Slow Days

Sometimes you get the chance to have a day that’s slow, that’s a bit out of the ordinary and to my way of thinking, it’s something to be immensely grateful for.

The first of two such days happened for me on Sunday. DrK came to town for a stay so we could go and see a very popular exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia. The Musee d’Orsay has loaned 112 great paintings to the gallery for a few months for the Masterpieces of Paris show and to say that this exhibition has been popular is an understatement. There are several Van Gogh pieces and others by Cezanne, Gaugin and many others.

We’d heard there were long queues to get in; we’d heard the show had been extended for a few weeks to account for these queues. We thought perhaps getting there 30-40 minutes before the gallery opened at 10am would be wise. It seems everyone else had the idea. We walked past hundreds of people, many of whom had bought deck chairs, picnic blankets, flasks of tea and coffee, newspapers and books.  We joined the masses in the line for approximately two and a half hours! Yes, that’s right. Nearly three hours!

We’d had the sense to bring our knitting with us, but not hats and the day got hot. Thankfully staff from the gallery handed out flyers that actually had instructions on them for making hats! Here’s me in mine.


Don’t let the empty space around us fool you. We were not alone on Sunday. We just took photos facing away from the enormous line snaking behind us.


The big question, obviously, is did we think the hours of waiting were worth it? Well first of all, waiting with a friend is never a bad thing, no matter how hot you get, how sore your feet are. We had knitting. There were coffee vendors. There were, for the most part, nice people around us (let’s not discuss the woman who yelled inanely at her children for the duration. Why bring small children to a huge line and then yell at them when they get restless?). Anyway, it was fun. And the exhibition was stunning. It’s perhaps a cliche to say it but seeing some Van Gogh paintings up close was really quite a hallowed experience. I had imagined that perhaps I’d be underwhelmed by the experience but I wasn’t. We approached Starry Night Above the Rhone with great reverence. It’s beautiful. No matter what anyone says, a picture reproduced in a book can never equal seeing it up close; seeing the strokes of the brush, the greater depth of the colours, the mark of the artist. It just can’t be beaten. To have seen it with Kylie after such a long wait is a memory to treasure.

And today was also a slow day. My Tuesday. It started at 5:30am when I was woken by a nightmare. To settle my mind, I got up to have a pot of tea, knit and watch Jane Eyre. The day continued in this manner, more or less without interruption as I lost myself in finishing my Golden Vintage cardigan. It’s drying now, after hours and finishing and seaming, but here’s an advance screening of my unique addition to it – a crocheted neckband, not done in the pattern. More on this later. It’s not this green but the light of the day was fading. Better photos to come.

Golden Vintage - crocheted neckband

I love slow days. Time stands still in a way and in the suburbs, it’s quiet and you can feel almost disconnected from the world. Almost. It’s satisfying in the extreme.



24 thoughts on “Slow Days

  1. Pingback: Wrap Up – and some pretties « Bellsknits

  2. Pingback: Adieu Masterpieces from Paris « National Gallery of Australia's Blog

  3. I totally agree about seeing paintings in real life. There is nothing quite like it. Worth all the lining up and waiting and crowds. I still clearly remember standing in front of one of Monet’s Haystacks at the NGV years ago. It was so extraordinary.

  4. I know what you mean about paintings in the flesh. I had always liked Monet, but when I was in college, my art appreciation class took a bus to Chicago to see some visiting paintings of his.

    They are not the little 4×6 postcards you get in the gift shop – they are big, as tall as I am, taller even. At first they looked so abstract, and then, there’s no other way to say it, the Waterlilies one gave this weird shimmer and it was like I could see what Monet saw.

    It was the coolest, weirdest art experience I’ve had in my life.

    (“The Dutch Masters” is like that, too – not cigar-box size, but about 8 feet tall! Anyway, enormous!)

  5. I agree, slow days are wonderful. It’s finally starting to sink in that I don’t have to go fast to enjoy things.

    I’m glad to see too that I’m not the only one who knits in a queue!

  6. Nice hats & all you need is a chair & you can sit there & knit for hours ! I wish I have some slow days, even one will be great. All my days are packed with errands & activities & I only get to sit down in the evenings.

