Francoise Gilot: Life with Picasso
The first time I consciously came across Francoise Gilot was when I read a newspaper article in the Sydney Morning Herald in 2011. What caught my eye and made me read the article straight away were the photographs of the then 90 year old lady. Her personality strikes me as elegant, confident and intelligent, her life interesting, Picasso plays the most widely known but not the only part in.
The book was written eleven years after she had left Picasso, she was the only woman to do so. They met in 1943, she was 21 he was 61. The book accompanies the 10 years of their relationship, the birth of their two children and their separation.
For me the book is about two things: Art and Love.
What I found most interesting was the conversations between Gilot and Picasso about art and its creative process. Gilot explains Picasso's approach to designing an artwork, his way of thinking, his intentions and finally the process of creation. She describes in detail his techniques of painting, lithography and sculpture. I only have a very basic knowledge about art, but this book changed how I am looking at art now.
The book is about absolute love, passion, happiness and sadness, exhaustion and desperation. Picasso was a very difficult person to be with and the book shows how Gilot devoted her life to him, how she dealt with his moods, how she could laugh about him and how much she loved him.
Gilot is a fantastic witness of the time and her book is so much more than the story of her relationship to Picasso, it is also a historic document of that time.
Raspberry White Chocolate Cake
Trip to Warragamba Dam
In the German Catholic Church bulletin (don't ask me to explain why I got my hands on this) I read about a daytrip of a group of senior residents to Warragamba dam. It sounded as if they had a lot of fun so I decided its time for our family to go there too. Australia is the driest inhabited continent of the earth so water supply is vital.
After a short drive west towards the Blue Mountains we left the M4 just near Penrith. Then we were driving through beautiful countryside and felt like a million miles away from Sydney. As we reached the grounds of the dam it seemed like an oversized park with picnic areas, given there were only 5 or 6 cars in the parking lot. Unfortunately visitors are not allowed to walk onto the dam wall, so one can only look at the dam from a viewing platform. The sight of the dam and especially the level of the water was still impressive.
Usually when I check the rain radar it never rains over the catchment area, but last summer and this winter have been very wet so the dam has reached full capacity, it even began spilling this April which was big news on TV. The all time low of 32.5% of capacity was recorded in February 2007.
Candle for Magnus
Walter Isaacson: Steve Jobs
Last Christmas I had asked Santa for a Samsung smart phone. Apart from an ipod, I don't own any other Apple products and felt the brand is trying to make you buy all of their devices. Would I have wanted an iphone after reading the book?
I had ordered the English version of the book online, something I strongly recommend. The computer related terms are English words anyway and the author's style is straightforward and without the use of complicated sentences.
It took me a couple of weeks to read through the 600 pages of the book. It is like reading a drama: somehow I was waiting to read about all the products we are so familiar with now: the ipod, iphone and ipad. Once the book reached these chapters, I slowed down a bit, as if a climax had been reached.
The book is amazing, probably the best biography I have ever read. The is partly due to the author and his style of writing, but mainly the life and personality of Steve Jobs is what makes that book stand out for me. I did not know much about Jobs before and was not too keen to find out about him either, but now I have started reading newspaper articles and watched old clips on Youtube about him and the Apple brand. The story is simply fascinating.
It all starts out in his garage and ends up in one of the biggest brands of our time. Jobs could achieve this by being the person he was. The last biography I read was about Picasso and it is amazing how similar they might have been. Genius on one side, cruel, manipulative and mean on the other side.
Jobs had asked Isaacson to write this book in 2004, probably aware that someone will write about him if he dies of cancer and by choosing Isaacson (former chairman and CEO of CNN, author of biographies of Einstein, Kissinger and Franklin) he made sure to have one of the best writing about him. This is the way he choose people he wanted to work with at Apple as well, he just calls up the person who he thinks is best for a certain job.
Jobs did not want any control over the book, fully aware that Isaacson will also write about how mean he could treat even his closest fiends. Over two years Isaacson collected the material, doing many interviews with Jobs and people close to him. The book covers his childhood, private life and his career.
