We biked over to the new (rented) house today. We have the key to take measurements and coming back, through the park nearby, I couldn't resist stopping to take this photograph.
My beloved old black bike is there in the foreground and this is one of the many beautiful city parks Antwerpen has. I miss the wild rugged wilderness of New Zealand but have to confess that sometimes, these parks are almost enough ...
Sunday, July 05, 2009
We biked over to the new (rented) house today. We have the key to take measurements and coming back, through the park nearby, I couldn't resist stopping to take this photograph.
Wednesday, July 01, 2009
23 celsius at 11pm and mosquitoes in the know are partying down at 'the' mosquito club ... Di's ankles.
Work today, a good day but for the rivelets of sweat running, everyone checking their pants and skirts as they stood up from hot plastic seats, soaked by the lack of fresh air as we trammed, trained and laboured our way through these 30 celsius days in the cities.
Living in Belgie, one becomes unaccustomed to such heat, the lucky ones are already on holiday at the beach. Summer holidays have begun and today I noticed the trains and trams had already halved their passenger loads.
I've been processing photographs and just loved this image.
Monday, June 29, 2009
And so it begins, I fly out in 11 days heading for Genova ... my favourite city in the world.
This photograph was taken at Camogli, not so far from the city itself. I hope to swim there with Pippa, an old friend I used to visit the beaches of home with. I think this will surely become our northern hemisphere beach, although it will be so very strange not to have my old labrador - my constant New Zealand beach, lake and river companion, with us in this new place. I'm sure she would approve though.
The best thing about leaving is surely the tangible deadline ...
I have to have Istanbul finished.
I have to have tidied up my photography exhibition in the city and I need to have a book outline for the next in-between project.
The 'new, getting old fast' website has had its corrupted module rewritten and I am packing a whole lot of paper notes because I prefer to read paper over laptop screens. I have interviews and all kinds of other things and an 8 day period alone for loading that website and kick-starting it finally ...
All of this and I don't want to think about the fact that the real estate agent and the owners of the house decide whether we're 'it' today.
Okay, back into Istanbul.
We're expecting 30+ celsius all week, only broken by thunderstorms at the weekend ...
Saturday, June 27, 2009
Our apartment is top floor with a flat black roof that attracts ALL the heat you can imagine. We open our doors in the night and the mosquitoes congregate to party at our place. My ankles are testament to this wild party still happening now ...
When I was child, my parents would load the 4 of us into the backseat of the old Holden stationwagon at midnight and let us swim within the high beam of the headlights at Outram Glen. Failing that, we might walk over to the school next to home and midnight swim in the swimming pool there - the safer option I'm sure, although I still have two brothers and one sister.
Life was so much simpler back then.
So ... it's one of those impossibly hot summer nights here in the flatlands - no a/c at our place.
Little Miss 4 had her 5th birthday party today, early so that her kindy friends could come before summer holidays begin. It was a wild day that left everyone except her completely and utterly exhausted at days end.
She's a 4th of July girl, more celebrations to follow.
We have a delicious 15 metre balcony but the wrong climate to make much use of it, with the frustration of many mosquitoes who fly in and breed exceptionally well in the warm weather. We have a rooftop view too and an extremely reasonable rent however ... the peasants have been revolting, in every way, and there has been a call for change.
Jessie spotted this very cool old house, with more bedrooms, bathrooms and a garden!! for the same price as our apartment which translates as stunningly reasonable, mostly because there's no car-parking or garage. Perfect for this car-less family who use old-fashioned black bicycles and public transport.
Jessie and I went with Little Miss 4 and fell in love which then meant we had to haul Gert into the process. Haul because it could be said that Belgians are, in general, reluctant movers, especially when compared to the kiwis I know ... but this is mostly explained by the tenancy agreements and difficulties of making a house move.
I took him back to the house this morning.
He fell in love too.
It's 3-storeys high, has atiny steep staircase that is normal for these narrow high old Belgian houses and then there are all these quirky ... yes, quirky is the word that most fits this house ... all these quirky rooms that we can easily fill with people and stuff. New central heating using gas, 2 bathrooms, a cellar, and lots of windows for the light I'm so in love with.
Best of all, the ground-floor is an open-plan series of lounge through into living space, into dining room area and straight on out through double-glass doors into one of those pocket-size Belgian gardens, so full of possibility that I can't stop smiling. Or left to the kitchen, with a real laundry room and a big sink, so missed in this apartment of ours.
The only question mark over the move is when we have to move in by, as it could mean paying rents on two places and that's no-ones idea of a good time.
We hear on Monday or Tuesday ... but we're so in love with the place, so very in love.
I'll let you know.
Note: and as observed by Paola, there's room for a dog in this house that's so close to one of the big city parks ... ;)
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Authenticity is a daily practice. Living authentically means cultivating the courage to be emotionally honest, to set boundaries, and to allow ourselves to be vulnerable; exercising the compassion that comes from knowing that we are all made of light and darkness, strength and struggle; and nurturing the connection and sense of belonging that can only happen when we let go of who we are supposed to be and embrace who we are. Authenticity demands wholehearted living and loving—even when it’s hard, even when it hurts, and especially when we are wrestling with the shame and fear of “not being enough.” Mindfully practicing authenticity during our most soul-searching struggles is how we invite grace, joy, and gratitude into our lives.
Brené Brown, Ph.D.
Borrowed from Kathy.
Martin, the ICC's man in Belgium, first talked of it when we were driving to and from Flanders Fields, then yesterday Pakistan won the world cup.
Yesterday it so happened that I was travelling between Brussels and Antwerp with a Pakistani who has lived in Denmark these last 40 years. He told me of Pakistan's win in the Twenty/20 World Cup.
I stopped at the night shop on the way home after a long day at the office, picking up an ice cream.
