1road out of el calafate

This view of the road from El Calafate going west into Parque Nacional de los Glaciares reminds me of the poster for  Thelma and Louise. What lies over the hill and round the bends? We chose to visit the Glaciar Perito Moreno about 80 kms from town. Glaciers – well, of course, I’d seen all the info on the web about the ice cap that spreads across Chile, the Andes and into Santa Cruz and, also have a vague memory of a ski guide pointing out a far off glacier in the Alps. Round each bend the sense of expectation grew . . . .

2 first sight

. . . until at last.

4 closer to

The guide books describe it as ‘a long white tongue’. Good description. You can get close by boat – just discernible in the image below  – but we chose to get straight onto the series of platforms and connecting walkways – steps + ramps –  that enable a decent, 3 km,  journey through the Nothofagus woodland covering the end of the Peninsula Magellanes.

3 closer to glacier

5 stairways

6 lengas + nires

Nothofagus pumilio (lenga) and N. antartica (ńires) but I couldn’t identify one from the other . . .

7 lenga + nires

. . . we learnt that this is the only glacier in the National Park that is not receding but is growing.  At the terminus, the width is 5 kms in width and 74m high above the surface of the water of Lago Argentino and the total ice depth here is 170 metres. Data that gives an idea of the scale. Further north at El Chalten, it’s possible to trek on the ice from October to April. The lack of figures in these pics indicates end of season – great for us!

8 canal de los Tempanos

9 canal

Views across the Canal de los Tempanos are accompanied with a sound track of cracking sounds, as the ice breaks away, and then, the deep crashing noise as ice hits water.

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11 along the front

So blue . . . this occurs when snow falls on a glacier, is compressed, and becomes part of the glacier. During the journey down to the water body, the trapped air bubbles are squeezed out and so the size of the crystals increase making it clear. One of us thought it looked a bit dirty . . .  but then landscapes are . . .

10 close up

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15 close up

12 close up

13 close up

16 stand back

. .  we took off on the north path where the wind whistled through the narrow channels and, consequently, we lost most of our fellow visitors. It started raining and if the wind had been stronger, it would have been a difficult exercise.

17 off to walk

This was probably the most atmospheric and magical part of the experience for me. Taxing on the leg muscles and slightly desolate but the route provided a strong connection with the landscape.

18 looking back

Back to the main platform and a final inhalation of great pure air. ‘Take a long look. It might be the last’.

19 panorama

20 last

The silent friendliness of the moon

(misquoting Virgil) accompanies you

since that one night or evening lost

in time now, on which your restless

eyes first deciphered her forever

in a garden or patio turned to dust.

Forever? I know someone, someday

will be able to tell you truthfully:

‘You’ll never see the bright moon again,

You’ve now achieved the unalterable

sum of moments granted you by fate.

Useless to open every window

in the world. Too late. You’ll not find her.’

We live discovering and forgetting

that sweet familiarity of the night.

Take a long look. It might be the last.  Jorge Luis Borges  The Sum

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On Saturday, The School Creative Centre hosted a drawing workshop run by Anny Evason, based on her installation of A Garden Enclosed – click for more information on this event. The banks of the River Rother, running through Rye, were chosen. Appropriate for an easy journey through natural vegetation alongside the river as it meanders between the coastline at Camber Sands and the junction that feeds into the Military Canal.  I was interested to explore this strip of land again, having only walked it with baby in push chair as well as on a foraging expedition. To the north, small lakes have developed following gravel extraction and to the south, Rye is sometimes hidden and then revealed again behind the bunded river banks.

turbines

rye

There are young pines here – maybe 20 years old only – that stand out amongst all the deciduous material. Their candelabra form makes a great visual contrast  – rather seducing in terms of drawing and sketching. I recall this hedge of chaenomeles from the previous visits. It looks incongruous in these surroundings but actually has great charm.

chaenomeles hedge

reeds

Stands of alder and willow are just changing appearance as the buds swell on the branches but the reeds still have their wintry look. We made initial sketches using pencil or graphite or directly onto ipads. I made the decision to do quick  15 minute sketches using graphite pencils and squinting with the right eye  . . . .

