Once upon a time, there was a place of fertile fields…
Everybody knew the dykes were in poor repair. Extra taxes were raised to pay for urgent maintenance work.
But the dukes of Holland, the Hoeks and the Kabaljauws, were squabbling among themselves. They spent the tax money on weapons and armies and no doubt told their subjects it was essential for ‘security’. Fixing the dykes was important, just unaffordable right now. It could wait till the threat from the enemy subsided and the economy improved.
Then came St Elizabeth’s Night, November 19th, 1421. Continue reading
Karel Appel’s playful sculpture outside the Cobra Museum in Amstelveen.
I feel well disposed towards artists who admit they really don’t understand what they’re doing.
“I just mess around a bit,” said Dutch artist Karel Appel; and it became the most famous thing he ever said in his life.
Appel’s work and that of his 1950s contemporaries from COpenhagen, BRussels and Amsterdam is celebrated in the COBRA Museum in Amstelveen, just outside Amsterdam. The museum’s permanent collection is one of the Netherlands’ greatest treasures.
This year, Appel and his fellow Cobras have been joined in Amstelveen by work from New York’s Guggenheim. Pollack, Rothko, de Koning, Poliakoff and others splashed, dribbled and daubed colour onto canvas, apparently at random, yet by some magical process the effect is wonderful. We thought the exhibition was fabulous, and highly recommend it to anyone who’ll be in Amsterdam over the next few months. Continue reading
We like Big Things in Australia. So of course Glenrowan needs a Big Ned.
We decided to take a few days to make a touristy road trip of our drive back from Melbourne to Sydney, stopping off at the attractions in towns along the way.
We hoped people in towns now bypassed by the highway would appreciate our interest and our custom.
Glenrowan, 184km north-east of Melbourne, was the first stop. Continue reading
It costs nothing to look at one of the world’s most beautiful cities.
As a renowned scrooge, usually travelling on a tight budget (read: ‘my own money’), I’m regularly asked for advice about finding cheap fun in otherwise expensive cities.
There’s still a little edge to New York’s Lower East Side, though tourists come to see it now.
There were some rude shocks for landlords in New York’s 1901 legislation. Fire escapes were to be made of metal, not wood. Each room had to have a window. A minimum of one toilet per two families was to be provided.
After unsuccessfully fighting the new laws in the courts, many slum landlords chucked it in the too hard basket, evicted their tenants, boarded up their tenements and invested their money elsewhere.
In 1988 Ruth Abrams and Anita Jacobson found 97 Orchard St in original condition, and set about turning it into a museum. Anyone with the slightest interest in America’s immigrant history should be very grateful to them. Continue reading
Crush a few coloured rocks, add oil and alcohol, smear onto canvas and there you have it - a Rembrandt!
In the studio where Rembrandt created The Night Watch, I started at the beginning, learning how to make paint.