Posts Tagged ‘Rembrandt’

Of Sardines between St Petersburg and UK’s Whitby

April 8, 2015
The Hermitage

The Hermitage

The week in St Petersburg was somewhat marred by a bout of intestinal hurry I suffered within minutes of entering The Hermitage Museum.  The origin  of this was perplexing as the night before we had enjoyed a terrific meal of genuine Russian fare. The borscht was part of it together with potato dumplings drowned in a rich sauce of red wine with lots of bay leaves, sage and pepper. As a side dish we had piroshkies.

Our dinner was very interesting in that, apart from the delicious food, it included a large Russian wedding party which intermittently  in between eating and imbibing copious Vodka would repeatedly shout gorko, gorko which actually means ‘bitter, bitter’ but bitter would only cease if the groom and bride would get up an make bitter sweet in a long-time kiss and more kiss. This would happen every ten minutes or so. The noise was terrific and soon the bitter vodka was made sweet. The bride looked lovely and very happy.

But back to this annoying intestinal hurry the day after and inside The Hermitage.. After asking for toilet directions they kept pointing towards the distance. Anyone who has been inside the Hermitage would know it takes about a week to walk from beginning to end. I did not have that much time so I started running through gilded room through gilded room. I lost care and interest. Monets, Manets, Gauguins were rushed past. Things were percolating madly to unbearable levels. I was in great panic. I remember the sad look on  Rembrandt’s The return of The Prodigal Son, the father’s eyes following me as I ran past. The moments of such great importance now  in total avoidance and ignorance of the world’s greatest art. Can you believe it?

Whitby? Captain Cook's cottage

Whitby? Captain Cook’s cottage

Final, triumph…the toilet is in sight. It was as huge as the rest of this museum.  The reader would know that Russian communism at that time was in flux but had as yet not changed with holding on to having full employment. A large seated lady overseeing the comings and goings in this huge toilet was part of this full employment. Ladies seated on chairs were everywhere in Russian society. The toilet I was in did not have a door or perhaps not a functioning door. I don’t know or remember if all the toilet cubicles were like that but mine was not door inclusive. I could not care less, I was so happy. Afterwards I calmly sauntered back and took some time to atone to The Prodigal Son  for my strange hurried behaviour, all was forgiven. The Monet’s looked so peaceful now too.

All good things come to past as so did my Russian trip. The time for departure to London had come. We all said goodbye and I made my way to the airport to fly back to Moscow and from there connect with a flight to London. Alas, the flight was delayed. Aeroflot was apologetic but made good with a ravishing lunch dish of freshly grilled sardines and salad. Butterflied sardines deeply grilled are my favourite. Soon after the sardines we took off and within an hour or so landed at Moscow. The connecting flight to London again was not forthcoming. I suppose with Russia in political flux or even without flux, patience gets rewarded. Soon a lunch was provided for the traveller. I was somewhat surprised to again be given the grilled sardines. They weren’t the last ones!

When we were finally put on board to London and dinner arrived soon. I had already enjoyed a couple of very fine Georgian white wines. As the food trolley slowly made its way towards my seat a familiar waft came towards me. You guess right, sardines again. I could only surmise a rich Russian oligarch  had gone long on the sardine option market and was forced to take the stock of a hundreds of tonnes of sardines at a loss. This loss was now shared by putting the whole of Russia on sardines including passengers on Aeroflot.

I arrived at Heathrow’s airport and was met by an Australian friend who took me to a house of a Lord and book-publisher at Shepherd Bush. Life can be very strange, even stranger than fiction. Who could imagine I would sleep in an English Lord’s house being full of sardines?

Robyn Hood Bay.

Robyn Hood Bay.

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Rembrandts Nachtwacht (Nightwatch)

December 21, 2013

untitled nightwatch

Sorry,
My Dutch heritage got the better of me.

Life’s Lament with Apple Crumble and Rhubarb

February 13, 2013

Life’s Lament with Apple Crumble and Rhubarb.

