i did a lot more traveloguing this time around with the help of my pen-brush. it was so much easier to put a brush to lined paper than it was to write on it. sometimes a canvas needs to look ready to be invaded – not too virginal, a little out of purpose. i usually prefer diaries without lined paper, but this one was surprisingly great to draw in. i doodled all over the pages between scribbles, leaving ink splotches everywhere and having it bleed through some of the pages. the pages all feel very lived in now and each doodle evokes a recollection of sensory pronoia… it is for me perhaps a bit like proust’s madeleine or DFW’s protagonist in “All That”, recalling his childhood pronoic ecstasy amidst his imaginary voices and afternoon light. this was possibly one of the best summers of my life. i had never had so much time to do whatever i wanted before. i wrote, i drew, i read. i talked with A, i spoke pidgin German with A’s 80-year old Oma, i met the rest of his family in Hannover and Hamburg. i discovered a new artist, started collecting crystals, learned how to knit. going through my pages now in Paris where i’ve suddenly lost control of my personal time and space, i feel like i can almost smell the country air again. A was wonderfully patient with me whenever we sat down somewhere and i would pull out my diary and brush. he would just sit back on our bench and lap up the view, leisurely sip his chocolat viennois, apologise sheepishly whenever he realised he was part of my doodle and was moving too much for me to capture him.
A and i spent three nights here and took a slow afternoon walk along the river one day. boathouses fringed the banks and all looked incredibly cosy. children’s clothes hung on a line in one of the boathouses and others had kitchen tables which looked like they had just seen some breakfast toast and coffee.
this year’s AGM was on Public Health, as were the rest of our projects over the past year. i took some notes from the conference but obviously i wasn’t really listening.
Celle is Oma’s favorite town in the world and i could see why. just 20 minutes from Otze, it’s a tiny little town with old Fachwerkstil buildings, cobbled streets and policemen on horses clomping around. it just doesn’t seem like a town of modern times. it’s too quaint, too dear, too happy.
one of the random stopovers A made on the drive back from Frankfurt. i had been sleeping the whole way and when i woke up, we were suddenly in the hills and surrounded by the fluorishing green of highland forests. i loved it. it was possibly even more dear than Celle – it was so tucked away and untouched by metropolitanism that it didn’t seem possible that we did not just time-travel a few decades back just to get there. it looks a lot emptier in this drawing than it rightfully should, but it was too difficult for me to sketch in the folk bustling around.
A drove me to and back from Frankfurt in one day just for my visa. it was three hours each way and by the time he reached the fourth hour his eyes were looking tired and he looked like he would fall asleep at any moment. we decided to pull over at a Rastplatz for him to take a nap. he slept deeply for about half an hour in almost exactly the same position and made a great little sketch.
the farmhouse is huge and the largest room in it is the living room, which was where Oma and A spent most of their time (i was upstairs reading in A’s bed, mostly). there is a huge glass window that looks out onto the garden and so sort of makes a lovely green fourth wall. i’m not fond of this sketch at all because it’s horribly sloppy but it reminds me of all those afternoons when we just sat around and read, worked, knit, drew in complete silence and serenity.
it looks nothing like him. long ways to go before i’m anywhere close to accuracy, i’m afraid.
Oma’s routine was to turn on the telly to watch the news, but to eventually doze off while doing so. this is a more stylised rendition of her sleeping profile.
40 minutes before my flight out of Hamburg to Paris. we’re sitting in Opa’s nursing home room and reminding him of things and people he wants to be reminded of. it was all in German and i could do little else but smile and look géniale, so i decided to sketch instead. the pen-brush ran out of ink shortly so i couldn’t really texture anything properly. Opa asked to see the sketch at the end and remarked kindly that i got his size right.