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Archive for October, 2010

I’m looking forward to cake!

There’s not been enough mentions of cake on here recently.  So I thought I should remedy that and as I’ve recently booked tickets to travel to my parents for x’mas I started thinking about my mother’s chocolate cake.  A childhood staple which I still love.  I always look forward to visiting my parents just so I can have homemade chocolate cake.  It is to me the epitome of home baking; it’s moist, chocolatey and soft!  It’s not dense like so many bought cakes and it’s not neat and tidy and most of all it’s not pretentious; it’s just proper chocolate cake.  It’s not triple choc fudge or beetroot and chocolate or pretend-healthy fake chocolate, it is just a good old fashioned homemade chocolate cake.  I have eaten lots of good chocolate cakes but they were all a different type of chocolate cake to my mum’s.

I had a fabulous chocolate fudge cake at a restaurant a few months ago, I ate a gorgeous chocolate and marzipan cake in Berlin last year but as good as these cakes are, comparing these to my mother’s cake is like comparing Formula 1 to the world rally championship!  They’re both forms of motorsport and they’re both exciting, fast and entertaining, so they both deserve a place in the motorsport world.  But one’s a bit slicker than the other, one’s a little messier.  So it is with cake!  You need the professional cakes with their extras and new ingredients but you still need the homemade cakes that might not be perfectly level or as neatly decorated but still have just as much taste and flavour!  So I say thank goodness for home baking; bring on the cake!

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I love this….

The Delft University of Technology recently opened a new architecture library which included the most appropriate and, I think, beautiful front desk.  It’s made of books!  I just love this idea, more libraries should do this, more desks should be made of books!  The desk has been receiving quite a lot of publicity and the University have commented on it.

I just think it’s brilliant.

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You may have noticed that I have a number of links down the right-hand side of this blog to other blogs and favourite websites.  I thought I’d take this opportunity to highlight a new link I’ve just added.  I found it on another blog that I’m particularly fond of reading: Bookish NYC.  The website is called Bookshelf Porn!  You’ve got to love a website dedicated to satisfying the lust of bookshelf/library lovers everywhere!

And I know that if you looked at the site it just whetted your appetite for more; so here’s a little picture of Melbourne library to keep you sated for a while!

 

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Beautiful buildings

This week in my art appreciation class we got on to art nouveau, which I love.  So I thought I’d share a couple of images of work by one of my favourite designers, Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh was born in Glasgow in 1868.  He first started work with the Honeyman and Keppie architectural practice.  As part of his ongoing learning, Honeyman and Keppie expected him to attend classes at the Glasgow School of Art, where he met fellow artist Margaret MacDonald.  Members of the collaborative group known as “The Four”, the two married in 1902.  After several successful building designs, Mackintosh became a partner of Honeyman and Keppie in 1907. During his time with the firm, Mackintosh refined his architectural style. 

His concern was to build around the needs of people: people seen, not as masses, but as individuals who needed not a machine for living in but a work of art.  Mackintosh took his inspiration from his Scottish upbringing and blended them with the flourish of Art Nouveau and the simplicity of Japanese forms.  While working in architecture, Mackintosh developed his own style: a contrast between strong right angles and floral-inspired decorative motifs with subtle curves, e.g. the Mackintosh Rose motif, along with some references to traditional Scottish architecture. The project that helped make his international reputation was the Glasgow School of Art (1897–1909).

I’ve included a photo of the front entrance to the Glasgow School of Art.  Mackintosh incorporated practical design by using huge north facing windows which would give the students the best light for drawing, but he also reflected his love of the Scottish baronial style in the design of the main entrance with its sturdy brickwork and castle-like architecture. 

Internally his design continues throughout the school.  The library reflects again how his practical and art nouveau styles inter-mingle.  The long cables the lights hang from are purely practical, in that the students needed good light to work by, but the long lines also reflect the chair backs, wood beams and window frames.

 

Then there’s the image that everyone recognises as Charles Rennie Mackintosh; the rose.  It’s now used on all sorts of ‘Mackintosh inspired’ pieces such as jewellery and photo frames.  Mackintosh himself incorporated the design into his furniture and glasswork, as can be seen in these images.  I love the clean lines that seem light and refined and give a sense of direction and flow, when they could easily feel oppressive and restrictive.  Just love it!

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Beautiful buildings

Following on from last week’s post I thought I’d share some photos I took when I visited Freemantle Prison a few years ago.  It’s not a beautiful building in any sense but when they decided to close it they relaxed their policy on prisoners decorating their cells.  Some of the art work was amazing!  I particularly love the vibrancy of the paintings, there’s a sense of life. 

Check them out and let me know what you think.

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So I’ve just finished reading The Other Half Lives by Sophie Hannah and I’m left with a general feeling of ambivalence.  That’s not a great feeling to have when you finish a book!

It’s the story of a couple who both have secrets and as the book develops we learn more about them and their hidden pasts.  As I started the book I actually wasn’t that hopeful so I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was enjoying it.  But then about a third of the way through I lost interest.  I just wasn’t too bothered about picking it up and that’s a sure sign that it’s not the book for me.  But why wasn’t it the book for me?

Maybe my lack of interest in the characters, I didn’t really care about them that much, I wasn’t bothered who the bad guy was or who died or lived or whatever.  I did finish the book but that was more because I always finish the books I start, it’s very rare for me to give up on a book.  This was almost one of them, but not quite.  I persevered!

There were so many twists and turns it was as if the author was totally preoccupied with style and construction and so focused on the structure of the novel and when to release certain snippets of information that she forgot about the story and the emotion.  And there was a lot of the story that revolved around emotion and how the protagonists were feeling and reacting.  Abuse, fear, anger, revenge, love, mistrust, desperation; they were all in there but they were just words on a page that weren’t brought to life.  Though I was feeling a certain amount of desperation but that was more a desperation to get to the end of the book!

If you were to describe the story it certainly has potential but it was just too contrived for my liking.  The author thought too hard about the book rather than the story and the characters, which was a shame.  The good thing was it didn’t take up too much of my time!

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