Doors of Happiness

I recently visited the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto. The AKM opened in 2014, and celebrates the arts of Muslim civilisations from the Iberian Peninsula to China.  The collection includes various artefacts and cultural objects that span from the eighth Century to the present.

The stated purpose of the Aga Khan Museum is that it will become “a centre of education and of learning, and that it will act as a catalyst for mutual understanding and tolerance”.

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the aga khan museum

Among the items on display I found and photographed three pairs of double doors, which are displayed here as my contribution to Norm’s Thursday Doors for the week of July 12, 2018. There was no indication of the context in which these these doors were originally used, so they can only be admired for their design and craftsmanship.

The first pair of doors are from Northern Iran, and are very specifically dated to have been carved in the years 1486-1487 AD. In the Muslim calendar, this is equivalent to the year 892 H (Hijri). The geometric design is quite unique, especially when compared to contemporary arts and crafts design in Europe.

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Iranian doors, 1486-87

The second pair of doors originates in either Iran or northern India, from the late 18th or early 19th Century. The doors are embellished with carved and painted floral patterns around the edges of the frames and inner panels. The Persian inscription in cartouches at the top is translated to state:

Open the door of happiness for the owner of this door, opener of doors.

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doors of happiness

There is very little information provided about the third set of doors. They are constructed of wood, metal and mother of pearl, and probably originate from Gujarat, India, in the 19th-20th Century.

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pearly gates

A Visit to Stratford – Part 2

The evolution of the use of older church buildings is an interesting study topic. Originally built as places of worship during the early growth of towns and cities, churches were imposing structures funded and constructed by community members. Over time, as local congregations have moved on, and religion has lost some of its relevance, increasing numbers of church buildings have become surplus and may be re-purposed.

The church located at 70 Brunswick Street in Stratford is a good example. According to one source, it was originally named the Congregational Church when it was built in 1873-1874. Congregational churches comprised Protestant groups arising from Puritanism, and were organized on the principle that each congregation should be autonomous. Many congregational churches later joined with other churches in the creation of the United Church of Canada in 1925. At some point in time, this church was named the Mackenzie Memorial Gospel Church.

About 40 years ago, the church was re-purposed as The Church Restaurant, and offered fine dining to local residents and theatre goers. In 2015, the church and restaurant were sold to new owners, and the premises were renamed Revival House. There are three components: Revival, a street-level event space; Chapel, a second-floor gastro pub; and Confession, a small balcony VIP lounge. After the restaurant re-opened, a leak was discovered in the roof. A group of local musicians assisted the owners in organizing a fund-raising event to help pay for a new roof.

Community support to build the original church in the 1800’s has evolved into community funding for the repair of a restaurant and event space in the 21st Century! The new roof can be seen in the accompanying image.

The hinges on the front doors are also noteworthy. Apparently, the ironwork on the doors was crafted by workers at the Grand Trunk Railway, which later became the Canadian National Railway, at their shops based in Stratford.

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Revival House

During our visit, we found a door oddity on Wellington Street in downtown Stratford. This image of a horse (at least I think it is a horse and not a mule) could be attributed to an aspect of the history of the city: either as an “iron horse,” to early railway buffs; or a role in a Shakespeare play, as there are references to horses in several of the bard’s plays. I chose the latter. I also found this Shakespeare quote about a painted horse, which may or may not be relevant.

Look, when a painter would surpass the life,
In limning out a well-proportion’d steed,
His art with nature’s workmanship at strife,
As if the dead the living should exceed;
So did this horse excel a common one,
In shape, in courage, colour, pace and bone.

Perhaps another visit to Stratford is warranted to inquire into the origins of this door. For more encounters with doors, be sure to check out other contributions to Norm’s Thursday Doors.

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the painted horse

Thursday’s Special – Traces of the Past Y4-01

I have been working on some images from a walking holiday along the Scottish Borders almost three years ago. By coincidence, these tie in nicely with this week’s Lost in Translation theme of Traces of the Past.

Paula Borkovic posted an image of Melrose Abbey in Scotland. Just downstream along the River Tweed lies Dryburgh Abbey. The abbey is located in a secluded area and is somewhat off the beaten track.

