Mind The Gap! · Modern Times

-A Visit To Museum de Fundatie In Zwolle.

And The Planners Blind To What They See.

Museum de Fundatie before the planners did the dirty on it.
Museum de Fundatie before the planners did the dirty on it.

The Museum de Fundatie is to be found in the ancient and beautiful Dutch city of Zwolle. The museum itself holds an outstanding collection of paintings that are well lit and the staff are friendly. As with all museums, it has more collection than space, and to the end of displaying more and being able to accept more temporary exhibitions that the museum was expanded.

What with a train pass that allows me free travel at weekends and a Museum Kaart that allows me free entry to most Dutch museums is my own way to enjoy the pleasures of our modern world. Not forgetting my folding bicycle. Because it was whilst changing trains at Zwolle that I saw the design for the new extension to the museum De Fundatie. At the time it was being renovated, and last Sunday I was drumming my fingers on my computer when I thought that Groningen was too far but recalled the museum at Zwolle. My cat was left enough food in case I was late home and some sandwiches were rustled up for a latish lunch.

The committee running Museum de Fundatie being Dutch, brought in a Dutch architect to design the extension. Now to be fair, most architects across the world think in straight lines and rectangular buildings, leading to the phenomenon that parts of Amsterdam are all but identical to parts of Lansing in Michigan. It’s called ‘individuality’. Everywhere is individual, but looks the same because of the urgency of cost constraints that deprives any building of any individualness. There are many modern cities where one can walk and one could be in Chicago or China – only it’s Amersfoort. The buildings are so unique, so original that they are now the orphans of the intellectual mind: they’re just part of the industry that makes buildings in the way chickens are raised to be slaughtered at the age of six weeks. For all the ‘originality’, they all look the same, don’t they!

Architects doing a dump in public places. With the permission of the blind planners.
Architects doing a dump in public places. With the permission of the blind planners.

They look all the same because nobody had the imagination to do anything else.

Now that costs were irrelevant seems to have kept the new extension to de Fundatie looking very different. What has to be said is that the extension holds no qualities of Dutchness at all, so whilst individual, the extension itself is now placeless.

Truly, if ever a piece of architecture didn’t fit in, it is this. Thankfully it is a silvery shade that meets the colour of a Dutch sky, did make it a little tricky to photograph. That does not make the aerial blob on top of this graceful building any less objectionable. Seeing the initial drawings this excrecance was filled out in brown, all I could think of was that the architect had done a dump on top of the building. Architects, whilst fully grown, seem not to understand the nature of toilet training. Nor do they seem to understand that doing such things in public is considered antisocial.

That the planners think this is acceptable only demonstrates their lack of perception. They wouldn’t let their children do it, would they – but architects are professionals, you see… which means the planners accept the difference between their own expectations and those brought from outside. It’s another example of what I term ‘the disconnect‘.

This is the view from a quintessentially Dutch street in Zwolle.
This is the view from a quintessentially Dutch street in Zwolle.

Another side to this was my meeting with a group of photographers who like snapping architecture. As ever, I spoke my mind as the photograph to the right shows what we saw above the pleasantly Dutch street that we were standing in.

Now I don’t happen to mind how people react, because if one speaks what one feels is the truth when done frequently enough, it’ll be pretty plain whether it is or not. You can imagine that at this, most of the group shuffled off with their portable memory equipment. One of the more communicative of the group stayed for a chat. She explained that she liked it, and I asked her why. She didn’t really know why, more that it was there and so was something to come and see. Our conversation continued and she said that she liked modern art because everybody could see in it what they liked.

Now you know that I can comment very quickly on a Facebook thread. This isn’t just a knee-jerk reaction, it’s a consideration of the flow of the conversation thus far, which when uncoupled from one’s own view, allows the situation to unfold naturally in one’s mind. A lightning fast response can be dangerously barbed on this account. What’s more, I am no different when speaking face to face and this is as good an example as any. For in the next breath I responded:

“So what you’re saying is that modern art is a little like management speak [a term that is as accessible in Dutch as it is in most languages] where the boss uses bland words that everyone can understand as they wish?”

Believe me, the expression on her face told me that I’d made my point. Whilst the conversation came to a close a little later, it was apparent that she was thinking about modern art in a very different way. No bad thing when most modern artists don’t know what they’re painting.

Just because some planner can accept an architect doing a dump on a beautiful building does not mean that everyone has to applaud them for being such imbeciles. I will add that the original building is far from being in the local style! Whilst it’s probably made of the local brick, its facade has been rendered and painted. Its classical frontage is in the English manner, the like of which won’t be seen for miles around. Yet for all its being out of place, the building is pleasant to behold.

The extension is anything but.

Art · Reality

Hello, Red Fox – Eric Carle’s Work With Goethe’s Ideas.

A Guest Post From Eric Carle.

It is always a delight to realize that others are working with colour in a positive way. Whilst I never realized this about Eric Carle’s work when sharing his stories with my children, the memories of his images live in us still.

In the Waldorf schools the reality of light is demonstrated with care, starting painting with blue and yellow in Class 1 (around age 7) and working through to the colour wheel in Class 4 (around age 11) and into light and dark in Class 6 (around age 13). This gradual melding of first art and then practical science gives the children a real foundation in both their experience of and their understanding of colour.

Eric Carle has worked on this from a different perspective! – Gemma.


