October 27, 2014

A House Full of Mulders

This is silly, but it made me laugh. The combination of "Pride and prejudice" and "The X-files" is just so unexpected and, well, I don´t know really, just that I found it very funny.

October 24, 2014

Creepy Photos

This artwork by Francesco Romoli really attracts me - perhaps because Halloween is coming up. It looks like a dollhouse where the play has turned sour, or become far too real. More here, with titles like "Christmas Day" and "Twilight Zone". Sets me on edge, a bit.

October 23, 2014

Miniature paintings

Can you believe the detail on these? Apparently, she doesn´t even use a magnifying glass.

October 16, 2014

Outing with Mulle

I took a flight across Sweden this past weekend, to visit my sister and her family. It was a quick visit, but it´s so hard to organize longer visits, for all kinds of reasons, that I decided that quick and often must be better than long and seldom. Also, being childless and well into middle age, I do find the energy of my two nephews (they are five and eight) a bit overwhelming. As it was, I left on Sunday feeling more sad than relieved to part and quite eager to come again. Which is as it should be.

It is a whole different climate down there; Sweden is a long country, or, if you think of north as up, tall. I came from freezing temperatures, near snowing, to a comfortable 15 something degrees (I have known summers that never were any warmer). When I tell people I am going to Gothenburg, they think I am going to the city, but my sister lives in a small village and it´s more like going out into the country, with farms and woods. You meet horses on every path, and on a walk we met a beekeeper giving his bees medicine, some kind of acidious mixture. The children have no fear at all - unlike their parents and their aunt, who stayed well clear of any irritated bees. (The beekeeper had pacified them with smoke before he let the boys come closer.)

The whole family is active in the Swedish Outdoors Association (Friluftsfr√§mjandet), and I got to come along to Mulle-school (= Mulle is a kind of troll that teaches children between five and seven about the forest, with the help of mums and dads, of course). I never went to Mulle-school myself, but it´s existed since the late fifties.

It was great fun, although I did feel a bit misplaced. The children got to collect leaves, talk about trees, fika (this seems to be the best part!) and then followed a small brook from a waterfall to see where it went (into a lake). One of the teachers gave them all buckets and asked "what can you do with a bucket?"; one girl said "build your own brook!" and all the children immediately started filling their buckets and empty them a few meters up on dry land. Then someone found a pair of man´s underpants left behind and hanging in a bush, and decided they needed to be watered as well. It was highly entertaining, not just to participate, but to watch.

The Mulle-school has its own blogg, and even auntie Viktoria is caught on one or two snaps, looking a bit off (I blame it on lack of sleep, from which I suffer most weekends). I didn´t bring my drawing things, but made a kind of sketch/map of the day on the flight back.

October 10, 2014

At War

I´ve been chewing on this post for weeks now, about Yorkshire Air Museum and Allied Air Forces Memorial, which we went to see when we were in York. It´s a great museum, lots and lots of airplanes, lots of barracks with differently themed displays inside. I really did get the sense of it being a memorial, as some of the other visitors were looking at old pictures and remembering their relatives, friends, and neighbours. So many were lost, only half the pilots came back. It´s a large museum, much ground to cover, and we spent all day there.

I thought it was kind of touching that they also had a "Nature of Flight" Butterfly and Moth Conservancy, a wooded area behind the largest hangar. My favourite story from the exhibitions was also about an animal, William the Goat, who was the mascot of West Riding Squadron from 1941 to 1945. In 1942 William was left behind as the squadron moved, but this proved so bad for morale and operational effectiveness that he was brought back. The day after he arrived, the operations were so successful that he was promoted from Pilot Officer to Wing Commander.

William landed in Normandy with the crew of a DC3 Dakota on July 1, 1944, and entered Germany a few days before Victory in Europe Day, May 8, in 1945. He liked cigarettes, had an appetite for secret documents, oxygen, glycol, and the Station Commander´s favourite flowers. He was always at the Station parties and, since he disliked ladies, defended his boys from any who tried to get close to them.

Today, I was looking at the paintings of Jakob Rozalski, and discovered Wojtek, the bear and Polish soldier, a kind of parallell to William the Goat, though Wojtek actually contributed during battle, by transporting shells. There is a film about Wojtek from Polish Scottish Heritage on Youtube, and I also found this one:

Many Polish soldiers did not return home after the war, as their country - as they had known it - didn´t really exist any more; it had been "annexed" by the Soviet Union. A u-boat crew was locked in the Baltic, ended up in Sweden, and many of the soldiers came to live where I grew up, and some of them - and their families - were part of my childhood, as my father is also Polish (and like them, ended up in another country after the war, in his case Austria).

Sometimes my full-blooded Swedish friends complain that there are so many documentaries about the Second World War still being made, but it´s no wonder: the world wars, both of them, so disrupted people´s lives, their sense of identity, home, and world view, that we are still, collectively and individually, processing the damage. I am only the second generation - it´s really not that long ago. Some of us live with the immediate consequences of that trauma still, directly or indirectly. It is only recently that the last survivors of the trenches of the First World War died. The Swedes were lucky to stay out of both wars, it is not "in their bones", so to speak.

Some more photos from the museum:

The mannequins´s haircuts weren´t really of the period.

The French officers´s mess.

This is the kind of thing I am really attacted to, the personal little-things.

I did manage to make one or two decent sketches

Can you imagine sitting in there, up in the air, in combat? 

A slightly later model.

No, I did not do well. Sketching airplanes is HARD!

There are all kinds of ways you can donate money to the museum, which is independent
and have no large organization like English Heritage or National Trust backing them up.

Loved this: a silk scarf/map of Italy, and tiny phrase books to get you by when you get shot down over enemy territory...

The Memorial Garden.

October 8, 2014


Someone has graffitied a number on the door to my bike shed. Not sure of the significance, perhaps they got it wrong... The other doodle could be a stylized version of SLUT, which means END in Swedish. If it is, I quite like how the L and the U looks like mirror versions of each other, like some of those old-style royal-looking monograms you see etched in glasware and what not.

I envy people who have a classy signature. My father´s was totally illegible and he used to say that he used shorthand. Not sure if that was a joke or not. I understand that legally, you can draw a flower as your signature if you want, as long as you stick to it. Wish I had known that when I was becoming an adult, I could perhaps have retained the same signature through all my name-changes.

October 5, 2014

My New Sketchbook

I have gone through some very uninspiring sketchbooks lately, and I thought it would be nice to have something that would make me want to work harder at my drawings. Then I saw this tutorial on youtube, and thought "I can do that!". As it happened, I had bought a pad of watercolour paper in London for very little money, but I´m not that happy working from a pad, particularly when I´m sketching away from home, because I never know what to do with the finished drawings. There is something so aesthetically pleasing - and organized! - to have the drawings in a book; perhaps because I am a book lover.

I was quite happy with it, considering it is my first attempt. I may have bound it a bit hard, but the thread may stretch.
We´ll see. 

I glued parts of the pad cover to the back book cover,
to remember what paper I used.

I was a bit nervous about the knot, but it seems stable enough!