Tag Archives: holidays

Squished

12 Jun

squished

Our very last visit on our recent trip to Berlin was to the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial church, which is in fact 2 churches. The newer church, built around the ruins of the older, has a spectacular – and huge – statue of Christ, designed by Karl Hemmeter, dominating the space. I had a quick scribble but underestimated how much space I needed for the spread of the arms, so I had to seriously squish them to fit into my A4 brown paper sketchbook. There was an organ recital going on when we wandered in so we, Husb, two great-nephews and myself, sat in the awe-inspiring space and enjoyed some classical organ music. Lovely.

 

Like Nana’s Range (might be distressing)

11 Jun

Crematoria

As Husb and I walked around the Saschenhausen Concentration Camp in Berlin last week (on a Sandemans Guided Tour) I sketched what I could on the move. It made it easier in some ways because I could detach myself slightly from my surroundings. A lot of the camp was destroyed by the Soviets after they took control of East Germany, but some parts remained, although badly damaged, like the crematoria that were used to destroy the bodies of the tens of thousands of people who were murdered here. Their bodies were originally shipped out in trucks to crematoria in the city, but one truck overturned and spilled bodies across a street so these crematoria were built so that the citizens of Berlin wouldn’t have to see such a distressful sight again.

All that’s left are a few small brick walls, the black metal ‘ovens’ and the metal girders that supported the brick structure. This was the point where I broke down. The ‘ovens’ look for all the world like the black iron range in my Nana’s kitchen when I was a child; happy memories of her kettle always bubbling away and goodies coming out of the little oven. Horror can look so ordinary and benign!

My parent’s generation lived through the war, many died on all sides. It is our duty to them to make sure it doesn’t happen again. These vile attitudes are on the rise once more in Europe. We have to stop them, we have to safeguard the future.

 

 

Just Like Home

9 Jun

Rain And Horror

Husb and I were in Berlin in a heatwave last week and we visited the Saschenhausen Concentration Camp in one of the Berlin suburbs. The temperature had been up to around 30° Celsius, way too hot for a bunch of gingery Celts but the skies grew dark and there was a sudden, very fierce, thunderstorm. Being Welsh, we just stood there in the pouring rain, just like home. Then we turned around and noticed that the rest of our tour group were all huddled for shelter at the side of one of the huts.

Concentration storm 2

I carried on drawing into my brown paper sketchbook. The rain spattered the conté crayons and made the drawing quite fuzzy, which I really like. It prevented me from getting bogged down in detail and forced me to take an emotional approach to the subject, three poles set into the concrete square that were used to punish the poor souls imprisoned in this hellhole.

My Hero

7 Jun

Kathe

Husb and I went to Berlin for a few days last week and spent an intense few hours at the Käthe Kollwitz Museum. I love her work and her life is an inspiration, she never relinquished her belief in social justice despite the enmity of both the First and Third Reich. I took a few minutes to draw from one of her bas relief bronze casts, using black, white and sanguine conté crayons into a brown paper sketchbook.

Never Forget

4 Jun

concentration camp

Husb and I spent a few days in Berlin this earlier this week and spent some time visiting the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp on the outskirts of the city. It was moving and chilling; I was shocked to discover that it was surrounded by a nice, middle-class housing estate. People turned a blind eye to the horror that was built in their midst. In these troubled times, with terror attacks by fundamentalists and calls for retaliation from extremists, we need to remember more than ever what can happen when intolerance gets out of hand.

Concentration storm

It wasn’t easy to sketch as we were moving more or less constantly as part of a guided tour (well worth paying for), but I managed some speed sketches and a few digital photos. There was a thunderstorm while we were there, the looming sky suited the place.

Cool Places

1 Jun

I haven’t blogged for a few days because I’ve been adventuring in Berlin, just a short break with family. Cool place, had a great time and I even did some drawings. I just got back, about an hour ago and it’s 10pm so I’ll just post a quick drawing I did a couple of weeks ago, when I was last out with prehistorian Dewi Bowen and filmmaker Melvyn Williams.

Sweynes Howse 3

Here’s a second sketch I did at another cool place, the Neolithic Sweyne’s Howes burial site at Rhossili,  this is the ruined southern Howse. I used black, sanguine and white conté crayons into an A4 brown paper sketchbook.