From Head to Toe

Notes for Parents and Teachers on using
Hello, Red Fox with children

Continue reading “Hello, Red Fox – Eric Carle’s Work With Goethe’s Ideas.”


Sitting At The Back Of A Bus.

A 42 bus outside the main railway station at Stuttgart

Actually it was on the back of a number 42 bus in Stuttgart, and I was on my way to see a friend who lived on the Ameisenburg.

It didn’t take long, it mightn’t even have lasted ninety seconds. The effect on me was profound and rumbled on for the next four weeks. You see, it was at the time of a housemove – not just in the city, but to Britain. No mean consideration, lots to doubt about and plenty of stress! There was the flat and its contents, storage, new homes in the UK, transport, jobs and goodness knows what else.

And on top of all this… BANG!!

Continue reading “Sitting At The Back Of A Bus.”


Nature Lessons.

I read this piece this morning in the online publication “Lunch Ticket” and it spoke to me in the way I hope a few of my posts speak to you. If there is one thing that stands out for me, it is how easy it is to forget. It’s easy to forget that pesticides are designed to kill off tough bugs – the unintended consequence is the delicate butterfly gets caught in the crossfire. Can you remember how many butterflies there were in your childhood? Certainly, there were far more than we have today. It is all to easy to think one is imagining these things, that a world denuded of butterflies is how it was too. This piece is written by a person for whom such memories have formed a far more powerful corner in her mind.

Grandmother’s house nestled at the edge of a wild wood. In the summer, my parents left me with her while they traveled north for my father’s job. He worked part-time for logging companies, clear-cutting forests, harvesting pulp and timber near Grand Marais and Stonington in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Those were summers of tanned bare legs scratched by blackberry brambles, bee stings I hardly felt, and staying up late on the back porch with Grandma Kate watching moths, sometimes as large as my hand, cluster around the light cast from the oil lamp.

Continue reading “Nature Lessons.”

Mind The Gap! · Our Subconscious

What’s On Mina’s Mind Today?


Looking Beneath Consciousness.

The Subconscious, Part 10.


P503i Mina enjoying my grubby gardening jeansMina, as you’ll know by now, is my cat. and waiting for any passing mouse. Thankfully there aren’t any around here, when there was, Mina straightened like a dart. Her body was stiff and had one purpose and one purpose alone: catch it. There was nothing else in her life at that moment.

Continue reading “What’s On Mina’s Mind Today?”

A Human Menagerie · Stories


Ratingen, Germany. 1988.

My legs ache. It’s the eighteenth of these silly pieces of metal that I’ve turned today, and it’s not even three yet. Mr Schmidt brought me the drawings this morning and indicated which parts needed turning, and that it had to be done swiftly.

Does he think I can turn the machine any faster just to please his deadlines? He’s always putting pressure on us to be faster, and there’s always talk that our pay rises will be less than last year. Why else hang around here? It’s not for the fun of it, that’s for sure.
Continue reading “Werner.”

Modern Times

Learning From Mina

What Are Animals Trying To Tell Us?

I’ve never had a cat as a pet before, and it is quite a different experience to owning a dog. Dogs, compared to cats, are quite expressive. Cats have their own ways, but in being more independent they are also less communicative.

What are animals trying to tell us? They're like our boss, they can't tell us, can they?

I guess I need to hone my abilities to perceive the subtle signs cats give to their owners. Dogs do things that humans find easier to understand, like jumping up and wagging their tails. But then, like cats, they don’t go around saying thankyou for a nice dinner. They just curl up in their basket and go to sleep. Continue reading “Learning From Mina”

Feeling · Modern Times

Biting Criticism

You see when I am writing something, I can’t make a mistake. It is art, after all! Yet, on occasion I get responses from readers that point to annoying details of the P 504i Military_dog_barkingstory that I wrote. It is the kind of thing that shows that they have not read the whole story and have just picked at whatever they saw as an easy target. There there was some confusion that led to it being hard to follow or some such rubbish. Now isn’t it quite natural that I should take this with affront? After all, there is good reason: such a critic is acting in a manner that is both offensive and unkind.

Not only that, it is quite unnecessary! We should keep to the accepted norms of our society and say something nice. It is far nicer for someone to suggest how good it was, and how they loved it. After all, being offensive is something one simply cannot tolerate.

Continue reading “Biting Criticism”

Emotional Intelligence · Stories

Mina Starts Gossip!

Mina acting as editor to my book.
Mina acting as editor to my book.

It happened when a friend said something about my cat. Now she just happens to live on the other side of the village. At the time, I hadn’t told her about my cat, so how she got to know about her is a mystery, but that’s life in a village. Word gets around. You see, the driver of the car which had stopped happened to be her neighbour, and so the story snuck out. If only that few interesting things happen in small villages and animals are cute. You see, they’d had to stop their car because a cat was sitting in the middle of the road. Being good citizens they got out, moved the cat to the pavement and phoned her owner.


That was me picking up the phone.

Continue reading “Mina Starts Gossip!”

Our Subconscious


Looking Beneath Consciousness.

The Subconscious, Part 9.

I was doing the vacuuming a few moments ago, and I was only able to do this because I found the bit that goes on the end of my hoover. Now this may sound a little odd, because moments before I had brought it and the hoover into my livingroom.

You see the problem was that I put the end bit down. I didn’t think to do this and so it sort-of disappeared. For you and me, it’s called absent-mindedness and being the bluestocking daughter of a university professor, it is my birthright.

Absent mindedness, that is!

Continue reading “Frustration!”