Friday 6 March 2009: a mirror up against reality etc
Sometime towards the end of last year there was a mention in New Scientist of a piece of art called A Space for an Island Universe inspired by the frozen-explosion sculpture-chandelierthings in the foyer of the Met and theories concerning the expansion of the universe and the movement and shape thereof. I don't remember noticing where it was going to be as it didn't seem to mention anywhere nearby so it was a nice surprise to suddenly find it on display inside a large botanic-garden-style greenhouse in the botanic gardens. A good place to display this sort of thing (reflective spheres with spines of different lengths emerging on the ends of which are cow-parsley-like bursts with plastic discs attached) as there's plenty of light and it's always nice to see this sort of thing abroad as there's generally less chance of there being a number of "NO PHOTOGRAPHY WHATSOEVER YOU THIEVING TERRORIST BASTARDS" signs all over the walls. There were a couple of security guards but their only task while we were there was to tell people not to touch when they were attempting to stand within reach of the longer spines.
There's more than enough park to occupy several days' worth of concentrated wandering but we ambled randomly around until we found the lake Nicky remembered noticing in the guide book upon which people were attempting to battle the relatively strong wind wafting them eastwards with a limited ability to row, in some cases apparently unaware that the major reason for facing away from the direction of travel when rowing is that it's much easier for the body to work that way. Didn't see anyone fall in while we were there but it must surely happen sometimes though perhaps the coldness of the cold snap and the wind dissuaded the people dicking about from dicking about too much. There was a column-ringed circular arrangement off to one side with a few bits of classical-looking statuary dotted about or dangling over the water in the case of the weirdy fish/dolphin/mermaid hybrid things which seemed to be in the wrong place as the path on the opposite side seemed to be more popular. Most of the bulk of the park was basic woodland but there were a few little specialised areas here and there either featuring a different sort of buildinglet-architecture, plant-theme or both and all supported and tended by a vast staff of polite and intently-working gardening-people, very different from the occasional elderly curmudgeon who would have been the only official inhabitant in a similar park in the UK.
After wandering round enough of the park for one day we trundled round a few bits of the city centre to try and find somewhere to eat, though everything we had read which indicated that nothing really gets going until after nine turned out to be entirely true; it's always difficult to judge the suitability of the atmosphere of a restaurant when it's completely empty and difficult to stand outside and check out the menu when there's a bloke almost trying to forcibly shove you through the door. Still, all wandering is good when the wandering is round somewhere new which needs to be learnt and poked at.