I had to congratulate our Pakistani shop owner there too.
New Zealand didn't do so well in the competition and suddenly there I was, running into every person from Pakistan I knew ...
Talking of cricket makes me nostalgic for the childhood sounds of a good match drifting out from a transistor radio on a hot sunny day or the roar of my sports-mad dad, mum and brothers as they followed some cricket match on the television.
A cricket match over in 3 and a half hours ... I never imagined that possible.
Monday, June 22, 2009
I was smiling, I swear I was and then in the process of searching out this image for this post, I realised I had just given the printers a tiny file by mistake and tried to stop them printing the 30x45cm print ...
It's been done, 2 hours after delivering it to the 24 hour service people. The Belgians were efficient and it couldn't have happened at a worse time.
Never the mind, I was here and smiling after a long dark night of the soul (or 3), snacking on a lunch of the wickedest things ...
Bagels from the British Store (where I hung up an advertising poster finally) with a splash of the most delicious Azienda Agricole Monte Gualberto Grati - extra virgin olive oil from Tuscany,with a sprinkling of natural sea salt from Portugal, listening to Viktoria Mullova from Russia and thinking life was okay.
The NGO paid my invoice, the Belgian VAT (btw here) people immediately whipped 250euro of it from my account. I have ordered the prints that I've had outstanding while waiting for my invoice to be paid. I have sent Belgian chocolates to the young guy who is slowly but surely recovering from his terribly injury suffered more than 8 weeks ago now.
The really excellent olive oil, salt and olives came from Oliviers & Co here in Antwerpen city. The woman was lovely and guided this creature who knows what she likes but lacks the details of olive oils and salts. I can't recommend the shop highly enough.
I mailed off 3 photo cds and and have two more here and I'm settling down to begin work on the thousands of Istanbul photographs that overwhelm me every time I open a folder.
My new website is undergoing its rewrite and I'm hopeful about moving to it within the fortnight and so I'm writing and preparing to load more over there, and then there's NGO stuff and a photo gallery to load in Brussels tomorrow, while I'm there photographing a meeting for the exhibition in August.
Hmmmm what else, there's always more .. the housework hasn't been done and it's already after 4pm and I was hoping to write an article for Cafebabel about work.
Oh, and there was most delicious photography session at a Jewish gathering yesterday. It was a privilege to be there and for those who are surprised, I've never not liked the Jewish people, I merely take issue with extreme right and centre right Israeli politicians and soldiers who are doing so much harm to the Palestinians.
I have good friends who are Jewish and l love taking part in Shabbat because both times I have found it quite heartbreakingly beautiful.
Just to be clear.
Friday, June 19, 2009
There was a paragraph where I tried to describe the quietly sublime beauty of a Sunday morning spent alone in that city I love.
I wrote: Sunday, my first day alone and the city is emptied for football. Slipping and tripping through the air comes the sound of the most exquisite violin ... drifting from some open window. Delicate notes that create this perfect sound for an afternoon spent lying on a bed reading. I am lazy on this first day spent as a solitary creature, alone in a strange city where I know no one.
I wanted that music but stopped short of shouting from my open window to whichever neighbour was playing the music.
I came home and forgot it about mostly, just pulling the memory out in moments peace.
Yesterday I was in FNAC, thinking I might like one book to celebrate this month's pay cheque when I had this idea about making a fool of myself and asking about a delicate solo violin ...
The shop assistant listened and then said 'Bach!'.
She took me over to a listening post and she was right. If this isn't the music I heard then it's close enough to delight and carry me back into that place in time.
Below you can hear something of the music on the cd titled Bach 6 Solo Sonatas & Partitas, Viktoria Mullova.
Pearl S. Buck, novelist, Nobel laureate
Anne Michaels, author of Fugitive Pieces.
Fugitive Pieces is one of my top 5 favourites books of all time.
It is simply that good and that beautiful.
Anne is astoundingly intelligent, well-researched and her poetic prose makes me melt.
Laura, the wise and beautiful Laura to be more precise, linked to this interview with Anne Michaels.
Simon brought news of another book by Ms Micheals, titled The Winter Vault , you can imagine what I'm looking for next. Her poetry book in The Weight of Oranges is just as exquisite ... just btw.
Gert comes home with stories from work, elections are stressful times for example, and friends look at my travelling life sideways, not seeing where the challenges might lie but seriously, if I were to blog the story of my life as a self-employed person, as a Di creature, I might just make the hair of some stand on end.
These are days where I am exploring free and grand adventures and networking versus paid and marketing (still waiting on my flyers.). It's about somehow not working all the time and stopping to breathe. It's about my heart jumping around in my chest most days and it's about all my doubts that I can make this work so that the Belgian government gets its many slices but leaves me with some, and don't even ask me about New Zealand.
Maybe I should rename this blog 'Di's Nice Blog' where her truths are selectively told, writes this smiling woman.
It's just that some days are so incredibly difficult and others are charmed.
But that's life, isn't it.
I had just had the biggest drama unfold here in the last hour. Those involved might laugh at me for finding it big but it's too complicated to write of and anyway, I rarely tell 'those' stories.
It's late here and I'm in Brussels in the morning.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
The official ceremonies were over by lunch-time and we adjourned to my favourite restaurants in the area - The Cheese Museum .
The New Zealand government Minister and various Zonnebeke councillors led by Freddy, one of the best guides on Flanders Fields, then left on a bus for a tour of the fields where 1000s of New Zealanders were killed fighting for the Commonwealth, in this instance for Belgium, during the first world war. Almost 50,000 dead were lost and buried in horrendous mud in a very small are of land next to the restaurant. Freddy described it as a silent city of 50,000.
