Monday, September 28, 2009

the north...a photo essay.

Fountains Abbey was one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to. As we were entering the site, the sky was overcast and the scenery was dark. I found this lone tree and it attracted my attention. I thought it looked very bare and dry in a place there everything was so green and lush. With the contrast of the clouds in the background it seems almost eerie but with the definition of the full trees in the background, it sort of give the eye a break.

This next shot was also taken at Fountains Abbey. I composed it with the bushes in the foreground and a line of trees in the distance. I liked how the shrubs in front give the shot texture and depth. I also appreciated how each tree has a different shade to it giving it definition from the others around it. The bright green with hints of fall changes give it a beautiful overall color.

As I hiked up to a place called Anne Boleyn’s secret view I wasn’t sure what to expect. When I got there I was pleased. I found the abbey poking out through a mass of green grass and trees. A larger green tree was directly in my view and it gave my photo depth and showed distance. The old ruins of the abbey show in the background giving the pictures that element of a picturesque design. I also thought it was interesting how the stream leads the eye straight to the abbey. Perhaps highlighting the importance of the building. Or ensuring that he viewer realizes it is there, hidden in the emerald.

The view from our hostel in Windermere was a great sight. The uneven stonewalls lining the grassy pastures helped in the picturesque design. I also was drawn to the various textures. I could capture pastures, rolling hills, the lake and a lot of texture all in one shot. I also liked the way the fence in the front of the frame broke up the grass and gave it more depth.

When we took the ferry across the lake I had a gorgeous view. In this shot I wanted to capture the way the shadows cast upon the hills and trees. I also wanted to be able to show the reflections in the water. I thought it was interesting how in the distance you could notice the hills that faded in color the further away you were. This is exactly the concept we learned in our sketching lesson in class.

Align Right

While in the Lake District, particularly at a town called Ambleside, I decided to experiment a little with my camera to see what sort of shot would look better. I took the same subject and area and angled my camera in two different directions. I got two very different shots. In one shot, I kept the tree close to the bottom of the frame. This makes the shot look short, and somewhat uninteresting as the cloudy sky fills half the frame. The other shot has the tree closer to the top of the frame. This gives the picture a more elongated look and much more interesting to look at.

This next shot was taken in Preston as we were taking our church history tour. We went to a lovely Japanese garden in a park. I came across this great green hill with a small brown bridge tucked right into the middle of it. I wanted to capture the bridge but not make it the center focus of the piece. I positioned the bridge so that it wasn’t in the center and used other browns from the trees and dirt to draw attention away from the varying color.

In another area of the same park we came across the River Ribble. I chose to capture this image because of its significance to the Mormon religion. The first concert baptisms in Britain took place in this river near to where the picture was taken. To me, this river, bridge and landforms mean so much. This is a beginning for the church. The gospel was carried out all over the world after these baptisms, much like the river carries things all over. The bridge also can show the connection between Mormonism in America and Britain at the time. I thought that the bridge just showing behind the trees was a nice view.

I enjoyed taking this next image because of the colors. In Northern England, the grass and trees are so green it almost looks fake. This picture only has a tiny enhancement dealing with the light and is otherwise true to color. I am so impressed with the different shades and hues in the shot. The brown of the shores and the blue water break up the mass of green to give the viewers eye a slight rest.

This last photo was taken at Chatsworth. Please ignore the slight glare in the corner; this was taken though a window. I would have thrown it out but I really appreciate this view. The old bridge give this shot a rugged yet elegant feeling, as it is an old bridge for a large manor. I also liked the trees spaced out through the shot. You can once again see how the fading of colors shows distance.

the tower of london.

Last week we took a trip over to the Tower of London or Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress. The tower first began in 1078 as The White Tower; built by William the Conquerer. Through the centuries it has expanded and now has two rings of many buildings and towers and is surrounded by a moat. Although the moat is now dry it was once a fully functioning defense for the fortress. The tower was has fulfilled many purposes. It was at one time used as a prison, a palace, a fortress, a zoo, a mint, and has housed the Crown Jewels since the 14th century.

