Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Murano glass unicorn

Just a water taxi ride away from Venice is the glass making island of Murano. Venetian glass is famed around the world and here is a small glass unicorn that can be found in the Murano Glass Museum.


Thursday, March 15, 2007

A merry-go-round in Antwerp

A few years ago, we were visiting Antwerp when we found this merry-go-round. We have since seen it in Brussels for a Christmas fair - so we gather it moves around a bit.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

I could say I've been travelling.....

But while that is partially true, the fact is that until recently I haven't had many opportunities to spend the time to update blogs. Work has been manic and our computer at home is always used by hubby while he is studying for his MBA.

That's all changed now - I recently bought my very own little Apple MacBook and now I'm tooled up and ready to rock and roll.

I have also been working on a new blog, dedicated to my renewed interest in photography (that's because of my new digital SLR!)

So in the interests of starting out again - here I go...

This unicorn is actually in my dining area, but it was bought at the Ice Hotel in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

It's been a while...

It's been a while since I last updated this blog - who's a bad girl!

Anyhoo, I though I'd throw in this unicorn - we found this in a small northern German town called Flensburg while we were visiting my hubby's relatives for Christmas in 2001.

We found the statue above the door of one of the buildings in the main pedestrianised area of the town.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Albrecht Dürer - Rape of Persephone

In the British Museum, there is a large room where all the prints that are not currently on display are stored. What most people don't realise is that this room is available to the public at restricted times. You can't book and it is first in, first served. Amongst the thousands (if not more) prints there is a wonderful engraving by Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528), entitled The Rape of Persephone.

Dürer was an amazing artist, utilising wood, engravings, sculpture and paint. Many believe him to be a key influence on the early Renaissance period.

There are several copies of The Rape of Persephone and the one held at the British Museum is in excellent condition. It depicts Pluto riding on the back of a unicorn carrying a naked Persephone off to the underworld. What is particlulary fascinating about this piece is that many artists of the time chose to depict the unicorn as a gentle creature, often in the company of a maiden. In this case, the unicorn is shown as wild and fierce, and while there is a maiden in the picture, it is a man in charge of the unicorn.

If you are in London and have the time, it is well worth a visit - it is not everyday that you have the opportunity to hold a 16th century artwork in your hands.

For more information about the Print Room and access details, contact the British Museum.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Other unicorns at the Musée National du Moyen Âge - Easter 2002

The Musée National du Moyen Âge(Museum of the Middles Ages)in Paris (see previous post)is home to more unicorns than just The Lady and the Unicorn (La dame à la licorne)tapestries.

There are two other tapestries that we could find that featured unicorns, along with a brass statue.

Unfortunately, I can't remember exactly where this tapestry is, in the museum. Look out for it in a glass case.

This brass unicorn (on the left) is also in a glass case (to the left), somewhere on the second floor, before you arrive at the main stained glass exhibition.

This final tapestry is just above the door on the way out from the small gothic chapel - so don't forget to look up.

I don't know a great deal about these items - but hope to provide updates, after my next visit to the museum.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

The Lady and the Unicorn (La dame à la licorne) - Easter 2002

A mon seul désir (My sole desire)

Some could argue that these are the most beautiful tapestries in the world. I know when I first saw them, it was a profound and an emotional experience. I have reproductions at home in Australia, I have read about them and, basically, have always wanted to see the real thing.

I got my first chance when my husband took me to Paris for Easter in 2002. La dame à la licorne (The Lady and the unicorn) tapestries can be found at the Musée de Cluny, officially known as the Musée National du Moyen Âge(Museum of the Middles Ages) at 6 Place Paul Painlevé, south of the Boulevard Saint-Germain, between the Boulevard Saint-Michel and the Rue Saint-Jacques - not all that far from Notre Dame.

The Museum is a real gem, not many tourists go there, so you can usually wander around without the crowds.

The tapestries themselves are in a special room all to themselves. The lighting is kept low to protect from fading the colours.

There are six tapestries in all. It is commonly accepted that five of them represent the five senses (taste, hearing, sight, smell and touch) and the sixth, A mon seul désir (My sole desire) represents desire/love/self.

It is estimated that they were made in the late 15th century for a noble family (Le Viste). They were lost until they were rediscovered in 1841 and eventually given to the Musée de Cluny in 1882. During the time they lay undiscovered they were damaged and while they have been renovated, it is obvious, when you see them, that the new pieces are not up to the standard of the originals.

The tapestries are done in the style of mille-fleurs(thousand flowers), a popular style at the time. The tapestries have a background of a rich red, with animals and flowers surround the 'islands' where the main focus is.

On each island is a different tableau featuring a lady, her maid and, of course, the unicorn. A lion and other animals also feature, but it is the lady and the unicorn that remain the central theme.
Their beauty is staggering, and I can honestly say that when I first saw them, I cried, just to be finally there in front of them. Photos do not do the tapestries justice, the richness of the colours and the detail can only be truly appreciated in person.

Now, I'm not an expert on these tapestries, so if you want more detailed information I have attached some great online resources below.

I have been back a couple of times to see them - their beauty never fails to move me and frankly, I could sit in the room at the museum and look at them for hours (much to my husband's impatience, sometimes).

If you are in Paris, go hunt them down, you will never regret going to see them.







Note: These photos were taken by my husband and I at the museum, because of the lighting and the (rightly) ban on flash photography, they are not the greatest. For clearer images of the tapestries go to the links above.

St George's Hospital, Tooting - today

This fella has been guarding the main entrance to St George's Hospital in Tooting, London, for many years. Since I've been living in London (nearly three and a half years), he's never had a horn. Then late last year it appeared - a miracle!