Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The Dali Tree

Every so often, I find myself walking between Charing Cross and Parliament Square along the Victoria Embankment. It's a lovely walk with breath-taking views across the river Thames. Behind me, there is St Pauls Cathedral and the dramatic skyline of the City - London's financial district - dominated by Tower 42, Canary Wharf and the glorious 'erotic gherkin' that is the Swiss Re Tower. Opposite me on the South Bank there's the Oxo Tower, Royal Festival Hall, the Hayward Gallery and County Hall. And rising above it all is the huge wheel of the London Eye. Meanwhile, ahead of me, there is the Palace of Westminster with the Big Ben clock tower and Westminster Abbey.

More often than not, I walk through Victoria Embankment Gardens, a public green space set back from the road and river and populated with many statues and memorials. And it's where you'll also find one of my favourite London trees.
It may have a proper name but if it does, I can't find it . A lot of people call it the Cripple Tree as its heavy and ancient gnarly branches are propped up by crutches. I prefer to call it the Dali Tree as it reminds me so very much of the painting Sleep or Le Sommeil (1937).

It's an extraordinary similarity isn't it? The tree's crutches may be green rather than brown but they are the same curious shape as Dali's. And I can't help thinking that the conservators who care for the tree were inspired by the art.

Dali explained the painting thus: 'I have often imagined the monster of sleep as a heavy, giant head with a tapering body held up by the crutches of reality. When the crutches break we have the sensation of falling.'

It's nearly Midnight here and the monster of sleep lurks at my study door.

Nighty night.

11 comments:

Persephone said...

Lucky you to be able to wander in London daily! (Although Ottawa in October really is the city at its best, and I'm speaking as one who doesn't really like living here.)

I'm delighted to see that your faithful band of followers has been promoted from "the misguided" to "the curious and fabulous". Though I do realize that the latter can be taken in a number of ways, when I was merely one of the misguided, I was reminded of Oscar Wilde waiting in the rain to be taken to prison (and I'm paraphrasing because I can't be bothered to check): If this is the way The Queen treats her prisoners, she doesn't deserve to have any...

Debby said...

Clever that you saw that similarity. Now that it's been pointed out, I can easily see it, but should never have noticed it, left to my own devices. I think it's quite amazing how you can take two disimilar things and 'link' them. Have you ever thought of writing a book?

:^D

willow said...

Your Dali tree is amazing! I wonder how old it actually is? Looks ancient. It's good to see they are taking good care of the old guy, with crutches and all. I love trees.

joelmead said...

Victoria Embankment Gardens is fantastic. When I used to work at Time, I would walk from Trafalgar Square and sit there and read from time to time.

Katie said...

oh I want to be in London!

I'm actually curious to see what really would happen if the crutches were taken away....

Janet said...

I don't know that tree - but your imagination of making the Dali connection is terrific.

Janet

Stevyn Colgan said...

Persephone - It only seemed right to rebrand my 'followers' (makes me sound ike I'm running a cult). It's up to you all to decide which category you fit into! However, for reasons quite beyond me, the widget doesn't seem to work. From what I've seen on other blogs, there should be little thumbnail pics of everyone. Heigh ho. Technology and I have always had a chequered coexistence.

Debby - I probably just have far too much time on my hands. I may see links and connections everywhere but I also see art and beauty. I once quipped that I had a 'photogenic memory - I remember things that are glorious, tasteful or curiously beautiful'. Pretentious? Yes. But true.

Willow - Trees are wonderful things and I have a number of favourites. I ended up researching a local tree for a special woodlands project not so long ago. People hang shoes from it and no one knows why. No idea how old the Dali Tree is though. It can't be ancient as the Victoria Embankment itself was only built 1865-1870. Unless, of course, it was transpalnted from elsewhere, which seems unlikely.

Joel - You know London better than anyone I know - that little strip of green is great isn't it?

Katie - It would probably uproot itself, water would gush from the hole and the whole of LOndon would be flooded. Or it would just fall over a bit.

Janet - You're too kind. But remember that there's a cosmic balance thing going on here ... I may be creative but I cannot even build something flat-packed from IKEA without cocking it al up.

Persephone said...

Aren't we all there? (Ooooh, there's eleven of us now!) Lined up neatly under the "visitor locations" map and above the "Me Me Me"? Not sure why I'm represented by the bridge of my nose...

Stevyn Colgan said...

Persephone - You're right! I've just checked on another computer and yes, sure enough, there you all are (Your splendid nose included). It's apparently just my laptop that doesn't display the pics. How very bizarre!

joelmead said...

It's one of my favourite places in Central London. Just tucked away from the madness of Trafalgar Square

Stevyn Colgan said...

Joel - You're right. I love the place.