sketch 2

. .

tree clump

Thickets of buckthorn alongside the gorse – both with the similar spiky attribute – form good habitat structure.  The old knarled stems of the gorse were particularly attractive to my eye in this scenario. Full sun threw shadows across the sketchbook. Looked perfect for how I wanted to capture form, shape and habit.

gorse + willow

gorse stems + industrial plant

shadow 1

shadow 2

sketch 1

gorse stems

Pairs of lambs graze these low lying meadows. They’re oblivious to all the cyclists, dog walkers and those on drawing workshops . . .

lambs 1

lambs 2

. . this was drawing that I chose to develop into a larger charcoal study using ‘bold mark making’ when we returned into the art room at the centre ‘to explore new techniques, develop skills and to work on large scale drawings’. Not terribly happy with the final result which I worked up on a A1 sheet but then the last time I used charcoal was many years ago doing life drawing on an art foundation course. It was good to concentrate on single inspirational ideas and blot out the mundane things of life.

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charcoal

Farm afternoons, there’s too much blue air.
I go out sometimes, follow the pasture track,
Chewing a blade of sticky grass, chest bare,
In threadbare pyjamas of three summers back.

To the little rivulets in the river-bed
For a drink of water, cold and musical,
And if I spot in the bunch a glow of red,
A raspberry, spit its blood at the corral.

The smell of cow manure is delicious.
The cattle look at me unenviously
And when there comes a sudden stream and hiss

Accompanied by a look not unmalicious,
All of us, animals, unemotionally
Partake together of a pleasant piss.  Vinicius de Moraes  Sonnet of Intimacy

translation Elizabeth Bishop

wall art in the city

April 14, 2013

p bridge 2

A sunny day in the UK – colour. light and smiles on faces – reminds me of more exotic places. In the Palermo neighbourhood of Buenos Aires, both of the walls under the railway bridge are covered with wall art. One side is a colourful display of figures and street life making a background to a very good stall selling fruit and vegetables . . . .

p bridge stall

. . .  on the other, a dramatic scenario with large animals cavorting over what looks like a patchwork quilt.

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p bridge 4

At the junction, there’s a seating area with plenty of space for both passersby and those that wish to take a few minutes to rest. The gentleman on the right has nodded off. We couldn’t dally as we were rushing off to Palermo Hollywood to seek out a repair shop . . .

1 seating

doorway

. . .  which we found here in this rather beautiful building.

doorway 2

Wandering back, this piece of wall art took my eye as well as the vehicle, an old Renault, parked alongside.

word art

car

I guess our journey to and fro had taken about an hour.  Back at the seating area, the gentleman was still dozing, so I presume that the seats are comfy as well as quite jolly . . . .

seating

seating 2

. . . just a few more  images of how to enliven surfaces with freedom of expression. Some with a message and some as pure visual treats. I miss it.

palermo

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wall art

We are the time. We are the famous

metaphor from Heraclitus the Obscure.

We are the water, not the hard diamond,

the one that is lost, not the one that stands still.

We are the river and we are that greek

that looks himself into the river. His reflection

changes into the waters of the changing mirror,

into the crystal that changes like the fire.

We are the vain predetermined river,

in his travel to his sea.

The shadows have surrounded him.

Everything said goodbye to us, everything goes away.

Memory does not stamp his own coin.

However, there is something that stays

however, there is something that bemoans.

Jorge Luis Borges  We are the Time  We are the Famous

tree cosies

April 12, 2013

house bariloche

San Carlos de Bariloche is a colourful place. It’s a mecca for tourists in summer time for activities on and associated with the Nahuel Huapi lake, as well as, in winter for skiing. The name is a combination of  “Carlos Wiederhold”, who settled down the first general store in the area (that is what “San Carlos” stands for), and a deformation of the word “vuriloche” (“different people, people from the back or from the other side”), used by the Mapuche people to refer to other native dwellers from the eastern zone of the Andes Mountain Range before their own arrival in this region. Not only are the buildings brightly coloured, the  ‘elastic bandages’ around the tree stems are of the same ilk. I hadn’t come across ‘tea cosies’ before but this is what they are called.

cosy 8

cosy 7

Many threads of differing colours.

cosy 6

cosy 5

The canopies are changing to autumn tones – fruits, berries and foliage – somehow creating an even more ‘surgical’ overall look with the bandaging of the main stem. The sorbus trees look glorious however.

cosy 4

cosy3

sorbus

ceibo speciosa 1

In the capital, lovely blossoms on Ceiba speiosa or the Silk Floss Tree. The common name is palo borracho or drunken stick. Open pods follow the pink flowers showing silk-like fibers that give the tree its name.

ceibo speciosa 3

And to finish, a short from Spike Milligan.

