April 14, 2012

I am Art

This post was written on March 20, 2009. When I went to include the all-important link to the visual element it had disappeared from the internet, so this post was never published. Through an odd series of events early this morning, I ended up finding that the art is back up, so several years later, here you go:

Back in October, during our fabulous UK Stratford-upon-Avon Shakespeare geekfest, Jen, Stacey, and I decided to make a quick day trip over to Cardiff. While we were wandering around the Queens Arcade mall in search of lunch and toilets and Doctor Who calendars we encountered a strange photo session in progress.

At first we planned to ignore it, but later we walked by again and the people working on it explained that it was some sort of community photo mosaic project. We were invited to participate. “We aren’t Welsh,” we explained. “That’s fine,” they said, “it doesn’t matter.” Clearly these people had a quota to fill. So feeling a little self conscious I followed Stacey and Jen as we each had our photos taken in front of several different colored screens, all the while being directed to look “up and to the left,” then “down and to the right,” and so on and so forth. One of the photographers flirted with Stacey. No one flirted with me. Clearly the Welsh don’t deserve me. Next time I’ll go to Manchester instead.

After they’d taken our photos they gave us each a T-shirt and sent us on our way.

So what was this mysterious project, you ask? It was the “I am Art” project, a photo mosaic containing more than 15,000 images of about 3,000 people. After the photos were taken the people (not us) voted to decide which famous Welsh person the photo mosaic would be of.

Go ahead, think of as many famous Welsh people as you can. I’ll wait here.

Done already? Yeah. That’s probably why the big winner, the “Face of Cardiff,” wound up being 2007’s “X-Factor” (think “American Idol”) runner-up Rhydian Roberts (I was hoping for actor Gareth David-Lloyd but Rhydian will do).

Several months passed and finally the completed project was revealed. The three of us spent some time zooming in on the mosaic to find each other. It was loads of fun. Each of us appears multiple times—zoom in and see if you can find us!

Here’s a pic of the three of us from earlier that week so you know who to look for.


So that’s the story of how Stacey, Jen, and I came to be featured in a strange piece of Welsh art, one with the people of Cardiff, forever immortalized in a pop star’s head. WE ARE CARDIFF. WE ARE RHYDIAN. RESISTANCE IS FUTILE.

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May 30, 2011

A few more UK photos

I realized I never put up any photos from the London portion of our trip, so here are a few:

First up, here I am at Paddington Station with Paddington Bear.

Here is Noel on the Prime Meridian.

Stacey and I have no photos of ourselves on the Prime Meridian because we are cheap and refused to pay almost $20 a person to go and stand on it when we could see it just fine from the other side of the gate. Stacey and I, it could be argued, are no fun.

Here we are at the Sherlock Holmes pub. If you go, have the tomato soup!

Noel and Stacey inside the pub.

Speaking of Sherlock Holmes, at the National Portrait Gallery, tucked in amongst paintings of royals and other notable figures, we encountered this portrait of Benedict Cumberbatch (who plays Sherlock on the show Sherlock).

And finally, Noel was able to get her photo taken with David Tennant outside the theatre. She was so happy she did a little song and dance afterward. Success!

All in all, a very lovely trip!

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May 15, 2011

Glastonbury and Wells

Sunday we decided to visit Glastonbury. We started by climbing up Glastonbury Tor to see St. Michael’s Tower. T was smarter than the rest of us and didn’t go all the way up, but Noel, Stacey, and I were feeling stubborn.

The climb was very steep and almost painfully windy. Seriously. The wind was just absurd.

In the end, the climb proved to be too much for poor Noel, so we left her there to be eaten by badgers.

After we’d admired the view a bit and listened to some random men play flutes, we made our way back down the hill. Next up we went to see the Chalice Well.

The Flow Form and Vesica Pool

There were some amazing flowers in bloom, including these enormous poppies, which were each about the size of my hand.

The iron-rich water has turned the Waterfall a red-orange color.

Noel takes a drink from the Lion’s Head. The water tasted like pennies.

This tree had something to do with Jesus. The flowers didn’t—they were just pretty.

The Wellhead.

I…don’t even begin to know how to explain this encounter. It involved a self-proclaimed Time Lord/mystic/Starfleet ambassador with a magical staff named Capricorn who looked into you and helped your mind achieve balance. Or something.

Relaxing post-mystical encounter.

After Glastonbury we drove over to Wells Cathedral for Evensong. The music was lovely, but the service was so soothing that I had to fight to stay awake. It reminded me of trying desperately not to nod off during post-lunch college lectures.

After Evensong we got a snack at a nearby tea place where the food was good but the waitstaff was a touch sketchy. We finished off the day with a drink at the Ring o’ Bells pub, a lovely stir fry dinner T’s husband cooked, and a little bit of British TV. All in all a very successful day!

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May 14, 2011

An addendum, from Stacey

Stacey, who has possibly had a bit too much wine with her Eurovision, wants me to let you know that, thanks to a disturbing encounter with an animatronic musical monkey at Gulliver’s Land, she had to become a woman of ill repute in the Old West section of the theme park.

Stacey would also like everyone to know that you should feel free to share these photos with any attractive, available English lords who might be looking for a woman.