The series of battles that make up the Battle of Passendaele went like this: More than any other battle, Passchendaele has come to symbolise the horrific nature of the great battles of the First World War. In terms of the dead, the Germans lost approximately 260,000 men, while the British Empire forces lost about 300,000, including approximately 36,500 Australians, 3,596 New Zealanders and some 16,000 Canadians from 1915 to 1917. 90,000 British and Dominion bodies were never identified, and 42,000 never recovered. Aerial photography showed 1,000,000 shell holes in 1 square mile (2.56 km2).
It's rare that tears don't rise as you follow Freddy's directions and look out over the small area where so many dead soldiers still lie in unknown unmarked graves.
We moved on over the battlefields and through cemeteries, pulled back to a past that governments today persist in returning our 21st soldiers to ... no lessons learned that I see, beyond targeted assassinations of those some countries deem to be risks and the pinpoint targeting of sites to be bombed boasted of by some armies although almost 100,000 Iraqis have been killed in Iraq, with the death toll of American soldiers there since 2003 now standing at 4311.
This site seems to tally with sites I found elsewhere.
Tour of the battlefields over, Martin and I ended up in the grounds of the Chateau, otherwise known as The Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917 , dining out on the loveliest bbq food with the most interesting people.
It was a good day out.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Government ministers, vip lunches - today seems like it might be an okay kind of day.
And ta-dahhhh, little Miss 4, almost Miss 5 is a white and pink spotty itchy mess this morning.
Never a dull moment at our place ...
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Today, I had no destination in mind, I was simply escaping a really bad day and so there was nothing to lose as I climbed off Tram 8 with my small travelling laptop.
Cafe Stanny's lunch menu is diverse enough to offer something for everyone, with soups, breads with a range of fillings and things I can't quite remember. I chose a most divine bacon and onion omlette for lunch and it came with a soft brown heavily-grained bread that was delicious.
The music indicates good taste (an important criteria when wandering, laptop in hand), the atmosphere, now that it is summer, is open door with benches both inside and out. The staff were friendly and the decor lovely - appealing and a tug on the strings of memory for this kiwi so far from home. A deep blue bar/counter with stools, and stools along the high tables at the two large windows in the front.
Back in winter, I remember being attracted to the warmth of Cafe Stanny's red exterior and the promise of its fogged up windows, clients bicycles piled up outside calling to me in but I was rushing, always rushing through that stretch of the city between here and there, I never made time to detour a little.
Cafe Stanny's is lovely, a new favourite of mine but come see for yourself.
It's at Stanleystraat 1, 2018 Antwerpen, located on the Tram 8 line and close to Berchem Railway Station ... seen from the train on the left side as you pull into the station (I think).
You can't miss the red.
Monday, June 15, 2009
Sometimes I think about getting a haircut and a real job, and then something nice happens.
Jessie just told me that another of my photographs was featured on Etsy.
We've decided to put the owls up tomorrow with some other new/old photographs, and the ngo has all but paid me for last month. Cash in account and I will print everything for everyone tomorrow ... sorry for the delay.
And here you can find part one of that speech we should probably make time to listen to sometimes, and part two.
4 cds full of processed photographs are over on the table and ready to mail, with a 5th almost done.
The speech is kind of inspiring ... specially on a bad day.
It's been good to just drop out of the world today ...
I have 2 cds of photographs burned and ready to deliver, 3 almost ready to burn and post.
Now I just have to come up with a name for an August exhibition, find the 'for sale' art shots for it too, keep collecting the documentary shots, write up the Genova interviews before heading back in July, process 3 more exhibition prints ready to frame for the evolving exhibition while continuing to take more cliental shots for it, process the artist's exhibition shots from the Zonnebeke exhibition and Istanbul ...
And I've done 3 loads of washing, gifting them to the rain that's just begun falling, vacuumed and cooked and cleared breakfast.
I am feeling torn between 'achievement' and 'how-did-life-get-this-insane?!
Photographing New Zealand's Minister of Labour and for Food Safety on Wednesday ... really. Meeting in Brussels on Tuesday, back at the exhibition on Thursday and Friday.
How about you?
So I photographed ANZAC Day on Flanders Fields, and I photographed a stunning singer and they were my tasks for the day but I also took almost 300 photographs of some owls and another 20 of two fishermen who caught my eye as they caught a fish each ...
And I always feel I should offer those photographs back to those kind enough to allow me to photograph them, free of charge, as it my impulse not their request. As I truly hate having my photograph taken, I always appreciate their generosity.
And then I was back to work on other jobs, as well as having the 3000-4000 Istanbul images to process. I wandered off to Naples and came back to an explosion of work.
The exhibition had to take priority and it did and here I am, still working on it because people loved what I did and asked me to continue.
Today I discovered that despite working all weekend, I was in a truly serious overload situation so ... I cancelled today.
I write this as I begin the task of processing as fast as possible, burning to cd and adding this work to the ever-increasing load of work to be mailed.
All of this is complicated by the fact that my day job hasn't paid me for last month and so I'm sitting on my hands as I wait for cash.
I love my life but I have to learn how to work it so that it works for me...
Note to self: must find someone to clean my apartment for me too.
Sunday, June 14, 2009
To be played on long road trips, scouts and school bus trips surely, or when everyone at the party has had enough alcohol.
Play it to the end for maximum enjoyment. I still can't listen to it without belly laughing as it runs for the full 8 minutes and 7 seconds. You can read more about Jonathan Richman here.
Dank u wel, Diede, for that long ago gift that still makes me laugh.
He has a true story song here.
Saturday, June 13, 2009
I've almost finished Ryszard Kapuscinksi's - The Other devouring it as the trams here in the city failed me completely this morning. Thank you for passing that on to me!
This morning, when I had to be at the exhibition by 10am ... afterwards Gert and I wandered into the city for lunch at Rubens Inn, next to Ruben's House , where a person can enjoy a lovely affordable lunch while looking out over the old Ruben's garden.
