The sense of a lack of sleep looms in the back of my eyes. Occasionally, making it’s way to the top of my eyelids to weigh them down more than normal.
I told Bec that I was 4:15am to slightly keep the peace, but the truth of the matter was that it was nearly 5am by the time I went to bed. I’d been up blogging and catching up on posts all last night. I’ve worked out that between writing them up, editing the pictures and then uploading them and ordering the layout, it averages about 1.5-2 hours per post that I upload.
Sure, there is some pleasure in the knowledge that there is a band of followers who use the stories I write as a little means to either start their day, or see the evening in with. But, the biggest reason that I keep taking up to 1/12 of each day to record the happenings of that day is more for the fact that when I look back in 5, 6, 10 years time, I am going to be able to look back and read my own stories about the things I have done while travelling. I’m a bit of a main-points man. My previous employers will be able to vouch for this.
People will tell me a whole list of things, and I find that most of the time, I tend to take all the most important things, and easily remember them, meanwhile the finer details get left by the wayside. I’ve been getting better in recent years, but largely, this isn’t my best quality.
By taking a few hours each morning or night, I can ensure that the details from each day are recorded while they are still available. I have read through my journal multiple times after years, and found myself thinking “Wow. I don’t remember X being something relevant in my life”, and then seeing how those events have all played a part in shaping who I am today.
Hindsight is 20/20.
Foresight is practiced.
I wanna be using this even after I get back to Australia as a tool to help hone that foresight, and to recollect fondly with 20/20, instead of foggy memories.
For those who do follow and read my memoirs, I am glad that you get something from them. I hope you continue to do so 🙂
Let us begin.
Earlier in the week, we did the Smithsonian National Gallery of Art. But, we only ended up doing the Modern Art side of the building. There is an entire other building, which is a monumental collection of art from all corners of the earth, in all sorts of mediums, through all eras of art. Wow. I have to say, yeah, I appreciate art. But, now, I understand it more.
I have always liked paintings from years before. I can appreciate painters and art from my century, but if I am to be honest, I still feel as though most of the historical events from this century really aren’t that far removed from the world and era we live in today. Perhaps early in the century might be a touch different, but largely, this is where I find myself with art. I can always respect art where art is due.
I think artists have an incredible gift to be able to invoke emotions and tell stories through various mediums, and to be able to use shades, hues and textures to drive the story home that much further. This, I believe is an incredible gift, regardless of the era and medium used.
But the technical ability of the painters from years gone by wasn’t what captured my excitement and attention on this trip to the gallery. It was the way that history was captured. First things first, for anyone who has tried to draw or paint a person, and do it in a way that is even remotely recognisable, you, of all people know how friggin hard it is to actually be able to paint human features in a remarkable way. Add, on top that, that you have to make those features unique to that specific person. Add, on top of that, that for an incredible artist, you need to be able to capture soul and emotion in those features also. And then using paint as a medium, where you blend layer upon layer, all with the end image in mind.
Like seriously, that is impressive on its own.
So, now, we can vouch that these artists are recording the scenes they see accurately. That is a 100%. I’m not talking about the artists who paint poseidon standing as victor. Thats not quite it. I’m talking about the artists who painted the daily happenings around them. The things that they saw. This, I found was the most amazing thing ever.
I found myself time after time today, standing in front of paintings that were nearly 500 years old. That is ridiculous. There was even a chalice from the 11th century. And nearly a thousand years later, I am standing in a museum, looking at this object, and wondering who drank from it? Who made it? How did they make it that long ago? Why did they make it? How much longer will it last throughout human history?
Art, I find lets the mind wonder. For instance, Bec’s favourite painting today was of two girls looking out from a window. One was pretty well laughing, just in the background, and the other was leaning out the window, propped up on her elbow, with a smug look of satisfaction. But, we will never know why. The artist is long dead, and we only have one side of the view. It leaves your mind to imagine the rest of the story.
There aren’t many stimuli I find that really get me thinking like art does. Good art, anyways. I really don’t get Jackson Pollock. Sorry to all his fans. Can’t get my head around it. I see some pieces of art where it invokes a certain emotion, and the piece really isn’t about anything at all. This, I find is impressive. Pollock, I find doesn’t do that for me at all.
Anyways, back to my original point. The thing that captured me so much today was that there are so many times that I wonder what life would have looked like 200, 300, 400 years ago. And now, I actually get a glimpse into what it actually looked like. The paintings that I found myself staring at were the ones who were also talented. I mean, anyone can take a photo, but to capture someone’s soul in a photograph is different. I believe good painters have the same skills, and my word, I found myself in front of some incredible painter’s work today.
Some for literally minutes, just standing and watching.
I think the other thing that made it that much more exciting was that in so many other museums, these half-millennia-old paintings are hidden behind glass, separated by barriers.
This made it all the more surreal.
One of my favourite sculptures was a sculpture called The Abduction of Hippodamia. It was a small sculpture, but it was detailed and immaculate. It depicted the story of this Centaur which tried to save this chick after all these other Centaurs got drunk and started going troppo.
It was a cool sculpture.
What was cooler, however, was the fact that this was the actual real original, made in 1877.
And I was able to touch it if I wanted to.
There was nothing between me and these hundreds of years old paintings and artefacts.
This, is what I think made the gallery particularly powerful.
I got talking to one of the guards, and she was saying that she hears on a regular basis that so many people think NGA to be the best gallery they have ever been to. I can understand why. They even have had pieces from names you would never expect to be in Washington. Names like Leonardo Da Vinci, Michaelangelo, Claude Monet, Van Gogh, Salvador Dali and the list goes on. Its phenomenal.
All original pieces.
All completely exposed.
All right in front of you.
I think the thing that makes that gallery so amazing is that all these incredible pieces of work are right in front of you, and they are pretty much at your mercies. I mean, if you wanted to, you could destroy that piece in seconds. Hundreds of years in history gone forever. Pieces of art that have survived centuries, only to be lost to the hand of the thoughtless in a moment of carelessness. That, makes you feel as though you have the power to alter our recorded history. It also makes you feel obliged to care for it. Gives you a sense of ownership.
I’ve noted in years past, that when you give someone who usually wouldn’t care about anything, a great enough responsibility, they take an abundance of care. I think the NGA have gone to the extreme of this, but it has worked, and I have no doubt it will continue to work.
My favourite piece was by a painter named Bartholomeus Van Der Helst, who was a dutch golden age painter. He painted this piece in 1655, called ‘The Governors of Harquebusier’. It is bloody massive, and every detail, intentional. There is so much doing on, and you can walk right up to it and examine any piece of it. This, you weren’t mean to take photos of.
This, I took photos of.
Artists always talk about leaving behind a legacy. Whether that is literature from a book, a painting, sketch, sculpture, anything. They all leave something for the world to look back on in years upon years to come. Its incredible.
I’ve always seen people talk about it in the art circles before, but finally, I am beginning to understand it for myself.
I hope to understand it more, but exercises like this certainly help.
Come back tomorrow,