Dryburgh Abbey was founded in 1150 and it was occupied for over 400 years.  It was established by a group of canons from Alnwick Priory in Northumberland, and became the mother house of the Premonstratensian order in Scotland [also known as the Norbertines or the White Canons elsewhere]. The abbey was closed following the Scottish Reformation, and the site remained abandoned until it was purchased in 1780 and converted into a landscape garden. The novelist Sir Walter Scott was buried here in 1832. Parts of the abbey are well preserved, and the daffodils are plentiful in the spring.

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Dryburgh Abbey, Scotland

Further to the south lies Jedburgh Abbey, which is in the centre of Jedburgh and located along the Jed Water. The abbey was founded by a group of French Augustinian canons at about the same time as Dryburgh Abbey. It was established in a prominent location in order to be close to the local king’s palace. This abbey also fell out of use after the Scottish Reformation of 1560, and it was partially dismantled for other purposes. A significant portion of the abbey church remains and is the most visible feature today.

I have been experimenting with the use of textures and other techniques in Photoshop to create a vintage look for these images. I hope that you enjoy them.

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Jedburgh Abbey, Scotland

Thursday’s Special – Traces of the Past Y3-10

This is my second “Traces of the Past” post in response to Paula’s Lost in Translation challenge for this week.

This week’s special is a photo challenge in colour (my previous submission for Traces of the Past was in black and white). I have been experimenting with combining colour and monochrome in a single image, so I thought that this would be a good opportunity to post an image and request some feedback.

Holy Island (also known as Lindisfarne) is an historic site, located in Northumbria on the north-east coast of England. It’s historic significance dates back to Anglo-Saxon and Medieval times, and there are two prominent ruins on the island – Lindisfarne Castle and Lindisfarne Priory.

My image of Lindisfarne Castle – viewed from a bay near the priory ruins – uses colour to depict the present, and monochrome to depict the past. The colour portion is rectangular, and provides a window into the present from the past. There is also the juxtaposition of an old boat in the foreground with some newer boats in the harbour. Please let me know what you think about the presentation.

We are planning to return to Holy Island next summer to participate in an archaeological dig near the priory. More opportunities for some historical images and a chance to get my hands dirty while searching for more traces of the past …

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Lindisfarne Castle, Northumbria, England

A Visit to Crawford Lake

I recently visited Crawford Lake, located NW of Toronto, near the City of Milton. Crawford Lake is a conservation area that is managed by Conservation Halton, which is a regional land use administrative authority.

Although Crawford Lake Park is named after a farming family that settled by the lake, the park is known for the reconstructed Indigenous longhouses located on the site. The original inhabitants of this site were Nations of the Iroqoian linguistic group, who occupied a village on the site from around the 13th to the 17th centuries.

Three of the longhouses have been reconstructed and are used as presentation spaces and to display artifacts found during archaeological investigations at the site.

The images presented focus on the wooden structure of the longhouse. They are also being posted in conjunction with this week’s theme of Black & White Sunday: Structure on Paula’s Lost in Translation blog.

The basic structure consists of tree trunks that are buried in the earth, and connected at the top with flexible poles. The cladding consists of bark from trees. I am unsure of the materials used to construct the roof membrane.

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turtle house entrance
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turtle house elevation
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lattice structure
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silhouette

Cee’s Black and White Photo Challenge: Wheels

I selected a couple of images of old wheels to post in response to Cee’s weekly Black and White Photo Challenge for this week. These wheels belong to old carts that were the primary means of transporting commodities in their day. Presently, they are on display for public viewing at museums or antique shops, as a reminder of the past.

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The Cumnock Star wagon was built in the 1870’s and operated on a round trip route between Cumnock and Molong, in central New South Wales, Australia. This wagon was drawn by a team of 9 clydesdales, carrying wheat in one direction, and beer, spirits and supplies in the opposite direction. The Aussies have always needed to be well supplied!

The old cart and wheelbarrows are on display at the Weald and Downland Living Museum, located in southern England, and the subject of one of my previous blog posts.

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The Cumnock Star
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cart and wheelbarrow wheels