It's hot here, so we had to take shelter often... really.
Next shady place was de Slegte, my favourite secondhand bookshop and it was there that I accidentally bought Mirrors of the Unseen - Journeys in Iran for just 9euros.
This is terrible and I should be ashamed because I am presently surrounded by excellent books, reading more than a couple, depending on my mood. Tonya gifted me Pompeii by Robert Harris while I was in Naples, just to give me a taste of how it was when Mount Vesuvius exploded, burying Pompeii and Herculaneum ... assuring me that we weren't in the red zone in their house on the hill.
In the parcel she sent the other day I found my black jersey, as promised but there at the bottom I found a box of the deliciously terrible Twinkies covered by a stack of books.
My favourite books were The Towers of Trebizond which has had its first paragraphs checked and is here on my desk, and The Book Thief , the book I've been curling up with before bed and read yesterday as I travelled too and from Brussels because it is excellent an a fiction read.
I'm in and out of On Foot to the Golden Horn - A Walk to Istanbul, dependent on mood and mode of travel. And then I have Iyer Pico's Sun After Dark - Flights into Foreign which another series of essay-type writings like 'The Other', perfect for dipping in and out of at will. I found Pico for sale at the 'Intellectuals Market' in Istanbul, an old book buried in the stacks of secondhand books there.
My cup runneth over but for the 'to-do' list ... come back Shanti, I need you :)
Friday, June 12, 2009
Apologies for not replying to comments for a while - some have slipped through my fingers.
I love comments and I prefer to reply ... I've just been a little overwhelmed lately but wandered through replying to some now.
Thank you for taking the time to leave them and I'll get back to them as soon as I can, have to run to Brussels now.
Have a lovely Friday.
I was a woman who used to take long walks on lake edges and beaches back home in New Zealand, always with my much-loved labrador. Alone time was something I needed and rarely took forgranted. It has always been a deep-seated need in me, much as I love people.
Last night I wandered into the exhibition to talk further with the owner who wants me to continue taking photographs of the cliental - public self/private self and he will print them much bigger than the 30x45cm framed images I have been hanging.
We'll talk on Saturday and begin on the new path.
The Berlin assignment at the end of the year is delicious and will see my work hanging in one of the big Berlin Museums. Although not one of the 60 artists exhibiting, my work will be there during the 2 month exhibition but more on that when the time comes.
I am quietly spine-shiveringly excited about the prospect of long days and intense photography sessions...
I also put up my hand to photograph a wedding next year. I don't usually pursue weddings as my style doesn't lend itself to the needs of many couples however if they want something different and trust me, then I adore weddings.
The Berlin wedding, shot last year, was one of the high points of my life. A 3-day affair, a Jewish/Muslim wedding with both traditions being honoured in an intensely personalised way. There were rooms that overflowed with people from all over the world, with hugely talented musicians from the Berlin music academy ... a jazz band, a folk band, classical musicians and well ... who knew what was around the corner in that next room.
It was exquisite.
A daughter arrived just as the bride arrived at the wedding hall and I captured the immense love between the bride and that daughter, then the tumbling delighted love of brothers and sisters who worried she might not make it in time.
There was the Polish feast created by the housekeeper, the Jewish ceremony in the Moroccan restaurant, the formal German ceremony in the marriage hall, the dancing ... the wild crazy beautiful celebratory dancing to the passionate Eastern European band.
And so you see, I have a particular idea about the type of wedding I can do.
The bride had tears in her eyes when she viewed the first of 100s of images but there was so much love between people that that was the dominant emotion we captured.
This year seems full of possibilities which is good because as I write this, my 2008 tax return is being done and I had warned the accountant not to pity me ...
I did a lot for free in 2008 - rarely able to resist the impulse to offer photographs to those who allow me to capture them impulsively - those people you see fishing or with their owls or that beautiful young woman starting out as a singer.
And then there's the networking, the need to get my work known and out there. The exhibition was touch and go in the end, costing much more than I had expected ... actually long time readers will probably know that I didn't think through 'the cost' when I said yes to exhibiting.
And so it goes, a year full of possibilities seems to be there right in front of me, inshallah. Let's see how it plays out although I had to laugh as I read Laura's latest post ...
Thursday, June 11, 2009
The audience rose to its feet and I was not the only one in that vast hall with tears in my eyes.
Al Jazeera has the most beautiful article on the effect Barack Obama had on the people in Cairo ...
It was written by S Abdallah Schleifer is Distinguished Professor of Journalism at the American University in Cairo and Adjunct Scholar at the Middle East Institute in Washington DC.
The day began with lots of housework, torrential rain and wet washing minus a clothes-dryer.
Then the NGO phoned and needed some of my photographs presented in a particular way which galvanised me into action on all kinds of fronts, then came a second phone call from Berlin - one that sees me moving to the German city for a couple of months at the end of the year to document an extraordinary exhibition in one of the big museums there, and then the postman called by with a parcel from Naples ... Grazie Tonya and Sami!!
The apartment is clean and I'm not and there is still much to do before this day is over.
This photograph was taken at the Zonnebeke Chateau, home to the Passchendaele Museum.
We are women who move between beverages, changing our tastes with a flu or a cold, craving the one that we don't drink once we're recovered.
They were gin and tonic women, and here am I, their red wine girl, although neither of them lived long enough to know this thing about me.
Presently, my craving is coffee, good Kaldi supplied coffee, vegemite (not Marmite just now) and red wine ... moving into the Italian wines with summer approaching.
Poplar trees are another 'trip' home, most specifically the scent of poplar trees in the rain and as it's be been raining and we have a (just) still-standing small forest behind us, walking home through the rain last night transported me far away from Belgian streets and into the natural New Zealand world I grew up in.
