Friday, September 12, 2014

Virtual Paintout in Gothenburg

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Watercolour, oil pastel and crayon
©2014 Charlene Brown

The Virtual Paintout is in Gothenburg, Sweden this month and I think this botanical garden is the nicest place in town. 

I first landed here, as I motored about on Google Streetview, right beside the free-standing espaliered fruit trees (seen here just to the right of the greenhouse), and was going to have only the lily pond and these trees in my painting.  But then I decided it would be a real shame not to include a little bit of the rose garden as well...

Here’s a link to the real thing, so you can have a look at the whole spectacular expanse of Trädgårdsföreningen.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Carnuntum III

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Amphitheatre Bad Deutsch-Altenburg
Watercolour sketch
©2014 Charlene Brown

There are two sizable amphitheatres, about 5 km apart, at Carnuntum.  Part of the seating area of the one at Bad Deutsch-Altenburg is currently being restored, and the translucent protective covering has an image of the expected result, including a couple of rows of people in the ‘standing room only’ section (included in the sketch) above the rows of seats.

There was a very significant find in September 2011 adjacent to the other Carnuntum amphitheatre, Petronell, near the Heidentor. Aerial photography followed by hi-res, non-invasive ground-penetrating radar led to the discovery of the totally buried contours of an ancient Roman Ludus (gladiator school) almost 3000 m2 in area. Details of this exceptional complex, including accommodation for 80 gladiators, reveal that it is unique in the Roman Empire for its size and completeness. Excavation is expected to begin this year.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Carnuntum II

(click on image to enlarge)
Watercolour sketch
©2014 Charlene Brown

This triumphal arch was built in the 4th century CE and was heavily damaged later that same century. An up-ended part of the top of the arch remains by the ruin – the only significant structure left standing when Carnuntum was abandoned. 

As the years went by it remained as an isolated monument in a natural landscape which led medieval people to believe it was the tomb of a pagan giant. Hence, they called it Heidentor (pagan gate).

Now, it is an isolated monument in an agricultural landscape, surrounded by crops and the ubiquitous wind turbines that dot the plains of Lower Austria. The crop on the right was only a few inches high when we were there, but the plants looked pretty much like they were going to be sunflowers so I added them to the sketch.

The wildflowers that were actually blooming in the area looked like this. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Our last Roman Ruin – Carnuntum

(click on image to enlarge)
Watercolour sketch
©2014 Charlene Brown

Carnuntum, which we explored on June 12, is about half way between Vienna and Bratislava.  It originated as a Roman army camp during the reign of Augustus in the early first century CE.  During the second century, especially under Tiberius, Trajan, Hadrian and Marcus Aurelius, it grew in importance, becoming the centre of Roman fortifications along the Danube and a major trading centre on the Amber Road from the Baltic Sea. However, it was destroyed in the 4th century and eventually abandoned during the subsequent Barbarian invasions.

The public baths at Carnuntum, part of the ruin of which is pictured here, were among the largest Roman Baths north of the Alps. When first unearthed, these remains were named Palastruine because the complex was so generously proportioned and lavishly equipped, it was erroneously thought to be the governor’s palace (palace ruins). In Carnuntum’s heyday colourful marble imported from every part of the Roman Empire decorated the walls, and the floors were covered with impressive mosaics.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Aid in all distress in Zagreb

Mother of God of the Stone Gate
Watercolour, crayon and marker
©2014 Charlene Brown

Fearing yet another Mongol invasion in the middle of the 13th century, citizens built defensive walls and towers around the highest part of present-day Zagreb. Of the four original gates, only the Stone Gate, consisting of a vaulted corridor that makes a right-angle turn through a gatehouse, has been preserved. 

According to legend, a great fire in 1731 destroyed most of the gatehouse and all of its contents, except for a painting of the Virgin and Child. When it was reconstructed in 1760, the painting, believed by then to possess supernatural powers, was given a place of honour, with an inscription, ‘Aid in all distress and against fires.’ The altar was opened to the public, and the painting could even be touched – until 1778 when an artistically-forged Baroque iron enclosure was built to protect it from the steady stream of grateful citizens.

At various times, the demolition of the gate was considered, given that it ‘no longer served any purpose’ but those who believed the painting inside the gate was in fact serving a vital purpose always prevented it. In 1991 the Archbishop of Zagreb proclaimed the ‘Mother of God of the Stone Gate’ to be a special protector of Zagreb and the whole of Croatia (and foreign travellers too, according to some tourist guides). She is there today, surrounded by tiles with inscriptions of gratitude. 

Sunday, September 7, 2014

You can't get there from here...

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Watercolour, crayon, gouache and Photoshop™
©2014 Charlene Brown

I can’t begin to describe, let alone paint, the entirety of Rastoke, a complex stack of waterfalls, mills, alpine houses, beer terraces, vegetable gardens, and restaurants at the confluence of two river canyons in northern Croatia. The guide who had been arranged for us didn’t show up, and it quickly became apparent our bus couldn’t possibly get through. 

I walked down through the most interesting part of the town as far as I dared (knowing I was going to have to climb back out – remember this was the same day we did the Plitvice Lakes waterfalls) and took lots of pictures…

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Plitvice Lakes National Park

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Waterfalls all over the place
©2014 Charlene Brown

On June 8, we drove from Biograd to Zagreb, via Zadar, Plitvice Lakes National Park, and Rastoke.

At Plitvice Lakes we embarked on a three-hour tour, on foot up and among an incredible sequence of waterfalls – you can walk right across the top of the twenty metre waterfall shown in about the centre of this painting… in fact you sort of have to as that’s where the boardwalk takes you – then by boat along one of the upper lakes in the chain.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Bridging the gulf of mutual ignorance

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Intersections of diametrically opposed disciplines
Watercolour, marker and Photoshop™
©2014 Charlene Brown

Half a century ago, C.P. Snow said the ‘two cultures’ of scientists and artists were separated by a gulf of mutual ignorance.

Traditional separation of art and science disciplines at universities has resulted in degrees that are ‘knowledge silos’ producing graduates with a deep, but narrow, expertise, prepared only for highly structured specializations.

Given that breakthrough scientific developments and innovation are often seen to occur at the intersection of disciplines, most universities have developed interdisciplinary programs. 

Unfortunately, the disciplines selected are often closely related, and the bodies of intersecting knowledge are not so much complementary as overlapping and redundant. I think that the intersections of diametrically opposed disciplines would be most likely to be productive. Graduates need to be able to see problems from other, often divergent, perspectives and they have to be able to communicate with previously-mentioned experts in narrow, highly specialized disciplines.