Other Stuff–The World is a Wonderful, Strange Place

by Lynn on May 22, 2016

in The Passionate Playgoer

Other Stuff

The World is a Wonderful, Strange Place.

I was at the Big Bang Data exhibit at Somerset House in London in January, that looked at collecting data using technology over the years. Incredible. Gazillions of bits of data are collected every day. There were computers of every size. In glassed cases were black flat squares of about 3”. There were called ‘floppy disks.” I think I’ve heard of them. Then there was a round shiny flat disk called a CD. I’ve heard of them. In another case was a narrow piece of metal and plastic bit (it seemed) called a ‘memory stick.’ I have several of them. In a dark room were large bean-bag ‘chairs’ on the floor. You could flop down on one of them, tilt back and look up at the ceiling alive with moving stars, formulae and other moving objects. It was tempting to flop down but I feared I would never be able get back up again in a graceful manner, so I didn’t.

My favourite was this: at the beginning of the exhibit was a large yellow panel on which was the explanation, in several paragraphs, of what the exhibit was and its intention. Very interesting. But standing in front of me was a young woman who put up her cell phone and took a picture of the panel, then moved on. She didn’t read the panel.

I noted this to two guards in one of the rooms, mentioning that the world is an odd place. One of them said, “She’ll probably post it to Facebook.” The other said, “And everybody will “like” it. And then we all said, “And nobody will have actually read it.”


I went to the McMichael Gallery in Kleinburg, Ontario,for the first time last week—I’m so embarrassed to admit that. What a glorious, wonderful place and space. The main stone/wood building housing the gallery collection is nestled on 10 acres of woodland just north of Toronto. It must be incredible in the Fall. The McMichael Gallery is the home of a huge collection of the Group of Seven Canadian painters, formed in 1920. The Group are: Franklin Carmichael, Lawren Harris, A.Y. Jackson, Frank Johnston, Arthur Lismer, J.E.H MacDonald and Frederick Varley.

Lawren Harris is the fellah who caught comedian Steve Martin’s art-collecting-eye and he curated a whole exhibition of his paintings in Los Angeles and soon, (beginning July 1) at the Art Gallery of Ontario. But I digress.

The collection of The Group of Seven and the other artists in their sphere (hello Tom Thomson and Emily Carr to name two) are beautifully displayed at the McMichael. Your jaw drops when you stand in front of any of those works, gazing at the vistas, landscapes and life that the artists captured. Often they painted outdoors in harsh weather. In some cases, A.Y. Jackson for example, the brush strokes catch the light in the gallery and the light shimmers on the canvas. Stunning.

Lawren Harris captures the cold, isolation and beautiful solitude of the north. You look at any of his paintings and you start to shiver, they are that powerful.

In one of the rooms a man stood in front of a painting, aimed his camera, took the picture, looked down to see that the shot was captured then moved to the next painting and did the same thing—he aimed the camera, took the shot, checked it and moved on. At no time did he stand in front of any painting and actually look at it.


Also at the McMichael Gallery, the windows in the building are huge and high. Light pours into the place in public areas. The collection is protected by being inside areas that have muted artificial lighting. But those public areas are wonderful. Every window looks on nature. Trees grow down slopes on hills. Foliage, trees, vistas are everywhere. I can hardly wait to come back in the Fall to see the colours. The good folks who planned this space know how beautiful the views are from the windows and have placed comfortable chairs and sofas close to the windows, facing out to see the scenery. In one corner of one space is a collection of children’s books to be read, either by the child her/himself or a taller person to read to the child. Fabulous.

A couple of a certain age sat quietly in two of the chairs facing the window. The woman looked out at the beauty. Her husband had his head tilted down, his eyes glued to his cell phone screen as his thumb jabbed at the screen flipping and flipping through his e-mail—ignoring the beauty. Sigh.

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