What made a big impression on me:
Jobs attention (you could call it obsession) to detail in everything (food, clothes, architecture, design, presentations, advertising)
The way Jobs built his team (choosing the best, firing who is not good enough any more)
What surprised me:
Jobs deep love for Bob Dylan
What I missed:
I would have wished for more background information about what happened elsewhere at the time of the early computing since there was not only Apple. This is probably a lot to ask, since one book would not have been enough. I googled some people and companies Jobs had dealt with in order to find out more about them to complete the picture. To Isaacson's credit: all the big names seem to have a place in his book and a brief summary on what they were doing at the time (for example Bill Gates). Once I had finished the book there were no open questions, sometimes the author deals with a different person in a different chapter and you find out about it a little later in the book.
After all I can say: I am very happy with my smaller phone and the open strategy works for me.
Vivid Festival 25.05.-11.06.2012
Sydney must be one of the best cities in the world for free family outdoor entertainment. Starting the year with the summery Sydney Festival and all the outdoor gigs like Opera in the Domain, Symphony in the Domain, outdoor movies and theatre performances, we are now heading towards the annual mid-winter festival called Vivid. It started off in 2009 and has grown bigger ever since. Last year it had 400,000 visitors. Take the kids and stroll around the city, the Rocks and Circular Quay to explore spectacular light installations, music events, night markets and art shows.
My top five picks (not all kid friendly)
1. Light installation - Opera House.
This years transformation of the famous sails is being done by german artist collective Urbanscreen. In addition to that there will be more than 50 light installations around Circular Quay.
2. Museum of Contemporary Art
Lighting, free art exhibitions and art bar. The new wing of the museum opened two weeks ago and I can't wait to have a look.
3. The Temper Trap
The Aussi band will be performing in the Opera House on May 31 and June 1. I like their music and you can listen here.
4. Lomo Magic
Anyone with a passion for this type of photography. Course is on at June 2nd and costs $180. Diana Camera included.
5. The Argyle
Absacker and some house music.
Getting to know Picasso
When I returned home after I had visited the Picasso exhibition at the Art Gallery of NSW, I remembered a book I had bought a while ago at the Rozelle markets. It is called 'Picasso: Creator and Destroyer' by Arianna Stassinopoulos Huffington. After looking at the range of his work at the gallery and the different ways of expressing himself I got curious to find out more about this artist, even though I had never really warmed to his work. The book took me in straight away. The author did a thorough research and I got the feeling to get a good portrait of Picasso's personal life. That's what the book is mostly about. It does no go into the depth of his artistic creations but rather gives an impression of his social life, the people he spend time with and his torn personality. Picasso seems to have had such a powerful and charismatic appearance that people who met him wanted to be in his presence and were not able to withdraw from him and his magic. Picasso used his power to manipulate others and to promote himself as a genius of the artworld. I don't know enough about art to lead a profound discussion about his artistic achievements and that's why the book is perfect for me. I am interested in his life as a man, husband, father and lover.
The things that I will remember from this book, that made an impression on me or that did surprise me:
1. Francoise Gilot, the strongest of his partners. I will read her book.
2. Picasso was a coward.
3. Picasso and Braque were best friends.
4. Picasso, being a communist, received the Stalin Peace price.
5. Picasso's passion for bullfights.
6. Gertrude Stein
7. Picasso's involvemnt with Ballets
2012 Easter egg creations
This year Finn and I did the easter egg workshop on our balcony and used food colouring and acrylic paint that we applied with cotton buds. We had so much fun and the best for me: there wasn't much preparation and clean up involved.
Yesterday was another one of those rainy days, the kids and I were bored and we decided to make some play-dough. It is really simple, even I managed and as you know I am not the crafty kid of the block.
All you need to do is to put all this:
1 cup plain flour
1/2 cup salt
1 cup water
1 tbs cooking oil
2 tbs cream of tartar
into a pot,heat it up, stir nicely and out comes play-dough. The funny part is to put the food colouring through it, our hands are still blue today.