Chez l'abeille

Culture. Travel. Writing. My world in words and pictures


1666 and all that.

There’s always something to commemorate in London and we always seem to be able to do things in some style. Most recently this has been the 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London, documented so comprehensively by writers of the time, notably the extensive diarist, Samuel Pepys:

“I made myself ready presently, and walked to the Tower; and there got up upon one of the high places, . . .and there I did see the houses at the end of the bridge all on fire, and an infinite great fire on this and the other side . . . of the bridge. . .”

Samuel Pepys 2nd September 1666

Having been to one Fire Garden, I definitely wanted to go and see another flaming, after- dark art installation. It was rather wet and drizzly, but the flames leapt and warmed us as we wandered around the Tate Modern grounds. The illuminated vests hanging amongst the silver birches were weird and compelling in equal measures.

As a primary teacher I have spent many years helping young children craft their own 2d and 3d models of London in 1666, so one of the installations that I wanted to see was the huge wooden model of the city, before it was destroyed by fire. I didn’t have time to go and watch it burn later that evening but luckily for us all, it was filmed!

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So yet another triumphant collective of history and art combined to make London the exciting city we know it is!

©Chez l’abeille  2016

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In the fire garden.

One can enjoy a wood fire worthily only when he warms his thoughts by it as well as his hands and feet.  ~Odell Shepard

The sun had just set as we made our way through the misty gloom of a winter’s evening towards the flickering lights ahead. As we passed through the gates, the magical fire garden instantly entranced us. In the mid-distance flames danced amongst the trees, illuminating the early yellow daffodils. Closer by fiery mechanical flowers breathed bursts of red-hot flame into the damp winter air from arches above our heads. For a while, the slumbering winter garden of the Dulwich Picture Gallery was transformed into an uplifting, burning midsummer homage to a rather unknown Norwegian artist, Nikolai Astrup.

From the most pagan of times fire has been central to the celebrations of the deepest midwinter and the longest midsummer nights. Astrup painted the Midsummer Eve bonfires from his childhood memories; a theme that he returned to again and again. These bonfires were typically built of green wood, making them all about the smoke which billows and flows across Astrup’s Norwegian summer landscapes. Small motifs from his paintings were reflected in the fire art outside, which captured the movement and shapes of those traditional celebrations. Continue reading