Friday, 13 January 2012

Lakeside Wonder

DH Lawrence Pavilion
Being a man of leisure brings huge compensations. I'm free to do what I like, when I like. I don't even have to plan very much. I get up in the morning, and wonder what I will do today. Just going with the flow is quite liberating after a life time of deadlines and clock-watching.

I began the day having coffee in West Bridgford with friends, and as we were leaving, a new exhibition was mentioned about midwifery which was being held at the DH Lawrence Pavilion in Highfields Park by the University of Nottingham. So I would head there as it was a new exhibition area for me, and definitely a subject matter that I hadn't considered before.

University of Nottingham with Highfields Park in
the foreground
Highfields Park and the University Park are often confused as they are next to each other. The University Park is where the University it situated and it overlooks Highfields Park.

The latter park has nothing to do with the University, and was bought by Sir Jesse Boot (founder of Boots the Chemist) in 1920, and later donated to the City of Nottingham who have responsibility for its upkeep. He stipulated that the area must be free for ever for the residents of Nottingham to roam in.

The City has been very fortunate over the years to have two outstanding benefactors in Sir Jesse Boot and Sir Harry Djanogly, who have contributed millions of pounds towards leisure, education, employment and the arts.

Mothers and Midwives
The DH Lawrence Pavilion pictured above, is the last piece I believe, in the creation of the Lakeside Arts Centre, situation around Highfields and University Parks. I found my exhibition in the Weston Gallery at the Pavilion, and it was called, "Mothers and Midwives".

Though a small gallery, I must say that it was a very interesting history of maternity in the East Midlands, with many fascinating documents on display from the University's archives. It was well put together, with two areas being of particular interest to me. One concerned the reasons why midwifery became a medical rather than a domestic event.

There is a talk next month given by the curator of the exhibition and called "Home to Hospital" - I may not have the courage to attend. The other interest was on the subject of male midwives. I had unthinkingly assumed that this was a fairly modern thing, but apparently it certainly goes back to the 17th Century. On returning home I read a number of Internet articles giving the views of would-be Mothers on this, and though the majority were in favour, others were quite strongly opposed to it. A good exhibition though.

Chinese Photographs
On leaving the Weston Gallery, I noticed that in the next gallery, The Wallner Gallery, there was a Chinese photographic display as part of celebrating the Chinese New Year.

2012 is the Year of the Dragon, which for some strange reason pleased me, and the University, along with various City and Borough Councils are celebrating this fact.

The photographic exhibition is described like this. "This stunning series of photographs are taken from a vast collection of images by the two documentary photographers Yuan-Hsiung Wang and Xue Qian. Both are concerned to capture the rapidly changing nature of the environment and the way of life and culture of some of the 56 different ethnic groups who live in China".

The photographs are a mixture of people and landscapes, and they are breathtaking. There is one shot of a brilliant red countryside, which is the result of the natural red soil turning even more red following rain. It is awesome, and I wanted it. This exhibition was an unexpected delight.

Trent Building, University of Nottingham, taken from
across the lake
Coming out of the DH Lawrence Pavilion, I decided that as it was beautiful and sunny to go and sit by the lake. The information board said that the walk around the lake was a distance of about 1.25 miles, so I decided that as this was a day for new adventures that I would make the walk.

By the end my feet were telling me that this was way longer than 1.25 miles, but over the last couple of years I've come to mistrust my appendages, so I believed the City Council. I think that Highfields Park has now replaced the Nottingham Arboretum as quite my favourite park in the City. The lake has a few islands, bridges and masses of wild life. The path around the lake is simply wonderful; in parts you could almost believe that you are in lonely woodland, which must be exacerbated when leaves are on the trees.

Up to 2001 there was a pleasure boat that took parties of people around the lake, and I believe that the Council are seeking funds to renovate the "Maid Marian", and to start the trips again. I do hope that they're successful. I know that I'm fairly easily pleased, but today has been another great day in this wonderful City. I've exercised, enjoyed the beauty of nature, and been challenged by art. Going with the flow was a good choice.

Here's a few more of my photographs around the lake in Highfields Park.

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