Month: December 2013

Urban Etude and “The Gallery of Air”

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-Sorry, I thought you were awake as I saw you had seen my message on facebook at 8am….Oh, right. Yeah, me too. Actually I wake up at 8 and go to the toilet then have a coffee and cigarette, then back to sleep for a few hours. Yeah… It’s amazing that the coffee doesn’t keep me awake.

The platinum bobbed lady in her white linen flicks the pages of her Vogue. The tips of her smile lengthen and she winks elegantly at me.

The young guy on his phone continues

-Yeah, I’m just like so stressed about this t-shirt. Like, when can I get it from you? … I know, I was going to speak to her but she’s really bipolar sometimes, you know?

The bob jiggles as the elderly lady giggles, this time aloud.

-What a stressful and fascinating life he leads,

she muses to me.

I grin back, sheepishly observing the lines of her face – creases of life long vivacity, I suspect.

I slip my phone back into my bag and we start to chat. About Vogue, about travel, about Brighton and the leafy streets of Surrey Hills all the way to Flinders Street. Her sapphire eyes glint with wisdom and humor. Is it loneliness I see too?

Yesterday, I attended the latest offering from the National Gallery of Victoria- Melbourne Now. I entered a curtained exhibit coined “The Gallery of Air”. In a small space, assembled like a thrift shop, the artist, Patrick Pound, draws the the viewer into a semantic game. Contained behind the curtain are objects collated from NGV’s permanent collection that allude to the idea of air- a quirky print from Goya (nothing unusual for Goya) titled, “Blow”, a whoopee cushion, a barometer, a pipe; even the finest porcelain urns depicting winged celestial beings silhouetted in relief against duck-egg blue. This morning I was wondering, what would I assemble if I were to create my own “Gallery of Air”. I’d be at a loss to create it however, for I’d need to place this moment on the train in there and no curtained room can contain the dynamic exchange of heartfelt conversation, that flows un-stifled like a current, from an elderly lady, unhampered by the trappings of technology. Image

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Bolero and Ochre

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I have in my possession a little tin jar whose contents, once opened, storm the senses whilst weaving and dancing through my cuisine with the stamp of smoky feet. It burns the floor red and bites the tongue. This little tin receptacle contains pimentón dulce (sweet, spicy paprika) first sourced from a Spanish Vendor in Borough Markets London. I’d spotted it while meandering past the dry and fleshy jamones as they slid and fell into hefty mounds, trophies of the cheeky butchers that carved them in constant secession. 

I’ve learnt that where your pimentón dulce hails from is important. In fact there are even Denominations of Origin for paprika the most esteemed being the southeastern Spanish coastal province of Murcia.

My little tin is old worldly labelled Bolero and boasts a dancing couple posturing with the whisper of ruffling crimson and petticoats. It sits beside me as I write. Admiring its label, I pick it up and with clumsy fingers, drop the tin with a clunk to the floor. Cursing my fate and tendency to drop and break whatever dainty article comes my way, I instead look to my lap and below and there it lies, like vermillion ochre, coating my seat and painting the floor like in ceremonious ritual. I can’t help but breathe deeper, inhaling through my nose as the air grows in dimension- sweet and smoky. I am reminded of paellas and the sizzle of chorizo that claims my husband’s breath after huevos rancheros. There allover the hard wood floor of our little art deco apartment here in Melbourne, lies the earth of Murcia, the ochre of Murcia.

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