Surprising how footsore one can get just traipsing around town. I went and had some brunch in an organic restaurant next door to the hostel – reminded me of Cranks in the seventies. The soup I had was wholesome but bland (are my taste buds disappearing?). Then came the exploring.
I went into a huge Catholic Church – beautiful stained glass windows, confession boxes in the back. There’s a convent next door – so I saw several nuns around town, still dressed in the old fashioned habit with covered heads. From there, I wound around the back, into St Denis Gardens and down steps – I had looked at maps but I’m not that good at following an itinerary. Went into a totally contrasting church with wonderful black and white photographs of homeless people around the walls – otherwise devoid of decoration. Coming out of there, I could see I was surrounded by University buildings – aptly, the department of Social Science was next door to the church. Slightly up a hill, a sign shouted ‘Here is Art’ at me so I headed for that.
It was a Modern Art museum and, first of all, I had to ‘purchase’ a ticket – I say that, because it was free. But in the exhibition, my ticket was checked. I loved that. All the ‘paintings’ were monochrome replicas of the originals painted directly on the wall in India Ink – really well executed and ‘hung’ between two hooks or nails. There was a plaque next to each describing the painting in the sort of terms you’d get if you were looking a the real thing – descriptions of technique, colours used etc. The artists were David Bäjam and Jirí Franta (I’ve probably got their names wrong, because I can’t read my writing, but I’m sure they’d appreciate that). No wonder it was all free – the joke was on me! I loved it – and went around with a grin on my face – discovering lots about Czech art and the ‘Osma group’ while I was at it, because all the paintings are owned by the Moravian Gallery in town.
I slid down a slide to the next floor, all the way back to 1973. Here there was an exhibition about Jirì Valoch’s work on having a lot of fun in the landscape and visual poetry. He’s a local born artist and (from behind the iron curtain) he also conducted a mail art project – postcards from all over the world (memorably ‘do not read’ written on one). So I’m looking at these postcards (I can see their backsides reflecting in the glass and get told off for leaning on the glass trying to read the reflections) – and lo! A map of ‘Dartmoor Forest’ leaps out at me – the Whitehorse hill area where that Cist/grave was excavated in 2011 ( http://www.dartmoor.gov.uk/lookingafter/laf-culturalheritage/whitehorse-hill-burial ) and another postcard from Bristol showing the Clifton Suspension Bridge. I’ve come all the way to Brno to an art exhibition to see a picture of a map of just up the road from where I live. That’s pretty extraordinary. It’s the only map amongst the postcards too.
“Jirì Valoch : Identity piece no.4: Banal fragments of a landscape, town, thing, situation. Remember when, and under what circumstances you saw (watched, met) an identical landscape, town, identical things, situation.” (1973)
Which reminded me of my musings t’other day when I was linking the first views of Prague spread out before me with the first views of Exeter from Haldon Hill…
Synchronicities. I love all these synchronicities because they keep happening.
There was lots more (a pink boob car?- there was three boobs on the front) but I’ve said enough about THAT.
I came out of the exhibition still grinning, and headed up hill to 13th century Castle Špilberk and paid to go up the lookout tower (more blurry pics of Brno vistas – sorry) and to see an exhibition of a lifetime’s work/photographs by American Steve McCurry. Everyone must have seen that iconic photograph of an Afghan native girl with amazing green/blue eyes from National Geographic? More like that. There was some sort of TV interview happening in the last room which was a tad frustrating because I didn’t get to ogle the last few pictures close up. Interesting to see the interview thing, though – even though I couldn’t understand what the panel were saying they looked and sounded very sincere.
I was overloaded and stimulated by the end of the day, so I sat in (one of) the Castle coffee shops and had a slice of cheesecake (LOVE the cheesecakes in this area) and coffee and knit whilst looking at the stunning view of the city. I tried to say hello to a Shar-pei dog on my way out – but its owner shooed me off whilst telling me how dangerous the dog was (it was wagging its tail – but there you go). I’m wondering whether it’s a law for all dogs to be muzzled in public because so many dog owners either muzzle their dogs or carry a muzzle in Czech Republic. (I’ve just googled it, and public transport requires all dogs to be muzzled – so that explains the phenomenon).
From the castle, I went in search of supper – there was live music in Freedom Square – a really good band playing folksy/rock type songs, so I sat in a restaurant where I could hear the music and had spaghetti prima vera and garlic bread with a beer (for less than a tenner). This Moravian City is such good value for money.