September 05, 2013

Walking Figures by Magdalena Abakanowicz

They are tall, headless and foreboding. They appear to be wandering aimlessly. Sinister perhaps.

Identically cast, they were later given individual surface treatments to create subtle identities.

The artist, Magdalena Abakanowicz, was born to a noble landowner family in Poland. When she was nine Nazi Germany invaded and occupied Poland. Her family endured the war living on the outskirts of Warsaw.

After the war and resulting Soviet occupation, the family moved to small city near GdaƄsk, in northern Poland. Under Soviet control, the Polish government adopted Socialist realism as the only acceptable art form which could be pursued by artists. Originally conceived by Joseph Stalin in the 1930s, Socialist realism in nature, had to be 'national in form' and 'socialist in content'.

The artist's years at university, 1950 through 1954, coincided with some of the harshest assaults made on art by the Soviet leadership. Abakanowicz recalled: "I liked to draw, seeking the form by placing lines, one next to the other. The professor would come with an eraser in his hand and rub out every unnecessary line on my drawing, leaving a thin, dry contour. I hated him for it."

Abakanowicz's Walking Figures appear at the Broadway-City Hall Canada Line Station, and they all look rather Soviet-like to me.

Photos by Jim Murray. Copyright 2013.

September 02, 2013

Tofino's Crab Dock

The Government Crab Dock at the inlet appears differently with the changes in the tide and the weather.  The gulls are always present, and sometimes an eagle.

And dogs in kayaks and herons in trees.

Photos by Jim Murray. Copyright 2013.

August 28, 2013

VanDusen Gardens ~ changing colours and ravens

Autumn is in the air. A dusty coolness, a sharpness to the breeze, signalling the change of seasons.

VanDusen Gardens changes too, with a different array of colour, scents and sounds each week.

Ravens? This far south?


Photos copyright 2013 by Jim Murray

August 26, 2013

War planes over Tofino

We have seen the contrails for years. Indeed, probably since the sixties when America's enemy was the Soviet Union. B-52s, or some variation, continue to fly up and down the coast of North America, sometimes veering off to fly along the Canadian - American border. The flights are impressively visible from Tofino.

B-52s began flying for the United States Air Force in 1955. They fly high and at relatively fast speeds. They are designed for war and carry an impressive array of avionics and armaments, including nuclear bombs. They have been upgraded and rebooted for a modern age, and with scheduled refurbishment this year and next, are expected to fly another thirty years.

During the American War in Vietnam, they were used for the infamous carpet bombing raids which destroyed huge swaths of country and city alike. During one mission in 1972, often called the Christmas Bombings, they flew 10 to 12 hour missions for twelve horrifying days. After a brief rest they started again after the New Year. Three million people were killed by the American forces during the ten years of their war.

And just what are these flights about today? Protecting America? Keeping the enemy at bay? Some sort of deterrent? Reconnaissance? What exactly are they looking for, fishing boats? It costs about $70,000 per hour to fly these war planes. That isn't the most expensive aircraft in America's arsenal, but it is an impressive sum.

Over 20 per cent of children in the US live in poverty, and that number is from official statistics. Can the US afford to have these weapons of mass destruction flying up and down our coast line every day? And with all our paranoia about pipelines and trains carrying "dangerous" cargo, what happens if one of these monsters crashes into a Canadian river, a fishing village or a city?

Photos copyright 2013 by Jim Murray.

August 24, 2013

Full moon rising over Mount Baker

August 20th offered yet another full moon. These full moon things seem to happen every month.

This time we viewed the full moon from Centennial Beach in Tsawwassen. The moon came up just to the north of Mount Baker in the USA, about 50 km east of Bellingham, Washington.

Baker is the highest mountain visible from MetroVancouver with a height of 3286 metres. It is the largest active volcano in the American Cascade Range. First Nations gave the mountain different names, including Koma Kulshan, Kulshan and Kobah. 

On a journey of exploration by the British led by Captain George Vancouver, his third lieutenant, a Joseph Baker, was first European to see the craggy mountain in 1792, and for some reason, the naming rights were given him.

A beautiful moonrise, a wonderful summer sunset and the water just right for swimming.


 Photos copyright 2013 by Jim Murray.