, 2013, is the deadline to share your pictures.
All details are given here : http://viewsinfinitum.com/2013/03/06/assignment-24-black-white-photography/
Ninio, my Beagle, in one of his patient looks, waiting for the photography session to end and go for a walk. I converted this picture to see how my colourful dog (black, white and tawny) would look in B/W. I like his somewhat softer look and particularly the expression in his hazel eyes.
November 9, 2012
Erri De Luca (1950) is an Italian novelist, translator and poet. He is selftaught in several languages including Ancient Hebrew and Yiddish. De Luca is also a passionate mountain climber. “The Weight of the Butterfly” is one of his books I thoroughly enjoyed reading and that illustrates beautifully this facet of Erri de Luca.
I feel like sharing with you in pictures some lines of one of his poems : “Considero Valore” or “What I highly value” :
a strawberry, a fly,
the mineral kingdom,
the constellation of stars.
An unvoluntary smile,
and two elder persons in love.
I highly value all that will not be valuable tomorrow and all that has not yet much value today.
repairing a pair of shoes and
Rushing up to the first cry, asking permission before sitting, feeling grateful without even knowing why.
The travel of a vagabond, the nun’s fence,
The patience of the condemned man, no matter the wrong,
I highly value the use of the verb “to love”, Amore,
and the hypothesis there is a Creator
Many of those values, I have not known.”
“Oeuvres sur l’eau et autres poésies, 2002″
Erri de Luca
Quote about books :
“I read old books because pages that have been turned many times and that bear the marks of fingers have more weight for the eyes, because each copy of a book may belong to several lives.
Books should remain free, unattended in public spaces so that they would travel with passers-by who would take them for a while and read them. Then books should die like their readers, used by sorrows, contaminated, drowned, put inside a stove during Winter, torn apart by children to make little paper boats. Briefly said, books should die in any way but not because of boredom and privately owned, sentenced to life on a shelf”.
Erri de Luca
May 27, 2011
How do I know about it ? That is a real nice story. One that happened thanks to Internet, quilting, a painting class of 15 students between 15 and 18 and their dedicated art teacher, Renee Sonka, in the heart of the Midwest, Minnesota.
From Africa to Switzerland and on to Minnesota/USA
or how African fabrics are inspiring and travelling !
You may remember this quilt of mine, an African mosaic I posted on January 2009 as I started this blog. It is a logcabin pattern made with countless scraps of fabrics I brought back home after a stay in Africa with my family.
The art teacher, R. Sonka, had a particular project in mind for her painting class. It was entitled : AFRICAN TEXTILES as inspiration for mixed media paintings. The designed plans were to study the textiles, infuse mixed media, think about subject and meaning, become the composer, develop sketches and realize one’s idea !
In addition the students were to create a larger collaborative painting where each of them would be responsible for small sections of the whole. Together with the picture of the quilt, I had also posted a detail of it. This is what the students chose to create painted versions of sections of my quilt.
This is the collaborative painting of a section of my quilt ! I cannot express how honored, admirative and touched I am as I look at the work of those 15 talented students. They used acrylic paint on canvas. Never would I have imagined that my quilt could be such a source of inspiration. It is a beautiful project and you can all be very proud of all you achieved !
The other three pictures represent individual compositions designed by students. More inspiration from patterns, textures, colours found in African textiles. They used acrylic paint on plywood, some include other materials such as fabric, cardboard and raffia.
Panel created by Greta Gangestad
Panel created by Annette
The art teacher, R. Sonka, sent me all those pictures, for which I am very grateful and happy to share with you. Thank you Renee for all your mails and details; without them I would probably not have been able to explain well enough the development of this great project.
This is the school Art Show that represents the drawing, painting and ceramics classes. A beautiful compilation of weeks of work, individual and collaborative. I like this concept very much.
Here is a link about the Art Show and the Mounds Park Academy in Saint Paul/MN.
May 24, 2011
Scott Thomas Photography’s challenge for this month is about “Your hometown history”.
My hometown is in another state but surely a “hometown” is also the place one feels good in : my close family lives here as well as some very dear friends. I have enjoyed practising many activities over the years since my family and I decided to settle down in this town. I love the area we live in now almost as much as the one I was born in. My hometown then would be Fribourg in the French speaking part of Switzerland. Halfway between Berne, our capital and the picturesque area near the Lake of Geneva, not far from my “real” hometown in the Alps.