We started out our time at the Tower by taking a look at the crown jewels. As we entered the building, we viewed a small clip of the Queen and her coronation. I have to say that since moving to London, I appreciate the Queen more and more each day. As we continued we saw more clips of some of the most beautiful and grand pieces of metal, rock and minerals in the world. Finally we entered a room where we saw the coronation robes worn by Queen Elizabeth II over 50 years ago. I was very interested to learn that these weighed 20 pounds. Can you imagine wearing that on your back for an extended amount of time? I also found it interesting that they use consecrated oil during coronations.We then we able to view a selection of the Crown Jewels. We saw The First Star of Africa embedded in The Sovereigns Scepter. This is the biggest diamond in the world at 530 carats. The scepter represents power over the kingdom and it seems fitting that the First Star of Africa be a part of it.
We learned that since Charles II there have been very strict rules dealing with crowns made for the heir of the crown. For one, there is a single arch above the crown distinguishing it from the monarch's crown. Another interesting fact is that is a king is married before his coronation, his wife is usually crowned with him as Queen consort. She is even given her own crown and scepter. One of the most interesting things I learned with the crown jewels was that when Prince Albert passed away, Queen Victoria spent the rest of her life in mourning by wearing a small crown with a widows veil attatched. I found this very touching and sad.

We viewed many great jewels and left thoroughly impressed with the wealth and power of England. Afterwards, we took a tour with one of the Yeoman Warder's stationed at the tower.
We walked though the grounds as we were told stories. Although the British don't technically consider the tower as a prison, it was definitely a place of torture, imprisonment and death. Guy Fawkes was questioned here after he was found to be one of the conspirators of the Gunpowder Plot. He was also then killed and cut into quarters and hung around London as a reminder to the people of what happens when you try to revolt. Anne Boelyn is also a important figure connected with the tower. After a great deal of drama she was taken to the tower where she was tried for adultery, incest and high treason. She was found guilty and hung on a scaffold in the middle of the courtyard. This sculpture stands in the spot where the scaffold hung.
The tower is also the site of the legendary Princes in the Tower. Young Edward V of England and his brother Richard were the only sons of Edward IV and lived in the Bloody Tower. Unfortunately these two princes disappeared without so much as a sign and their death remains a mystery to this day. Two centuries later, the bones of two children were found in the White Tower. These bones are believed to be the bones of the boys but no one can know for sure.
The tower was a very interesting place to visit and I learned a lot being there. It is amazing how much more there is to learn that what is listed in your text books. I enjoyed the Yeoman Warder's filling in a few gaps for me.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

to be or not to be

This week in Humanities we were asked to read Hamlet and then perform it in small acting troupes to the rest of the class.

My group performed Act III of Hamlet and I was the oh so emo character of Hamlet. We decided our adaption of this act would be more of a gangster styled Shakespeare.

Here is my take on the Hamlet's famous suicide speech...(its a rap)

To be, or not to be.
That is the question that is killing me.
Is it smarter to deal with this load I have to bear?
Or throw it to the sea and act like I don't care?
Do I go to sleep forever or only for a night?
If i close my eyes and dream will I wake without a fright?
Could I say goodbye to sorrows? To aches and pain?
Would it all end tomorrow or always stay the same?
If I don't know where I'm going and I don't know what to do,
Then what can I expect for me when this life is through?

and that is Ophelia and I just kickin' it in our kingdom.

as you like it.

As we began school here in London, we were asked to read the play As You Like It by Shakespeare. We later were able to view the play at the Globe Theater. This is the paper I wrote in response as well as some pictures from our outing!

In As You Like it, there are two characters who stole my heart. Rosalind and Celia are two very relatable characters that would help any teenage girl understand Shakespeare a little better. However, although I first fell in love with them in the book, my appreciation grew even stronger when I saw the play and viewed their interpretation of their parts.

This production of As You Like it was performed at the Globe Theater on September 14, 2009. The Royal Shakespeare Company in London England performed it. It was a strong adaptation full of comedy and passion. I enjoyed the use of the pillars on stage as trees and later a backdrop for a wedding. The character of Touchstone was enjoyable in this production with his humor wit and all around goofy performance. He was far less annoying than he was in the book. Even Oliver, the dreaded older brother was likeable as he comes in at the end repentant and in love. I felt the brotherly bond between the two brothers Orlando and Oliver much more in this play then when I read it. Even as they were wrestling, you could still sense their bond that came from growing up together. Even through a great deal of hate, that emotion couldn’t seem to be masked.

As I read the play, I appreciated Celia and Rosalind’s bond and their true love for each other. Their sisterly relationship was so devoted and strong that it was difficult to ignore. However, being a Shakespeare play, everything seemed much more serious and mature. Even when in love or traveling in the wilderness, these characters didn’t seem like young teenage girls but more like mature women. In the actual play, when Rosalind first fell for Orlando both girls were so giddy and silly. I appreciated this so much more because I know that is how I am with my friends in those situations.

