A long time ago

Madonna and the Yarnwinder

Madonna and the Yarnwinder

A long time ago - so long ago now I forget how many years between November 1984 and February 1985 - I drove to Hamilton to their lovely city gallery Auckland City Art Gallery, and saw the most wonderous chalk sketches by Leonardo DaVinci. So many of these yellowed, aged papers with the softest chalk marks of sepia and white describing the water and leaves and muscles. I fell in love with Master DaVinci then and there and have loved his work ever since. It has a softness, and a confidence - an authority you just don't see in his contemporary's works. Michaelangelo has a harsh edginess about him. Leonardo didn't paint all that many works, you know. In fact, he was notorious for not finishing stuff. I guess his motivations were elsewhere and I can sort of understand that.

On the news today there is a story of one of his works being stolen from a castle in Scotland. There are several copies of this work, done by Da Vinci and/or his students - he often had students finish his work, which was pretty much how artists worked in those days and so its difficult for historians to tell which Da Vinci did and did not paint some of the time. The images they showed on television of the work differ from those they show online. The one on tv is a copy of the work with a blue, inhospitable snow topped mountain range behind the mother and child. The image on the BBC webside is of the greener, softer version with the land gently sloping to the sea.

The yarn winder in the painting symbolises Christ's future suffering and death, and Mary (Madonna) seemingly pulling her child away from the yarnwinder as if she can save him from his fate.

oh yeh, and Mars.
It's closer to Earth than it's been since September 12, 57,617 BC. In fact, around 9pm last night, NZ time, the Earth and Mars were only 56 million kilometres (35 million miles) apart and that's really closest they ever get! We're actually playing piggy-in-the-middle with the Sun and Mars - as the Sun sets, Mars rises. Check out the Stardome's website for all you ever wanted to know about viewing Mars in your socks.

You'd better get out there and see what you can see, because there won't be another close approach for 284 years.

PS: I saw Mars, just now *watch check* 8:30pm.. and it was right where it was supposed to be, not blinking like a constant unnatural (though the most natural thing out of this world) light, heavy and warm in the sky. But it looks like a star, not like some long lost orbiting jaffa or anything.