Beauty in Decay #1 – Power Station


It can be an eery experience to walk through a place where activity once thrived but now stands silent and still.  These are the forgotten places.  Those who visit document its story and record the mystery and glory of beauty in decay.

Abandoned Power Station - Coogee, Fremantle, Western Australia - Photo: Akrotiri

This old art deco building is an abandoned power station and is right on the beachfront in Western Australia.   It is now decaying in the sun and salt air and is full of peeling paint and rust.  Urban art and graffiti line its walls and it has become an art gallery for those who pour out their souls in private.

Art and Rust - Abandoned Power Station - Coogee, Fremantle, Western Australia. Photo: Akrotiri

The place throws up so many incongruous elements.  Beauty in decay, glorious neglect, art in dereliction, light in the darkness.  To be in its presence is to open your soul to the harmony of sharp contrasts which is struggles to unite.  It is overwhelming, exhausting, compelling, exhilarating.

Abandoned Power Station - Coogee, Fremantle, Western Australia. Photo: Akrotiri

Ocean View - Abandoned Power Station - Coogee, Fremantle, Western Australia. Photo: Akrotiri

 

Haikyo is a word meaning abandoned or ruined.  It also describes the challenge and of exploring and recording urban abandonments, urban exploration and urbex.

Can you find beauty in the everyday things of life?  Slow down and you’ll notice the beauty that is around us, even in that which is decay and decline.

Amazing Crop Circle Patterns


There are many theories about who or what makes the crop circles.  Theories include whirlwinds, earth energies, UFO’s and human hoaxers walking on planks.   Regardless of their origin I find them fascinating and beautiful.  Their geometry and patterns are exquisite, especially when you consider the intricacy of the mathematics and the enormous scale of the work (done in the dark!!).

2005 Waden Hill, Avebury, Wiltshire UK.  Copyright Steve Alexander.

2005 Waden Hill, Avebury, Wiltshire UK. Photo: Steve Alexander. Click photo for direct link to: http://www.temporarytemples.co.uk

Crop circles are geometric patterns that appear mysteriously in crop fields.  Research indicates the crop is not cut or broken, but is usually bent and laid flat in swirls.  Most patterns occur in cereal crops, usually wheat and barley, and appear to have been formed during the night.

2 Aug 2004 (UK).  copyright Steve Alexander

2 Aug 2004 (UK). Photo: Steve Alexander. Click photo for direct link to: http://www.temporarytemples.co.uk

Many crop formations are complex geometric structures and aren’t random patterns at all.  The crop circle below is a graphical representation of the number Pi.  You probably remember using Pi at school when calculating the circumference of a circle, it is an irrational number and is approximately 3.14159

Crop Circle of Pi - The Daily Mail UK.

Crop Circle of Pi - The Daily Mail UK (www.dailymail.co.uk)

Pi crop circle explained.

Pi crop circle explained (click photo for direct link to) http://www.thewalk.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/cropcircle3.jpg

There has been some interesting scientific work conducted into the geometry of the crop circle designs and shapes which suggest they are not meaningless or accidental, but actually depict complex ideas, numbers or shapes such as the Creation Numbers (3, 6, 9).   People have connected some of the crop circle symbols to subjects as diverse as star constellations, DNA, quantum physics, alchemy, and spirituality.   The crop circle below is a geometric pattern known as the Flower of Life pattern which is an important symbol in many cultures.

Crop Circle - Flower of Life pattern

Crop Circle - Flower of Life pattern. Click photo for direct link to: http://www.soulsofdistortion.nl

The Cube of Metatron crop circle (below) and the Tree of Life or Flower of Life crop circle pattern (above)  are derived from the sacred geometry of platonic solids which are patterns found throughout nature.

1 August 2007.  Sugar Hill, Aldbourne, Wiltshire UK. Copyright Steve Alexander.

1 August 2007. Sugar Hill, Aldbourne, Wiltshire UK. Photo: Steve Alexander. Click photo for direct link to: http://www.temporarytemples.co.uk

Platonic solids - Tree and Fruit of Life patterns

Wikipedia: Flower of Life

Some researchers are investigating Cymatics to investigate whether the crop circles are formed into naturally occuring geometric shapes due to vibration.  The picture below shows a water droplet containing a small colloidal particle.  The water is then vibrated and various geometric patterns occur which have been recognised in some crop circle formations.

Water particles make patterns under vibration.

