Archive for March, 2010


21 March 2010

The enduring wonder of Runjeva is the mountain of Luboten that broods over the valley, a watchful guardian.  Winter in Runjeva changed suddenly to spring.  The croci (ah come on, we all say crocuses) have peeked out, been buried in snow, survived and blossomed still, joined by narcissi and leafing tulips.  The wild daisy, violets, strawberry, hellebore, and more are out.  We wandered up the hill behind the house, the sun drying off the churned mud of the wood-trucking ponies.  The snow burning off the mountain.

Architecture in Berat

16 March 2010

The other year I found a great layman’s architecture book*.  It describes home design around 10 principles: Inhabiting the site; Creating rooms outside and in; Sheltering roof; Capturing light; Parts in Proportion; The flow through rooms; Private edges common core; Refuge and outlook; Places in between; Composing with materials.  Now whenever I see a building I like I explore it along these themes: The presence of the Berat hillside; living on the balcony as well as inside; the low-cast roof like a blanket; the light filtered through the squared windows with shade for the bright summers; an untidy elegance; [not able to visit to get the flow of the rooms, but I’ve seen plans of similar houses]; the public, advertised front, the formal talking room, the secret hidden parts; the solid almost brutally protected entrances and the ground floor giving safety to the upper floor from where you can watch the world; the arch places, the well; and the local stone, wood, tiles, the shades of browns and white.  Wonderful.  To see this house you have to travel 2 hours south from Tirane into central Albania.  If you make it there stay at the Mangalemi Hotel.  

*’Patterns of Home’, Jacobson, Silverstein & Winslow.

Socialist Realism

15 March 2010

  The National Gallery in Tirana – most sensibly – has not obscured some of the propogandist art of the Hoxha period.  This piece was the most shocking for me, as it plays with the dreams, imaginations and expectations of children.  My eyes were initially drawn to the chalked machine gun on the floor, indeed, that is the focus of attention for all… but then you notice the real gun slung over the shoulder of the very short skirted girl in white, prepared more for ballet than for killing… and you see the play bucket cast aside beside the tree, a toy discarded in favour of the real games.  Then I lament in Kosovo for what is taught, what is placed in the minds of the young….  in the same visit to Tirana we tried to collect university text books for Albana, the daughter of Ramiz, who has started her world literature course… but… the books on her list are out of print and even in the (behind) Albania, they are supplanted with something newer, so where is Kosovo in this?  I still remember digging out from internet retailers literary criticism titles from 1946 that were set-books for Lina and thinking ‘how? why?’, but Lina said, ‘If I don’t answer according to these texts, I will fail!’.  The best advice to Kosovo students is, learn English, suffer at the hands of your professers and graduate, then change the world.  Back to the art gallery… it is a must, different, shocking, with brilliance.