As for history… this subject has been very much part of my life thanks to my paternal grandfather, Ulysse, who was a self-taught historian. A long while ago, I wrote a post about him :
This is the old part of Fribourg on a rather grey day. The medieval town was was built in 1157 along a river. The Sarine river borders two areas in my country: the French and the German parts. Fribourg (town/canton) is one of the 26 cantons/states of the Swiss Confederation. Almost one third of his 30000 inhabitants are students. Several academies, high schools and a bilingual university attract many young people from here and abroad.
This medieval town used to be surrounded by ramparts. Most of those walls were destructed over the centuries. A few of them remain and have been restored as well as one heavy wooden gate that would close the town at night.
A colourful old house that used to be a military arsenal. Nowadays people seem to be more peaceful in town and the arsenal became “Arsen’Alt”. The large painted house is meant to bring people together in the Alt district. It promotes local community life for all those wishing so: kindergarten, various courses, craftwork, cultural activities, meetings, movies, birthday parties, etc… An inter-generation leisure complex.
By chance I happened to be in the old town when a photography exhibition took place on a square. It was all about the people who lived and are living now in this part of our town. Maybe one of these two ladies recognized herself or someone she knew on a picture ?
Pictures from today and yesterday; remembering history in a district that used to be a deprived area inhabited by large families coming from the country in search of a job in town. Years later many of those same families left their old houses that had become run-down for apartment houses in the upper part of the town. Ancient houses have been restored and are now sought-after… Times are changing.
Just an old pub about one of my idols ;) “Elvis et moi”. The owner must have the complete collection of The King’s LP’s ! A real fan and a charming lady. Pity the pub was closed as I took this picture.
Many museums are worth visiting in Fribourg. A favourite of mine is the Gutenberg Museum. A whole post would be necessary to show you its wonders. I will write more about it some time. For now let’s meet the writer and the bookbinder…
… as well as two Turkish musicians who were practising folk music in a garden outside the museum: “Our landlady does not allow us to play in the apartment !”. They were preparing for a traditional celebration with members of their community, an important one in our city.
Are you tired after the visit ? Then why not take a break on the lawn or on this stone (molasse) bridge. From there you will be able to have another look at the old city, like in the first picture. Fribourg or Freiburg in German is a town of bridges over the river. Bridges over cultures, languages and times. Bridges that join rather than divide. It is a small town you may well enjoy visiting if you are around someday.
Thanks Scott for allowing me to use pictures of various “times”. I loved this theme too.
January 6, 2011
Walking in the garden a few days after Christmas. I was enjoying a fresh and early morning sun as I spotted a branch of blackberry, shaped like a heart. A wild and stubborn bush, not ready to give in to Winter. The persistent branch made me think of this past Summer bounty and of the delicious marmelade waiting on the kitchen table for the family breakfast.
Fleeting images of particular moments during the Holiday Season. I realize that the grandfather who once was as tall as his grandsons looked now small and frail. Emotion. A moment of love shared between generations, smiles and looks of complicity that belong to the three of them only. A wonderful bond.
My activities will not resume until mid-January. These days after Christmas are “in slow-motion”. Remembering family celebrations, animated talk around the table, gifts being offered, a surprise for everyone. Each family member had decided to offer a gift to one person only chosen by drawing lots. Each one kept the secret until Christmas Day. What an excitement as the time for sharing gifts came ! I was so happy that mine was meant for my Dad! I offered him a soft warm fleece jacket in his favourite colour, grey/blue. He loved it and is wearing it almost every day since Christmas
Sidney Poitier’s spiritual autobiography is one the best I have read in a long time. “The Measure of a Man” is the story of his life from his birth on Cat Island in the Bahamas until his recognition as a great actor in Hollywood. When he was about 12, S. Poitier told his sister : “When I grow up, I want to go to Hollywood and become a cowboy “. He had just seen his first movie in Nassau, a cowboy one of course. In 1963, S. Poitier was the first black actor to win the Academy Award for best actor for his great performance in Lilies of the Field. He also received the Life Achievement Award for an outstanding career and humanitarian accomplishment.