Mum was a wanderer I think, one who never really wandered but embraced adventure and challenges. I think she might have loved this European life of mine, where I visit Italy perhaps as often as she visited Invercargill some years.
Neither of us could have imagined this mad life of mine while she lived but I have this strong sense of her travelling with me since she died so maybe she knows.
The coffee has gurgled in the pot and the toast has popped too. The apartment is clean again so now for some food from an old life before I begin round 2 of this day here in Belgie.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Sir Richard Burton, Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to El-Medinah and Meccah, 1855
Tuesday, June 09, 2009
Another day here in the flatlands of Belgie ...
I had Shannon's 'to-do' list to get through but the lazy demon had me slowing it down a little, working on processing the stunning soprano's photo order and the family bbq photographs at the same time on two different processing programmes.
Then I had to clean the apartment because my mother-in-law and father-in-law were coming to dinner. I pre-cooked the persian chicken sauce and then raced out to photograph the waitress and her family for the exhibition ... between massive thunderstorms and rain that soaked all who sailed in her on city streets.
Home to finish with dinner preparation and into the land of wannabe good daughter's in law and voila, here I am, close to midnight and trying to walk away from processing the waitress's photographs, with which I'm delighted.
Brussels office tomorrow.
Monday, June 08, 2009
Me ... I was too busy tearing my hair out in an action that surely resembles an incredibly stressed person.
I'll get back to the blog as life settles down.
I fell in love with the light here in the brick factory in Mesen. It kept changing, in seconds really and suddenly the ordinary brick pillars reminded me of sights seen in Rome and Istanbul somehow.
A church in the Belgian village of Mesen ... viewed from an angle I had never seen it from before. We were sitting on a picnic table on a walking path on our way to the Irish Peace Village ... but of course.
We spent the morning clambering about in the ruins of a 100 year old brick and tile factory. The light was delicious.
It should be known that I climbed up a narrow metal set of steps to reach this spot, photographed the mummified rat corpse, saw none of the huge spiders Marc saw and generally had an excellent time.
15 hours out wandering ... not bad for a Sunday.
Saturday, June 06, 2009
The exhibition is set to evolve - as I was asked if I would continue photographing the brasserie clients because everyone loves it.
Monday I'm photographing one of the waitresses with her family, Tuesday there's the butcher at work.
This brasserie is a delight to hang out in, with people from all walks of life wandering in.
There's the guy from the West Indies, the Croatian archer, the railway employee and the lace-maker.
I'm on a downhill run towards Genova in July ... so much writing to do, so many photographs to be organised.
Flanders Fields in the morning, an out-of-the-blue invitation to go wandering with two Belgian photographers. Shannon is coming along for the ride and we'll hook up with Steven, my much-loved Belgian historian friend.
Tot ziens from those of us avoiding demon drink tonight because ... it's not nice to wake up thinking 'Ik heb haar pijn'.
And so the exhibition began with the hanging of my photographs last night.
Jessie had worked with me on the final product, slipping the 'private life' photograph into the top left corner to the 'public life' photograph taken at Brasserie Reuzenhof.
Jan, my Reuzenhof host, seemed delighted with results and immediately took down the art works he had hanging, replacing them with mine. He has invited me to continue photographing his clients over the 3 weeks the exhibition runs for and we'll hang them for sale.
Today is about replacing the 2 frames broken last night by people other than myself (I'm usually grateful not to be 'the one'), then we have to hunt down a month's worth of groceries with the rental car and later, attend little Miss Four's dance performance.
Thursday, June 04, 2009
It's a stunning story that confirms the idea that one person really can make a difference. I devoured it while riding on trams, waiting at tram stops, eating lunch between taking photographs and could only admire the way Greg ran headlong into the most stunning brick walls again and again and again, only to stand up and keep trying and in doing so ... well, he has changed the lives of 1000s of children.
I love that it's not just the theory thing but that he's out there walking the walk as he talks the talk. There are articles about the work Greg does here.
So ummm yes, the book is informative, well-written and leaves me full of hope.
You can purchase it here or over at here.
Thank you Ms V ... you didn't need to bring gifts, your visit was gift enough but I loved the book but I guess you got that by now.
Note: there will be mistakes in this post, I'm tired. As I write this, Jessie is putting the last of my exhibition photographs together in their unique format. Printing, framing and hanging them tomorrow ... posting them over the weekend hopefully.
Wednesday, June 03, 2009
These days seem to be the days of the Di meltdowns, as the exhibition leaves no space for everything else that needs space ... and now wasn't the time to find out about ant invasions, something I had no previous experience of until recently.
I'm a little famous for having the great idea and not quite imagining the total story. So I can fly to Naples but run out of money before reaching home. I can say yes to a job that ends up costing me 400euro to carry out. I can be excited about a city art exhibition but fail to put together the cost sheet that would remind me that there are printing and framing costs ...
This is my life.
Gert is patient and mostly people find this little quirk of mine amusing.
But how could you forget ... ???
Oh I just do.
This morning the ants were waving hi from the honey and marching home via the bookcase to their secret hideout - the one we can't quite locate - when I realised that printing and framing looked all but impossible however ... what did the Dali Lama have to say about situations like mine?
He said, 'exile, suffering, loss - everything- is, if seen in the right light, a blessing and a teaching.' I borrowed that particular quote from Pico Iyer's excellent book, 'Sun After Dark'.
And then I had a little chuckle when I noticed I had marked in that same book, 'The music of the world, as Camus lost in Prague, observes, finds its way more easily into this heart grown less secure.'
My heart, my life, my pursuit of a career as a self-employed photographer ... it's all insecure. I live from one adventure (with its associated and usually unimagined costs) to the next adventure and this exhibition, much as it pained me this morning and saw me crawl back into my bed for 30 minutes of wallowing in sadness, is a grand adventure.
