Thursday, 28 February 2013

Blue and white


One of the last bowls I made before I had to abandon ceramics. White porcelain and cobald blue oxide.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

The art of bookbinding


The art of bookbinding,

at the Byzantine Museum in Athens.

I was drawn to Venia Dimitrakopoulou's leporellos, reminiscent of Leporello's paper records of Don Giovanni's conquests in Mozart's opera.

Summer days, 2010

looking closer

Summer days, 1912

looking closer

Aigina, 2012

Amorgos, 2012

Cold days, 2011

looking closer

the cover of Cold Days


more of Labyrinth

and more

the box for Labyrinth.

Monday, 25 February 2013


Rodin, by the Boris Eifman dance company

at the Megaron Mousikis in Athens.

Boris Eifman’s new ballet, Rodin, is dedicated to the life and creative work of Auguste Rodin and his apprentice, lover and muse, Camille Claudel.

For 15 years Rodin and Claudel were lovers and worked together. Their breakup dealt a deathblow to Camille’s mental health and marked the beginning of her destruction. Almost forgotten, isolated from the outside world, Claudel went out of her mind. She spent 30 years in a mental asylum, where she died in 1943 forgotten and left by everyone.

Rodin is about the tragic nature of the lives of geniuses. Through the unique body language of the modern psychological ballet, which the choreographer honed in previous works (Onegin, The Seagull, Anna Karenina, Russian Hamlet, and others), Eifman presents a new aesthetic of the world of human passions which was masterfully created by Rodin and Claudel in their work.

Music by: M. Ravel, C. Saint-Saens, J. Massenet

The ballet begins and ends in an insane asylum, where Camille Claudel spent the last 30 years of her life. It is the story of the lover tossed aside, her spiral into supposed insanity and Rodin's conflict between two relationships. The ballet is filled with passion, hatred and tortured love.


Filled with visual references to the sculptor's greatest works, EIfman used the bodies of the dancers as Rodin would use clay, stretching, molding and repositioning arms, hands and torsos. Eifman gave us unique visual representations of:

The Eternal Idol - the position in the ballet with Eifman himself in the picture

The Eternal Idol - the sculpture

The Gates of Hell - in the ballet.

The recreation of The Gates of Hell (inspired by Dante's Inferno) was another highlight of imagery: dancers were displayed on a vertical scaffold in poses and movements of torment and agony.

The Gates of Hell - the sculpture

Crouching Woman - in the ballet as she is being molded by Rodin.

The most memorable was of Rodin posing Camille for The Crouching Woman, placing her on a turntable which he then twists, prods and finally placing her in the perfect rendition of the original bronze.

The Crouching Woman -  the sculpture

'We can have truly modern ballet art only through the exploration of the intellectual world of human beings and through an understanding of the mysteries of their inner world'.




The official trailer video.

A most memorable evening.

Sunday, 24 February 2013



It is bitterly cold here, so I am posting this picture to remind me of our walks in Alimos marina in Greece where it was warm and sunny when we were there.

Friday, 22 February 2013

Past and present

We went to the Museum of Contemporary Art while we were in Athens but were very disappointed with all three exhibitions.

On our way out we spotted this and decided to have a look. An exhibition of items in Michalis Manousakis' personal collection. A reminder - a violent reminder - of Greece's not too distant past, and what that entailed.

This is a reader for the third year of primary school.  Greek children in uniform giving the Nazi salute.

The year is 1939. Greece is under the dictatorship of Ioannis Metaxas, a dictatorship that was established in 1936 when he suspended Greek Parliament as well as articles of the Constitution. He modelled  himself on fascist movements in Europe and particularly Mussollini's Italy, but unlike the Italian fascists, he lacked the support provided by a mass political party. He banned political parties, prohibited strikes and introduced media censorship.

This was followed by a campaign against what he saw as anti-Greek literature. Book burning targeted authors like Shaw, Freud, Goethe and several Greek writers. He became Minister of Education in 1938 and had all school texts re-written to fit the regime's ideology.

These little girls are the Eaglets (Balafas). Fully aware of what they were doing, despite their young age, these children delivered secret messages as part of the liberation struggle against the German occupiers.

When the Italian army tried to invade Greece, the Greek army proved to be a formidable opponent, forcing the Italians to retreat. In 1941 the Germans came to the aid of Italy and invaded Greece which suffered greatly during the German occupation, resulting in one of the greatest famines in the history of Europe. Between 1941 and 1946, inflation rose more than five trillion times. Oxfam in the U.K. was formed to help the starving in Greece.

As a result, Greek resistance, one of the most effective resistance movements in Occupied Europe, was formed. Resistance groups launched guerilla attacks against the occupiers and set up large espionage networks.