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‘I think I shall never see a poem as lovely as a tree’.

en la cuidad

April 8, 2013

photo copy

Back in the capital after days in more remote and rural areas – Patagonia and El Calafate in Santa Cruz (posts to follow) – the panorama from Sinclair 3168 takes in the Rey Fahd mosque  with the Campo Argentino de Polo beyond. I had forgotten how the street trees are so imposing, also giving shade and the canopies giving a little breeze as well as adding something organic to the city fabric. Planes, acacias, tipa, jacaranda and  limes plus other more exotic species line the pavements . . . .

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. . .   trees accentuate the cross axes and the junctions in Palermo Viejo, with their canopies spreading over the street cafes, bars and restaurants.

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The facades of buildings, both old and new, are quite particular. I like the mix of some to revere and a few to smile at and with.

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Tomorrow, a closer look at wall art , more decorative and with a narrative than graffiti, and the Parque de la Memoria.

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At the crossroads of Calle Gurruchaga, we stopped for a while and watched the local clown perform and entertain – great fun . . . .

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. . . and then back to sleep in a decent bed – bliss after nights on buses – and last glimpse at the city closing down –  looks quite delicious. Too tired to write any more so leave Borges to finish off.

16

The forms in my dreams have changed;

now there are red houses side by side

and the delicate bronze of the leaves

and chaste winter and pious wood.

As on the seventh day, the world

is good. In the twilight there persists

what’s almost non-existent, bold, sad,

an ancient murmur of Bibles, war.

Soon (they say) the first snow will fall

America waits for me on every street,

but I feel in the decline of evening

today so long, and yesterday so brief

Buenos Aires, I go journeying

your streets, without time or reason. Borges  New England 1967

 

en movimiento

April 2, 2013

en moviemento01

Long journeys are a time for reflection. I rather enjoy the passivity of lounging around airport lounges, listening to music, people watching, reading and generally taking a view on areas of life. I write lots of notes that I never look at again but, I find this outpouring from my brain and soul, a therapeutic process. However, I’m not so keen on the business of travel connections  – will this flight arrive on time to pick up the next easily?  – will I make it across a city by bus to jump on the right plane? – do I have time to race from one terminal to another ? – this is the part of travelling that I find stressful. At Frankfurt – a very glamorous airport – no hassle and a 6 hour spell spent horizontal on the comfortable loungers that gently ripple and keep the circulation at the right level.

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Early morning arrival at Buenos Aires – warm and sunny – and a trip across the city to catch the next flight. From the bus, a glimpse of the Plata and some fishing activity  . . .

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. . . from the terminal building, the proximity of the water makes an appealing landscape whilst inside, a memorial to servicemen who fell in the Malvinas makes me step back and ponder on the reasoning of the placement of this type of monument in such a busy concourse. Perhaps that’s the rationale:  stop and think.

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Flying above La Pampa, the beauty of the terrain  . . . minimal human interference on the ground but we flying overhead disturb the environment nevertheless.

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The final act is a show stopper – the Andes in full glory.

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Down on the ground, the journey continues after catching up with a special couple. The three of us set off on  The Old Patagonian Express for a short chug along the track through the flat dry landscape around El Maiten and Esquel. It’s a marvel of reconstruction and perseverance .Click to see the video of a derail.

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Marvelling at the fittings and the minuteness of scale, decide that we are heavy, lumpen passengers. It’s time to get back on my feet and move all limbs and breathe in the good air around this tree filled landscape – try to lose the heaviness of the human body. The poem, ah well, somehow arriving by water might have been more exciting. The next leg is 28 hours on a bus . . .

