Sunday, August 1, 2010

Inspiring Berlin

It’s summer and vacation is the name of the game. Not much business and most are travelling somewhere. As did I – to Berlin. I go there every summer and don’t stop to find this huge city, brimming with history, fascinating. The city holds a peculiar mixture of splendid grandeur from the time when it was one of the wealthiest in the western world, to now when it “poor but sexy” as a former mayor once stated. Obviously it’s still very affected by the fact that it for decades was divided and all citizens suffered from their situation – one way or another. Its 20 years since the wall fell, but the Berliners are still displaying the very “berlinerisch” way of life: the principle of the necessity of the available needles as we call it in Danish. In other words: Work with what you have to work with and make the best of it. And so they do!

One of the best examples are the gardens and makeshift dwellings which are found it the pockets of no-mans-land. Often where the wall used to be, but in general where buildings have been teared down and left a piece of land which is currently not being used for anything. At the Moritzplatz we stumbled over a garden, a so-called potagére, where you grow mainly crops, but also adorn with flowers. Everything was makeshift and so the vegetables were grown by a community of nearby Berliners in bags, old plastic baskets and zinc buckets.

The crop was eventually turned into delicious vegetarian meals and sold in the café on the plot.

A strange mixture of trashy trailer park and real natural beauty and zest of life it was!

Many buildings have balconies and the Berliners for sure know how to use those too!

When not decorating with flowers, some turn to paint. Yes, of cause you’ll see a lot of graffiti. Line in any other city, but some go about it in a much more deliberate and artistic way. The posh version of graffiti is street art – often in the shape of pictures glued to the wall, such as this comment to commercialism:

The text says “do I actually need all this shit?”

Others agree to paint their entire house:

Of cause I fell in love with this one. It had curls for one, secondly a few small surprises such as birds somewhat apart from the mural itself and last, but not least, humor!

In olden times, the decorations were a tad sturdier. Here’s a dragon and of cause I loved it!

Now humor and Germans usually isn’t something we jump to make the connection between, but make no mistake, there are many smiles and silly pranks, especially in Berlin! At a wonderful flea market at the Maybachufer in Kreutzberg we came upon a peculiar jazz band with a very funny female singer and a clown.

 The singer was dressed somewhere between a 50’s woman expected to dance rock’n roll and a cute little girl. When se wasn’t playing accordion or trumpet, she used a small megaphone as a microphone.

Not only did this amplify her voice, it also distorted it in a way, making it all sound as if it was played on one of those old fashioned record players with a big horn. What an ambience!

At the same flea market I came across these lovely vests. Unfortunately, yours truly is a tad too… erhm… round to fit into these, but that won’t keep me from admiring the embroidery and the cut!

At some point we felt the need for a bit of peace and quiet – a hard thing to come by in a large city, but a sure bet are usually the cemeteries. Here we have found the large Jewish one in Prenzlauer Berg. Not surprisingly, it has been bombed and vandalized and has been left largely undisturbed since WW2.

That shows and I must admit, I love the pleasant decay that is the result of the forced neglect. A place truly out of this world…

Back into the real world, we started doubting the reality of it when we encountered this merry bunch of musicians entertaining Berliners and tourists alike. Those people seemed as if they had walked straight from a fantasy novel or video game. Especially the dark haired gentleman was pulling my attention. And yes ladies, you DO see the cheeks through his “garments”.

One of the last days my boyfriend and I decided to split, enabling each of us to pursue our own interests without boring the other to death. I went first to the local tools- and stone dealers (of cause) and used 150€ on a wonderful Vallorbe file, a few other knickknacks and a lot of amazing and large drops of prehenite, onyx, rose quartz and pearls. I have never seen such a large selection of top drilled drops! I was in heaven, apart from not bringing money enough. Oh well…

Afterwards I went to the national museum of art and thoroughly enjoyed all the grand masters, plus quite a few who deserve that title and don’t hold it. I didn’t bring my camera, but in any case: I was looking for inspiration and surely got some! Guess I’ll be doing a few diorama-inspired pieces.

And this one? Well, I just liked the intense and seductive stare of her *grin*

Berlin is great and I’m here as often as possible, but one thing is less great: distances are a lot bigger than tiny 1,5 million Copenhagen. The result: Sorely sore feet. Oh well, I happily pay the price :-)


  1. What a beautiful city, you really brought it to life with your wonderful commentary. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Hi, It looks like you had a wonderful time in Berlin, a fantastic fun, creative city. Could you recommend a place there for buying gemstones? I hope to be visiting soon and look forward to exploring any gemshops I can find.