Monday, 25 July 2016

Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt and swimming: Val Kill

Franklin R partook in swimming therapy to help ameliorate the effects of his polio. He used to spend time at the Merriman Inn in Warm Springs in Georgia, where he swam in the natural spring water. In 1926 he bought the property and founded a therapy centre, which still exists. FDR died at Warm Springs. 

Meanwhile, at her property at Hyde Park, New York, Eleanor built a pool. It was a favourite family gathering place. There is home 16mm film footage recording the Roosevelts and friends and guests swimming there. One of the guests was Winston Churchill. 
In the filmed fictionalised account of the royal visit of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (Hyde Park on Hudson) KGVI (Samuel West) is depicted swimming there with FDR (Bill Murray).

A project is underway to restore the pool. When we visited it was covered by boards (see photos below)

Eleanor Roosevelt at the Val-Kill pool.

Val-Kill pool, Summer 1940. FDR, Missy Le Hand and Eleanor R. From
Eleanor on the lawn by the Val-Kill pool, Summer 1959. Photo by Keith M. Taylor. From

Eleanor's swimsuit. From

How the pool looked on Sep 15, 2013 when we visited.

David Hockney: A diver (1978). National Gallery of Australia

I love and adore the National Gallery of Australia (NGA) in Canberra. Its Aboriginal art is unsurpassed. But its modern international collection is also stunning. There are examples of the best of the best. One of my favourites is this one by David Hockney - A diver.

The NGA's website says this about this work:

"In the late 1970s Hockney was intrigued by the expressive qualities of paper pulp which prompted him to embrace colour and scale. Taking the swimming pool as his subject, he explored the ripples of reflection on the steps, the diving board, and the effect of light and shadow on the water at different times of day by painting with liquid paper pulp. The pinnacle of the series is A diver, which depicts the splash of water created by the body as it enters the pool."
It is made from twelve abutted sheets of handcrafted sheets of hand-coloured pressed paper pulp.

(To the left of this painting is another Hockney - A Bigger Grand Canyon. Nearby is Lucien Freud's After Cezanne and Andy Warhol's undisputed masterpiece, Blue Poles. There's works by William de Kooning, Francis bacon, one of the world's largest collections of Roy Lichtenstein's works, Andy Warhol, Mark Rothko, Henri Matisse, Claude Monet....and of course, great Australian, Pacific and Asian art.

Monday, 11 July 2016

Film: The Together Project

This film caught my eye in the program for the Scandinavian film festival, so I went along tonight with a couple of friends. We spent a really enjoyable 80+ minutes chuckling along. After seeing Rams, also from Iceland, earlier this year, I've come to appreciate that Icelandic humour is....well, different...I can't possibly describe it, but deadpan and a bit off-the-wall might be apt.

A French / Icelandic co-production, it was certainly a quirky romcom, based around a swimming pool, a congress of lifeguards, and swimming in an Icelandic hotpool.

Here's some reviews:

The Hollywood Reporter.
Screen Daily

An excerpt on You Tube: