Saturday, April 10, 2010

And even better

Today was fabulous. These are the wishes that people wrote onto hanji in Lake George at the end of last year, as part of an interactive piece I did. I woke up at 8am today and was tired, not wanting to do anything, so I shamelessly ate a pot of ramen and watched trashy American TV.

Luckily, after all that trash, I stood in the kitchen doing dishes, thinking, "Aimee, what do you really want to do today?" Since I had a whole list of things left to do, but wanted to only do what I wanted today, as my Friday treat. I realized I was finally ready to pack up my studio gear and haul it into the studio. Down three flights of stairs here, on a bus, through the city center, and up four flights of stairs. Hooray! I still don't know exactly how I'm going to use this space, but I tried to angle the desk to maximize light from above and not have shadows fall on my work. I typed out notes from the past few days, met a couple more artists, and heard some more but haven't done proper introductions yet. Mike has the studio next to me, Aisling met me on my first full day here and has already been super helpful, and Fiona has the studio under me and happens to live on the same street as me!

After my hands got cold and my stomach empty, I left the studio and got a sandwich from a place that Aisling recommended, and then headed south because I decided I wanted to try the other things on my list after all. I was aiming for the Botanic Garden and Ulster Museum but saw signs for the Ormeau Baths Gallery, and took a quick detour there. I'm so glad I did. It is freaking beautiful. Inside and out. It's a really interesting space, the way they've built it, on different levels and with tons of space. Gorgeous. I walked in at the same time as an elderly man, and we left nearly the same time and he smiled at me when I was snapping pics of the outside. I would have liked to talk with him but was dead set on making it all the way south.

I realized what I had been missing all along as I trekked: the city!! South Belfast is where it's at: a much more diverse, lively, and younger crowd. It also houses Queens University, the gardens, and the museum. I felt like I could breathe again b/c it actually felt like a city and I could recognize it as such. Less of those stoplight button things for pedestrians--you just cross when you can. It's very freeing. There was a wedding party in the gardens.

The air was different once I found an entrance and got into the gardens, and I thought, "I found it! I found green space!!!" I was so relieved.

This is right in front of the library at the university. The woman I met yesterday said it's a lovely place to visit, so I will certainly be back. Especially now that I know this entire neighborhood would be a great place to hang out, work, etc.

And the crown jewel of today: the Ulster Museum. I thought that I would just zip thru in less than an hour before I arrived, but I ended up staying until closing. It is amazing. They redid it and it's only been open since the end of last year, but I was so impressed. It's SO FULL, of all sorts of things. I started at the top, since I had been tipped off that the top is where the contemporary art is. But it's like this rabbit hole of everything in the world. There is something behind every corner. I swear. You know how you go to museums and wonder if there is something around the corner but usually there isn't? Well, here it's like worlds inside worlds inside worlds. I love that they tried to address all different audiences, and have "discovery" centers on each floor for children, but they're not necessarily shoved to the side. You can see through glass doors to the activities, and they can see right back to the exhibits. Like many places I've visited so far, there are some issues w/accessibility but at least they have wheelchair lifts on some of the staircases. I loved walking through a huge painting gallery, seeing a little pile of hay under a painting, and two pairs of bunny ears and a big carrot under another. It wasn't part of the art: it was obviously part of a treasure hunt for children. Brilliant.

They had natural history, Irish history, Irish art through different generations, international contemporary art, drawings and watercolors, world cultures, an exhibit on the Spanish Armada, crafts, and who knows what else. They have a great cafe and gift shop area on the ground floor as well. The exhibit that had me in tears, of course, was dedicated to the Troubles. It was so sad but it worked. And after reading some of the huge panels, I was finally able to decipher the graffiti on my back wall at home.

[I wish these reminders were everywhere b/c I still don't know which way to look before crossing.] It's good to know I can always go back for more; both the museum and gardens are free and in a part of town I definitely want to visit again. I would have explored the garden and area more but my body was spent so it took all I had left to walk back to City Centre to get a bus home (the bus system here still only runs buses from the center out, but doesn't connect the other areas to each other). It was funny to see the traffic of people all coming at me: obviously, everyone coming home from work. I wish I lived there, too!

1 comment:

Velma Bolyard said...

i'm exhausted just reading all this! what a marvelous day, glad you found a place that feels right!