Reading his memoirs is like having a worthwhile conversation with an older family member, his words are powerful, reflective, generous, humane and so moving. It makes you look closer at the foundations of your own life.
Looking forward to even more reading. Family and friends know me… and I received several books:
The Amish Quilts, 1870-1930, showing many reproductions of quilts from private collections in Switzerland; there are also some very interesting chapters about the origin and history of the Amish.
Matthieu Ricard, “Spiritual Paths”, a small anthology of some of the most beautiful Tibetan writings. To be read slowly too.
“Three Cups of Tea” by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace… One School at a Time. I have already started reading it and can hardly stop…
“The Rothko Chapel” by Domique de Menil. With her husband, John, Dominique founded the inter-religious Chapel in Houston/Texas in 1971. The de Menil’s dream was for the Chapel to promote interfaith dialogue, human rights and the arts. I am so grateful for this gift, a beautiful souvenir of a memorable visit of this Chapel some years ago.
From Barbara, my English quilting friend, I received the loveliest Desk Diary you can imagine !
More gratefulness. To Marie, http://ancientcloth.wordpress.com/ my inspiring and creative friend; she sews and expresses herself beautifully in her quilts. Marie sent me those colourful parcels.
Wonderful handmade gifts and special fabrics I look forward to sewing in my quilts. Precious presents from here and there. Thank you so very much, Marie ! All is truly appreciated. My thoughts are with you.
January will be a slow month for me. As my friend Marah wrote on a beautiful card : “Never let the urgent crowd out the important”.
December 10, 2010
Every year and everywhere in the world on this day people, well-known and less so, try to bring attention to the public about a sad and endless list of violations of human rights.
At this precise moment men, women, children are suffering because of the deliberate cruelty of others. They are suffering because neither their fundamental rights nor their dignity are being respected. They are suffering as innocent victims of wars waged because of some leaders’ greed and intolerance. They are suffering and denied their freedom of speech, thoughts, religion, sexual orientation, culture. They are suffering because of their very existence that others want to eliminate. The list is long, too long, the pain is intolerable and the hope to see a liberating light often too weak.
In the recent magazine of Amnesty International, I read about this new CD : “Listen to the Banned”.
“A compilation and a unique musical statement by artists who are united in one single, important issue – the protection of the freedom of musical expression, a freedom many take for granted” but one that is not accepted in many countries. Censorship can be extreme.
In many countries, musicians are targeted because their songs tell of the frustrations and aspirations of their fellow citizens. Their messages are received even by illiterates and shared from mouth to ear independently of media and governement control.
I like to think of this day as a day of Hope, for where would we be without hope ? Hence my small flowers of hope surrounding the Banned and their music. A wonderful music from various continents but with a single message : freedom of expression.
“Music must not be silenced“
The following are two out of 30 articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights :
- Article 1
- All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
- Article 2
- Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.
- Here is a link to listen to some of these banned musicians :
October 21, 2010
A large, very large city (15 mio inhabitants) spread over two continents, Europe and Asia, linked together by two bridges and whose symbol is the tulip. A city whose name varied over time and civilisations : Byzantium under the Greek settlers, and Constantinople as the new Eastern capital of the Roman Empire. Did you guess where I had the great pleasure of spending four short days recently ? Yes, right In Istanbul, Turkey, just 3 1/2 hours away from Geneva (by plane). But what a change of scenery and way of life !
Describing and picturing all I saw in this short time is not really easy. I took many photos of the main touristic sites we visited. A morning cruise on the Bosphorus, gardens and palaces visited during a rainstorm that looked and felt more like a deluge, a Byzantine underground Cistern, the famous Bazars, the seagulls that were everywhere and as big as ducks, ancient Ottoman quartiers and their wooden houses, small sesame breads sold in the streets which never tasted as good as when eaten under the pouring rain, the bridges and their busy lanes (day and night) that we crossed by bus, and so much more… There are a lot of blogs and sites about this prestigious historical city – named “European Capital of Culture for 2010″ – that will inform you much better than I would about the incredible and precious treasures of Istanbul. Personaly, I chose to share with you some images that may tell you how I felt about Istanbul, its contrasts, the traces of its historical past and its ever-present beauty.
