Tina Rowe

dogs can’t look up

Galleries Lafayette
Galleries Lafayette

According to Sean of the Dead. But humans can.

It never ceases to amaze me how little attention people pay of anything that is directly above their heads.  I may be hyper sensitive or paranoid or something equally strange, but the stuff dangling above my hair is of immediate interest, at all times.  The most curious thing about all of  that is should you stand pretty much anywhere where other people are and look up, they will look up too because that’s what happens when you pointedly look up, doubly so if you also pointedly point.  Perhaps it is the validation that you get from other people looking up that frees you up and makes doing it less, well, weird.

It’s daft not to look up, there is so much up to look at.  In fact there is far more up than there is down and people have gone to great lengths to make what is up and attractive proposition for looking at it seems churlish not to check up out at every available opportunity.  The first thing I do when I get into any large kind of a structure, especially if it is a church or something fin de siècle is I check out what the people who made it wanted to be their big permanent statement.

This is galleries Lafayette in Paris, at Christmas.  The tree was an outstanding mega tree but it was transformed into a wannabe trinket next to the dome.  The tree did its fundamental tree stuff and there is it.  You can argue that there has been some research, some work with genetics and fertilizer etc., and I am not taking that away from the finished product, without those things I probably could never have been so lush and green and sturdy in a shop over the Christmas period, but the hands of each of the people who bought it to fruition are not visible in the same way as the dome.  There was an architect, stone masons, metal workers, glaziers, colourists, plasterers, and capitalists with the will to make some kind of a statement.  It is a massive collaboration that could not have possibly come to fruition without the cooperation of many many hands.  The architect’s drawings were nothing more than elegant lines on big sheets of paper until the scaffolding came down and the first people saw it all.

With the Galleries Lafayette, it is easy to see the hands of most of those involved even if it is not possible to know the names of everybody involved.  With the pantheon in Rome, this is all lost to us, but someone liked domes, someone understood how to make concrete and someone also knew that it was possible to keep that concrete strong and still put the insets in without losing strength.  That roof was poured on to the building, 1800 years ago, someone poured the roof on to the pantheon and waited for it to set.

When I look up at something like that I am seeing the collective imagination, excitement and determination to push a boundary or make a statement and to make people stand with their heads craned backwards in awe.  It is just a shame that most of the time we only stop to do it in some places, under certain circumstances.  When more people don’t just stop and look up is beyond me because as soon as they see me to it, it is inevitable that most of those around will also look up too and often the photos I take that do just this are the most commented on and popular that I take.  Funny that.

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