Friday, 27 January 2012

String Theory, Part 2

As more than a few people pointed out to me, String Theory would also be a great title for a post about knitting, "and besides, you're an artist: what are you knitting these days? You are still knitting, aren't you?"

Green coconut

Green coconut hanging from the palm.

Well, yes, I am: I let myself be persuaded to submit a proposal for Transforming Spaces: 2012 being held in March at, among other places, the National Gallery of Art for The Bahamas, no less.

Stripped-out husk

Husk opened with axe, and pith-covered fibre is stripped out.

Much to my surprise, it was accepted, so I spent a lot of my time in Nassau working on that project, instead of with the art supplies I took with me (small bookbinding kit, watercolour pencils and crayons, and some mindless knitting).

Raw fibre

Pith-covered fibre has been soaking to make it more pliable and easier to clean.

My proposal was to knit a pair of socks from coconut husk fibre: if I had known how difficult getting the fibre would be, I'm not sure I would have been so keen about it, but there you go.

Cleaned up

A coconut's worth of fibre.

I tried knitting with the fibre shown above, and it was, at best, a challenge. So I processed three more coconuts, let the fibres soak as long as possible while I was there, then drained them, double-bagged them, and brought them back to Calgary with me.

They've been soaking ever since, and I will gently spin them together and knit them up that way.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

String Theory

This is not going to be a deeply intellectual post, despite the title: check out this website for the whole science behind String Theory, if that's what you're looking for....

Flamingos! #3 (Inagua: Day 2)

Honk! Adult flamingos on Great Inagua.

That being said, I'm not one to believe in magic, but I found this paragraph from the website oddly compelling in evaluating what I'm doing and thinking about where I want to go next....

We still don't know what the fundamental theory behind string theory is, but judging from all of these relationships, it must be a very interesting and rich theory, one where distance scales, coupling strengths and even the number of dimensions in spacetime are not fixed concepts but fluid entities that shift with our point of view.

Flamingos! #7 (Inagua: Day 2)

Juvenile flamingos: they turn pink when they are ready to breed.

The current gist of string theory seems to presume eleven dimensions. Well, OK, I can relate to that: I discovered this afternoon that one of my major grant applications is due February 1, not March 1, so I'm scrambling to get some supporting documentation.

And then I'll fill out their forms after I finish a residency deadline due tomorrow.

Roseate Spoonbill #2 (Inagua: Day 2)

Roseate spoonbill flying to the breeding swamp on Great Inagua.

If I could wave my magic wand, everyone would get to see roseate spoonbills in the wild.

Portholes #3

Porthole with shadows and light on the way to Spanish Wells and Harbour Island.

There's light, and shadow, and all sorts of really architectural things happening in my life: I am made from the dust of the stars, and I know there will be some sort of rationalization eventually.

From sublime to ridiculous

Anna Nicole Smith's abandoned house: I saw a lot of places like this in Nassau.

My head feels like this some days: perhaps it's because I radiate more heat than light....

(Song lyric quotes in italics from Presto by Rush.)

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Time to go back to ice and snow

Tide coming in #1

We left early, on my last full day in Nassau, to walk down to the beach in time to catch the sunrise and watch the tide coming in. In some places, it rushed....

Tide coming in #2

....but not in others.

The beginning of the end (pano)

To fully appreciate this photogragh, click on it to see it in its entirety on Flickr: I think it's rather pretty....

The beginning of the end #1

Once we got back to the house, I spent my day stripping two more coconuts of their fibre, cracking open roadkill coconuts for their sweet water (which was mixed with good rum), doing laundry, and trying to think about everything I had to do when I got back to Canada.

Sadly, there were no photographs of the way back: it was too dark to get a half-decent shot of Niagara Falls as we made our descent into Toronto, and then it was just black all the way to Calgary (via Saskatoon, where there was no snow).

I've been back a week now, and the temperatures have been as low as -40 with winchill (that's both Celsius and Fahrenheit), and it's been snowing. At least it's starting to warm back up, with a chinook and temperatures above freezing this weekend.

Both me and my camera can hardly wait....

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Hitting the High Seas

Goin' on a sea cruise

There's a high-speed ferry that runs from Nassau to Harbour Island, on the east side of Eleuthera, with a stop in Spanish Wells, and we went en famille the first Friday of 2012.

Portholes #2

In keeping with my shoot the light ethos, I worked on finding different things to see.

What we do

Spanish Wells was founded by United Empire Loyalists -- people living in the United States at the time of the American Revolution but who sided with the British. While many of them moved to Canada, others moved to The Bahamas. It has what might be kindly referred to as almost a xenophobic attitude to strangers, but perhaps they are simply leery of becoming overrun with cash-wielding tourists.

Looking south

Harbour Island looks mostly like a place that is past its best before date, sadly. Big honking homes are up for sale, not being maintained, and there's a whiff of uncaring in the air. Our lunch at the Blue Bar was pretty less-than-mediocre, with my conch salad having a distinct lack of conch, and my "Key Lime Pie" created from a mix -- I know, because I make it at home.

That beach, however, is pretty spectacular.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Great. Inagua.

Feral Goats (Inagua: Day 1)

Casual encounters with other artists, starting with two expat Canadians, opened up an opportunity for me to go to Matthew Town on Great Inagua, which is the most southerly island in The Bahamas. I had been told I'd see a lot of feral donkeys, but didn't see any at all. The goats, however, hang out down by the big lighthouse on the southwest corner of the island.

Not a beaver pond (Inagua: Day 2)

The salt pans are stark and beautiful, in their own way.

Flamingos! #4 (Inagua: Day 2)

But the highlight for me were the 80,000 wild West Indies flamingos that make Inagua National Park their home.

Flamingos! #6 (Inagua: Day 2)

I wish someone had taken a picture of me photographing the birds out on Great Inagua: I quietly walked up a road, doing my best Canada goose imitation to get close to these guys. Don't laugh! That's what flamingos actually sound like.

Roseate Spoonbill #1 (Inagua: Day 2)

But spotting a roseate spoonbill was equally as amazing: I was practically falling out of the window in the pickup shooting this picture.

Not unlike the tourists who come to Banff National Park and see their first bear, or moose, or elk, I guess.

And as jaded as I am about seeing our Canadian national park wildlife, that was also pretty much the same reaction of the son of my tour guide, who was sound asleep in the back seat of the pickup truck.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Catching up


Well, I was busy in Nassau. Was convinced to submit a proposal for Transforming Spaces 2012, as their theme was fibre and spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to knit a pair of socks from coconut husks. That's still in progress.

It's a tourist postcard, right?

But one of the most important things I wanted to do on this trip was to take pictures: I hadn't been doing much of that in 2011, and made it my mission to shoot more. Thanks to a professional photographer friend, who suggested, after reviewing my Flickrstream, that I needed to shoot the light, I decided that I would do more of that.

What's the story, morning glory?

And, truth be told, I think I was successful.

A ColorAid experiment

What do you think?

Pink. Puddle. Palm.

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