For a couple of hours every afternoon in the sculpture garden at the National Gallery of Australia, an artistic mist drifts over a pond, hiding the water and reeds and reflections and ducks and sixty-six sculpted heads.
When the mist clears it’s an uncomfortable experience to circle the pond, looking at the heads facing in many directions.
Dadang Christanto, an Indonesian-born sculptor now living in Australia, created Heads from the North in 2004 as a memorial to an Indonesian military coup in which his father died.
Beside the pond there’s a restaurant in a marquis. I couldn’t eat there.
Though I frequent the sculpture garden, I have, until today, always skipped quickly past this pond and over to the sculptures I understand, those I would have in my own garden (if I could), like Rodin’s Burghers of Calais. But this afternoon I twisted my own arm and stopped to look into the eyes of these drowning men. Now I see, in a small way, what a task it must have been for Dadang Christanto to create this work of art to honour his father.
Ailsa came up with this great theme of Sculpture. Take a look at her photos here.
Yesterday I was on Hyams Beach in Jervis Bay, NSW, when I was taken aback by this rippling rock erosion that resembles skulls:
And the ripples led to a flow, crossing Hyams Beach, one of the whitest beaches in the world; its fine white grains are mostly composed of quartz. In the distance that’s my husband again, as he was in my last post:
And this morning in the icy atmosphere of a highland reserve, I saw the rippling Yarrunga Creek rushing through heavy fog towards Fitzroy Falls:
Again, the ripples led to a flow and then a plummet a short distance further on where the water tumbled over the edge; there was just enough visibility around the waterfall to take this photo. The rest of the space was white, like standing in cloud.
I remembered seeing a recent photo of these falls on another blog, where Christopher captured the water in sunlight. : http://christopheryardin.com/2013/06/17/travel-theme-flow/
I have this photo which is entirely suitable for Ailsa’s challenge this week. She asks us to open the floodgates and let the creativity flow. Well, this photo is not a product of my creativity but of my treasure-hunting. I found it in my father’s WWII album, where it’s entitled ‘Weir in Nile’. The water is certainly flowing!
Often when I want to identify a location in one of these old photos, I can search the web for similar photos, which usually is a sure way of finding details about my image. This time, however, I’ve been unsuccessful. I’ve researched the dams,weirs and barrages on the Nile River in Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia and not found any image that resembles mine. It’s possible that this dam has been rebuilt since the 1940s and now looks completely different. Click twice to enlarge the image.
If anyone out there is an expert on old Nile dams, and if you know what this one was called, please tell me. I’ll be very grateful!
No eggs! No eggs!! Thousand thunders, man, what do you mean by no eggs?
Saint Joan, Bernard Shaw
My edition of this play has a 41-page preface written in 1924 by Ayot St Lawrence which also has a great first line:
“Joan of Arc, a village girl from the Vosges, was born about 1412; burnt for heresy, witchcraft and sorcery in 1431; rehabilitated after a fashion in 1456; designated Venerable in 1904; declared Blessed in 1908; and finally canonized in 1920.”
What a great résumé.
Thank you to all of you who’ve read any of these 54 opening lines. Perhaps you’ve been encouraged to write the first line of your own novel, poem or play. As a bonus, I can’t help adding the line that many of us think of immediately when asked for a great opener:
It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents – except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.
Under certain circumstances there are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.
The Portrait of a Lady, Henry James
A book I’ve begun but not yet finished. However, since this is about opening lines, I submit this one as a favourite. I recently tried to describe ‘afternoon tea’ to an older French woman who thought eating mid-afternoon was an odd thing. When I turned up at her apartment the next afternoon with pastries and asking for her to put the kettle on, she chose not to eat or drink anything and simply sat watching me enjoy what Henry James and I call an agreeable hour.
In M-, an important town in northern Italy, the widowed Marquise of O-, a lady of excellent reputation and mother of several well-bred children, had the following announcement published in the newspapers: that she had, without knowing the cause, come to find herself in an interesting condition, that she wished the father of the child she was expecting to present himself; and that she was resolved, out of consideration for her family, to marry him.
The Marquise of O-, Heinrich Von Kleist (Translated by Martin Greenberg)
I started reading this story because it was recommended in a book about writing, but I continued it after the opening line because I wanted to know whether the father would turn up and how he would prove his paternity.
Queen Maritorne was the terror of greedy thieving children: she reigned from the attic, where lines of pears and apples ripened, to the vat from which the wine was drawn; she was also the punishment for drunks, and without warning would leap out from the cask tapped by the dishonest valet.
Queen Maritorne, Jean Lorrain (Translated by me)
This is the opener of a fairy tale I translated in France. I felt like I’d met her before, this queen who punishes overeaters and overdrinkers.
Marianne of East of Málaga had the idea of finding a subject worthy of an impressionist painter’s interest. For me it’s this view, one I reckon Monet would have painted if he had been on my balcony. And he could very well have stood on it – the building has been there for a century or two!
Two views from the same spot; different days, different hours:
Marianne proposes we recommend two blogs worth commenting on. I found these two which show amazing wedding photography though neither of the bloggers is a professional photographer (yet); have a look at what’s possible when you love what you do:
I am to break into the conversation
With a word that tastes like snow to say;
I am to interrupt the contemplation
Of the familiar headlines of the day –
Horses, divorces, politics, murders –
With a word cold to hear or look at,
Colder to speak.
The Fire on the Snow, Douglas Stewart
A play written for radio: the story of Captain Robert Scott’s expedition to the South Pole, reaching it only to find that Amundsen had beaten him.