  7. I saw the Starry Night above the Rhone in 2004 at the NGV, and not even the crowds and screaming children would mar the reverence of those standing in front of the painting. It was stunning. I’m almost certain that it is the same 112 Musee D’Orsay paintings as the ones on display back then… but they are worth the wait, aren’t they?

    And what a pretty FO! Can’t wait to see more of it. 🙂

  8. The hats are a lovely idea. I was going to come to Canberra for Easter to see the exhibition; think I’ll skip that idea and come later in April!

    Slow days are wonderful; having had seven weeks of them (except for running around with DD before and after GS#1’s birth), I could get use to it! But it’s back to work after Easter! *sigh*

  9. I was once warned off by a security guard for leaning too close to Van Gogh’s “Irises” when I was younger. Van Gogh’s brushwork just pulls you in for a better look – I’m sure no-one would blame us!

    I watched “Jane Eyre” again last week, with Marcus occasionally looking at the screen – Mr Rochester is my homeboy, for certain. Did you know Ruth Wilson won an Olivier Theatre Award for playing Stella in Streetcar just two days ago? Yay for the BBC Drama training!

  10. I like your neckline addition. Feminine but not too frilly.

    I’ve waited in line to see paintings in person and it’s always worth it. There’s a Picasso exhibit at the museum now and I’m going to try to get tickets. Maybe I’ll plan a slow day and go on a Wednesday.

    And you two are certainly fashion statements wearing your hats! How clever is that?

  11. How intelligent to pass out flyers suitable for hats! And what a marvelous day that must have been. I love slow days, and you seem to make the best of them. what a pretty neckline!

  12. I remember the amazing paintings in the Musee D’Orsay – it’s crazy how incredible it can be to see them in person, even if you’ve seen them in images your whole life! Sweet hats and love the idea of a crochet edge…..

  13. When I was in Florence I was so gobsmacked by the line coming out of the Uffizi that I went around the corner to the history of science museum (the one with the finger–Leonardo’s, I think) and thoroughly enjoyed it. I never did get back to the Uffizi, but I am actually okay with that. I saw so many wonderful museums while in Europe, and it’s an excuse to go back to Florence someday.

    I would like a slow day. Sounds fabulous!

  14. I’m so glad you posted the picture, because there’s more than one starry night picture, and this is the one I love the most.

    I remember yonks ago seeing an impressionist exhibition at the Canberra Gallery and even though I was only about 22 it was, as you say, a hallowed experience. In real life they kind of stupefy you, don’t they?

    When I lived in London, I worked across the road from the National Portrait Gallery. Right on Trafalgar Square! And in all those years, not a single day went by that I didn’t marvel at the sheer beauty of it, and we used to visit the Portrait Gallery very very frequently. I wished I knitted back then, because I loved the V&A too, but don’t even remember the lace and textiles part.

    Nice hats.

  15. I LOVE your hats, you both look lovely in them, and your accessory bags and knitting. Isn’t it magic to see the paintings in real life?? Then you know why they are so special. We had a Monet showing here a few years ago and it was fabulous.

  16. I think that is so awesome that they gave out hat patterns! Too funny. Glad that long wait was worth it in the end, too! Can’t wait to see the whole sweater!

  17. how clever of you both to take your knitting! i love your project bags. yes, i agree, there’s nothing like seeing a painting in the flesh, reproductions can’t match the experience of the real thing. slow days are quite a luxury in these times – it’s good that you made the most of them.

  18. I love slow days (pretty much all of my days are slow days). I do wish the time stood still though!!

    So wish I could see this exhibition, am very envious, even of the queueing!! So much better to do it with a friend, to share the experience.

    Am looking forward to the final reveal of Golden Vintage!

  19. aaaagh you posted that picture! i really am not a hat person! but it was a great day, i cant believe how exhausting it was, all that standing and then being completely overwhelmed by all those amazing paintings. it was really great to share it with you, would do it again in an instant! and cant wait to see that cardi all finished and on, so glad you had a productive you day!

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