Tuesday, April 22, 2014

UK Trip Day 9: Falmouth

 A drizzly day in Falmouth... the National Maritime Museum, Pendennis Castle, Falmouth Docks (the third deepest port in the world!), Gyllyngvase Beach and our kids' resultant seashell collection... and sketches during a slow afternoon while running the dryer at the laundromat.

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Legislature grounds

The white "shrink wrap" that has covered the Legislature dome for the past 2 winters has finally been removed, and the dome, long in hibernation mode, has made its appearance. The Federal Building restoration and forecourt plaza construction are still ongoing.

Today also marks the first outdoor sketching day in Edmonton for me as temperatures rose to a balmy 15C -- much better than the snow-inducing temperatures of only a week ago. It's the beginning of a great drawing season!

UK Trip Days 7 & 8: London to Exeter to Falmouth

fields outside Exeter

a building in Exeter
 Day 7 entailed a hectic Tube ride (i.e. weekend station construction...) back to Heathrow to rent a car and drive to Exeter via Bournemouth and a stopover at beautiful Corfe Castle. Unfortunately, no time for any sketches on this day, although I did enjoy the driving.

Day 8 started off with Sunday worship at Exeter Cathedral (a beautiful service made all the more memorable because of Mothering Day in the UK) and a leisurely lunch in front of the church yard, followed by the remaining drive to our destination, Falmouth. Its early evening main street on Sunday was a little empty (shops had closed) but we managed to get to a great fish and chips restaurant with a wonderful waterfront sketch-worthy view.
A wharf, some pubs, Penryn River, and rolling hills beyond...
from top: Corfe Castle, Exeter, Falmouth

Sunday, April 20, 2014

UK Trip Day 6: The Barbican

St. Giles Cripplegate, on the Barbican site
 After a big English breakfast at a pub, we head off to enjoy the main reason we are in London: my wife's convocation ceremony at The Barbican. 

Twelve years ago, I came here with my (then future) wife out of interest, to see this grand Brutalist, Corbusier-inspired development, and I never dreamed that we would be here again in this way with two kids in tow.
The Barbican Centre's main hall: home of the London Symphony Orchestra, and the day's venue for convocation proceedings

Friday afteroon

An afternoon along Whyte Avenue and then a nap after a Good Friday service.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

UK Trip Day 5: Tate Britain

Still jetlagged, I woke up very early to do a sketch from our townhouse hotel room on a crescent-like street, and then headed off towards Tate Britain.

Tate Britain is a little out of the way and relatively isolated from other tourist attractions. Perhaps because of this it is much less busy than the other major art galleries like the National Gallery and Tate Modern, which can both be frenetic. Despite the calibre and amount of work that is on display, Tate Britain still provides a much more intimate, leisurely experience.

On this day, I came to see one painting in particular by John Singer Sargent, whose qualities of light have impressed me ever since seeing it in a book in high school.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

UK Trip Day 4: bus ride to The London Eye and Westminster Abbey

Gloucester Road Station
On this day we rode an open air double decker from Gloucester Road Tube Station all the way to the London Eye, took in a rather expensive but spectacular 30 minute aerial view of London, and walked in the rain across the Thames to Westminster Abbey for a quick walk-through.
On the bus... and riding the London Eye
A rainy view across the Thames

Westminster Abbey

UK Trip Day 3: St. Paul's Cathedral

There is a memorable moment in the documentary film "My Architect" in which a Bangladeshi architect who worked with Louis Kahn weeps as he speaks about the Parliament Building in Dhaka. Twelve years ago, I remember getting teary upon first encountering St. Paul's as it suddenly made its massive appearance right after I got off the Tube station. That such a building could even be conceived, let alone built, struck my heart.

This time around I was similarly moved, but through an extended time in contemplation "reading" the gospel message through its interior layout and design, and being deeply reminded of God's grace and glory. That experience, a gift to us through the insistence on the church's part to keep St. Paul's a working "House of God" despite its capacity to draw crowds of tourists (through the PA system, a chaplain invites all visitors to pray together hourly), and the fact that our jetlagged kids decided to nap while we were at the church, was perhaps one of the highlights of our time in the UK.

We ended up spending 4 or 5 hours at St. Paul's that day, including a time of worship as we attended the choral evensong (a sung Eucharist) service, a refreshing way to worship for non-Anglican's such as us. The sound of the organ and the voices of the choristers made it seem like the building itself was emanating sound, while the incense that filled the interior volume added an incredible sense of awe (and surprisingly, intimacy) to the experience. And despite its stature as the Anglican mother church of London, we felt incredibly welcome, and were reminded of the fundamental importance of hospitality as it relates to worship.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

UK Trip Day 2: Natural History Museum (and the Tube)

After getting to our accommodations via the Tube, we catch up on some sleep and take a late afternoon stroll to the Natural History Museum. This is my second time being here, but I am again mesmerized by the quirky Victorian inventiveness of the main hall. One of my regrets was not visiting the newer addition (not there last time I came)... Next time.

Friday, April 11, 2014

UK Trip Day 1: in transit...

 It has been a week since returning from a 12 day whirlwind of a trip in the southern part of the UK. There was plenty to sketch, but not enough time... but I still managed to fill up a mid-sized Moleskine sketchbook, which I especially appreciated during this trip.

This first post begins with the Edmonton International Airport and the long plane ride...

Friday, March 21, 2014

365 Things To Draw: Week 11

A late post of last week's drawings...

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Beaners Fun Cuts

My son gets a professional haircut in a kids' car (my daughter also, earlier, on a pony) at Beaners Fun Cuts, in preparation for some future events.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

365 Things To Draw: Week 10

This week's series have all been coloured using "gansai".

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Bach's B minor Mass at the Winspear

A small sketch while waiting for the Richard Eaton Singers and the Alberta Baroque Ensemble to assemble on stage, for a performance of J.S.Bach's Mass in B Minor... one of my favourite compositions by my favourite composer of all time. This was the second live performance of this piece that I have experienced (the other was by Pro Coro, a much smaller choir several years ago). It's wonderful to experience the music this way as so many new discoveries about the music are made.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Hina-matsuri 2014

 March 3rd is Hina-matsuri in Japan, commonly referred to as "Girls' Day" or "Doll Day". We were blessed to have received an elaborate set of Hina dolls last summer which we set up this year in our dining room. Unfortunately, we seemed to be missing a series of dolls and other decorative pieces, but we replaced them with some stuffed toys and a bed sheet to make a fun and eclectic, "localized" version of a traditional custom.