Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Berlin for Doktormuttertag!

Hey y'all!  So I'm still in the process of getting caught up on here, and today I'd like to tell you all about my latest trip to Berlin.  On Sunday, May 8 (Mother's Day) I went to Berlin and stayed with Corine until Thursday, May 12 to visit her and go to a couple appointments with conservators.

The German word for doctoral adviser/mentor/supervisor is Doktormutter, meaning "doctor mother," (or Doktorvater if you have a "doctor father").  So Corine is my Doktormutter.  I prefer this term over any of the English equivalents because it does a better job conveying exactly how much Corine does for me.  Since I arrived in Berlin on Muttertag (Mother's Day), I thought it was quite fitting to take my Doktormutter flowers!  I always enjoy our time together, and it was great to have her along for these appointments in Berlin!

I also sent flowers to my Mother Bird, Pammie Pooker!  I ordered them online and had them delivered to her work.  I'm so sneaky!! Was sad I couldn't be in Lubbock to celebrate Mother's Day with Pam, but we were able to Skype and the flowers were a fun surprise!

Pam's 1-800-FLOWERS Campanula Rose!
The American Academy is beautiful in spring!  The flowers were blooming, the lake is lovely, and we had perfect weather!

The Wannsee from the American Academy
Gary the American Academy Cat

On Monday we met with Christina Dill-Friedrich, a conservator in Spandau for the Märkisches Museum.  I reached out to her after my last trip to Berlin when Corine and I saw an exhibit in the Märkisches about a fifteenth-century chasuble (a type of clerical vestment) they had restored and analyzed.  They had only restored the front of the chasuble, and that is what was on display.  But the back side is still in the conservation workshop, so I was able to see it up close and take photographs!  We spent a few hours there talking with the conservator while I took my photos.

Later that evening we took a ferry across the Wannsee back to the Academy!  I realized I had never actually been on a ferry, and it was exciting to take this one and see how it is used as normal, practical transportation around there!  Of course, the fact it was a perfect day sure helped...

View of the American Academy from across the Wannsee 
Swan at the ferry dock!
Doktormutter Corine taking in the lilacs on our walk home from the dock.  She's the best.

There were a couple special events at the Academy while I was there, so I was able to tag along.  One of the other fellows presented about the research he had worked on during his time in Berlin, and that was accompanied by a very nice dinner, then there was a special farewell lunch because the fellows' time at the Academy was drawing to a close.

We also managed to hit a couple other museums during the week.  I had been to the Berlin Kunstgewerbemuseum (applied arts museum) and Gemaeldegalerie (painting gallery) when Jeremy was here, but Corine and I made a return visit.  Then we headed out to the Jagdschloss (hunting palace) by the Grunewaldsee (lake) to check out their collection of paintings by Lucas Cranach (the Elder and the Younger).  Corine and I were both surprised and impressed at their collection!  It is sort of an unassuming building tucked away in the forest by a lake, but it houses a super collection of very well-known paintings!  We barely made it in before they closed, and I was so into the paintings, that I managed to forget to take photos.  So you'll have to use your imagination a little bit...

Photo of the Jagdschloss from across Grunewaldsee (from TripAdvisor)
Lucas Cranach the Elder, Lucretia, 1535 (from Jagdschloss' website)
Our last appointment was on Thursday May 12 at the Brandenburg (an der Havel) Cathedral's conservation workshop.  They have a super exhibition (link here) up right now with loads of textiles, and they do a great job explaining the different techniques and materials (including the different ways to make golden threads, velvet, various couching/stitching techniques).  One room had all kinds of images and examples of the types of restoration work that takes place in their workshop.  There was even a station set up that had a microscope pointed at a textile so visitors could really see the details of what they were talking about.  Totally cool!  The exhibition is called "Märkisches Drahtzieher: Textilgeschichte trifft Landesgeschichte," meaning "Märkisches Masterminds: Textile History Meets Regional History."  The word Drahtzieher can also mean a puppet-master, and they liked that play on words because most of the textiles in the exhibition are by the same patron and were meant to publicly display his wealth and authority-- as in, "see whose pulling the strings."

Brandenburg Cathedral
After looking through the exhibition, we went around the corner to meet with the conservators, Geertje Gerhold and Eva Düllo, in their workshop.  It was so cool to see their current projects!  Such fine, detailed, patient work!  We talked with two women there about the exhibition, the making of metal threads, the use of such valuable materials in textiles, all of the types and styles of textiles we have seen so far, and even compared photos from our various research enterprises.  They were so friendly, encouraging, enthusiastic, and open!  We had tea and cookies, and talked research, and it was a perfect afternoon!

In the evening, I went back to Wolfenbüttel because I was leaving the next morning to go back to Lüneburg and Kloster Lüne!  Stay tuned for a write-up about that adventure soon!!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Wernigerode with Jonathan & Today's Return Trip!

On Friday, April 22 Jonathan and I decided to adventure to Wernigerode, a town at the base of the Harz mountains here in northern Germany.  Jonathan is one of the other fellows here, and he was getting ready to head back to the States around that time so we wanted to take full advantage of his last days here!

Side note: Jonathan was one of my first friends here in Wolfenbüttel.  We shared an office, were the only two fellows who stayed in Wolfenbüttel over Christmas, I could hear him walking around in his apartment directly above mine, and he actually finished and submitted his doctoral dissertation right in front of my very eyes (and has since successfully defended it).  So it was super sad to see him go, but we all have to trust our paths will cross again some day.

So we headed to Wernigerode to 1) check out an embroidery I recently discovered is still in a small church there, 2) hike up to the castle on the mountain, and 3) eat Harzer käse fondu (Harz cheese fondu).  Two out of three ain't bad.

Wernigerode Rathaus (City Hall)
The Brockenbahn is a stem-engine train that rides up the Harz mountains!
We went by Sylvestrikirche (St. Sylvester's Church) to look at the embroidery.  I had called the day before to make sure they would be open-- sometimes these smaller churches are "flexible" with their hours.  They assured me they would be there.  But they weren't.  The doors were locked and no one was home.  Luckily, Wernigerode isn't far so I knew I'd be able to come back another time.  (See the latter part of this post.)

Next on the agenda was to hike up to the Schloss.  The Schloss in Wernigerode sits atop a peak of the Harz mountains and looms over the entire town.  It is visible from almost anywhere in Wernigerode, so we didn't have a hard time finding it!  It is a long, steep climb to the top!  We were already sucking wind and feeling our legs burning when a chipper German coming down the mountain basically said, "Still a long way to climb!"  Thanks.  After a couple break to "look at the scenery," we finally made it to the top!  Beautiful views of the entire town!!!

The Climb

Jonathan contemplating life and the scenery of Wernigerode...

You can also go inside the Schloss, which is mostly preserved in its "original" state from the 1800's.  We wandered from room to room, and marveled at the fact that anyone actually lived like that.

An armoured eagle... You know...  The usual.
Damask wall-paper and parquet ceilings
Just a subtle coat of arms in the dining hall... held by a large buck...
After exploring the Schloss and its surroundings, we went back down to the town for our reward: FONDU!  Harzer käse just means cheese from the Harz mountains region, so it is something of a local specialty.  They brought it out with little bread cubes, and we enjoyed every last crumb!  Was totally good!

We walked around town a bit more after eating, saw another cool church that happened to be open (though they were trying to close and kicked us out), and had some coffee and kuchen (duh) before heading back to the train station, and then rumbling back to Wolfenbüttel.  The next week we had to say goodbye to Jonathan as he returned home to Chicago to defend his dissertation and get settled back into life in the US.  We miss you, Jonathan!! "WE DID IT!"


So then today I returned to Wernigerode.  Last week, I made some phone calls and sent some emails and made an appointment to see and photograph the embroidery in Sylvestrikirche.  I arrived in Wernigerode today around 11:00am and set about taking my photos.  The embroidery is a "white work" silk embroidery on linen, and depicts two scenes from the life of Mary Magdalene.  First, she is shown washing/annointing Christ's feet, and then again in a Noli Me Tangere (when Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene after the Resurrection) scene.  It was made, perhaps in Kloster Heiningen, around 1250.  The "white work" embroideries are always fun for me because they show just how much patterning, texture, and variety one can still achieve in embroidery even within a monochromatic pallet!

Foot Washing
Noli me Tangere
Flying Nun Headdress?
Stigmata on Christ's Hand, Detail of Noli me Tangere
Detail of patterning
Hair in Klosterstich

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Meeting in Halberstadt

The day after I went to Hildesheim, I returned to Halberstadt on Tuesday April 19 to meet with a couple people at the museum.  Recall my previous visit to Halberstadt (link).  I had an appointment to meet with one of the directors of the Cathedral Museum, as well as a woman who is writing a catalog about the textiles in the Halberstadt collection.

I arrived and we exchanged pleasantries in German, which is perfectly within my wheel-house by now.  As they led me into the office, I explained (in German) that my German is not actually that great.  They both insisted (again, in German) that my German was certainly better than their English-- which I seriously doubt, but they were insistent.  So we agreed we would speak slowly and simply in German for the rest of the meeting.  (!!!!!!)  I was really impressed by how much I understood while they spoke and at my ability to find the right vocabulary I needed to express myself.  Of course there were times I had to say a word or phrase in English because I couldn't find the words or grammar in German.  But, for the most part, our entire meeting was auf Deutsch!!  I was amazed!

We looked at some of the photos I had taken during my previous visit to Halberstadt, discussed the materials and techniques used in their production, tossed around ideas about where and by whom the embroideries were made, and talked about my dissertation interests and all of my travels.  They were very open, enthusiastic, and supportive.  I am always so encouraged when professionals in my field and areas of interest are so helpful and excited about my work!

Here are my favorite photos from Halberstadt which I posted previously-- These are the ones I printed and took to the meeting:

After our meeting, I took some more photographs of the cathedral and the Romanesque church across the street.  Just another beautiful day doing what I love!!!