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Here is a coast; here is a harbor;
here, after a meager diet of horizon, is some scenery:
impractically shaped and–who knows?–self-pitying mountains,
sad and harsh beneath their frivolous greenery,

with a little church on top of one. And warehouses,
some of them painted a feeble pink, or blue,
and some tall, uncertain palms. Oh, tourist,
is this how this country is going to answer you

and your immodest demands for a different world,
and a better life, and complete comprehension
of both at last, and immediately,
after eighteen days of suspension?

Finish your breakfast. The tender is coming,
a strange and ancient craft, flying a strange and brilliant rag.
So that’s the flag. I never saw it before.
I somehow never thought of there being a flag,

but of course there was, all along. And coins, I presume,
and paper money; they remain to be seen.
And gingerly now we climb down the ladder backward,
myself and a fellow passenger named Miss Breen,

descending into the midst of twenty-six freighters
waiting to be loaded with green coffee beaus.
Please, boy, do be more careful with that boat hook!
Watch out! Oh! It has caught Miss Breen’s

skirt! There! Miss Breen is about seventy,
a retired police lieutenant, six feet tall,
with beautiful bright blue eyes and a kind expression.
Her home, when she is at home, is in Glens Fall

s, New York. There. We are settled.
The customs officials will speak English, we hope,
and leave us our bourbon and cigarettes.
Ports are necessities, like postage stamps, or soap,

but they seldom seem to care what impression they make,
or, like this, only attempt, since it does not matter,
the unassertive colors of soap, or postage stamps–
wasting away like the former, slipping the way the latter

do when we mail the letters we wrote on the boat,
either because the glue here is very inferior
or because of the heat. We leave Santos at once;
we are driving to the interior. Elizabeth Bishop  Arrival at Santos

en el parque

April 1, 2013

en parque01

In the country of pampas and araucaria, Patagonia . . . . here at last.

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Here in the Argentine area of Patagonia in San Carlos de Bariloche in the foothills of the Andes is the oldest national park in Argentina – Parque Nacional Nahuel Huapi – 2 million acres of three zonal types of vegetation. Today, March 31st, we spent time in the lower reaches of the hills  (Andino-Patagonico). Nahuel Huapi comes from the Mapuche for jaguar island. Many lakes and islands are encompassed within the parque with the largest, Lago Nahuel Huapi, a water body of nearly 850 square kilometres whose seven long arms reach deep into the forests of native beech Coihué (Nothofagus dombeyi) and deciduous beech, Lenga, (Nothofagus pumilio), pines and cypress. Entering these cathedrals of vegetation is awe inspiring. The eerie sound that emanates from the branches and canopies weaving around in the breeze overhead sounds like  the sound effect from a horror film – the squeaky door announcing the arrival of the villain.!

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Thick underplanting of Chusquea gigantea, another native, adds to the cinematic character of the forest. Very graphic in texture, whether at the end of its life or regenerating in green clumps. And elegant in form as the canes bend gracefully over pathways.

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Certain view points high above the lake offer far-reaching panoramas of the snow-capped mountain range . . . .

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. . whilst at close quarters flashes of exotic colour from other natives such as Embothrium coccineum  – weird and wonderful tubular flower heads  – and the species moschata rose that proliferates in the sunny open clearings.

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The myrtles are in flower – sweetly scented  clusters of small, perfectly rounded cups of waxy white blooms – but it is the form of the stems and the texture of the soft cinnamon bark that takes the eye.. . .

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. . .  late summer effects of ‘things that slip to silence one by one’.

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March days return with their covert light,
and huge fish swim through the sky,
vague earthly vapours progress in secret,
things slip to silence one by one.
Through fortuity, at this crisis of errant skies,
you reunite the lives of the sea to that of fire,
grey lurchings of the ship of winter
to the form that love carved in the guitar.
O love, O rose soaked by mermaids and spume,
dancing flame that climbs the invisible stairway,
to waken the blood in insomnia’s labyrinth,
so that the waves can complete themselves in the sky,
the sea forget its cargoes and rages,
and the world fall into darkness’s nets. Neruda   March Days

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