Yesterday was super exciting for our family: my little sister and her husband welcomed Baby Keira into the world. Yay!
I managed to finish this little blanket and sent it off to her just before we left. Hopefully it gets there soon and I can wrap her up in it in a few weeks.
Congratulations, you two!
I arrived yesterday afternoon and am so happy to be here amongst family, friends, and animals. Anthony landed in New York last night and will join me here on Saturday.
Our April 3 travel date became a kind of bookend for this past year—it was April 2012 that we returned from the US after five months on the road and set up shop again in Berlin. I began work on the paintings that just shipped out on Thursday and Anthony started establishing the euro side of his business. So now that April 3rd has come and gone, it feels like a new chapter has started for us. Last year was more about work than fun; I predict this next year is going to be a lot of work (at least I hope so!) but I think the main theme is going to be change. And I am pretty excited about that.
So let’s go over a tiny bit of business today:
First of all, some of you folks receive these posts via email. If that’s the case, you will notice that we’ve started using Mail Chimp to get those emails to you. Please let me know if something is off, otherwise it should be business as usual with the emails.
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Also, for the handful of you who signed up on the old system and haven’t been getting updates for a few months, welcome back and I’m sorry about the interruption of service!
Photo of me by Anthony, Minneapolis, December 2012
This is it. This is what it’s like here right now: a never-ending loop of winter. If you take last “summer” into consideration, this is like month 18 of winter for Berlin. And I have had it. At this time of the year, it is perfectly reasonable to expect the days to get progressively warmer and brighter, but in this vortex of darkness they seem to be collapsing on themselves and I am quickly losing hope that spring will ever be able to emerge from the rubble.
We are getting ready to head out of here in a few days, which should be like pushing the ejection seat on this nightmare. But we are going to Minneapolis, where the weather is just as bad. However, if I know anything about Minneapolis weather, it’s that and it can go from miserable to glorious (or vice versa) in a matter of hours. So for the time being, I’m pinning my hopes on option #1.
Next post I promise a departure from the doom and gloom!
Photos by Anthony, resident snow enthusiast
Since the news came that my sister is having a baby, I’ve finally been moved to taking my knitting skills to the next level. I learned the basics in college, but never really got the hang of reading patterns or doing much more than going in a straight line. It took a couple of tries to get two booties that were the same shape and size, but finally I got it and now I’m on fire in the knitting department.
Miss Hazel was also a big help on the last stretch of these; we spent a cold but sunny Sunday on the sofa. She snoozed on my lap while I finished them up. Heaven.
+ Baby bootie moccasin pattern from the Purl Bee
I’m reaching the last stretch of painting days before these canvases need to get shipped out. !!??
If I may share a tiny blogging regret with you, it would be that I didn’t document this work and the process of making it on the blog—in fact, I almost stopped writing here altogether. But it’s not for lack of material—there has been so much over this past year that I’ve wanted to explore, but just didn’t have the mental space to process it and write it down. In fact, as I start to look back on this last year of work, I see how raw and intense it was for me—writing about it was just not possible. I learned so much about myself and how I work—but to do so, I needed to take a step back from the world, which also meant this place.
Anyways, there is no need for regret because it is ALL GOOD NEWS—I made a bunch of new paintings! And best of all, I don’t feel like I’m done, but actually have more work to do. So we will be traveling to the States for the installation and opening and then coming back here to pick up where this lets off.
I mentioned awhile back but I’ll say it again: I’ve got a Tumblr for my studio at rebeccasilus.tumblr.com where the images can speak for themselves when I can’t manage to do it for them.
My touchstone for defining lack of sunshine was always the Pacific Northwest, but places like Portland and Seattle get more sun on average than Berlin. I know.
The paintings of the Danish artist Vilhelm Hammershøi do a lovely job at capturing the winter light in this region; always experienced indoors, it is quiet and diffused. Sometimes, if the sun makes a momentary break through the cloud cover and is just high enough in the sky to clear the buildings opposite your window, a weak sunbeam will settle inside your very dark home. When this happens in the middle of a long winter…it is no exaggeration to say that the heart jumps a little and it is a very exciting 30–60 seconds until it disappears. And then you are left to confront what a sad existence it is when an anemic dose of sun can be such a soul-nourishing event.
There were a couple of times this winter when I very clearly saw myself running out the door and not stopping until I reached the sunshine. Following through with that particular plan would be a little rash, but I hear there is a variation on it that involves a little planning and bringing your things with you.
Cities are in a constant state of change; neighborhoods morph this way and that from safe to crime-infested, from run-down to hip to boring, etc. Berlin as we know it came into being from a unique combination of factors and history, but time has caught up with it and the change is happening at an extra-accelerated pace. Have you heard about the last significant section of the wall losing out to luxury condos? Money trumping history, culture, or any form of long-term thinking is nothing new but this instance seemed particularly filled with irony.
When I approached this month’s Twelve theme—Shout—I thought about Berlin’s history of protest as well as the general mood of anger and dismay at the direction it is heading. I think that the protests are good and I really hope that they can introduce some balance to the development going on all around. But honestly, I think the change is happening for better or for worse and…it’s not looking good.
The banner on the side of the building in this photo advertises a demonstration against the eviction of a family from their Berlin-Kreuzberg flat, which they occupied for many years and had renovated themselves. Displacement and gentrification are everywhere and people are mad.
Anthony shot this Coke Light campaign just before Christmas. Over the last few weeks, the billboards went up all over town and it’s been fun to see them in unexpected places.
The campaign even made a cameo in an honest-to-goodness Berlin Scandal in which a landlord installed one of the ads as a massive billboard that covered all of the windows in his building. Needless to say the tenants were not amused, which resulted in all kinds of hell breaking loose; a change.org petition, a Facebook page, and many newspaper articles. Nothing animates Berliners quite like an issue that needs protesting; they organize and talk to strangers, get naked (NSFW), and yell about all manner of things—often with positive results. In this case, the landlord did (rightfully) take the offending billboard down.
Richard Davies began photographing wooden churches in northern Russia in 2002. The structures, some of which date back to the 16th century, have mostly been abandoned. As he writes on his website, many of those in the project are no longer standing due to neglect and vandalism.
The website for the project includes more images as well as a blog, exhibition dates, and a link to the book.