The people I have met and the photographs taken have been pure magic. I'm not raving about my technical skills or photography but I'm talking of the connections between these people who are simply allowing me to enter their worlds and capture them.
I made myself get up again, after all, I have quite a number of photographs to take today, then process, then deliver for printing tomorrow and ... I remembered that we had more 30x45cm frames somewhere, the ones I intended using when I first said yes to this exhibition actually ... in some 'safe place', that place where I lose most things.
The gods smiled down on me and I found them, on top of the wardrobe in those black rubbish bags that kept the dust off them ... of course. I also have a little collection of the same frames in various sizes and I do believe it's going to be okay ... as long as the printers can get my enlargements done in time.
But then there's this other exhibition/opening planned for our NGO office move in August. I have to be in Brussels on Friday taking photographs of a meeting that is part of the documentary element of this second exhibiton.
Friday ... oh yes, that would be the day I pick up the city exhibition prints and frame them and then ummmm hang them in time for the Saturday opening.
So ... we laugh or we cry.
We stand back and admire the mess that creates a life tapestry or we go back to bed.
I think though, that tonight, I might just have a nice bottle of cheap Italian red wine to carry me on through the insanity of this week.
Tot ziens from Belgie.
Tuesday, June 02, 2009
Thanks to Gretchen Rubin for this quote, taken from her Happiness Project blog.
Monday, June 01, 2009
One of this family's favourite people flew out today and tonight we find ourselves quietly adjusting to life without her here in the lounge, reading or working away on my little blue Samsung laptop ... breaking for laughter or a nice cup of English Breakfast tea.
Travel safe, Ms V.
Life hasn't slowed down ... if anything, we've kicked things up a gear or two and the Etsy shop is undergoing constant change with all kinds of new products being researched as I write this. My daughter is an inspiring creature and I'm excited about her ideas for our Etsy future.
I took a peek at my Istanbul series and was delighted by things found lurking there, waiting for me to get back to editing them. I mailed photographs to friends ... photographs I should have sent long ago but just haven't revisited.
Tomorrow I'm photographing so many interesting people that I expect to end the day empty. The exhibition images are coming together ... I love the way my work finds its own voice or path.
The title will be Public Self/Private Self but already I have been taken on a journey I didn't expect. The press conference for the exhibition happens on Thursday, with the prints being hung Friday night. The exhibition booklet has been distributed and I'm delighted with it. The larger exhibition I'm a small part of is titled Kunst Op De Baan - een symbiose tussen kunst en commerce.
Hmmm, I think that's all for tonight. I crashed and burned most of yesterday but perhaps it was necessary. Today has surely been a better day. Here's hoping tomorrow is excellent for all of us.
Sunday, May 31, 2009
I did ... didn't I?
I don't know, let me look, I don't remember.
Silence as we wonder who has lost whose mind.
Oh wait, you mean this one right in front of me?
Why yes I do.
Saturday, May 30, 2009
Wild crazy days of photographing railway employees, artists, and archers ... then today, a spot of calm as I entered the alleyway of the artists here in Antwerpen.
I want to be worthy of a studio space there one day.
It's heaven, truly really.
Friday, May 29, 2009
This morning I photographed 2 chefs at work, an 81 year old woman making lace, 3 pensioners playing cards, a matchbox collector before taking a break. I head back there soon.
Tomorrow I have a photo shoot with an artist at art school in the morning, then an eel festival to attend in the afternoon.
It's all about this 'Public Self/Private Self' exhibition.
I'll let you know how things go and post the collection here once it has been finalised.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
I know how frustrated some of my readers become when I blog about the plight of Palestinians but it's how I was raised. You find the courage to speak out if you think something is wrong hoping, that if the roles were reversed, there would be someone somewhere, speaking out on your behalf.
New Zealand divided itself over apartheid in South Africa during the famous 1981 South African rugby tour of New Zealand.
For 56 days in July, August and September 1981, New Zealanders were divided against each other in the largest civil disturbance seen since the 1951 waterfront dispute. More than 150,000 people took part in over 200 demonstrations in 28 centres, and 1500 were charged with offences stemming from these protests.
It's in our nature to speak out, perhaps to make up for our colonising past or perhaps it's having an understanding of the consequences of colonisation, that wound that rarely heals ... who knows.
But maybe it's enough if I simply quote someone else writing of the plight of Palestinians, locked out of or into their country that is slowly being erased.
“In this place, adds Robyn Creswell, “connection” turns out to be only another word for separation or quarantine: the loop of airports never ends, like Borges’s famous library. The cruelty of the Palestinian situation is that these purgatories are in no way extraordinary but rather the backdrop of daily existence."
And if you're wondering what inspired this post, then visit Laila's blog - over at http://a-mother-from-gaza.blogspot.com/
I have no idea what history will make of the world's acceptance of this truly horrible situation.
Back in April and out on Flanders Fields, I promised to take some photographs of New Zealand commemorative stones with the names of relatives for friends back home in New Zealand.
It has taken me altogether too long to organise myself to the point of processing, downsizing and emailing those images however it happened today and I was so delighted to find this image.
Flanders Fields fairly shone under rare deep blue skies, alternating with the puffy white cloud scene you see in this scene.
Monday, May 25, 2009
Yesterday I leapt out of bed at 8.10am, ran to my phone in the lounge worried that I had slept through any urgent phone calls our guest might have made as she landed, knowing she would be on the 9am airport bus ... all going well.
She hadn't needed to call and we arrived at the bus stop ahead of her, delighted to see her after so long apart. We dumped baggage and headed out to Ruben's House for a lunch at the delicious restaurant just next door to the painter's place. Unbelievably, we were bathed in sunshine and I actually had to take shelter under the shade of a big umbrella.
Next on the list was a quick visit to Hans Anders, the optician with a fantastic deal on glasses and sunglasses at the moment. Gert and I both needed new glasses, my lenses are so scratched that I am visually challenged with or without my spectacles these days.
And tea, two large packets of Earl Grey and English Breakfast tea leaves were purchased from the little tea shop in the city centre.
I slept deeply last night.
This morning dawned and I was prowling around at 6am after falling into my bed at 9pm, something I rarely do.
The New Zealand lamb was prepared, roasted and removed from the oven, then the potatoes, kumara (sweet potato) garlic and onions were dropped into the meat juice to cook. I do believe I made one of my best gravy's with the resulting bits and pieces.
Simon and Paola arrived with their children and today was one of those lovely days where you get to spend time with some of the very best people you know. Vanilla ice cream accompanied Gert's speciality dessert - cherries in a slightly thickened sauce to finish the meal ...
Tomorrow is another day.
Let's see how things go.
Saturday, May 23, 2009
At the bottom of the photograph you can see the ancient city of Herculaneum, buried by Mount Vesuvius back in August of A.D.79, under more lava than Pompeii.
Then there is an almost seamless joining of ancient to contemporary, with the new city built on top of the buried city in some instances and there, in the top third of this photograph is the mighty Mount Vesuvius.
I took some comfort in the fact that we weren't living in the 'red zone' and that we would apparently survive Vesuvius exploding but still ...
This photograph still makes me laugh ...
I was photographing the antics of the Bella Napoli H3 crowd, post-run and 'antics' kind of captures the spirit of playfulness going on. I looked round and my camera captured these guys who were obviously stunned enough to stop their bikes as they rode through the park. And you can see the laughter on the face of the guy just coming into the shot.
Oh those crazy crazy Hash House Harriers!
Friday, May 22, 2009
Gert snuck up on me while we were out on Flanders Fields last month, Gary ... writes this laughing woman.
I'm comfortable with this kind of portrait - the 'caught unawares' style.
I know how to make everyone else relax in front of the lens, just not myself.
I told Gert that I like flying these days.
He replied that he might buy me an ankle bracelet, one that beeps whenever I try to leave the country. Laughing, he explained that he thought my dislike of flying had kept me home more than he had expected ... if I liked flying, well who knew what the new schedule would be.
It's less than 2 hours to Italy, maybe he's right, writes this smiling woman.
I landed in Belgium yesterday, was picked up and whisked off to a family BBQ. It was a delightful way to return ... 23 celsius, blue skies, red wine, fantastic food and good company.
At first I resisted and left my camera packed up but about halfway through I had to go get it and a few hundred photographs happened disturbing quickly.
I had a beautiful photograph of Mamadou dancing with little Miss Four and one of Raf bbq-ing pineapple. A beautiful one of little Miss 4 and Nikki but permission permission, I must get permission.
Last night I slept like the dead, falling into my bed about 9.30pm. Today it's blue skies and cleaning ... a most delicious guest arrives from America bright and early tomorrow and I have a family photography session booked.
It's all very exciting!
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
I travel on a wing and a prayer and sometimes the universe is laughing at me and the wings ... well they do their best.
Tonight in Rome it was all about whether I had enough money to
- pay the hotel - check
- pay the train to the airport in the morning - check
- get dinner tonight - probably not
- catch the bus home from brussels airport - probably not (how was I going to tell Gert that last one?)
But ... this isn't cause for panic. I'm lucky, apparently I internalise everything which allows me to carry on and work through the tricky situations I often find myself in.
It's silly things like having enough to pay my VAT every 3 months or having Oxfam take their automatic donation out of my bank account which sometimes sends me into a financial speed wobble. It's committing to adventures or just life in general before I have the money or ... alternatively, just after I've completely run out of money. This happens often too.
But life has a way of working out and I've just discovered I can afford dinner tonight and that my long-suffering husband is able to bail me out on the hotel bill. I could have done it but only just and I am hungry tonight.
I'm a terrible creature who is compelled to wander ... from the time I could first climb the wooden gate at home. Everyone knew me back then and would take me home to my mum or phone her. These days it's more difficult to find someone who knows me and is happy to escort me all the way home.
Sadly, I just opened my email here ... but even that was a saga of Di proportions. It took some time to realise that I needed to go downstairs for a cable because that free wifi isn't in every room - some rooms need an internet cable ... and yes, it just happened that they did have a travel adapter for my American laptop because I replaced the one I lost in Napoli with the wrong type for the plug here in Rome.
I'm laughing at myself as I write this but as I was saying, the sad thing I discovered as I opened my email now was a request for a photography session in Naples. If only...
So don't imagine me rolling in cash when I travel, I'm usually about 3cms from sleeping in the gutter and eating from rubbish bins but for kindness of friends who give me couches and apartments and houses to rest in.
There, how's that for a truth.
Ciao from this bemused woman who has arrived in Roma!
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Monday, May 18, 2009
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Tomorrow is the gnocchi lesson with Anna.
I adore Anna. I met her in Rome when she was travelling with Tonya and Jack and she promised a gnocchi lesson if I came to bella Napoli. And so I did.
I promise better quality posts after I pull this tired body of mine back together.
Buona sera from sunny Napoli.
Today we wandered into the archeological museum here in Naples and discovered the most remarkable things ...
This is a fragment of a list of the citizens of Herculaneum AD 65-70, in case you were wondering.
28 celsius, a humid heat here.
Hope your weekend was truly delicious.
Saturday, May 16, 2009
Mad Dogs and Englishmen, an American, a Canadian, one New Zealander and various other crazy people ...
Well actually, I'm the photographer and as such I have created an illusion of a kind of Hippocratic Oath, whereby as photographer, there are things I just don't do ...ie, running when documenting Hash House Harrier outings.