Water particles make patterns under vibration. Click picture for direct link to http://www.sherdog.net/forums

Crop Circle - Wikipedia

Crop Circle - Wikipedia

Another interesting pattern

Another interesting pattern. Click photo to link direct to http://www.home.earthlink.net/

7 July 2008. Copyright Steve Alexander

7 July 2008. Photo: Steve Alexander. Click image to go direct to http://www.temporarytemples.co.uk/

Regardless of their origin or what is responsible for their formation in the dead of night, I’m sure you’ll agree these images and creations are wonderous and fascinating.  The search continues…

2005 Copyright Steve Alexander

2005 Photo: Steve Alexander. Click image to go direct to http://www.temporarytemples.co.uk/

Tidcome Down, Wiltshire UK. Copyright Steve Alexander

Tidcome Down, Wiltshire UK. Photo: Steve Alexander (click image to go direct to: http://www.temporarytemples.co.uk/

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Labyrinth – A Sacred Journey


When most people hear of a labyrinth they think of a maze but they are not the same thing.  A maze is a puzzle to be solved using logic to navigate the turns and blind alleys to find the right path.  A labyrinth has only one path.  It is unicursal.  The way in is also the way out.  There are various labyrinths that have evolved over time, with the most well known being the Cretan, Medieval, Classic and Chatres patterns.  

Lake Erie Arboretum, Pennsylvania. Photo: wikipedia

Labyrinths have been found in all cultures and continents since 2500BC.  Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Indians, Mayans, Europeans, Africans, Australians and Native Americans have all discovered the pattern of the labyrinth at some time and it has been adopted as a sacred symbol by many religions as a metaphor of a spiritual journey. 

Ancient Labyrinth at Galicia, Northern Spain. (Photo: wikipedia)

A labyrinth is an ancient and archetypal symbol related to wholeness.  It combines the imagery of the circle and the spiral into a meandering but purposeful path that we can walk.  It’s a physical metaphor for life’s journey, the journey each of us makes to our deepest self and back out again out into the world, usually with a renewed understanding.  When walking a maze, you make decisions at each turn.  A labyrinth offers only one choice.  Will I enter or not?

Hedge Labyrinth at Villa Pisani, Venice. Photo:wikipedia

 I’ve walked a labyrinth several times and each journey is different.   I’ve walked alone, slowly and quietly.  I’ve taken thoughts in with me and left them behind.  I’ve walked with others.  I’ve sat at the entry and decided not to walk.  I’ve walked in grieving and come out lighter.   I’ve walked in with expectation and come out empty handed.  I’ve stomped my way through anger sometimes.  I’ve let someone else set the pace.  I’ve sat down in the middle.  I’ve been bored.  

City of Troy, Yorkshire, UK. Photo: courtesy Simon Garbutt (wikipedia)

 I’ve paused before exiting deliberately trying to hold my new perspective as I return to my world.  I’ve shuffled past people along the way or had them overtake me.  I’ve kept a steady rhythm or varied my pace.  I experienced nothing but frustration.  I’ve felt lost even on a one way path.   I’ve experienced an intangible force that has united me with the greater scheme of things, anchored me to heaven and to earth.  Each time, it’s a new experience and teaches me something. 

Boston College Memorial Labyrinth. Boston, USA. Photo: wikipedia

 To me it’s a physical meditation, my eyes are open, I soon find a rhythm, I am moving yet feel more still as the journey goes on, it connects me to the sacred in a simple but mysterious way and reminds me the sacred cannot be confined to a particular place or building or culture or religion.  

Latin inscription on a pillar at the centre of a labyrinth. Cambridgeshire, UK. Photo: Michel Diujves, wikipedia

The decision to enter the labyrinth is a metaphor for our spiritual and sacred journey – and that decision is not always easy.  If you get the opportunity to walk a labyrinth, it will transform you in some way, if you let it.  You don’t need to know much more than this to begin, there is no right or wrong way to ‘do it’.  That is the wonder of the labyrinth, and again reflects our journey of life. 

Stone Labyrinth on the island on Bla Jungfrun, Sweden. Photo: wikipedia

I love the circular patterns of the labyrinth.  It’s a reminder that life twists and turns, life is not a straight path.  It doubles back on itself, takes us where we don’t expect to go, sends us back along the same way sometimes, offers a new perspective, and frustrates us with its long way around.  

Labyrinth at Aschaffenburg, Germany. Photo: wikipedia

But it also allows us to go at our own pace, to experience a new angle at every turn, to rest in the centre of ourselves and take an all around view.  It encourages us to move forward, keep going, turn, breathe, rest, retreat and return. Every journey is different.  It brings balance and calms the soul.  And that feels like life to me.  

Edinburgh, Scotland.

