Monday, 18 May 2009

Day 2 - Sunday in the City

Slept in. Missed breakfast. 30 degrees plus. Red nose. Bought sun cream. No meetings today so I decided to visit the Village Museum - an open air museum with an impressive and important collection of houses brought from across the regions of romania, which also includes an important collection of interior textiles and costumes. More on that in a moment.

A leisurely stroll through Kisselef park, past the huge and grand foreign embassies and the Triumphal Arch, based on Paris' namesake and onto Herastrau Park. Sunday in the city, like all great cities i've visited - families, children playing, sitting in the dappled shade, talking, meeting friends, drinking, parading, skateboarders, romantic couples, rollerblades, bikes, boating on the lake and basking in the sun. It seems like half of Bucharest is here today, which isn't surprising given the combination of the weather and the fact that bucharest, as a result of Ceaucescu's brutal regime and grandiose and bizarre ideas about architecture, now appears to be a city of flat dwellers with little private outside space. I love city parks - crucial common open spaces for people to breathe, relax, exercise and to meet and escape the stresses of urban life.

Onto the Village Museum. It was packed with families, but at the same time there was a really relaxed atmosphere. As someone who lives in a wooden house I love open air museums full of other wooden houses!! I always marvel at the simplicity yet sophistication of many of these structures, and although I am always drawn towards decoration, i love the aesthetics of function in wooden rural houses. True, they have been removed from their original context which always leads you to a romantic view of rural life - which of course it wasn't / isn't. I wonder whether by some twist of fate (or our own doing) that future generations will be forced to return to a simple life - one with no electricity, no instant heating or hot water, no flat screen tv's the size of rooms, no computers nor mobile phones?

I couldn't take any photos inside any of the houses. So instead, I sat and made drawings of many of the patterns in the embroideries. Most of the houses were simply decorated, white walls, some painted, and covered in textiles - lace curtains, woven blankets, embroidered pieces hung over treasured possessions, such as religious icons and plates) or hanging from ceilings. Many had a looms inside. I loved this piece on one of the information signs.
"On long winter evenings the village girls organised sittings in the work room, when spinning of wool and hemp were alternating with songs and tales, ending in dances with lads who would arrive towards the end of the spinning session." Music, textiles, word, song and dance together. I wonder whether those types of gatherings still go on in parts of Romania. I'd love to learn more about the types of songs and tales that were (are) told and whether these informed the weaving or vica versa?

Perhaps we are creating contemporary and urban versions of such social gatherings through the sampler project?

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