Sweynes Howse 6

 

Cats, Moon, Sonic Screwdriver

25 Dec

Xmas moon

It’s been a very drizzly day and there’s thick cloud this evening so there’s no sign of the Xmas Full Moon, so here’s a photo of the Xmas Eve nearly-full moon that we saw last night bouncing up over the rooftops opposite.

2015 Xmas

And first thing this morning, Sparta Puss and Ming The Merciless wouldn’t let us sleep a bit longer. They insisted on waking us up at 7am for their breakfast as usual. No chance of a holiday lie-in.

sonic screwdriver

My absolute favourite Xmas present – a River Song sonic screwdriver. I’ve wanted one for years and I’ve been hinting and finally the hints sunk in and Husb gave me this. I waved it around liberally during the Doctor Who Xmas Special this afternoon, flashing the lights and making sonic screwdriver noises at appropriate moments. Oh joy!!!!

Xmas Day

And finally, a quick daily scribble, Husb watching the TV. We haven’t set foot out of the door all day, just slobbed around, watching TV, cooking (I made a lemon-layered pudding from my favourite 1970s cookbook), eating (dear Mother-in-Law gave us a large box of cheeses – top prezzy) and pandering to the cats.

I hope everyone has had a nice relaxing holiday and had lovely presents.

The Dawn Road From Reykjavik

18 Nov

goodbye 3

The last few photos from my recent trip to Iceland, the road back to Keflavik airport at sunrise. It’s so far north that the dawn is about 9.30 am which is very civilised.

goodbye 2

Once we were out of the city there were little isolated farms or homesteads dotted across the lava landscape.

goodbye 1

The movement of the bus gave a nice smudgy effect in the foreground.

Keflavik airport is really nice, one of the best I’ve been in, super architecture, unhurried ambience, lovely food and it was a fairly short hop back to Bristol …….. and torrential rain.

Icy In The City

16 Nov
Across the ice

Across the ice

Some people thought we were nuts, visiting Iceland in November but it’s so beautiful! We saw the Northern Lights – I can die happy now. Proper snow that sticks, not like over here. Bright, crisp days and iced up lakes and that low slanting sunshine that makes everything glow. We walked alongside the frozen lake in Reykjavik, past a house that we had heard about the day before during our afternoon at the Icelandic Elfschool. The house had been the site of Elf sightings and contact for decades.

Like many old European cities, it has grown organically and the older parts are full of little nooks and crannies, lovely odd houses and surprises around corners. Bright paint decorates many of the corrugated metal walls and roofs and the climate in the city is warm enough for trees.

The food is fabulous! Fish is a staple, in many forms, cooked, pickled, soused, salted, smoked. Lamb is another staple and the national Icelandic Lamb Soup, Kjotsupa, is very similar to the Welsh Cawl and Irish Stew, possibly a nod to their mixed Celtic / Viking heritage. We ate mostly in Cafe Loki which has the maddest mural Husb and I have ever seen. It takes up an entire wall and has scenes from the life of the Nordic god Loki, who was a bit of a bad ‘un so it’s full of slaughtered corpses receding into the distance. But that doesn’t detract from the ambience of the cafe, nor from the delicious food.

I Have Seen The Lights!

14 Nov

I have finally seen The Northern Lights and it was a truly awesome experience, in the real sense of the word. It inspired awe and wonder. Extraordinary.

Shadows and reflections at Harpa opera house, Reykjavik, Iceland

Shadows and reflections at Harpa opera house, Reykjavik, Iceland

That was at the end of a long day, beginning with a walk around the fantastic Harpa opera house on the seafront, with a view of snow capped mountains across the bay.

Mountains from the Harpa opera house

Mountains from the Harpa opera house

Then we went off to explore Reykjavik on foot through the light snow and ended up at the Elfschool for 4 happy hours eating pancakes, drinking tea and listening to the school’s headmaster, Magnus Skarphedinsson, relating marvellous stories about the Icelandic elves and the people who have seen them.

wpid-wp-1447494309170.jpeg

On my last visit to Iceland, I had a very odd experience, seeing some strange sights. I drew what I had seen and blogged about it and I have just republished my original blog earlier today. Check it out if you want to see what I saw that time. I thought it might have been the Huldufolk ( Hidden People ) but the head of the Elf School thinks they might have been trolls. How cool is that?

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