20-strawberry-rhubarb-crumble-p-812-small

There is no denying that life resembles a sort of crusty crumble. The top often hides the soft inner core, sometimes sweet, sometimes sour. It does come with risk of failure as well, especially if thrown together recklessly. I hate cooking by measuring ingredients and prefer failure to fiddling with scales and grams. I normally box the lot together and hope for the best. I live dangerously, at least in the kitchen. It’s all one can do at the age of endless advertisements on TV urging us into ‘funeral plans’ while still alive. (Please, keep off the grass)

The really lucky ones, I often think, are those able to make a living from their creative instincts. You sometimes see them being interviewed, perhaps an opera singer, a composer or a Latvian ceramic artist, world famous, who are on top of their output and are known by the all glitterati. Presidents and other despots are queuing up to be photographed standing next to them. They are running the crest of the wave and earn a good living from their art.  There can’t be a greater satisfaction than to live from one’s own creative output.  To live from what one really feels passionate about doing. Some might really want to work as a welder, run a farm or make model trains. That’s lovely and exactly what I mean. That’s what creativity involves; let’s not put too fine a point or limitation on creativity. Anything goes in my book.

Alas, this had eluded me so far but enjoying somewhat the nasty schaden Freude and consolation that it eludes most of us. The operative word that springs to mind is ‘compromise’. It’s the banana skin on the doorstep of the life of ‘l’artiste’. How to make a quid from art, that’s the question? I wonder how Shakespeare managed or old Rembrandt Van Rijn, Caravaggio? I don’t think there were any social services available then. Didn’t Mozart got buried in a pauper’s grave? He did not sign up with Aami’s funeral plan. Perhaps a rich red mitered Bishop or an aristocrat Von Richhovenvorstendom propped up the artists at that time?

Why do I get tears everytime I hear this music?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=df-eLzao63I

In any case, no President has requested or queued up to be photographed next to me, only the local Butcher years ago when Channel TV 9 wanted to do an interview about my plunge into the world of vasectomy, ‘performed’ by a female doctor aptly named Barbara Simcock. She has performed over 14 000 vasectomies so far and counting. What she doesn’t know about testicles is not worth looking at!  I once heard “Wall-nuts in wet socks”. She was ever so gentle.

The obvious answer would have to be that I am and never will be any of those giants, or even lesser ones, perhaps at best just a pigmy of an artist, worse, a kind of garden gnome of an artist, decorating a suburban garden with a white painted worn Chevrolet tyre around the bed of limping petunias and a leaning zinc alume fence as a backdrop for failure. Oh the ignominy of it all, what fate?

Space and the lack of storing all my paintings forced me into downsizing and decided I would branch off in putting words in a certain order.  My first word, if I remember correctly, was ‘exorbitant’ which I liked and followed this up quickly with another one called ‘exhortation’. Both have a nice ring to it, don’t you think, almost musical? It’s the vowels each time followed by the consonants, that does the trick. I am not sure of many words yet, and possibly, that’s the best way to be when writing. Words are inter-changeable and can also be deleted.

It never occurred to become something, I mean building a career in something. I don’t know; I could have been a bank director or dentist or a corporate accountant. Luck had it I managed money making fairly easily but not in monotonous jobs. I did work in a bank and offices for a while but the yawning ennui was mind numbing, sapping the spirit. I just never had much of an ambition or was driven to make myself into having a job of any importance. I always portrayed myself into the future, doing it year after year and came up with an apocalyptical ‘the horror, the horror”.

Perhaps I should have studied. I imagine going in the morning to Harvard University with a nice satchel casually slung over my shoulders, being greeted by other students and hurling myself in front of a politician’s car in some show of vehement protest. Sometimes I think it would be nice to have had a PHD. Dr Gerard Oosterman sounds nice (with Cum Laude). Too late for a career with the Police or Customs or flying a helicopter, swooping down on Kim DotCom in New Zealand.  Now, there is a man passionate about his art, (fleecing multi nationals) and he is making a nice living.

As for the apple and rhubarb crumble, a huge success. Nice and tart, not too sweet.

Just like real life.