Sunday, 4 September 2016

Joining the locals

Joining the locals  04.09.16

So my nice little pub i had chosen for this evening is closed and im sitting in a smoke inferno with loud rock blaring and people who have clearly been sitting in here for some time. The time? Its 8.15 on a saturday night. How could i not come out.

I am falling for this little town very easily, it is small enough not to get too lost but big enough that dsepite the half dozen circuits ive done today following tourist trails, im still stumbling upon little streets that i havent seen before. Its got enough rough edges to feel comfortable but enough history to feel interesting. And its big enough for nobody to notice me, to be almost invisible. 

I absolutely love walking the waters edge, so close to the ocean and strangely reminiscent of the fascine in Carnarvon, Western Australia although i cannot begin to say why other than the wind and the wooden jettys stretching out into the water and the rustle of the leaves in the wind and the seats and the laziness and the possibility of just sitting and sitting. I watch the ferry come in on my way into town and know how much i love places where water brings life and movement.

Looking out at the islands i question my decision not to ferry hop, thinking i have done quite enough of sandy wastelands, but i see they are quite different, there are visible contours that i have not been expecting and trees!

I missed the tourist office this afternoon as i half expected i might. On leaving my room, i bumped into my host who spontaneously offered me an electric hotplate! She said she had noticed my windows and doors being wide open, was generally anxious about cooking smells but thought i might be ok.
How could i say yes please but not now im in a hurry, instead, i followed her round to a garage and was given a saucepan, a frying pan and an electric hotplate. Perfect. 

Scurrying into town i found, as suspected, the tourist office closed at one pm but notice posters advertising an arts festival, this very weekend! At last i have arrived at festival time but have missed finding critical information. I try asking locals. I cant find anyone who knows about the festival or even anyone local. On my fifth attempt i speak with a young woman who doesnt know anything about the festival but directs me to the book shop which, she says, works in cooperation with the tourist office. 

The book shop give me the brochure and programme but seem reluctant to tell me about the workshops other than point to the map showing the locations. I thank them, they are busy and i sit outside studying the programme. I can understand the content of most workshops: mono-printing, photography, watercolours, acrylics, sculpture, theres a talk and some cafes connected. Workshops are occurring today and repeated tomorrow but exhibitions i cannot fathom.

I look at the map and head for the museum, one of the participating places listed. Hmm, two women politely try to help but are not really interested, they tell me i can buy a wrist band for eleven pounds that will let me in to any workshop or exhibition for free, say i must go to one of the participating venues. i tell them thats precisely why im here and show them they are marked on the map. Well, they say,  the wristband will give you free entry but we are the art museum, not participating, you must go to one of the participating venues. 

Ah right, the art museum doesnt know its listed as a venue for the arts festival. I had previously figured a cafe as being a central point but had not found it marked on the map. They search the map, agree that its not marked but direct me to a school building complex.

I walk in to a photography exhibition to stony faces, then in to the watercolour/acrylic class, im unsure which, as i felt so uncomfortable that i didnt look too closely at the work, was more intent on searching for a friendly face. I found one. She helpfully stopped her painting and pointed me towards the cafe across a courtyard and through some doors.

I arrive to find a very unhelpful man who, despite speaking good english, tells me i may not attend any of the workshops except for monoprinting but will not explain why, just says its not possible, no not full but not possible. after a bit of encouragement he agrees i can buy a wristband from him. I ask what i get for my wristband if i cant do the workshops. Yes, he says. Thats all. You can buy but you cannot do classes. I dont buy. Its like trying to draw blood from a stone. minimum responses all the time. I had hoped for more on leaving Jutland but not so it seems.

i go outside and study my programme further and understand better which are workshops, which exhibitions, which cafes and ascertain that the workshop that i am allowed to join, mono printing is also on today. Im not really very interested but think it cant hurt to have a look and i might just be inspired to join...

So I dare to return.... with two more questions please. Yes the monoprinting is happening today and yes, i may go and look. The other answer is less straightforward.  I think its a community sculpture, something to do with left over rolls of wallpaper from a now closed factory but i dont understand whether its papier mache or paper sculpture or free sculpting with big rolls of wallpaper or quite what it is.

