It reminded me of New Zealand. (I have a similar film shot taken in New Zealand, but my albums are off-site and I hadn’t scanned it.)
May 24, 2013 by Gail
May 23, 2013 by Gail
I took this photo last week in a church called Santa Clara in Porto, Portugal. It is not a particularly celebrated church, and its single entrance can be found across an unassuming courtyard accessed only by an archway barely wide enough to accommodate a small car. The only reason I know this is because a small car emerged out of nowhere through the arch in a hurry to exit, which startled us and the driver!
A tourist may stumble upon the church by accident, but likely not. However, as others have noted, it is well worth searching for because the interior is magnificent.
At the time, we were the only people in the small church and it was completely silent. In the stillness of those moments, the shutter of my camera sounded like a gong, even from where we were in the back row. As it is a place of worship, I always feel like I should ask God for permission to take a photo, but maybe He will read this post where I get a chance to
Currently, the only detailed Wikipedia page for the church is in Portuguese, but I can manage the dates: structure completed in 1457, the Baroque door in 1697, the gilding (gold on wood) finished in the first half of the 18th century.
Now, I can only imagine the 18th century, but I venture a guess there was no aerosol spray-painting back in the day. The church may be small by worldwide standards but the ceiling is very high. I’m visualizing 1700′s scaffolding and nuns holding paintbrushes, trying not to look down. Vertigo aside, just imagine how long it would take to finish the ceiling! If gilding were outsourced today to modern-day painters, you could probably bet on some shortcut-taking. But something tells me, even without inspecting those upper windows, that they were given as much attention to detail even though it’s impossible to see all parts of the windows from the main floor.
I also imagine the nuns of Santa Clara having a difficult time imagining the likes of 21st-century people, sitting in the pews and staring at the ceiling, as much as we have of us imagining them in the day-to-day toils of the 16th century. (Not to mention, nuns don’t have children, removing the classic rationale we give for the long-term projects of today.)
But surely in those days everyone expected a church to take more than a lifetime to complete, and generations upon generations of maintenance. There would be no questioning the value of preservation of the church for future generations, by anyone’s standards. From its origins, the expectations were that the labour involved in its building, its upkeep, and its restoration(s) would continue well into the future. The future, then, is us now. But do we have that sort of foresight ourselves and an appreciation for what came before us? It’s hard to argue for the affirmative.
And by comparison, do we build anything with these long-range expectations in mind? I can’t think of any current structures made in recent times that are built to withstand a single century, let alone several or more. We endanger our own environment to the extent that we do, and we build short-sightedly. I look at a church like this and don’t have anything remotely modern to compare it with, structurally or aesthetically.
You could say that modern times do not have a need for places of worship this ornate and therefore it wouldn’t make sense to continue in this tradition, but it would be harder to say a plain church inspires to the same degree. I’m not even Catholic (or religious in any way) and I am inspired enough to contemplate its workmanship, take a photo to keep for myself and show others. The interior makes a statement about the people of its time, and the efforts made to create something with the understanding that its full appreciation is beyond their lifetime. We have plenty to learn from those who came before us.
May 22, 2013 by Gail
I returned to work yesterday, and discovered that while I was away the province of Nova Scotia had drifted in with the (nonexistent) tide of Lake Ontario. Smart move on the part of Nova Scotia’s tourism board to remind the financial centre of the country to go visit.
May 21, 2013 by Gail
Still catching up with everything, so I’ll make this brief…
… this is my last summer in Toronto. More details to come.
May 20, 2013 by Gail
So much for the “blogging will be light” declaration — I went silent for a week. I don’t think this has happened since my trip to Cuba nearly six and a half years ago, and that’s only because internet is hard to come by there.
I’m still downloading the week’s photos, here are a few for now from the quick trip to Portugal.
May 12, 2013 by Gail
May 11, 2013 by Gail
A few preview images from the newborn shoot I did this afternoon. Baby Jackson arrived two weeks ago, and already he’s letting the world know he’s a force to be reckoned with! It’s bench-pressing for babies.