Duchesse correctly identified the murals featured in my earlier post as being work by the French street artist Kashink, although she guessed, based on the cropped version I posted earlier, that the one above might be found in Paris, rather than on a wall in Bordeaux. Duchesse has the good fortune to live with Kashink's work in Montreal, particularly the recent Fifty Cakes of Gay, part of a series Kashink's been painting in cities around the world in support of gay marriage and equal writes.
I knew none of this when I turned a corner in Bordeaux last September, but as soon as I saw the four-eyed, green-faced being, I recognised it. I was sure that I'd seen its like very near our new home (which we'd then lived in only two weeks), probably as part of the Vancouver Mural Festival that's centred in Mount Pleasant here. But Googling didn't help, and I resigned myself to waiting for confirmation until I returned home. (Yes, I've since realised that I could simply have used "Kashink" as a search term alongside "Vancouver" -- with considerably more success than "four-eyed creature Vancouver street art." You live, you learn. . . )
Oddly, although the mural below is only three blocks from our new Vancouver home, and is in a very prominent position at a fairly busy intersection, Pater didn't respond to the Bordeaux mural with any recognition at all -- and he'd gone on a guided walking tour of the Festival Murals in the two weeks between my departure and his. To be fair, the tour didn't include this mural, and Pater was working most of those two weeks, way across the country for one of them. But still. . . .
Except that we often wear different eyes when we're at home from the ones we wear when we're travelling -- not that we, like Kashink's people, have four eyes, but it's surprising what we see and don't see depending on our level of familiarity.
Of course, what we see, or perhaps more accurately, what we observe, what we notice, is determined also by our interests as well as by the governing mental distractions of the day. It's not uncommon that after an outing together, Pater or I will comment to the other about something we've noticed, only to find that the other didn't register that "something" visually at all, although it must at least have appeared in the line of vision.
But that's not so much what I was trying to think about here. In fact, I've just spent close to an hour adding words and erasing them, floundering in an attempt to pin down what it is I want to say. And I think it's something about how to achieve a balance between freshness and familiarity, about how to keep seeing things, keep making discoveries, along our quotidian domestic pathways, while at the same time enjoying the comfort of being able take the sights of home for granted.
What I'm trying to articulate -- and I've just erased two more sentences that didn't end up moving me any closer -- is somewhere dangerously close to the banal or the sentimental, perhaps it's simply obvious. There was a moment, though, perhaps a week or two before we left Bordeaux, when I started to pull my phone out to record yet another mascaron, a stone face perfectly illuminated by a shaft of morning or evening or afternoon sunlight, and I stopped myself. Not that the architectural details had yet become merely background for me. But in that moment, somehow, I registered that these features were always there, every time I went for a walk. I'd photographed them many times over the eight weeks of this past visit as I had in visits over the last several years.
Let me close here, soon, because I've been so frustrated trying to write this post that I think I might have just had a flash of insight better developed in a future attempt. The insight arrived after I vented to my husband about how ludicrous it was that I would ever think myself qualified to write about travel, given how limited, really, has been my experience. A friend of mine is recently back from India, a friend's daughter just finished a stint volunteer-doctoring in an African village, another friend departs for Antartica in a few weeks. And here I am, trying to make something of work by the same artist appearing both here in Vancouver and in a beloved city in France?
Yes, I guess I am, and obviously I'm ready to put myself down for that (I have such a talent for self-deprecation, you have no idea! ;-), but it's what I have, and if this blog is worth anything at all, that worth comes from writing from and for myself. Slow Travel, relatively Small Travel, interests me because it raises questions -- and answers some as well -- about Home. And that's all I'll say, for now. To be continued....