Edinburgh, Scotland (Photo: wikipedia)

If you’re interested in walking the path and seeing what you find, check out these  Australian labyrinths  or the   World-wide Labyrinth Locator  for somewhere near you.   

Labyrinth at Chartres Cathedral (Photo: wikipedia)

 A fantastic online Labyrinth is available too.  It is quite simple to use and recreates the  Virtual Walk of the Chartres pattern found on the floor of the Chartres Cathedral in France (see photo above).   When we’re busy, tired and don’t have time to slow down, these online paths are a real challenge.  Maybe that’s just what we need…   Let me know what you find or lose on your journey.

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Beautiful Home Libraries


leather-bound

A few years ago we spent several weekends visiting homes with the view to buy.  In between scheduled visits, we stopped in at a property that was way out of our league but we were killing time and thought we’d have a look.  Stella was a very professional agent and she patiently showed us around the entire place, despite us clearly not being true prospects.  She lead us through the six car garage, into the sauna and past the his and hers dressing rooms.  I knew this wasn’t going to be our new house, but it was quite a treat to walk through a fantastic mansion and dream a little.  All my sense and practicality evaporated when she ushered us into “The library”.   It’s something I’ve always wanted to create in my home.  A quiet retreat where I can curl up with a book, a lap dog, maybe a warm fire, some gentle music.  Ahhhhhhh.   We didn’t buy that house, but I can still remember the feeling of warmth it evoked and I still long to create my own space.  Here are some beautiful home libraries to inspire you (and me!).

Courtesy: The Rusty Typewriter

Courtesy: The Rusty Typewriter (www.therustytypewriter.com)

Courtesy: Lexis Interiors

Courtesy: Lexis Interiors (www.lexisint.com/proj01d.html)

Mark Twain's house library

Mark Twain's house library (www.architecture.about.com)

Here’s a neat little window seat to perch on, I love the lighting in this picture below.

Courtesy: Business Week

Courtesy: Business Week (http://images.businessweek.com)

Home Library: West Newton. Mass.USA

Home Library: West Newton. Mass.USA (http://images.businessweek.com/)

I’m sensing a lot of library designers have gone for the wood-floor-with-rug theme.  I like it!!
Courtesy: Manhattan Cabinetry

Courtesy: Manhattan Cabinetry (www.manhattancabinetry.com)

The Google office in Zurich (below)  has a library room exclusively for staff where they can meet and relax.
At work: Google Office, Zurich.

Photo by pineapplebun (Flickr) Staff library room: Google, Zurich.

I love the mantlepiece in the picture below.
Courtesy: Library Designs

Courtesy: Library Designs (www.librarydesigns.com/fireplacemantels.htm)

The two-tier, walnut-paneled library at Biltmore House (below) contains some 10,000 volumes and a fireplace surrounded by a carved, black-marble mantel. On the second floor of the library, there is a secret door that George Vanderbilt used to come down directly from his bedroom to locate or return a book.

Biltmore House, North Carolina USA.

Biltmore House, North Carolina USA. (www.honeymoons.about.com)

Courtesy: Neville Johnson

Photo: Neville Johnson (www.nevillejohnson.co.uk)

Grand Library (Neville Johnson)

Photo: Neville Johnsons - Grand Library (www.nevillejohnson.co.uk)

Courtesy: Neville Johnson

Photo: Neville Johnson (www.nevillejohnson.co.uk)

Jay Walker is the founder of the Priceline company and lives in Ridgefield, Connecticut USA. His personal library (picture below) occupies 3600 square feet (330 m2) and features books, atlases, artifacts and models of space exploration, cryptography and James Bond films.

Jay Walker - home library, Connecticut. USA.

Jay Walker - home library, Connecticut. USA. (wikipedia.org/wiki/Jay_Walker)

Ahhh, happy decorating – let me know how you go.

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An open door


I was reading a magazine last night and came across an article about a guy I knew ten years ago.  It was interesting to see what he’s been up to and where life has taken him.  It got me thinking about how some doors seem to open, while others close.  The door is a beautiful metaphor and has been adopted as a powerful symbol throughout human history.  The doorway can symbolise hope and opportunity, a new start and direction.  It’s a threshold, a passage from one place or state to another.  It’s an entrance, or exit where we anticipate what is on the other side.  It can represent the unknown, a choice or change.  As well as a warm welcome, doors often symbolise closure, leaving and ending.  Here are some beautiful images of doorways from around the world.  Try not to rush them, there’s some detail not to be missed.  Click on each photo to link to the original.  See what they say to you.  Enjoy.

