A Passage of Time

Time is the indefinite continued progress of existence and events that occur in an apparently irreversible succession from the past, through the present, to the future.

Wikipedia entry for “Time”

In many blog posts and articles over the past week time and its progress has been a prime topic. There was a time – there’s that word again – when the turning of the century was a big deal, now it would appear the start of a new decade has become an event. There are “best of ….” list and even more fun “worst of ….” lists being published. Events are relived, analyzed, and commented on. I’m not sure why – perhaps as a way of flipping the page on a decade that has been a troubled one. Though can anyone really think of a decade that has not been?

“And why,” asks my two faithful readers, “your comments dripping with curmudgeonly cynicism on these retrospectives? A great deal of your time lately, and your posts for that matter, is spent looking back and recalling the past.” True dear reader, looking back over this year’s posts (okay I did it, get of my back! I’m old okay! That’s what old people do!) many, if not most, have been based on memories. Perhaps that is what happens when you are aware that the past in that progress Wikipedia refers to is lengthier than you know the future will be.

And these random thoughts on time, past, future et al were engender by?

This wonderful Christmas gift I received from my husband.

Untitled – Adam Sultan
Oil on Mylar – 2001

An early work by local artist Adam Sultan, it resounded with me the first time I saw it. Strangely my initial association was with photographs I had seen of The Eternal Road, a legendary 1937 opera-oratorio by Kurt Weill. But it also reminded me of the Gustav Doré illustrations for Dante’s Divine Comedy, if not in style certainly in form. The more I looked at it the deeper and more personal I found it’s message. For me there is a movement forward to it that conveys that unavoidable passage of time. That “irreversible succession from the past, through the present, to the future.”

December 29th is Pepper Pot Day. So let’s spice things up around here!

But Is It Art?

The designers/conceptors of the Neuwe Statendam leaned heavily on the world of music for much of their inspiration. Many decks were named after composers: Mozart, Gershwin, Beethoven, Schubert etc. And much of the art work followed a musical theme.

And they followed through with what was called the Music Walk on the Plaza Deck. Three very distinctive rooms devoted to four types of music: classical, classic rock and roll, blues, and 20th century pop.

Lincoln Centre Presents shared the space with B. B. King’s Blues Club. The starburst chandeliers were reminiscent of the Austrian crystal at the Metropolitan Opera House during the chamber recitals but dimmed when the smoky atmosphere (and it was atmosphere only – smoking is allowed in one small area outdoors aft) when the Blues band took over.

The Rolling Stone Rock Room was opposite the Billboard Onboard – a duelling piano bar. Shows and rooms were arranged so that there was no overlap or conflict.

For the first time on any cruise we saw all the entertainment lounges full of people and in the blues and rock and roll venues people were up and dancing! It was difficult most evenings to get a seat and more often than not we stood in the entrance way for a song or two and then moved on to the next entertainment. A very successful innovation by Holland America.

And yes Mitchell I agree – it IS art!

September 28th is Ask A Stupid Question Day. Well I think I’ve got that covered with today’s title!

But Is It Art?

The good folk at Holland America trumpet the quality of the art that. lines the stairwells and concourses of Neuwe Statendam. Though I found some it it at times whimsical – such as the needle point dress makers display I shared earlier – or interesting, much of it does beg the question: Is it really art?

Here’s a few pieces with more to follow – there were 14 decks, three stairwells and a myriad of open spaces to fill.

Does anyone still wear a hat? – Stephen Sondheim.

I was saw an exhibition of the works of Andy Warhol at the marvellous Byzantine Museum in Athens. I had a chance to speak with the curator and she said: An icon is an icon!

My mother said that needlepoint was an art and I knew better than to contradict my mother.

If it ain’t Baroque then don’t fix it.

Strangely none of the works were labeled with either a title or an artist attribution.

September 15 is Make a Hat Day – which pretty much answers my question.

Norse Legends – IV

And Lurker was right – the numbering is confused – blame it on jet lag.

So here we are in Amsterdam. It has not been the least stressful of trips thus far. Our flight was delayed out of Toronto – and just as well as I wouldn’t want to have taken off in the thunder storm that closed the airport. The driver we had arranged to pick us up was a no-show and I am in current communication with the company who are refusing to issue a refund. There were a few problems with our hotel room – first time I’ve ever been disappointed by Booking.com but that is a story for another day. However we are here and we are alive.

Rather than go on with tales of woe I’ll simply share a few photos and the odd comment.

After a nap – a light snack to tide me over until late dinner.

The area is in the Museum area – art galleries, antique stores, cafes, and the odd – gasp – pot stop. No this is an art gallery!

