Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Waging A Global War

A reminder to members of City Daily Photo: the theme for August 1st is Music.

I went into the permanent galleries at the War Museum. They start out with conflict between First Nations peoples and start moving forward in time, placing Canadian military conflict in context with events around the world. This time I started photographing with the Second World War.

The section opens up with an examination of the world's unfolding status during the 1930s. This includes a Mercedes Benz limo, one of several used by Hitler. It was captured by Americans in 1945 and came into Canadian hands some years later.

This is a scale model of U-190, a German sub that surrendered to the Canadian navy at war's end.

One of the techniques the Japanese used against the Allies was the launching of balloon bombs over the Pacific, thousands of them sent with the winds towards North America to spread panic and start forest fires. Three hundred of those made the full crossing, with eighty of them in Canada.

This is a depth charge, used by Allied surface ships to combat submarines. They would sink to pre-set depths and detonate, with the objective of destroying subs by the shock waves.

A scale model is here. H.M.C.S. Swansea was a Canadian frigate used in the hunt for German u-boats.

A section about the home front features a series of posters of the time.

The section moves forward, including a fighter plane suspended above the gallery in an area dealing with the air war in Europe.

The Normandy Campaign is a large part of this section, and here one will find a doorway stepping out onto the terrace overlooking the Lebreton Gallery, where military equipment from multiple countries are exhibited. That is actually the final area of a tour one makes, and we'll be down there before I'm done.

Here the Normandy Campaign is examined, from D-Day to the Falaise Gap, before moving onto the final phases of the war.

The section ends with the conclusion of the war. Photographs of war's end and its aftermath dominate the walls, and items here include a captured Nazi flag and a roof tile from a building at Hiroshima.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Gauntlets And Bullets

Picking up where I left off yesterday, I have more from the Armour exhibit at the Canadian War Museum. This is the hockey gear for Shannon Szabados, a three time Olympic gold medallist for Canada. Contemporary goalie padding includes Kevlar, foam, titanium, plastic, and carbon in its design.

Here we have more helmets from various sports.

Thematically, the exhibit moved into combat armour, with examples of armour displayed from the Middle Ages courtesy of the Museo Stibbert.

This was one of those items you could try out, so it would be a contemporary reproduction as opposed to a classic artifact. You put on the gauntlet (right handed of course, no consideration for us southpaws) and pulled the sword from its hilt. I was able to do so, but it's rather awkward to handle.

More contemporary body armour in combat was also featured. This included German plate armour of the First World War, on the right, and Second World War era flak armour used by the American air force.

This is a current standard Canadian utility uniform. It includes a fragmentation vest, helmet, and other features meant to blend in and to protect the soldier wearing it.

Another aspect of current day technologies was displayed here- bulletproof vests for police officers.

There were some other hands-on items: replica light weight armour to try on, as well as a familiar shield for comics fans for photo ops.

There were two displays from movies that certainly qualify as armour. This, for instance, is body armour from the film Mad Max: Fury Road, for a character referred to as the Bullet Farmer, incorporating bullet shells into his garb as a form of armour in the hellish dystopia of the film. A photograph of the actor Richard Carter in character accompanies the display.

This, on the other hand, is the Mark XLII armour for Iron Man, life sized and positioned for photo ops. Apparently Tony Stark doesn't like it when you tell him Doctor Strange has a better beard.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

The Arms Of The Ages

My first stop on Canada Day was at the Canadian War Museum, out on Lebreton Flats just west of the downtown core. It presents Canadian military history in a chronological order against the backdrop of world history in its permanent exhibits, and regularly has special temporary exhibits. The building, opened at this location in 2005 after outgrowing its previous spot, has the look of a bunker.

A new temporary exhibit is being held inside this summer. Armour examines the concept in a multitude of ways, and a substantial amount of the exhibit items comes from the collection of Frederick Stibbert. A 19th century British-Italian citizen, Stibbert spent his life collecting works of art, antiques, armour, and weaponry dating to the Middle Ages, assembled today in the Museo Stibbert in Florence, Italy. The classic artifacts in here largely came from that collection, with some exceptions, while the collection was fleshed out in other ways, particularly in terms of the more recent past, and there are Canadian elements of it here that you'll see that likely won't be part of the exhibit as it goes to other spots. This exhibit will be stopping in two other locations after it's done here by the beginning of September. The Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, California will be hosting it from late September into January, and the Ringling Museum in Sarasota, Florida, will host it from early February into the latter part of April of next year. If either of those are within range for you, I recommend taking it in.

These two paintings, side by side, are the first thing the visitor sees.  An unknown French artist painted Equestrian Portrait, Likely Of Louis Of Bourbon, Duke Of Enghein in the late 1600s, showing him in full armour on his horse. An unknown Italian artist painted Portrait Of Giovanni dalle Bande Nere in the late 1500s. The subject is thought to be an elite cavalryman in service to nobility. The exhibit is organized thematically: armour as status, for sport, for combat, and for current day entertainment.

A rather unusual installation, this is a reconstruction of a still life Stibbert did around 1860. Natura Morta reflects his ideal that while humans are mortal, glory lasts forever. The reconstruction uses the same sort of material, though lists plastic as one of them, so it's safe to say that our Yorick isn't an original skull. 

Flash photography wasn't allowed in here, and the room was kept dim, so it wasn't optimal conditions, but this item is from another collector. It is an Edo period Samurai armour from Japan, dating to the period 1603-1868.

This is a Tlingit helmet, created by a current day artist, Tommy Joseph, from Alaska, in 2006, done in the style of his forebears.

Portrait Of Giovanni Battista del Monte is done by Francesco Apollodoro, dating to 1593, portraying a prominent mercenary of the time in armour.

An unknown artist painted Portrait of Marchesi Ascano and Vincenzo del Monte in the 1600s. These men served with the troops of the Republic of Venice, and Ascano's breastplate bears the cross of the Knights of St. John.

The notion of armour for sport starts with the concept of jousting, when men and horses were geared up with armour to entertain the king and court.

Armour still applies in current day sports, where helmets and protective padding are used regularly. Some of that was featured here. The materials are vastly different from jousting armour, of course, but the concept is still the same- protect the body of the participant. I have more from this exhibit tomorrow.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Canada Day In The NAC

I stopped at the National Arts Centre on Canada Day. The glass enclosure that was added around much of it was opened up last year on that date, and it was busy this day.

This view looking out takes in the Chateau Laurier and the government Conference Centre.

This view is from within the glass lantern overlooking Elgin Street, taking in Parliament Hill and the War Memorial. The lines you see on the glass are inscribed logos for the NAC, breaking up the glass in a way that minimizes bird strike. These windows are lit up at night with projections of light and imagery, as you'll see below.

There were a lot of activities going on in the building through the day (though curiously enough, not the usual orchestra concert). In this room while I was here, two dancers were showing their stuff while house music was being played. 

Down in one of the lobby areas, a jazz band had just finished a set.

These are my last shots taken on Canada Day, after the fireworks were done. I passed by the fully lit up lantern, which was illuminated by fireworks. The windows double as image screens when the sun goes down, displaying images from across the country, NAC performances, and other things like Canada Day fireworks. Tomorrow we'll start looking at the museum visits I made on this day.