Monday, 25 July 2016

Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt and swimming: Val Kill

Franklin R partook in swimming therapy to help ameliorate the effects of his polio. He used to spend time at the Merriman Inn in Warm Springs in Georgia, where he swam in the natural spring water. In 1926 he bought the property and founded a therapy centre, which still exists. FDR died at Warm Springs. 

Meanwhile, at her property at Hyde Park, New York, Eleanor built a pool. It was a favourite family gathering place. There is home 16mm film footage recording the Roosevelts and friends and guests swimming there. One of the guests was Winston Churchill. 
In the filmed fictionalised account of the royal visit of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (Hyde Park on Hudson) KGVI (Samuel West) is depicted swimming there with FDR (Bill Murray).

A project is underway to restore the pool. When we visited it was covered by boards (see photos below)

Eleanor Roosevelt at the Val-Kill pool.

Val-Kill pool, Summer 1940. FDR, Missy Le Hand and Eleanor R. From
Eleanor on the lawn by the Val-Kill pool, Summer 1959. Photo by Keith M. Taylor. From

Eleanor's swimsuit. From

How the pool looked on Sep 15, 2013 when we visited.

David Hockney: A diver (1978). National Gallery of Australia

I love and adore the National Gallery of Australia (NGA) in Canberra. Its Aboriginal art is unsurpassed. But its modern international collection is also stunning. There are examples of the best of the best. One of my favourites is this one by David Hockney - A diver.

The NGA's website says this about this work:

"In the late 1970s Hockney was intrigued by the expressive qualities of paper pulp which prompted him to embrace colour and scale. Taking the swimming pool as his subject, he explored the ripples of reflection on the steps, the diving board, and the effect of light and shadow on the water at different times of day by painting with liquid paper pulp. The pinnacle of the series is A diver, which depicts the splash of water created by the body as it enters the pool."
It is made from twelve abutted sheets of handcrafted sheets of hand-coloured pressed paper pulp.

(To the left of this painting is another Hockney - A Bigger Grand Canyon. Nearby is Lucien Freud's After Cezanne and Andy Warhol's undisputed masterpiece, Blue Poles. There's works by William de Kooning, Francis bacon, one of the world's largest collections of Roy Lichtenstein's works, Andy Warhol, Mark Rothko, Henri Matisse, Claude Monet....and of course, great Australian, Pacific and Asian art.

Monday, 11 July 2016

Film: The Together Project

This film caught my eye in the program for the Scandinavian film festival, so I went along tonight with a couple of friends. We spent a really enjoyable 80+ minutes chuckling along. After seeing Rams, also from Iceland, earlier this year, I've come to appreciate that Icelandic humour is....well, different...I can't possibly describe it, but deadpan and a bit off-the-wall might be an apt word.

A French / Icelandic co-production, it was certainly a quirky romcom, based around a swimming pool, a congress of lifeguards, and swimming in an Icelandic hotpool.

Here's some reviews:

The Hollywood Reporter.
Screen Daily

An excerpt on You Tube:

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

The Pool: Australia's exhibition at the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale

Australia's exhibition at the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale is The Pool. It provides an insight into this aspect of Australia's cultural identity. Janet Holmes a Court, the Commissioner for the Australian exhibition writes: "A pool has been created within the exhibition space along with an immensely multi-sensory experience that transports visitors poolside..."

As I can't visit Venice this year, I've contented myself with buying the book. There are contributions from:

  • Tim Flannery - an influential environmentalist, discussing the history and continuing relevance of the Great Artesian Basin, including the hot pools at Moree, Lightning Ridge and Pilliga in NSW and other states;
  • Ian Thorpe, Olympic champion, talks about what is so appealing about the act of swimming, what he loves about pools and the feel of water;
  • Designers Anna Plunkett and Luke Sales explore their experiences of the pool growing up, and the pool in memories of childhood;
  • Christos Tsolkas, author of Barracuda (starting soon as a drama series on ABC TV). He sees the pool as a deeply symbolic artefact of Australian culture. He tells the story of the pool from his childhood into adulthood;
  • Anna Funder, award winning author, looks at the importance of public pools in the towns and cities of Australia;
  • Hetti Perkins tells the story of the Freedom Riders who challenged the exclusion of Aboriginal people from the public pool in Moree in 1965. It was a turning point for the struggle for Aboriginal rights in Australia; working towards a PhD on the role of the public pool in Australia. Here she talks about competitive swimming and its legacy;
  • Singer-songwriter Paul Kelly has got into deep water in many places on his tours and speaks of a place for family gatherings, celebrations and everyday meditations. 
It even includes my favourite Women's Weekly swimming pool cake recipe. And lots of great illustrations.

Friday, 11 March 2016

Darelle and Sally's Swimming Adventures Part 7: South Coogee and South Maroubra

On a fairly overcast, but hot and humid day, we set off to find the rock pool (Ivor Rowe) at South Coogee. It's a natural pool which was enlarged in the 1960s.

We arrived at high tide, and there was a high swell, so we didn't venture down - the steps looked really really slippery too - lots of algae on them.

So, we took off to search for the rock pools at South Maroubra, to discover that they are mainly revealed at low tide. We arrived at peak high tide (1.83m). Still, there were pools and headland to explore, and a nice cup of coffee back at the cafe at the Surf Club afterwards!

Fortunately we only saw the sign!

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Darelle and Sally's Swimming Adventures Part 6: Nielsen Park

Today's swimming adventure destination was Nielsen Park - another fabulous harbour beach in the eastern suburb of Vaucluse (between Parsley Bay, our second destination, and Redleaf Pool, with a view across to Clifton Gardens.

There is a gorgeous netted, sandy swimming beach, plenty of grass and vast shady picnic areas.

The kiosk/cafe has good cafe, the wait staff were friendly and helpful. There's a casual takeaway kiosk as well as an attractive inside dining room, and where we chose, birdseye verandah seating.

We watched a pair of dolphins frolicking in the harbour from our spot.

Toilets and change rooms are adequate. Parking is at a premium in nearby streets. But you can have a peek at how some of Sydney's wealthiest residents are accommodated on the walk to and from the car!