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March 5, 2011

Icelandic Graffiti

One of the things I have found myself oddly fascinated with here in Iceland is the graffiti. I’m not really sure sometimes if I am looking at a commissioned mural or something a little less legal. Either way, they certainly have a knack for it over here. Here are a few photos:

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March 5, 2011

Every Trip Has One

Today has been a complete failure. We got up early so we could drive out to see a very cool glacier lake, and right from the start things went wrong.

The dining room was extra full at breakfast, so we shared a table with some women from Massachusetts who had just arrived. They wanted to chat at length, so instead of a quick bite to eat before getting on the road, we were stuck there for some time. During which it started to snow. (Nice to know that weather forecasters may be relied upon to be wrong regardless of the language in which they are lying to you.)

Stacey is an experienced snow driver, so she wasn’t concerned. We figured we’d go a little ways and if it seemed to be accumulating we’d head back. But it turned out that the snow was the least of our worries—in fact it turned to rain pretty quickly. Our real problem was the wind. It was blowing so hard that Stacey had to work to keep the car in the correct lane. There was just no way we were going for a long drive in weather like that, so we turned back.

OK. Disappointing, yes, but we’d carry on!

So we decided to go to the National Museum…which was not yet open when we arrived. OK, fine.

We headed out for a cafe that was supposed to be nearby. It wasn’t. Right, sure, OK.

So we went to nearby Hallgrímskirkja, the tallest church in Iceland. It was open, and we only had to walk through a small, freezing tornado to get in the door.

The problem is that there isn’t much to see there. It’s big selling point is that you can pay to go to the top and enjoy the great view, which we knew we wouldn’t have in this weather. So that trip only used up about fifteen minutes.

Next we thought we could do some shopping. We explored several stores; Stacey bought some gifts; I bought a tiny painting in a gallery (where I think the sweet little old lady ripped me off on the exchange rate—I don’t know; I don’t want to know; I will likely spend the next 40 years obsessing about it); we tried to find somewhere good to have lunch; we were drizzled on and endured the wind. At some point my camera stopped working for about half an hour.

Eventually we thought the weather had improved enough to attempt a shorter trip outside the city. Long story short: it had not.

We drove back to the hotel. We looked in all of the guidebooks for something fun to do, something even moderately diverting even, but by now it was almost 4 pm and everything was closing at 5 pm. So now we are hanging out in the room, listening to the insanity-inducing wind blow past our window until we are hungry enough to look for dinner.

I think we must have inadvertently pissed off some of those “Hidden People,” though I can’t for the life of me think how. That or we just used up all of our good trip mojo yesterday. Who knows.

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March 5, 2011

Iceland’s Golden Circle

We had a very busy Friday in Iceland! Most of the day was taken up visiting sites on the Golden Circle, a loop of outdoorsy tourist attractions in South Iceland, covering  about 300 km from Reykjavik and back. After the Golden Circle we went on a nice little “Hidden People” (what they call elves and such) walking tour in Hafnarfjörður and then ended the day at the Blue Lagoon in Grindavík.

The weather was clear but very windy, which made it feel colder than it really was sometimes. Most of the time the actual temperatures have been warmer than what they’re getting in Boston right now.

Some photos I took on the drive:

Two shots from our first stop, Þingvellir national park:

A photo from the drive to the second stop:

An Icelandic pony:

The geothermally active valley of Haukadalur is like a tiny version of Yellowstone:

The geyser Strokkur, which goes off every five minutes (unless it is very windy and I am waiting to take a photo):

Proof that I am actually in Iceland! Here I am at the Gullfoss (Golden Falls):

Our last stop, after a tour of the Hidden Folk, was at the popular Blue Lagoon geothermal spa. Here is a photo I took of the strange blue water before we went inside. I didn’t want to risk getting the camera wet, so no photos of the actual spa:

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October 31, 2010

Josh does the UK

Before we left for the UK, I asked our trusty dog/condo/plant-sitter Josh what he’d like us to bring him back as a souvenir. In addition to wanting a hot British man and some nice clothes, Josh requested that we bring a photo of him with us and take pictures of it in various spots so he could imagine he’d been along for the trip.

Here you go, Joshua:

Josh, slightly jet-lagged, at Avebury.

Look closely--there's little Josh at Stone Henge!

Colin Firth’s Mr. Darcy gazes longingly at Josh in the restroom at the Jane Austen Museum in Bath.

Josh enjoys a Peeptini at the Roman Baths in Bath.

Josh admires the beauty of Wells Cathedral.

Josh quickly masters the maze at Longleat.

Josh explores Caerphilly Castle in Wales.

Josh in front of the Millennium Center in Cardiff, Wales.

Josh catches the eye of a knight in Conwy, Wales.

Josh says, "Rules be damned!" in Conwy.

Josh takes in a Man United game at Old Trafford.

Josh enjoys seeing John Simm in "Hamlet" in Sheffield, England.

Josh enjoys a Peeptini after crossing the stepping stones at Bolton Abbey.

Josh admires the Bridge of Sighs at Cambridge University.

Josh in the London Underground.

Josh at the British Museum in London.

Josh by the River Thames with the Millennium Bridge and St. Paul's Cathedral behind him.

Yes, we got a lot of strange looks from people around us. Thanks, Josh!

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