Now this is the sort of lawyer you want to do business with!

There were three more of these however the titles were…. not the sort of thing you put on a family blog.

A very tiring day ended up in a pleasant wine bar called Shiraz. An arrangement of charcuterie – meats, cheese, croquettes, figs – and a tasting flight of some very nice wines put us in the mood for bedfordshire.

September 5th is Cheese Pizza Day – I’ll save the celebration until I get on the boat where they have a pizza parlour.

Imaged in Wax

The mediums of photography and encaustic meld.

Before I came to the Island a year ago I was largely unaware of the variety in and the vitality of the arts scene here. It is possible to come across artists and artisans working in almost every medium and in many cases in very unusual mixed-media. At the season close of The Dunes out at Brackley Beach I came across a piece by a local artist that captured my attention both in the use of mixed forms and because, well because I liked it immediately.

mary-carr-chaissonMary Carr-Chaisson is based in Charlottetown and works out of her Pinhole Photography Gallery .  Pinhole photography is the art of taking pictures at its most basic and Carr-Chaisson has been creating images using this technique since the early ’90s.  She first learned the skills involved as a fine arts student at Mount Alison University.

She says she enjoys the uniqueness of pinhole photography which allows her to play with abstraction, distortion, and magnification.  Her photographs have a vintage air of times past and she admits that she “likes the nostalgic feeling they evoke in the viewer.”

I understand what she means by a “nostalgic feeling” – looking at her photos reminds me of many of the family photos I have stored in that box I mean to go through one of these days.  And looking at her equipment I realize that it isn’t all that much different from the old Brownie box camera my mother used to capture those events, moments and people.

So what exactly is a pinhole camera:

pinhole-cameraThis is a very basic camera that can be constructed out of found materials such as cans or boxes, provided it is made light-tight.  This can be done by lining the interior with black construction paper, and taping the sides with black electric tape.  A small piece of pie plate or thin brass can be used to make the camera lens.  The aperture is made by drilling a tiny hole into the brass or pie plate.  This is then attached to the body of the camera.  A material such as a piece of cardboard or cork can serve as the camera shutter.  When taking the picture, a piece of film or photo paper is placed inside the camera opposite the lens.  The shutter is then removed from the camera, and the light enters though the tiny pin hole to expose the film or paper behind.  A watch can be used to count the time required to take the picture.  This type of camera has no light meter, viewfinder, multi-aperture lens, or other features of standard cameras.  A lot of patience and practise is required when using a pinhole camera.

In the past few years Carr-Chaisson has been taking her photography one step further by combining it with an ancient art that is not that widely practised today:  encaustic or hot wax painting.  The use of Punic Wax in painting was described in early Greek writing and the earliest existing examples are the Fayum Mummy Portraits from Egypt of 100-300 A.D.   In 77 A.D. Pliny the Elder describes the art of wax painting in Book 35 of his encyclopedic  Natural History. It was also a known on the island of Samar during the 1500-1800s but is now considered a lost art in the Philippines.  In the 20th century there was a minor revival in the use of encaustic by early members of the Bauhaus and by the Mexican muralist movement.  It has seen a further revival in the past few years and new tools and materials have made it a more popular art form.

In this case Carr-Chaisson took one of her photographs and mounted it on a wood base that had been covered in white paper.  She applied layers of encaustic wax to the photograph, building up some areas, leaving others barely touched by the medium.  She also created abstract areas to the right and below the photograph that are heavily built up like faded bars of some mysterious minerals.


Here is the photograph that Mary Carr-Chaisson used as the foundation for the little piece that now graces a wall in our living room.  The image of the Warehouse at the Experimental Farm here in Charlottetown was taken with a wooden pinhole camera then created in her darkroom using film and traditionally printed using various darkroom chemicals and washed.  Rolling the mouse over the picture will show how she transformed the black and white photograph with the use of pigmented, obaque and clear wax in applied layers.

There is still, for me at least, the evocation of that feeling of nostalgia perhaps now heightened by the hints of faded colour and softness that the wax gives to the image.

P.S.  I began thinking the other day, always a dangerous sign, about how heat/cold would affect the piece and was please to find that should it start to melt the best advise was to get out of the building:  encaustic wax typically withstands temperatures of up to 120ºF.  Also the wax will continue hardening for up to three years and could turn dull.   The Eloise hint to restore its gloss:  rub gently in one direction with a nylon stoking.

On this day in 1864: American Indian Wars: Sand Creek massacre: Colorado volunteers led by Colonel John Chivington massacre at least 150 Cheyenne and Arapaho noncombatants inside Colorado Territory.