Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Dublin Christmas, Whole Lotta Craic

I spent about a week in Dublin, not doing any work, but instead catching up on ideas about art, capturing the christmas spirit, reading, walking, but mostly drinking a lot.

My friends' apartment is amazing, for one thing. I had my own room, with a balcony, and it was snowing like crazy! Mark and Rhona threw a party for me as well, and many of the Irish artists I met from Mattress Factory Museum were there. We partied down until the wee hours of the morning, and made mini-pizzas to munch on.

I took a tour of Temple Bar area, where a lot of the touristy Dublin things are but where Rhona's studio is located as well. It looks as fun as I imagined, and totally different from my own working space, i.e. one IKEA desk, tiny keyboard, and a box of jewelry supplies-- hers is an artist's shop brimming with potential, AND room to dance around. I was delighted to see our Coaster Choir project on beautiful laminated sheets, and my face conducting in a catalogue of her work!

I met up with Rhona's family for Christmas Day proper. They live in Sutton, which is near Howth, the peninsula-like formation on the coast of Dublin. Little did I know that a taxi would take me across the bay, where I saw snow-covered palm trees and sandy beaches covered in this frosty/foamy ice. Apparently in the 1970's, someone brought a bunch of palm trees to Ireland from some tropical region, planted them, and they've been hardy enough to stick around. It was so unusual to see palm trees when I was expecting, I don't know, ivy and pine trees, but then add to that a bunch of mansions and villa-like homes in pink, yellow, and blue, and this is like the Miami rendition of Dublin. Top it off with a heavy covering of snow and it was something unreal. The freshwater of snow and ice was mixing with the foam of saltwater ocean, and making these strange little puffy ice piles along the coast.

Further down the peninsula was Howth Head, a lookout point with lighthouse and some beautiful (if very slushy) trails. Howth Head is redundant really, seeing how the word 'Howth' comes from Old Norse (hövuð), meaning head. Same word in Icelandic, basically. So it's really 'Head Head'. I digress. The views are stunning.

Christmas was delightful and full of family. Fairly stressfree for me, and lots of food, and lots and lots of wine. Also, fancy tables! But unfussy guests, which is the perfect combination. Most of the rest of christmas was spent hovering around the children and watching their cute and sort of stylish Peppa Pig cartoons.

The city of Dublin was also beautiful, and I went out for many a pint. We passed by this building and I liked the blue LED lights with the old Georgian architecture.

Time in Dublin was wrapping up quickly. With Christmas craziness out of the way, I went to the National Gallery and saw some works that I've definitely seen in art history classes before. They had a gorgeous Caravaggio, which was apparently hidden in some storage area of a Jewish building for centuries, until a restorer unearthed it. I also got to briefly stop into St. Patrick's Church, which is so gosh dern old I can't quite comprehend it. My map said it was built in the late 1100's. You can definitely feel some energies inside of it- if not souls, God, spirits, whatever, then at least the memories of 500-year-old flags, fluttering in tatters from the rafters, and thrones with helmets and swords next to the altar.

This time, with planes landing on time, I had a real day in London and could be myself. I had a delightful lunch with Lucinda and saw her gallery of music photography. I went to a leather shop, and the largest HMV record store. However, their appallingly small selection of contemporary classical (in the wake of rows and rows of Bach and Mozart) might deserve a post all in itself. I'll give them that it was just days after the Christmas hordes ransack all the stores, but in general Not Pleasing. I'll just go back to buying my music directly from artists and know, the old-fashioned way.

Some graffiti I walked by in a tunnel; the blurring wasn't intentional, I was just walking and didn't stop to take the picture but I kind of like the motion of it. There were probably five or six graffiti artists working in the tunnel when I walked through, all doin' their thing without the police invading.

I also got to see the London Eye, and the Tate Modern, both of which had not been built when I was in London last in 1999. And that was even in high school, which almost doesn't count as real life. The most spectacular thing there was Ai Weiwei's massive installation of sunflower seeds. Millions upon millions of them were handcrafted--handpainted by Chinese artisans, and made of porcelain, poured out on the Tate floor. Visitors could originally walk on it, but concerns were raised about the toxicity of dust from the porcelain crunching, so now you can just walk up to the seeds and stare in awe.

I walked across the modern Millennium Bridge with the hordes of tourists, and felt happy to be going back to Iceland. Where I'm sort of a tourist, but at least I'm not surrounded by loud American teenagers all day. London is an amazing place where you can do about anything and acquire just about anything, but the pace and the crowds and the waiting on the underground is all just a bit too large-scale for me. I liked the scale of Dublin better, and the openness of all the friendly people there. And of course, the delicious Guinness.

Thus ends the quick tour of good times in Dublin, a day in London, and I'm back to Reykjavík, ready to work for a couple days. Oh wait, there's New Years. Maybe I should just keep celebrating.

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