When Orlando puts up poems in the trees about Rosalind, Rosalind is very curious. This is the same in the book. However, as the actresses played out the scene where Rosalind is asking Celia about the man who has done that, I was much more intrigued as the girls ran through the stage talking about Orlando. The two characters were giggling, laughing and jumping around. I felt that this conversation could be portrayed a number of different ways. For one, Celia could be resentful and mad that Rosalind was interested in Orlando. She could be disappointed in Rosalind or annoyed with Orlando. But here, we see a normal adolescent intrigued about a new situation.

In Howard’s article about cross-dressing he says that often times as women cross dress, even though they are choosing to be seen as a masculine figure, it becomes more obvious that they are women due to the flaws in their portrayal. That idea wasn’t an obvious one as I read the play, however, as it was being acted on stage, it was clear that Rosalind could never mask her femininity. She was continuously giddy about Orlando, even when others were around. And as they kissed during their fake wedding, she was much more interested in it than a boy would have been. Like Howard says, it is impossible to mask ones true gender even through costumes and slight personality alterations.

As You Like It was a comedic and romantic performance. Once again, Shakespeare’s work jumped off the page and onto the stage to create a masterpiece. Although the plays can each be interpreted in many different ways and performed with many alterations, I was pleased with the result of this particular production. I enjoyed the happiness, humor, and romance a great deal and could relate on a much higher scale.

sat sri akal.

Last week we took a trip for our culture class to a place called Southall, just outside London. As we arrived and got off the train we realized that we were in for an interesting day. Although we had only traveled a short distance, it felt like we were in a whole new country. We walked over to a Sikh Temple called Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha Southall. Upon entering the temple we were asked to remove our shoes and cover our hair with a scarf. Luckily, all us ladies chose to accessorize our outfits with scarves this day so we were set.

After we prepared ourselves to enter the temple we headed upstairs. At the top of the stairs were a set of doors. We walked through the doors and across a long carpet. At the end oft he carpet was a large shrine containing a book. In the Sikh religion, they have a set of scriptures called the Gurdwara. This book is complied of all the thoughts and wisdoms of ten Gurus that existed many many years ago. We payed our respects to the book by bowing and donating a small amount of money in a pan. The actual Sikh's put their foreheads to the floor and give a large sum of money. We then backed away from the book slowly, as it is disrespectful to turn your back towards the book. As we did this we tried not to trample anyone. Tried being the operative word. One of us..okay me...tripped over a person while backing up. Luckily it was a girl from our group and not a stranger. Regardless, it was embarrassing. But I dealt with it. After spending some time sitting in front of the book we backed up once more and headed back down the stairs. As we entered the stair case we were handed a warm mushy substance. Turns out this is food. Well, whatever it was tasted awful and it was all I could do not to throw up after trying a small piece. Then we went to a cafeteria area to eat some langar. This langar is a meal provided in the temple everyday offered to anyone who enters. After the mushy substance incident I was not eager to try to food. However, I had a few bites off my friend Courtney's plate and it wasn't as horrible as I imagine. I will continue to be grossed out about the whole situation though. I mean, I love my culture but don't mess with my food.
We had a short question and answer session with a Sikh where we learned many new things. Sikh's are required to always have with them the five K's. Which are garments, a knife, all their hair in a turban(that they never cut in their whole life), a comb, and a bangle. I thought it was interesting to see some of similarities between the LDS church and the Sikh's. We both are required to pay tithing and wear garments as symbols for our gospel.

After leaving the Sikh temple we went to two different hindu temples. I didn't enjoy the Hindi temples as much as liked the others. These temples were full of many idols and elaborate designs. There were many bright colors and flashing lights. At times it had a sort of Vegas like feeling to it.
After visiting the temples we spent some time in the town. WE bought some bangles and magic corn and even got some henna in order to indulge in the culture on a greater scale.
We finished the day in Southall with a meal at an Indian Restaurant. It was a very cultural day and I learned a lot. My views of the world are widened every day.

pilgrimage to canterbury.

We each recently had the opportunity to make our own pilgrimages to Canterbury Cathedral. We began our trek by walking through a square of many modern shops and vendor stands. All of the sudden we were in front of an old building, the Canterbury Cathedral. It was very interesting to see that the cathedral was set right in the middle of a town and shopping district. Since England is so small, everything is so close together. However, I always imagined the Cathedral to stand on its own in the middle of a grassy field so something to that extent.
We entered in through the gates and met with our tour guide. We divided into small groups and headed to go inside of the Cathedral. My group’s tour guide was called Brian and he was a sweetheart.

We sat in the nave where we had a prayer. This was very interesting. First, a man stood at a pulpit and said his prayer then invited the congregation to join him in saying the Lords Prayer. Sitting in the front rows of this area we’re 40 Mormon girls…needless to say we didn’t know a word. However, it was still a cool experience.

