Wednesday, April 30, 2014

spring motorcycles

It's that time of year (finally) again when the motorcycles are parked along Jasper Avenue.

pink cheeks

 I have been reluctant to add colour to faces, but coudn't resist.

Monday, April 28, 2014

UK Trip Day 13 1/2: the long flight home

 ... and finally, the long flight back from Heathrow to Edmonton.

On this particular flight, a significant number of personal entertainment systems were not working (including my own), resulting in multiple sketches of the same subject matter (obviously the rest of my family enjoyed the movies.)

(the end!)

Sunday, April 27, 2014

UK Trip Day 13: Windsor

On the morning before our flight back to Edmonton, we make a quick trip to the utterly British town of Windsor, the location of one of the Queen's official residences, just in time to witness the guards marching for the daily Changing of the Guards.

UK Trip Day 12: Chagford, on the way to London

Our wonderful time in Cornwall came to a close as we spent the day driving back to London, but we briefly stopped in a village called Chagford located within the vast moor landscape of Dartmoor National Park.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

UK Trip Day 11: St. Michael's Mount and Minack Theatre

This cloudy day took us to St. Michael's Mount, an extraordinary castle settlement (still a functioning residence) on a little island across from the town of Marazion. We took a boat to get to it in the morning, and the receding tide later uncovered the stone causeway that allowed us to walk back.

After some (more) scones and clotted cream, we drove to Porthcurno for some more spectacular cliff side views and to learn about the eccentric and fascinating story of Rowena Cade and her lifework, the Minack Theatre (video).

A street in Marazion
Minack Theatre
Back in Falmouth: evening

Friday, April 25, 2014

UK Trip Day 10: St. Ives, Zennor, Lands' End

We drove out to St. Ives, an incredibly pretty little town with a thriving visual arts community, took some rural, winding roads to the tiny village of Zennor for a short but very memorable stop, then all the way to Lands' End where my wife and I took turns (the kids were asleep in the car) taking a short hike to the rugged cliffs for some spectacular experiences made sublime thanks to the fact that there was not a soul in sight.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

UK Trip Day 9: Falmouth

 A drizzly day in Falmouth... the National Maritime Museum, Pendennis Castle, Falmouth Docks (the third deepest port in the world!), Gyllyngvase Beach and our kids' resultant seashell collection... and sketches during a slow afternoon while running the dryer at the laundromat.

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Legislature grounds

The white "shrink wrap" that has covered the Legislature dome for the past 2 winters has finally been removed, and the dome, long in hibernation mode, has made its appearance. The Federal Building restoration and forecourt plaza construction are still ongoing.

Today also marks the first outdoor sketching day in Edmonton for me as temperatures rose to a balmy 15C -- much better than the snow-inducing temperatures of only a week ago. It's the beginning of a great drawing season!

UK Trip Days 7 & 8: London to Exeter to Falmouth

fields outside Exeter

a building in Exeter
 Day 7 entailed a hectic Tube ride (i.e. weekend station construction...) back to Heathrow to rent a car and drive to Exeter via Bournemouth and a stopover at beautiful Corfe Castle. Unfortunately, no time for any sketches on this day, although I did enjoy the driving.

Day 8 started off with Sunday worship at Exeter Cathedral (a beautiful service made all the more memorable because of Mothering Day in the UK) and a leisurely lunch in front of the church yard, followed by the remaining drive to our destination, Falmouth. Its early evening main street on Sunday was a little empty (shops had closed) but we managed to get to a great fish and chips restaurant with a wonderful waterfront sketch-worthy view.
A wharf, some pubs, Penryn River, and rolling hills beyond...
from top: Corfe Castle, Exeter, Falmouth

Sunday, April 20, 2014

UK Trip Day 6: The Barbican

St. Giles Cripplegate, on the Barbican site
 After a big English breakfast at a pub, we head off to enjoy the main reason we are in London: my wife's convocation ceremony at The Barbican. 

Twelve years ago, I came here with my (then future) wife out of interest, to see this grand Brutalist, Corbusier-inspired development, and I never dreamed that we would be here again in this way with two kids in tow.
The Barbican Centre's main hall: home of the London Symphony Orchestra, and the day's venue for convocation proceedings

Friday afteroon

An afternoon along Whyte Avenue and then a nap after a Good Friday service.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

UK Trip Day 5: Tate Britain

Still jetlagged, I woke up very early to do a sketch from our townhouse hotel room on a crescent-like street, and then headed off towards Tate Britain.

Tate Britain is a little out of the way and relatively isolated from other tourist attractions. Perhaps because of this it is much less busy than the other major art galleries like the National Gallery and Tate Modern, which can both be frenetic. Despite the calibre and amount of work that is on display, Tate Britain still provides a much more intimate, leisurely experience.

On this day, I came to see one painting in particular by John Singer Sargent, whose qualities of light have impressed me ever since seeing it in a book in high school.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

UK Trip Day 4: bus ride to The London Eye and Westminster Abbey

Gloucester Road Station
On this day we rode an open air double decker from Gloucester Road Tube Station all the way to the London Eye, took in a rather expensive but spectacular 30 minute aerial view of London, and walked in the rain across the Thames to Westminster Abbey for a quick walk-through.
On the bus... and riding the London Eye
A rainy view across the Thames

Westminster Abbey

UK Trip Day 3: St. Paul's Cathedral

There is a memorable moment in the documentary film "My Architect" in which a Bangladeshi architect who worked with Louis Kahn weeps as he speaks about the Parliament Building in Dhaka. Twelve years ago, I remember getting teary upon first encountering St. Paul's as it suddenly made its massive appearance right after I got off the Tube station. That such a building could even be conceived, let alone built, struck my heart.

This time around I was similarly moved, but through an extended time in contemplation "reading" the gospel message through its interior layout and design, and being deeply reminded of God's grace and glory. That experience, a gift to us through the insistence on the church's part to keep St. Paul's a working "House of God" despite its capacity to draw crowds of tourists (through the PA system, a chaplain invites all visitors to pray together hourly), and the fact that our jetlagged kids decided to nap while we were at the church, was perhaps one of the highlights of our time in the UK.

We ended up spending 4 or 5 hours at St. Paul's that day, including a time of worship as we attended the choral evensong (a sung Eucharist) service, a refreshing way to worship for non-Anglican's such as us. The sound of the organ and the voices of the choristers made it seem like the building itself was emanating sound, while the incense that filled the interior volume added an incredible sense of awe (and surprisingly, intimacy) to the experience. And despite its stature as the Anglican mother church of London, we felt incredibly welcome, and were reminded of the fundamental importance of hospitality as it relates to worship.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

UK Trip Day 2: Natural History Museum (and the Tube)

After getting to our accommodations via the Tube, we catch up on some sleep and take a late afternoon stroll to the Natural History Museum. This is my second time being here, but I am again mesmerized by the quirky Victorian inventiveness of the main hall. One of my regrets was not visiting the newer addition (not there last time I came)... Next time.

Friday, April 11, 2014

UK Trip Day 1: in transit...

 It has been a week since returning from a 12 day whirlwind of a trip in the southern part of the UK. There was plenty to sketch, but not enough time... but I still managed to fill up a mid-sized Moleskine sketchbook, which I especially appreciated during this trip.

This first post begins with the Edmonton International Airport and the long plane ride...