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Spend some quality time with a friend…
I’ll be signing-off here now for what remains of this year…
Wishing you all a fun, festive (and friendship-filled :) close to 2012,
and a very happy, fulfilling and creative 2013!
Planning to include an armadillo in a drawing I’m working on I went in search of a live model at Artis, Amsterdam’s zoo and my neighbour (in the mornings we hear the Japanese macaques excitedly chattering over their breakfast, the midday trumpeting of an Asian elephant will always seem surreal, and as evening approaches the Californian sea lion often likes to engage in a bit of twilight barking).
this is a sunbather’s contented yawn, not a bark
Unfortunately (for me, but perhaps not for the armadillos*) Artis have none in residence. So, instead of a life-drawing session, I took in the beautiful grounds – lush and dripping with green (the positive result of lots of summer rain!), visited a few of my furry favourites, and purposefully avoided the big cats (*I’ve no doubt said it before, but I have mixed feelings about zoos and hate to see the larger beasts, feline or otherwise, pacing their enclosures. However I am also aware that, as humanity continues to destroy creatures and their habitats, many zoos are performing important educational and conservation work).
red ruffed lemurs enjoy the sunshine on their open island
(it’s great to be able to get up-close-and-personal with these beautiful animals – no fences, cages or glassed enclosures separate you from them)
… very green
and the red panda has a fancy new house!
he was curled up on a branch high above his plush new abode and had no interest in obliging this snap-happy fan – so, in lieu of the real thing, here are two ‘artists’ impressions’…
… on our recent travels.
I found these wonderful polychromatic stones (l to r: lapis lazuli, hawk’s eye, blue quartz, apatite, rhyolite, ruby and ruby in muscovite) at De Oude Aarde (or ‘The Ancient Earth’) – a tiny, but absolutely fascinating, rock museum in Giethoorn. Even if the sun had been shining while we were there I would’ve happily whiled away a few hours in its darkened rooms in the company of its beautiful rock collection! Is it too late to retrain as a geologist?
If you’re ever passing through Groningen, and fancy a rummage through teetering piles and dusty boxes of remarkable vintage bits, antiques and other-peoples-discarded-junk then I can also highly recommend Klinkhamer Antiek & Curiosa (Folkingestraat 50, 9711JZ, Groningen, NL). It’s an absolute treasure-trove!
I have no particular knowledge of antiques or vintage stuff and, when rummaging, am simply drawn to things that appeal to me aesthetically (rather than things that might tick some ‘vintage cool’ box). When we spotted this exceedingly handsome owl, peering out at us from a crowded cabinet, we knew he had to come home with us!
He was, apparently, carved from German Black Forest wood at the end of the 19th Century. He is hollow inside, with a hinge at the back of his neck allowing his head/the lid to be lifted, and his beautiful shining yellow eyes are made of glass. I wondered what purpose he might’ve served, and on doing a bit of googling have discovered that he was probably once some Victorian’s string dispenser (hence the hollow body, the hinged head, and the little hole beneath his beak from which the string would have emerged)… I like to think of him patiently assisting in the preparation of brown paper packages tied up with string, or perhaps winking rakishly from his place on the mantelpiece at his straight-backed, pursed-lipped Victorian companion.
Living, as I currently do, in one of the world’s smaller and most densely populated countries, I was drawn to this tin toy eland because he reminds me of the wide open expanses of Southern Africa :)
Faded embossed writing on his belly suggests he was made by Britains Ltd, probably in the 1920’s (Britains mainly produced tin toy soldiers but between the two World Wars public anti-war sentiment permeated the market and they started making animals instead).
The old Dutch tile (no idea of its age… but I doubt it’s a 17th Century original!) is a beauty, and compliments the eland nicely!
And the meerkat skull?
Well, like its previous owner, it’s simply perfect!