A mosaic in blue shades like the magnificent domes of the Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmet I mosque) and the Hagia Sophia Museum (formerly a Basilica, then a Mosque and now and museum.
The breathtaking shades of Hagia Sophia’s stained glass windows, a soft inner light that no words can tell. I felt an indescribable feeling of serenity (in spite of the crowd); I could well imagine the fervour shared inside the same basilica/mosque over the centuries by so many believers.
Deserted benches in a luxuriant vegetation.Group in blue…It was a great day for street vendors We were offered blue plastic raincoats and umbrellas. ‘brellas,’ brellas ! was the rather joyous cry people heard all day long in the saturated streets. And of course, we were only too happy to buy an umbrella on such a wet day !
When rain was just too much to put up with, the Grand Bazar and the Spice Bazar (also called Egyptian Bazar) would welcome you. A feast for the eyes and, in some shops, a delight for your sense of smell. Imagine carpets, shawls, embroidered boots, jewels, spices, soaps, leather goods, glasses, ceramics, coffee, those very special herbal teas and the sweet Turkish delights Just anything you can think of.Walking in Istanbul’s ancient Ottoman areas is a totally different experience and well worth it.
Away from the crowds and the most visited sites, small wooden houses huddle together along uneven streets where people live and work. Another vision of old Istanbul, its craftmen and shopkeepers, small stores and cafés where tourists are rare.
Fruits, veges or other food are often sold in the streets. Tempting, delicious.
As the evening comes, a muezzin calls for another prayer. The sky darkens before rain starts falling again. Will the remaining golden patches of sun between the clouds announce a sunny day in the morning ?
Yes, indeed ! The sky has cleared up and a sunrise over the Bosphorus was one of my favourite moments in Istanbul. Pastel shades over the straight for boats which are coming back slowly to the fishing market early morning. A view I never tired of.
Thank you for accompanying me for this short visit through the ancient part of the city. I thought I would focus on the historical part of Istanbul although the modern area is quite another story and well worth seeing too.
Below are a few links of interest for those of you who would like knowing more about Istanbul.
September 11, 2010
Last night I saw a movie at the cinema, a Franco-Australian fable called : “The Tree”. Instantly this movie became a favourite of mine. I felt like sharing my enthusiasm and emotion with you and I made a collage to illustrate it. The first picture shows a huge tree I photographed in a park of Melbourne. Apart from its size, it has not much to do really with the immense and symbolic fig tree in Queensland where the story takes place. The second picture is a photo of the film poster featuring Charlotte Gainsbourg (Dawn), the main actress in the movie. More talented and natural than ever.
This film is directed by Julie Bertucelli and is based on a novel by Judy Pascoe “Our Father Who Art in the Tree”. This delightful movie was presented on the closing night of the Festival de Cannes in France recently and was widely appreciated. Marton Csokas (George) and Morgana Davies, an exceptional and talented young actress (Simone) are amongst the characters that will be remembered.
The story ? I do not feel like saying too much about it… Just know that the story starts in Australia. Peter and Dawn live happily somewhere in Queensland in the shade of their huge and magnificent fig tree. When Peter dies unexpectely, each member of the family reacts in his or her own way in order to continue living without their dear partner and father. Simone, their young daughter of 8 years old, believes her father’s soul lives now in the fig tree. This little girl illuminates the whole film.
I hope some day you will be able to see this movie made with a rare sensitivity. Queensland’s lanscapes are breathtaking and the photography in the film is superb.
August 16, 2010
This post is my contribution to the new photography challenge assigned by Scott Thomas, http://stphoto.wordpress.com; its theme is related to Travel Photography. On the following link you will find the necessary information if you want to join us. Everyone is welcome ! Photos are to be posted until September 8, 2010.
For me, Hauterive is not a faraway place to travel to, 15kms at the most from my home near Fribourg, Switzerland (South of Berne). More than a travel in the usual sense of the word, I would call it an “inner journey”. As soon as you leave the main road leading to the Abbey of Hauterive, you enter a small domain where peace, silence and nature help you slowing down. You don´t even realize it but the way you walk down the path leading to the Abbey is definitely more slow.
