Art, artsiness, and pretty things

This is art. We know this because it’s called art by people who know these things. In this case, it’s art that I love. It was made by Mats Caldeborg and is called Himmelsförsök och Hund (rough translation: A Try for Heaven and Dog).

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But it’s kind of rare that I love visual art that’s officially recognised as such. I have no patience for naivistic painters or splotches of colour. Others love it, great. I want to see what it’s supposed to be.

Like these pictures I got at a second hand shop yesterday. I actually hesitated before buying them, only because I was worried they were too vulgar. But so what? I liked them. They fit my hallway. Why is this even an issue?

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Because of prestige. Because liking figurative art, especially if you like it indiscriminately (as in, I’ll hang any old picture of a flower or a boat on the wall as long as it looks like a flower or a boat), is looked down on in some circles. And I get it, I really do. I want my movies to make me think, and I like music that surprises me. I’m not always in the mood for anything lightweight there. But when it comes to visual art, I just don’t want to have to work for it. I want it served on a silver platter. I want it to be pretty.

Because I really love pretty things. Kitschy, vulgar, glittery things that shimmer and sparkle and have lots of colours. I want it to be over the top and gaudy, otherwise what is there to look at?

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Sometimes I think I’m caught in some kind of time warp where I’m compelled to buy things I would have adored as a ten year old. It’s definitely the case with fabric, since I am in no way a seamstress, and yet I can’t help buying all these pretty swaths of cheap, spangled material that I never find a use for except to hang from the ceiling in my Indian room.

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It’s how I write too. Some people would probably call it purple prose. I call it verbal painting, music in words. What’s the point of text if it’s not beautiful? Over-burdened, yes perhaps. And there is also beauty in simplicity. But to translate a feeling into words, you either have to create a situation for your character that sparks the same reaction inside the reader, or you have to create the image for them by conjuring glitter and sparkle with the help of language.

It’s an age-old battle between the ornate and the minimalistic, and neither is an obvious winner. Sometimes you need the baroque, and other times a bare space.They’re different modes that speak of different things. So yes, I love the riot of colour in my home, but I also love artsy black and white photographs of musicians.

Which is all to say fuck all really. 🙂 Here’s a couple of artsy black and white photographs of a musician.

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The summer knock-out

This year’s weather is so strange that you can kind of forget that it’s summer, because you almost need gloves when you go outside. And then days like this one hit, and you’re left reeling from the realisation that yeah, it’s actually the end of June.

Sun spangles and the delicate gauze of beaked parsley.

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The remnants of dandelions.

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Luminescent cranesbill, like daytime moonlight.

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All saying, “Grab it while you can!”

Midsummer at the cabin

The first thing to greet us as we approached our middle-of-the-forest paradise was a startled reindeer that obligingly ran alongside the car so I could document it.

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The second welcome came from the wealth of buttercups that dotted the entire lawn.

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The first day was lovely and bright, the kind of day when the sky is white and endless.

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On my walk, I was accompanied by a fearless butterfly that fluttered along in front of me and landed to let me snap dozens of closeups. Look how the light filters through those gossamer wings.

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And look at its tiny, furry face! How often do we pay attention to the faces of butterflies? We’re too seduced by their colourful wings.

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In this one it looks like it’s stumbling home after a night on the town!

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The lingonberry bushes were flowering.

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Back at the cabin, we made a miniature maypole in the garden.

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Dinner was served on the fire. 🙂

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The buttercups glowed in the light of a torch.

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And afterwards I went up to where the forest used to be and watched the clouds blush at the setting sun.

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And somewhere here, among the fallen trees and under the dramatic sky, I lost my battery charger, so the rest of the weekend went undocumented. Maybe it was for the best. It rained the entire time and I needed some rest – the kind of rest I call non-days, that is days when time passes from your first coffeecup to your final glass of wine without even touching you; when you somnambulate through the afternoon like a ghost through the grey gauze separating us from eternity; when there’s just a big Nothing where you usually live your life.

Sometimes I resent these days, because I like to pretend that I can live two lives at once, at the speed of light. But after a period of high activity, I always find myself in these empty slumps, as if they’re the price I must pay for living too much, for hoarding time and experiences. It’s a balance sheet, and I never get away with too much greed – or too much work. I guess it’s my body’s way of making sure I don’t exceed my ‘income’.

And today I took the bus into town to buy a new charger. It’s as symbolic as it gets. 🙂

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Just a few more lilacs

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There’s a Swedish saying – “between hawthorn and lilacs” – which means a really, really short time. Legend has it that a Stockholm cobbler put a sign on his door that his shop was closed between hawthorn and lilacs – maybe to enjoy this brief but heavenly time of changes and delicate foliage just before summer settles like a green and sleepy giant.

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It’s such a transient beauty, and maybe that’s part of the charm. The lilacs explode on the trees in white and pale purple, and then wilt within days. But while they flower, nothing smells more divine. Well, apart from the man in the pic below. 🙂

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Strings in sunlight

Tonight hubby had his final guitar lesson for the semester with his group of new learners, and my presence was kindly tolerated. 🙂 We grilled sausages in a hut built in traditional Sami style (grillkåta) and played and sang together in between bites.

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It’s always fun to see hubby in teaching mode. He really was born to do this – and I don’t know if that’s a blessing or a curse! In any case, he’s really good at making people sort of perform at a higher level than they really should be able to – to create circumstances and show the exact things they need to immediately apply brand new knowledge in relevant and inspiring exercises. They get to feel that they can do things instead of staying at a very basic level and rehashing the same old stuff again and again. I don’t know, it’s hard to describe, but I really admire his ability to bring out the best in people.

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It was such a lovely evening – windy but sunny – and the hut we sat in was cozy and warm with a fire in the middle and benches covered in reindeer pelts.

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The glamorous life of a musician

This post and the links in it contain advertisements for my books

“I wish I was a musician. It’s such a glamorous, romantic life…”

Or is it? Let’s have a look at a day in the life.

6.30 am: Drive to the guy who owns the band van

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7.15 am: Load stuff and leave for the venue

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8.30 – 10-00 am: set up the equipment and test the sound

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10.00 – 11.00 am: Wait

11.00 – 11.45: Play (note that the actual gig starts four and a half hours after we left home)

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11.45 – 1.00 pm: Wait, possibly buy a hamburger

1.00 – 1.45 pm: Play again

1.45 – 2.15: Wait

2.45 – 3.00 pm: Play one last time

3.00 – 5.30 pm: Load all the stuff in the van again and drive home.

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And that’s a daytime gig – imagine if all this happened at night. Because of course musicians always work when other people are free, just like cooks and cinema operators.

And all this doesn’t even take into account the hours and hours of rehearsing, or the money you spend on petrol, strings, pedals, speakers, lights, and other equipment. It’s like Michael says in the fourth book about Pax, Cutting Edge:

Sometimes he wanted to explain to people how much work went into a gig, that it wasn’t something you just pulled out of your sleeve, but that was the one thing he could never do. The whole point was that it had to look easy. If it didn’t, no one would be seduced by it. After all, who wanted their entertainment to look like hard work?