A Musing On Time

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If time was a doorway into which I could
slip through to yesteryears what would I find?
The past is written on pages of history books;
lives lived, some celebrated, some unknown;
weathered old graves, scattered leaves dancing
over Elizas and Daniels, long forgotten.

A little piece of living past. A Charming Discovery I made earlier this year. George Elliot’s Scenes of Clerical life (published by Blackwood and Sons), dating from I think, the 1880s.

Book2

Book1

I was showing this book to a friend a few months ago, having had this book on my bookcase for about a year; I had not even read it. I like to collect old books, the beautiful embossed covers, the crackle their old pages make as you turn them, they have a certain charm that modern books lack. This book I found for 10p in a second hand bookshop- it was so little a price for a late nineteenth century book, but its loose front cover set its lowly price.

After my friend had left, I noticed its spine was loose, and on closer inspection I saw something sitting inside the spine.

Intrigued, I carefully lifted out this little piece of history. It appeared to be a fragment of a ledger book, dating from 1836, made from rag paper.

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The clothes that made this rag paper could possibly date from the Regency period, so about the turn of the nineteenth century, as in those days clothes were worn until they were almost worn out- people would sell their clothes to rag men for rag paper factories.

I spiral back into time, wondering what the clothes were that made the rag paper- who wore them, what clothes were they? An elegant gentleman’s jacket worn on a carriage ride with his fiancée? A lady’s nightgown?

I see the poor women and children in the factory, labouring long, weary ten hour days to make the old clothes into paper, and finally..the paper arrives bound into plain notebooks, by horse and cart, wrapped in brown paper parcels to Blackwood and Sons Publishing House in London, or perhaps Edinburgh. A serious looking clerk sits at a heavy wooden desk, with ink and pen, head bent over his book, meticulously recording the company’s expenditure.

The Paper still sits inside the spine, its home for the last 134 ( or thereabouts) years. I am probably the first person to touch it since the 1880s, which delights me and I wonder who the man was who placed it there- what was his name? Was he happy in his life? I have been told by the bookseller that old paper was often placed into spines of books when bookbinding to set the pages together. This little fragment, is a link to then and now; from the unknown man to me. I have a fondness and a certain respect for it- it has long survived its makers and will outlast modern day paper, for rag paper is an archivist’s delight. Wood pulp paper eventually disintegrates, rag paper survives for centuries–it might well survive me.

Every so often I lift the front cover away from the spine to look at it, marvelling at the exquisite handwriting, which has far more appeal than an Excel spread sheet, the modern equivalent I suppose, and breathe in the old paper smell. The past has that special scent; earthy, dusty and real. In the future what will they have to smell or even touch? Computer programs exist in a virtual space, odourless, intangible, efficient and time saving yes, but charmless.

The Paper holds many stories of the past, what secrets can it tell?

A carriage rolling over gravel, pulled by black horses;

An elegant gentleman and his sweetheart,

taking long walks in the park.

Her gloved hand in his, she wears her new dress,

shimmering blue which is echoed in her eyes,

and admired by her gentleman companion.

Marriage follows, a family of six children,

the faded dress given to the maid in the kitchen,

who wears it every Sunday into holes.

The Rag man collects it at the back door,

throws it into his cart, it begins a new life-

Pulped by rough, red hands in a big vat,

the dress mixes with other rags, old unwanted

garments transforming into paper.

Its new life records the publisher’s expenses;

pencils, ink, pens; all neatly inked into

its surface, kept in a book in a bureau.

Years pass and the records become old;

no longer needed; the pages are torn out,

cut neatly with scissors in a steady hand,

and fitted into the spine of a new book,

Which tells the fictional tale of Milby Town.

History and fiction merge into one;

young lovers, hard working servants, Rag Men

and factory workers; pages turn- they record lives;

both real and imagined and speak to the future.

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Mozart’s London Odyssey – BBC Documentary

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Lucy Worsley traces the forgotten and fascinating story of the young Mozart’s adventures in Georgian London. Arriving in 1764 as an eight-year-old boy, London held the promise of unrivalled musical opportunity. But in telling the telling the tale of Mozart’s strange and unexpected encounters, Lucy reveals how life wasn’t easy for the little boy in a big bustling city.