I did not meet many people as I strolled under the forest archway. It was a weekday; on Sundays the monastery welcomes many visitors coming to the 10am mass celebrated by the Cistercian monks in the Abbey founded in 1138.The community of Hauterive is a haven of peace. Whenever I need some quietness or just a little time for myself , I love to go and sit in the garden in front of the Abbey. Parts of this garden are closed to the public and reserved to the monks. Pilgrims on their long way to St- Jacques de Compostelle in Spain may stop there for the night.Between light and shade, some benches welcome people who come there for a pause in their day. Some – for their own particular reasons at a period of their life – can stay for a longer time at the Abbey and live with the monks according to their rhythm and spirit. I cannot speak for them but personally I always feel a great inner peace as I stay there, outside or inside the church, also when walking along the river.
This is a view of the Abbey (at the back) and the farm (in front). The monks´s monastic life is essential (“ora et labora” – pray, work and also fraternal life). The monks also cultivate a certain form of relationship with the exterior world. Over the centuries they have valorised agricultural land so that they can sell their various products which bring the necessary revenues for their subsistence.Silence is appreciated in the areas where the monks are praying, meditating.
Hauterive Abbey (which means “high banks”) is located near a river, the Sarine. It flows quietly; people like to come and spend the day at the edge of the water. I saw fishermen trying to catch trouts. Cistercian monasteries were often built near a river in rather secluded areas. Maybe they used rivers as a way of transportation for their goods to be sold in the towns nearby ? It was often done so in the Middle Age when roads were unsafe.
To reach the Abbey you can either walk down a peaceful forest path or use those old wooden stairs. They have been restored of course and if they could talk, they would tell of all the people and the countless steps up and down over the centuries. The walls are original with an occasional patch of new cement and paint here and there. No straight lines for them but slight curves, a sort of imbalance as if they carried the weight of time and events.Let´s enter the Abbey itself through the main porch decorated by a fresco. I visited Hauterive several times over the years; for this photo assignement I came on a sunny morning which soon turned out to be a rainy one. The colours would have normally been much brighter.
I never took any pictures inside the Abbey but the monk I asked about it said it was all right. Those are the stained glass windows on the South side of the church, their bright colours subdued under the cloudy sky. The “rosace” (rose window) is very striking.
Rose windows are particularly characteristic of Gothic architecture and may be seen in all the major Gothic Cathedrals of Northern France. Their origins are much earlier and rose windows may be seen in various forms throughout the Medieval period (Wikipedia).
There were very few people inside the Abbey. I sat for while on the chair on the left. On Sundays and special celebrations the nave and the lateral aisles are all taken up. The monks are reunited behind the choir-screen for the celebration. Their Gregorian chant fills the Abbey. Moments of spirituality and sharing. I feel like saying a sharing beyond all religions, a sheer spirituality that the site inspires and transcends. The monks´chant is bringing life to the ancient walls.Leaving the Abbey by the quiet forest path, I was surprised by a bird flying right in front of me ! I still don´t know how I managed to take a picture. But here it is, a graceful bird dashing to the purple flower bush. A lovely ending of my travel with you. I hope you enjoyed this quiet journey near Fribourg, Switzerland. Thanks to Scott for another interesting photography challenge.
For more information on the Abbey of Hauterive, here is a link to its site. An English translation is available too.
August 2, 2010
Our National Day on August 1st started like this :
A bright blue sky, some pretty clouds to make it more alive, little Swiss flags fluttering in a light Summer wind. In short, there were great perspectives of a lovely evening with music, dances and some other celebrations that many people in the village had been preparing for quite a while.
Around 9pm, as a band of young musicians from the next village and a folk group from Indonesia had just arrived, a violent wind almost blew away the big tents where the guests were preparing to play and dance. And the main street in the village looked like this :
People had deserted the tent where the food was prepared. Usually it is a big barbecue and the local famous meal : “raclette”, mountain cheese melted over a open fire (for a smaller crowd) or over a grill and served with potatoes and pickles, like last night. That is my main regret… I so enjoy eating raclette and I was not the only one !
Families of Dutch tourists were waiting patiently and more or less joyfully for clement skies… No usual National Day speeches nor anthem, no official fireworks nor bonfire, no dancing in the streets nor in pubs (too crowded !) but some isolated fireworks who brought cheerful sparkles under the rain C´est la vie ! So is life !