Frightened by a duck

In the Moderna Museet there’s a cafe with a lovely outside space, tables and chairs surrounding a beautiful cherry tree, still in full blossom. We sat there with a beer/wine having viewed the best of Giacometti. There were quite a few people there. There was also a couple of ducks: female and male. Clearly together.

The female duck was after some table scraps. I guess they get a lot of handouts from people so they just wander around looking hungry.

A young couple were sitting at a table, next to each other, which is weird to start with, and they were approached by the female duck. The woman of the couple stood up as if a bat had smacked her in the face. She looked under the table, holding desperately onto the back of her chair, as she watched the female duck stand, threatening her. The young man with her stood up as well. They were both, clearly, petrified.

Eventually, the young couple moved to another table, watching the duck warily. The duck merely shook its beak in disbelief as it claimed the table for its own and trotted off to harass another group of diners.

The ducks on Skeppsholmen are not to be trusted. As opposed to the bridge that connects the island to the, for want of a better word, mainland. The bridge has a small plaque on it which, in part anyway, reads:

“In May 1652, Admiral Fleming accompanied Queen Kristina across the bridge. He stumbled and pulled the Queen down in his fall. At the last moment, General Wachtmeister managed to grab her dress and pull her to the shore. It is said that the Queen fared well because she was accustomed to drink [sic] water. Fleming, however, who only drank wine and beer, was less fortunate.”

We walked across a different bridge to Queen Kristina. That’s because the one she fell off was made of wood and burnt. The next one, built to replace the first one, was also made of wood and, burned as well. Then, because technology had moved on a bit, the final one, the one we walked across today, was made of wrought iron.

The present Skeppsholmsbron (Skeppsholm Bridge) was completed in 1861 and has three divided sections. In the middle there’s a single lane for traffic and either side are walkways for pedestrians. It’s a perfect bridge, I have to say.

Then you get a couple of stupid pedestrians who spoil it for the rest of us and give walkers a bad name. A couple of people, walking along the bit reserved for traffic, held everything up today. I feel we need a hashtag. Like #NotAllPedestrians. It’s like dog walkers who don’t pick up after their dogs.

Anyway, that’s by the by. Today we went to Skeppsholmen to see an exhibition of works by Alberto Giacometti at the Moderna Museet. And, as a day out, it was pretty brilliant.

For a start, we both fell in love with Skeppsholmen. It was once a naval base. Now it’s a delightful space full of trees, gardens and museums. It’s very welcoming. Even the outdoor art welcomes you with open arms.

Part of The Paradise (1966) by Jean Tinguely & Niki de Saint Phalle

The museum itself is massive. Part of it was originally a drill hall for the navy while the rest of the building was built specifically to be an art gallery and opened in 1958. It’s a lovely, big, open and bright space full of the kind of art that my mother and father-in-law would both detest. Not that they’d call it art, of course.

It also contains the sort of art I find sometimes intriguing, sometimes disturbing and other times hilarious. It is art that expands the viewer’s vision to include the vision of the artist. Sometimes that’s not a good thing, today, however, it was very good.

According to the small guide for the exhibition, “Throughout his artistic career, Giacometti was preoccupied with his own inadequacy when it came to depicting reality.” So, it seems, that he decided not to bother and created his own.

The Nose (1947) by Giacometti

A lot of his works are extraordinary. His very thin heads are remarkable. From the side they look thick, substantial, complete but, viewed from straight on they are thin, very fine presentations of faces. Though they appear to have been squashed.

Here’s a short video of what I mean but am clearly unable to describe properly:

The exhibition had a lot of his distinctive long thin sculptures. They come in various sizes. From the really quite tall to the almost microscopic. Here’s the smallest, with me for scale. And I wonder why he didn’t use a smaller base.

We thoroughly enjoyed the exhibition, which is slightly more than you can say for the add-on exhibition downstairs. A deconstructed wind turbine blade, some yellow cloth over deflated beanbags, a cross and an odd video which was strangely erotic but indistinct at the same time. I have to say, it reminded me of the worst excesses of The White Bus, though, obviously better.

Possibly, the most satisfying thing about this small exhibition was the photo that Mirinda took of me watching the odd video.

Still, you can’t know that you don’t like something unless you actually see it. So that’s something.

Anyway, if I was the type of person who ticks things off lists then moves onto the next, I’d say that Giacometti is nicely ticked.

The rest of the day was spent heading over to The Hairy Pig (obviously) where we were royally entertained by Joseph and Ryan (Aussie tour guide). And fed. Naturally, we were very well fed.

We had a jolly good laugh with Ryan. He related a funny story about his dead grandfather which I’ll add to tomorrow’s post. For now, let me end this post by saying that we will return to Skeppsholmen and give it a good explore. We thoroughly enjoyed it.

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