The Royal Alberta Museum here in Edmonton currently has a wonderful exhibition called Vikings: Beyond the Legend. It's the largest touring show of Viking artifacts in the world and is on loan from various Danish museums. The exhibition is a mixture of original historical items like weapons, coins, jewelry, etc. and some replicas like this full-size, six-metre funeral ship shown above, built with Viking Age techniques and materials.
The originals are all safely out of reach in display cases, of course, but the freely accessible replicas are also protected, LOL --
A couple of weeks ago, My Rare One and I made a point of going to a special "Vikings Day" at the museum because, in addition to the exhibition, an Alberta group of Viking re-enactors were there, displaying how Vikings lived, played and fought. Displays included weaponry, runes, jewelry making, gaming, carpentry, agriculture, herbal lore, etc.
One of my favourite displays concerned how the Vikings engaged in bee-keeping as part of their agriculture. After all, they did love their mead!
But my most favourite display was about Viking musical instruments. These included stringed instruments made of wood with gut strings, which were plucked like lyres or played with horsehair bows. Beautifully clear and melodious flutes were made of animal horns and bones. The re-enactor at this display could play them all!
This big and extremely loud wooden Viking horn struck me as being very similar to a Swiss alpenhorn. Those Vikings did get around, you know.
The re-enactors also staged some fights to demonstrate shield wall techniques and the use of common Viking weapons (axes, spears, swords). Then they gave foam rubber swords to all the little kids in the audience, who viciously ambushed and defeated the unarmed Vikings in a mighty battle.
It goes without saying, of course, that the fiercest Viking couple was this threatening, fist-shaking pair in their helmets and warrior garb --
And no, that is not a floral motif on My Rare One's blouse. It is the freshly shed blood of her enemies.
Be afraid. Be very afraid.
[All photos were taken by My Rare One, except for the last one which was taken by our buddies the Valhalla Valkyries.]
Fifty years ago today, the first human walked on the moon. I was 12 and remember watching that grainy black-and-white footage on television, over and over again, listening to Neil Armstrong screw up his carefully scripted historic remark so that it made no logical or semantic sense -- "one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind" instead of "one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind."
Everyone was so excited by the lunar landing! Every kid I knew dreamed of growing up to be an astronaut.
No, wait . . . that's not entirely accurate, now that I think of it. Every boy I knew dreamed of such a future. Girls didn't, because we were explicitly told that only boys could be astronauts. Oh yes, it's all coming back to me now, that era . . . .
Since the USA and the Soviets were busy duking it out in the Space Race to the moon, no one ever mentioned Valentina Tereshkova and her accomplishments to us girls, of course. Can't be holding up some dirty Commie as an example of godless gender equality.
Well, we may not have been back to the moon in 50 years but thank goodness, we've made some progress in other ways. All girls can now finally dream of and become astronauts as women. That's just as great an accomplishment as the space program itself, in my opinion.
In June, I took another art class, "Sketching in Pen and Ink," in which we learned various techniques. Here are my best results for each style.
This was drawn in permanent ink on paper, using the shading techniques of hatching, cross-hatching and scribbling. I believe this bird is some kind of warbler.
This was produced using the same techniques. I must say, I enjoy scribbling trees. It took me 4 hours to complete this. I laboured mightily on it!
"Canvas Stretcher Pliers and Car Keys"
A different technique is to sketch with water soluble ink and then go over the drawing with a wet, blotted brush to create the shading.
"Baby Otter and Cuppa Joe"
I like this technique better than the last one. First, you sketch an object's outline lightly in pencil. Next, a water soluble ink wash is applied to create the shading. Once dry, you then add specific textures and details in permanent ink. It produces a "crisper" finished product, it seems to me.
Right now, I'm taking yet another class: "Sketching in Pen and Ink and Watercolour." The same basic ideas but with the added difficulty of watercolours thrown in. I'll post some results from this class probably in August or so.