It's sunnny ... a soft breeze on a hot day over here in Naples and I'm having a truly delicious time.
Ciao for now!
Friday, May 15, 2009
There was the long conversation with a couple of Canadian military guys while I was working on photographs taken at the baby shower and later, of the children and the bubble-blowing session on the balcony here.
Then there was that long table, outdoors and loaded down with Neopolitan bbq brilliance and red wine.
It's 22 celsius as I write this down at 23.28pm.
It has been a lovely day here in this land that I love.
Facts taken from a book titled tutta napoli state that naples takes up 11,727 square kilometres in total municipal area, that there are 4,059,196 inhabitants in the province, that the population density is 8,566 people per square kilometre.
There are 5 universities, 17 shipping lines using the port, 3 catacombs, 64 consulates, 7 national museums, 14 municipal libraries and the list continues ...
As a New Zealander, from a country with a 200 year old material proof kind of history, sculptures from A.D. startle me into stillness sometimes.
I loved this one, the muscle definition on his belly and the confidence of his pose ... a glimpse of someone from someplace long ago.
I was wondering why photographing sculpture so fascinates me but it's probably all about the fact that someone has captured a slice of a life and it's there for me to study without anyone complaining about paparazzi.
My lovely hosts are a American/Canadian couple and it just so happens that they have offered me access to the yummiest snack food.
I was finally able to complete my ethnographic work into the whole Twinkie thing, only the second time I've eaten that disturbing little treat in my life. It's not available down in New Zealand, despite reading a million Archie comics while growing up ... Archie comics that carried Twinkie adverts, making the kid that I was a little curious.
This morning, realising I was a complete innocent abroad, Tonya and Sammi set me up with a PEZ machine. Yes, that me was me eating PEZ sweets from a penguin.
Tuesday night and I arrived to real American hamburgers, delicious with the bright orange Velveeta slices, the ones that might not be good for you but taste like they could be.
I finally had Root Beer yesterday but couldn't finish it, finding it too similar to drinking liquid liniment ...
It's research work really. I've been reading of these things forever and a girl gets curious. Today holds the promise of a can of cold Dr Pepper and there are cheeseballs (not seen since New Zealand) in the big jar on the bar. Oreos and York peppermint patties live over there too.
My morning coffee is this interesting mix of percolator coffee and Hazelnut Coffee-Mate however, this morning, as I passed by the Unrepentant Wanderer in the kitchen, some Baileys may have been poured into that breakfast coffee of mine ...
Life on the road. It's a tough and difficult journey sometimes ... ;)
Ciao from this kiwi living a Neopolitan/American kind of life.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Herculaneum was the Pompeii I didn't know about before today.
I did a little research and read that Herculaneum was still being repaired after an earthquake back in A.D.62 when Vesuvius erupted in the August of A.D.79, burying it under more lava than Pompeii.
Evacuations were started in 1709 by a Prince Elbruf, who was apparently more about stealing objects found than preserving the Roman town. The exciting thing about this fossilised city is the fact that it was a seaside resort for patricians and its construction was more elaborate than Pompeii.
I hope to have captured something of the elegant beauty I felt as I wandered the empty streets of this ancient city.
I loved this room ...
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
The beauty of any flight, after all, is that, as soon as we leave the ground, we leave a sense of who we are behind. The four walls that marked and enclosed our lives this morning grow smaller and still smaller, less and less distinct, till finally they disappear altogether in the grid of the houses all around. We rise and rise through the clouds, into a blue stillness, and the very 'we' and 'I' that seemed so urgent when we awoke become as remote, as hard to take seriously, as that house, far, far below, now invisible.
Pico Iyer, from Sun After Dark.
Out walking this morning, I had this - my first view of Mount Vesuvius. Apparently we're not in the red zone if it erupts. So bright outside, I shall be stalking this volcano in the days ahead ...
Almost everything on my to-do list was done ...as much as was possible anyway.
The trip to Naples went like this: a tram to the airport shuttle bus in Antwerp city, shuttle bus to Brussels airport, a plane - less than 2 hours to Rome (and 49euro each way), then onto the airport express train - 11 euro and 22 minutes to Rome central station then ... she takes a deep breath, onto the fast train to Naples, well under 2 hours and voila, I arrived in Naples - 11 hours after leaving home.
It looks like another crazy beautiful city, Istanbul-style. The taxi ride seemed like a small ethnographical taste as we drove across the city doing things the Neapolitan way, which was kind of like sitting back and relaxing on a galloping horse.
Tonya met me and drove me up to her mountain-side home and there I was fed delicious American burgers, had my glass filled with Italian red wine and met some really lovely people.
It was a nice beginning.
We're off wandering soon, 25 celsius at 8am.
Ciao from Italy!
Monday, May 11, 2009
The animation was created by Bernard Derriman and the song was by an alternative Australian rockband, TISM
I hope you're more successful than me at getting this out of your head afterwards ...
Sunday, May 10, 2009
The good news is, 10.30pm and it's found again.
Gert came home and voila, the photographs were recovered from a sulky hard-drive. Highly technical issue ... turn it off, turn it on again and there they are.
Tonight I didn't photograph the Flemish prime minister but I did get to photograph a Belgian MP and various other delicious folk at a wine and cheese evening and then ended the evening in intense conversation with a lovely Croatian woman who I will photograph one day soon in her 16th century medieval crossbow costume.
There's a group of them, and there was a conversation about some kind of traditional pipe-smoking groups. More to follow one day ... after Naples I guess.
I cleaned my desk today, I put all my 'to-do' lists together on one list and almost died of panic however I am getting there finally.
I fly Tuesday morning, tomorrow promises two options ... things will either flow seamlessly and I will achieve all or it will be a nightmare of late everywhere and things left undone.