The Germans retaliated. Some of the worst atrocities committed by the Wehrmarcht in Europe were committed in Greece. The list is endless but here are a few examples:
  • 80% of the Jewish community, mainly in Salonika, were killed after being packed into cattle trucks and shipped off to Poland
  • in 1944 all of the inhabitants of Distomo were massacred. When the Red Cross visited the village they found bodies (some still breathing) nailed with bayonets to the trunks of the trees that lead to the village
  • 500 males were executed in Kalavrita
  • 317 inhabitants were executed in the village of Kommeno
  • to stop attempts to sabotage railway lines, the klouves were introduced: people in open air wagons which were covered with barbed wire
  • 120000 Greeks were made homeless by the end of the war
  • five thousand schools were wrecked.
This is what fascism did to Greece.

'Parade' cover, 1945.  A German orphan trying to sell his father's iron cross medal -  he asks for 10 cigarettes in return.

These comics are from the 50s.  'Little Hero' and shadow puppet figures, reminders of the atrocities of the war.

Greece's history is being played out again today. Black clad motorcyclists roam the streets at night looking for their next non-white victim to beat up or worse, to murder. What is particularly worrying is the invasion of the Neo-Nazi party in schools: hearts that encircle the nazi logo on pink school bags; kids wearing black with closely cropped heads; Nazi logos engraved on school desks; parents that demand two different prayers during morning assembly - one which is exclusively Christian for the 'Greek' kids; parents demanding a morning ritual of allegiance to the flag; parents arguing and fighting during parents' evenings as some parents object to fascist interventions.

A student was knifed in the playground in Palaio Faliro two weeks ago because he had made comments against the neo-Nazis. A teacher came into his classroom and found the swastika written on the blackboard: 'doing division seemed irrelevant at that stage', he explained, 'I abandoned maths and had a history lesson instead. At the next parents' evening I was accused of cramming propaganda down the students' throats'.  A teacher who was organising celebrations for the commemoration of the Polytechnic uprising which subsequently led to the fall of the junta was warned against doing so by a student who informed her that if the celebrations went ahead, there would be trouble.

As a consequence of this, the last six months have seen a huge rise in the anti-racist/anti-fascist movement in Greece. There are over 400 organisations in cities, towns, even small villages, workplaces, educational institutions, all determined to stop the rise of this campaign of hatred.

During last year's obligatory parades on Greece's Independence day, huge numbers of students wore anti-fascist armbands to show their opposition to the rise of this group and its message of hatred.

The old divisions that tore the country apart during the civil war which followed the end of  WWII are being re-enacted again. Learning the lessons history has taught us might sound like a cliche, but it is as true now as it ever was.

For further information about Greece and lots more on current affairs go to:

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Modern Norwegian Architecture

Modern Norwegian Architecture, at the Benaki Museum, Pireos Street.

Local Cultural Institutions

Campfire spot for children (naturally impregnated pine heartwood, oak)

A little pavilion provides shelter for kindergarten children. A functional installation using surplus materials from a nearby construction project.


Tubaloon (pvc cloth and steel frame)

Every summer this temporary pavilion creates a stage facility at Kirketorget - a central public square in Kongsberg. This sculpturally unusual form in untraditional materials has become a signature for the city's jazz festival.

seen from a different angle

The Lantern    (Floor - poured concrete; columns - solid untreated oak; roof construction - laminated pine; fittings - steel; roof - laminated glass, silk screened)

A continuation of the traditional gable roof form, this is a superstructure for urban space in Sandnes, one of its functions being for use in an outdoor market square.

New Holmenkollen Ski Jump

A steel structure that has become a national symbol.

The Norwegian Opera and Ballet.

Situated in the Bjorvika Harvour area, the opera roof has become an essential urban public space in Oslo


The Hamsun Centre

At Hamaroy where Knut Hamsun grew up

Petter Dass Museum 

The architects cut out a slice out of a ridge in order to build this museum which is located near the medieval church at Alstanhaug where Petter Dass was pastor from 1689 to 1707.

Halden Prison

The division into small units and the design of the landscape help to create more of a normal and everyday situation for the inmates.

Svalbard Global Seed Vault

The seed vault was built to store plant seeds from gene banks worldwide maintaining the seed reserves in deep botanical hibernation.

National Tourist Routes in Norway



A place to stop and admire the view.

Norwegian Architecture Abroad

Element House

The pavillion is part of an art park - a spot for contemplation, resting and admiring the view.

The Royal Norwegian Embassy in Kathmandu

Old Within New

The National Museum - Architecture

A new exhibition pavilion supplements the old bank building which was built in 1830.

Unfortunately I did not record what this building is. We saw something similar, a traditional building within a new one, in Potsdamer Square in Berlin.

Single houses

Cabin Haugen

Simplicity and quality using solid wood

at night

Farm House Dalaker/Galta

the inside, featuring an Isamu Noguchi coffee table

one more view of this fantastic house

Villa Borgen/Nielsen

This villa is built in a housing estate (!)

the living area on the ground floor

Apartment buildings

Storelva Project

A minimal energy consumption project.


Bjornholt Upper Secondary School

total transparency

and about what that all glass classroom, suspended in the air?

Tangen Polytechnic

The school is close to the Otra river, in Kristaansand.

The foyers function as meeting places for the students.