With the demands of a royal performance, the humiliation of playing keyboard tricks in a London pub, a near fatal illness and finding himself heckled on the streets, it was a lot for a child to take. But London would prove pivotal, for it was here that the young Mozart made his musical breakthrough, blossoming from a precocious performer into a powerful new composer.

Lucy reveals that it was on British soil that Mozart composed his first ever symphony and, with the help of a bespoke performance, she explores how Mozart’s experiences in London inspired his colossal achievement. But what should have earned him rapturous applause and the highest acclaim ended in suspicion, intrigue and accusations of fraud.

 

Hearing Colour- Neil Harbisson, Artist, part one

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Neil’s talk is very interesting and full of humour- he is witty and so positive!  His jokes made me laugh out loud- such as  references to eating his favourite songs and maybe if teenagers had Lady Gaga salads they might eat their vegetables!


He is aware that his eyes don’t show him what most of us see- a bright world bursting with colour and vitality.  As an artist myself who loves flowers I have a hard time imagining what it would be like to only see shades of grey. I’ve always been into colour and even did a colour therapy diploma a few years ago. Colour is a big part of my life. But yet, Neil presents his world in such a way that my reaction is not of pity as I expected to react, but wonderment- he HEARS colour with his device and uses it to create music and art; he can even hear infra red.


This device has become part of his life and changed how he experiences the world so much that he now sees himself as a cyborg:

Neil Harbisson is a Catalan-raised, British-born contemporary artist and cyborg activist best known for having an antenna implanted in his skull and for being officially recognised as a cyborg by a government.

The antenna allows him to perceive visible and invisible colours such as infrareds and ultraviolets via sound waves. The antenna’s internet connection allows him to receive colours from space as well as images, videos, music or phone calls directly into his head via external devices such as mobile phones or satellites.

Harbisson identifies himself as a cyborg, he feels both his mind and body are united to cybernetics. He doesn’t feel he is using or wearing technology, instead he feels he is technology. His artworks investigate the relationship between colour and sound, experiment the boundaries of human perception and explore the use of artistic expression via sensory extensions.

 In 2010 he co­-founded the Cyborg Foundation with Moon Ribas, an international organisation that aims to help humans become cyborgs, defend cyborg rights and promote cyborgism as a social and artistic movement.

 
 
 

I have to admit to having  a negative response to the idea of cyborgism- the images if scary sci dystopias, loss of human warmth and connection to nature, creatures like the Borg in Star Trek TNG coming to mind, but in the case of Neil Harbisson I see how this implanted device has changed his world for the better.

 

Allemande from Handel’s D minor Suite HWV 428, played on a real 18th century harpsichord

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Allemande from Handel’s D minor Suite HWV 428, played on the William Smith (c1720) harpsichord at the Bate Collection in Oxford, by Douglas Mews. This instrument quite possibly was played by Handel himself and is certainly built in a style he would have been familiar with. Recorded at a Gallery Recital 25.5.13.

 

Beauty and sadness

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Love this artwork by Zlatkomusicart.

Zlatko Music Art

abstract-portrait-woman-beauty-and-sadness-contemporary-art-painting-by-Zlatko-Music.jpg Beauty and sadness, abstract portrait (acrylic on canvas). Art painting by contemporary artist Zlatko Music

I was out of inspiration so I decided to clean up my workspace.
I’m a pretty messy, and often not very well organised so there are always a lot of sketches and drawings all across the floor.
So in this process of trying to organise things a bit, I came across this drawing of a woman’s portrait. It was something I draw just for practice and left it there.
Suddenly, as I’m looking at this drawing inspiration kicks in! There was something in that pose of a woman, it was beautiful, but she looked so sad. Sometimes sadness can be really beautiful in a strange way.
I don’t know if I managed to capture that sadness in a painting, but nevertheless it looks very interesting to me, and on a bright side I started painting…

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