Photo: Andrew P Brooks

Photo: Andrew P Brooks at flickr.com/photos92788661@N00/265494540/

Rome.  Photo: Victoria0805

Rome. Photo by Victoria0805 at flickr.com/photos/ztransmissions/725736472/

Photo: lensational

Photo: by lensational at flickr.com/photos/irene-lensational/3053004345/

Cambodia.  Photo: John Daiken

Cambodia. Photo by John Daiken at flickr.com/photos/59303791@N00/522910339/

el-jazzar mosque.  Photo:natashap

el-jazzar mosque. Photo:natashap at flickr.com/photos/natashap/2478202976/

Photo: TinaManthorpe

Photo: TinaManthorpe at flickr.com/photos/84265607@N00/1167791480/

Fountains Abbey, Nth Yorkshire.  Photo: John Daiken

Fountains Abbey, Nth Yorkshire. Photo: John Daiken at Flickr.com/photos/59303791@N00/1364544241/

Photo: Arthur Koek

Photo: Arthur Koek at flickr.com/photos/arthurkoek/

Photo: jefg99

Photo by: jefg99 at flickr.com/photos/21066820@N06/

Photo: giulifff

Photo by: giulifff at flickr.com/photos/giulifff/2333287594/

Photo: pyst

Photo by: pyst at flickr.com/photos/21603627@N00/

The Tao Te Ching – verse 47 (translation by Ursula K. Le Guin)

You don’t have to go out the door to know what goes on in the world.  You don’t have to look out the window to see the way of heaven.  The farther you go, the less you know.  So the wise soul doesn’t go, but knows; doesn’t look but sees; doesn’t do but gets it done.

Photo: nancz

Photo by: nancz at flickr.com/photos/nancycoyle/492157246/

Volcanic Glass – Obsidian


In the late 1980’s I had a geology lecturer named George whose humour was as dry as the rocks we were studying.  His lessons were always interesting and I clearly remember crates of rocks and minerals, assorted hammers (for all occasions) and lots and lots of dust.  It was during his class that I learned about igneous rocks and handled some incredible volcanic glass.

Obsidian is volcanic glass that is molten lava one minute and solid the next.

Lava eruption

Lava eruption (www.bhargavaz.net/rashi/volcano.html)

This is the Newberry Volcanic Monument in Oregon, USA.  Check out the solidified lava flow (obsidian glass) near the lakes.

Lakes and Lava Flow, Oregon USA. Photo:QTLuong

Lakes and Lava Flow, Oregon USA. Photo:QTLuong (www.terragalleria.com)

Pond at the edge of the lava flow.  Photo: QTLuong

Pond at the edge of the lava flow. Photo: QTLuong (www.terragalleria.com)

The lava cools so quickly it doesn’t form crystals like other igneous rocks (think Granite).  Instead, it cools rapidly and forms globules of glass that look deceptively like a sweet jelly.  It is often black, but depending on the minerals near the lava flow it can be coloured, or have ‘bands’ running through it.

Obsidian Flow (black).  Photo: janined

Obsidian Flow (black). Photo: janined (www.flickr.com/people/janined/)

Mahogany Obsidian.  Photo:MineralData

Mahogany Obsidian. Photo:MineralData http://www.mindat.org/min-27030.html

"Snowflake" Obsidian.  Photo

"Snowflake" Obsidian. Photo: GreatCabochons.com/cabs57.shtml

When obsidian breaks, it doesn’t snap or cleave in clean lines like other rocks or minerals.  It breaks in a circular, concave or convex curves.  This is known as “conchoidal fracture” and gets its name from the latin word for seashell, because of the spiral like pattern.

Conchoidal Fracture. Photo:Geology.com

Conchoidal Fracture. Photo:Geology.com http://www.geology.com/rocks/igneous-rocks.shtml

Conchoidal Fracture

Conchoidal Fracture http://www.geology.about.com/ Click picture to link

It’s easy to imagine ancient civilisations using obsidian as tools and cutting blades.  It is durable, micro thin and extremely sharp.  The Egyptians used obsidian scalpels during their surgery and embalming rituals.

Obsidian Flint Chips.  Photo: Andrew Alden

Obsidian Flint Chips. Photo: Andrew Alden (click picture to link)

Sharp edges that are "flint knapped".

Sharp edges that are "flint knapped". http://www.obsidianlab.com/terminology.html

It’s interesting to note that for surgical procedures today that require fine incisions (think cardiac surgery), our surgeons are returning to precision obsidian scalpels rather than the much ‘thicker’ steel blades.  Amazing huh?

Banded Obsidian.  Razor sharp.

Banded Obsidian. Razor sharp. http://www.gc.maricopa.edu/ (Click picture to link)