I decide enough is enough, that the complexity of finding information is just too hard, nobody seems keen to explain to me and i am embarrssed for the umpteenth time not to speak danish. i am disappointed that although i have left Jutland and thought i might now be in a more universally welcoming community, it appears not to be so. 

A female teacher almost sneered yesterday when i explained that the reason i dont choose to go to southern Spain, which she thought might be my first choice, is because i like to go places unspoiled by mass tourism. So thats why youve come to Denmark, makes sense, she snorted and i didnt know how to interpret this other than to say, yes. And i think she was genuinely surprised by my presence, not being rude, brits just dont come here, i learned that a month ago. She coped less well when i suggested i might be struggling with the idea of five days in Copenhagen, i think that was almost the greatest insult one could give to a Dane. She laughed and suggested Malmo in Sweden.

i recall an overheard conversation today where a guy was clearly trying to chat up a woman with a young child. How is it, he said that you live here but dont speak danish? Im an au pair, she said, just here for a year. 

I abandon my art and just wander, looking for the hairdressers i saw briefly yesterday, that i think advertised, 'drop in clip'. It was one of those, yeah ill know where to find this place again that inevitably i never can. In my pursuit, i stumble upon an art 'sculpture' which must be the final one i gave up asking about, having decided google translate would be emotionally safer once home. It is not a sculpture but a triad of boards and eight foot high graffiti being painted by children or adults. Sculpture is clearly a word that doesnt translate literally.

Looking around Torvet, the town centre, i hear two older men and an older woman engaged in conversation in english. They discuss why the children might be using blue green and red but not yellow. I cant resist pointing out that its because the yellow pot is not close wheras the other three sit immediately in reach. I move the yellow pot from its 'parking' place so its now easily accessible and i am in with the conversation.

The woman is the most helpful person i have yet met. The guys are german artists and she a committee member, she explains how courses were signed up for some time ago, thats its not in fact a festival as such but a closed shop. Thank you.

She also explains that the town is a 'nothing' little town, nothing special she says, that this festival happens every year but most of the town are not really interested in art and do not support the venture. Indeed are often actively against it. I thank her for her information, tell her she has been the most warm and helpful person i have met and dare to ask her about the rolls of wall paper. She shows me the spot on a map where i will find it, at a roundabout, it is a three day installation. I say maybe ill visit tomorrow then. But tomorrow it will be raining she says and i laugh and say then that will change the experience and imagine the wall paper dragging and slipping from its designated form. 

Taking note of the predicted rain i go to see what is developing. I find the roundabout, with two council workers in high vis doing some repairs to some poles. I ride around and find no hint of anything else, look more closely and wonder if they are actually the sculpture. I venture over and an amply rewarded. 

It is not the wall paper itself being used but big cast iron rollers that once printed it, each carrying elephants, lines, patterns, flowers. Several rollers have been placed vertically on top of each other, like totem poles and are beautiful in themselves. The woman explains they have been sitting rusting somewhere and i say they need to stay on this roundabout, are beautiful. She says there is no money they will go back to rot, the town museum are not interested. I want to become part of a protest movement to get more of the rollers installed on this roundabout. The factory itself has long since been demolished and it is unclear quite where these have been stored or rescued from.

Isnt the no smoking rule a European policy? I didnt think it was UK specific? Its horrible.

Its so funny because i thought from the noise outside, that this bar would be full of youngsters but couldnt have been more wrong. I nearly didnt come in but in fact my age is not out of kilter and i think there is now a single woman sitting at the bar but my social skills are absolutely useless in this situation. Had she been sitting there when i came in i could have stood near her and tried to engage in conversation but it was full of men and diffiuclt to find a space to order a beer. 

Beer is cheap here. Cheaper than ive found elsewhere anyway. £4.50 for a small pint, i say small pint as it is 500ml but ill settle for that. I think this could just be an unfortunate discovery for my liver but right at the moment it's my ipad im worried about, hope caring for it will keep me sober.... just!

Yo yo yo i notice is both a faroese and danish expression, just as is hei hei