Friday, December 17, 2004

Friday, December 17, 2004
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and cool

Yesterday was a magnificent museum day. Just brilliant.

Three of us ended up spending the day at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. We started at the Angel Tree – I think we stayed about an hour, because we had to walk around the tree and completely discover every single scenario. Among our favorites were the expressions of the animals, the food seller’s cart, and the one man who actually saw and was inspired by an angel. Anyone who goes to New York during the Christmas season should make a beeline for the museum and see this tree. It’s stunningly beautiful. And to think how lovingly these figures were created and how lovingly they are maintained. The expressions, the details, the fabrics – it’s exquisite.

Some of the figures were sculpted to depict local burghers and those who commissioned the figures. So, although I understand the furor that Madame Toussaud’s Wax Museum in London has caused by depicting David Beckham and his Spice Girl wife as Joseph and Mary, it’s not unprecedented. How often were figures of the day depicted in classical paintings as kings, angels, and holy men? It happened quite a bit. While I am not fans of the two chosen by the wax museum (quite the opposite in fact – they bore the heck out of me and I can’t understand why anyone cares about them), the museum got what it wanted – publicity.

After we spent time at the tree, we wandered to the café near the sculpture garden for a snack and coffee. I had an almond macaroon filled with dark chocolate. I hadn’t had a macaroon in years – I think it was one of the earlier times I was in London in the 1990s. I forgot how good they are, and now I wanted to learn how to make them. One friend had an individual carrot cake, which was so beautifully presented it looked like a lovely sculpture. Fitting, since we were on the edges of the sculpture garden.

The Arms and Armoury exhibit beckoned us after we finished our snack. It was wonderful – I learned so much for my various projects, and it also made me realize how much I still have to learn. I hadn’t realized how many different types of armour there were – parade armour or joust armour or tilt armour or field armour. And how well articulated it was. You look at the gauntlets – the metal is so hinged and scaled that one’s hands and fingers have complete articulation. Which, of course, was necessary, but in the recreations, it’s usually not that detailed. The velvet padded and armoured saddles were another interesting feature, as where the armoured skirts and the intricate armour for the horses.

There’s an ornately carved breastplate from the Duke of Feria whose symbols are so interesting that I have to look up the family and see if the symbols meant to the family what I think they mean.

The Japanese armour was also fascinating, especially the helmets from the Edo period.

When armies went into battle, one could read about everyone on the field from the patterns on the armour. I wonder if the problem of “friendly fire” was less prevalent because the symbolism was so distinct?

I have a lot to learn. I’m going to do some more research, and then I’m going to contact the curator of that hall with some specific questions.

We had to, of course, visit Hatshepshut – I can’t go to the Met and not stop by. Her room always gives me a feeling of serenity and timelessness and awareness that so much of the daily struggles will pass, and what’s left is what has impact. One friend had been with me when we visited in the summer to research my article, but the other friend had never met Hatshepshut. So now, they’re both as fascinated with her as I am.

We had to visit 19th Century Painting and stop by some of the portraits. We could have just set up cots and spent the next three days in the museum. But it was almost time to go to the theatre, and, sadly, we had to leave.

We’re standing in front of a sarcophagus in the Egyptian Halls, trying to see if we can decipher any of the hieroglyphics. And one of our trio finds the bunny (well, the Egyptian equivalent). We’re in the Armoury, looking at the Japanese helmets and she finds the one in the shape of the crouching rabbit. Did I mention she’s very fond of bunnies? I see Anubus and Sekhmet and she finds the bunny. It says a lot about how different people see the world! She is someone who can always find the good in anything or anyone, even if she doesn’t agree with them.

I feel creatively refreshed and inspired. It was exactly what I needed.

I stopped for some dinner at my favorite sushi place on Ninth Avenue, then picked up my check at Wicked and continued down to pick up my check at Rent. My old neighborhood is more of a theme park than ever. I couldn’t live there anymore. I’d be a nervous wreck. As it is, even the suburbs are a bit too noisy sometimes.

My deadline for the Lindisfarne article is after the holidays, which will give me time to really polish it and do all the fact-checking I need to do, to find my photographs, and, maybe even to track down the original story which inspired me.

I came up with a couple of completely wacky, darkly funny twists in Ransagh. Let’s hope I can pull them off. I’m gaining confidence in the piece. We’ll see how I feel after the first draft is written, I’ve put it away for a bit, and then I go back to it. That’s always the test.

Today, I need to do a lot of writing, especially on Charlotte, get painting, and make the bath salts. Tuesday is when I have to take everything in to the city. So I need to finish the presents up this weekend and haul it all in on Tuesday.

Yesterday was such an inspiring day. And this morning, I saw a bright red cardinal fluttering around as I returned from getting the paper. I’m not much of a bird person, but I do love cardinals and owls.



At 3:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any ideas on the symbolism of the crouching bunny helmet? A friend and I were practically rolling on the floor at the sight of such a thing in the MET. I mean, you go from one room full of razor sharp don't-screw-with-us katanas to a room of ancient Chineese armour and of all things the crouching bunny helmet.

One would wonder what the heck this means. How on earth could you face an enemy wearing a crouching bunny helmet and be scared of them let alone even be taken seriously?

What's it going to do? Nibble your bum? (pardon the blatant Monty Python reference but it does come to mind)

Can't really find much on this helmet via google, but all the same interested in your thoughts.

Fear me, for I am the crouching bunny rabbit! (har)


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