We then headed to see more of the cathedral. Many years ago, the cathedral needed money to improve the building and do necessary repairs so various people donated money to the efforts. In return, their family’s coat of arms was carves, painted and put on the ceiling. All along the corridors there were colorful coats of arms lining the ceiling.

We saw many beautiful stained glass windows and great architectural structures.

Then we went down to the crypt. This is the spot where Thomas Becket was murdered. Thomas Becket was a saint of the Roman Catholic Church and the Archbishop of Canterbury. During his life he faced a great deal of conflict with King Henry II. AT one point, Henry II was so angry with Thomas that he was said to be heard saying he wanted to be rid of Thomas. Some of the king’s knights heard this and decided to take action. They quickly headed to Canterbury where they attacked Thomas and murdered him.

As a martyr, Thomas was buried in the crypt for some time. Eventually his remains were moved to the uppermost part of the quire. Later, they were removed and destroyed by King Henry VIII. Today, a candle still burns where his remains were kept.

This tour was very interesting and I enjoyed learning the history of the cathedral.

seats of power.

The other day we took The Seats of Power Walk as designed in our London Walks book. We began our tour by getting off at the Westminster tube stop and walking along the Thames River. This is the first time I've seen Big Ben, the London Eye and the Thames in the daylight. It was beautiful and I was even more pleased to be living in London.

As we headed down the road we encountered many statues of important people in British history. We saw a statue of Charles G Gordon who was deeply involved in British affairs in China and Africa in the 19th century. This statue stands as a memorial to his life and death.

Just adjacent to the statue was a deep well with stone steps. These steps were built for Queen Mary II to have a better view of the Thames.

As we continued on we came to a statue of William Tyndale. William Tyndale played a major part in the British reformation when he began translating the Bible. He smuggled pages of the Bible in a page at a time until he was later forced to flee and then killed for his efforts.

We soon came upon Trafalgar Square and a statue of Charles I. As we got to Trafalgar Square, I realized how connected the city was. The other day when we were at the National Gallery, I didn't notice how close we were to the Thames and Big Ben. But in all reality, everything is just blocks away from each other.

Then we headed to see the Horse Guards. We couldn't get a very good luck however, because they were carrying out a formal inspection of the guards and the courtyard was full of people.

As we continued walking we came upon 10 Downing Street. This was a very interesting park of our walk as this spot is such a famous landmark in London. For one, the Prime Minister lives there. Also, this area is like the White House for England. Being so, the area was heavily guarded and gated.

We carried on to see Big Ben, Parliament, Westminster Abbey, The Mall, Kensington Palace and many statues.

I really enjoyed this walk. For one, it was interesting to see how close everything is. I never realized how truly small the city of London was until I actually made my way through the city. I also thought it was interesting to see all these sights that I have heard about all my life and be able to understand more fully how everything works.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

the madonna and the virgin.

We went to the National Gallery last week and were asked to compare two paintings of our choice. One painting had to be from the Medieval time period, and the other from the Renaissance.

Here are the paintings and below is what I wrote about them. Please forgive me, I am no art major.... enjoy :)

The Garvagh Madonna - Raphael
(my selection from the Renaissance)

Coronation of the Virgin by Bernardo Daddi

(my selection from the Medieval time period)

In the National Gallery, I chose two different paintings, one of each from the medieval world and the Renaissance. The painting I chose from the medieval world was Coronation of the Virgin by Bernardo Daddi and the painting from the renaissance was The Garvagh Madonna by Raphael. Both these paintings focused on Christ. However, Daddi’s depiction of Christ was shown from an older age where as Raphael showed Christ as a baby. Both paintings also involve one particular woman. Perhaps this woman was the most important woman in His life. In one it was the virgin, in the other it was the Madonna, however you spell it out, it was His mother.

Colors were important and symbolic aspects of both paintings. In the Coronation of the Virgin, Christ is wearing a blue robe, which shows celestial glory. In The Garvagh Madonna, John the Baptist is handing Christ a pink carnation. Pink or red often symbolizes love and affection showing that John truly loved his cousin. Raphael used geometric shapes in his painting where Daddi used lines to show depth. However, Raphael also used many vertical lines in his architecture. Both painters used wood but Raphael worked with oil and Daddi used egg tempura. In Daddi’s piece and many other medieval works, gold leafing is very common. Both pieces of art had some sort of gold piecing above the heads. Daddi’s was more ornate and big while Raphael’s was just a simple halo. Raphael used a much less ornate design over all. Daddi’s painting had ornate shapes and designs covering the whole piece.