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A very small, quick series of drawings documenting the train trips Justin and I have taken through Europe over the past 2 months based on our much-treasured-and-gazed-at Eurail Map. These are the beginnings of something else, however at the moment I like that they so humbly depict what was the equivalent of crossing from the west coast of the USA to the east coast, and then back again.
In two months we’ve traveled approximately 8000kms through Europe, passing through 9 countries on 25 trains, staying in 14 cities.
The city of Köln was never intended as a destination when we set out on our adventure, but before long we found ourselves there. As its train station is one of the main stops on a number of routes through Europe, we passed through it several times and were taken by the view of Köln’s massive cathedral. Aptly named the Dom, this staggering Gothic structure (under construction for a period of 600 years) dominates (see what I did there?) the entire skyline, visible from most points in the city, and became the reason for this unexpected destination.
However, for me it was the Kolumba Museum that proved the jewel of this city.
Kolumba Museum comes with an extraordinary story. During WWII this particular church was bombed to the ground. When residents investigated the rubble afterwards, though, they found the Madonna still standing. Thereafter she was dubbed Madonna of the Ruins. In a twist, what the bombing uncovered was the ancient ruins of a Roman house that the church had been built upon. Since, the ruins of both the Roman house and the church have been beautifully preserved as part of what has become an art museum. Using stone of the same colour, the new museum sympathetically rises out of the ruins. On the ground floor, you can walk on platforms around what remains of both the Roman house and the Church, (cunningly but subtly lit by means of leaving gaps between some of the new bricks) with the first and second floor dedicated to housing an the Church’s collection of historical and contemporary art. Everything about this museum was unexpected and hugely satisfying; it’s one of my highlights for many, many reasons.
On show when we arrived was a restrained but fascinating exhibition on ‘thinking’. Combining the museum’s own collection of historical religious art and artefacts with contemporary art, it hosted works from Joseph Beuys to John Cage to local Köln artists, from sound works to installation, from historical artist studies on perspective to the museum’s architect’s notes and notebooks on his thoughts on how to build this remarkable structure. My favourite room was darkened, apart from tall, thin lit glass cases that held the Archdiocese’s reliquary. Set back amongst these on a plinth of its own was a live feed from a library, housed in a finely furnished container in Antarctica. This library was 10 years in the making and created by Lutz Fritsch. The books have been chosen by selected scientists and artists. The counterpoint of these two sets of artefacts was something quite special.
Sorry about the length of this post, will sign off now. -Gabrielle
With leaving hearth, home and country in the forefront of my mind, I’m starting a new project based on our beloved bookcase.
I will draw/trace into a book all of the first pages from all the travel or adventure or journey books my partner and I own. Ranging from true adventure novels to ‘coming-of-age’ journeys, I’ve been fairly inclusive with the titles, and each of these books speaks to me of some sort of change or transformation. What follows is a list of titles and a couple of explanations … and before you ask, no, I haven’t read them all.
Batting on the Bosphorus, Before the Wind
The Catcher on the Rye (because the first scene is of him running away from school), The Cave of the Cyclops (a single chapter we have (not sure why) from Homer’s Odyssey), The Colour of Heaven
Duck, Death and the Tulip
Great Expectations, The Great War for Civilisation, Gulliver’s Travels
Here Comes Another Vital Moment, The Hobbit, Homage to Catalonia
In Great Waters, It’s All About the Bike (because what better mode of transport?)
Kidnapped, Kidnapped (we have two versions)
The Last Continent, Lolita (because they meander around in the old jalopy), The Lord of the Rings
Mister Pip, Moby Dick, Monstrous Regiment, My Name Was Judas (because Jesus and his disciples were pretty good walkers), Mysteries on the High Seas
On The Road (how could this list be without it?)
Sailing Alone Around the World, Saving Fish From Drowning, The Secret Garden (because the lasting impression I had from this book was the comparisons between India and England), Seven Pillars of Wisdom, The Science Fiction of Edgar Allan Poe (honestly, only because it has a cool-looking hot-air-balloon-space-ship on the front), Small Boat Sailing (because it’s another cool mode of transport), Somewhere East of Suez
The Tale of Johnny Town-Mouse, Treasure Island, The Two Towers
White Teeth, The Wind in the Willows (because a sense of spring urges Mole from his hole), The Wishing Tree, Witches Abroad