Snapshot Saturday: the texture of tulips

Last week, we were at the Bowes Museum.  This place, with its unusual history and exhilarating present deserves a post all of its own soon.

It happened to be the first day of ‘Turkish Tulips’.  This exhibition though, isn’t displayed in a dedicated space in the museum.  Instead, the artworks chosen have been sited next to existing displays, situated on a grand staircase, or even smuggled into other exhibitions on display. It’s brilliant.  These juxtapositions illuminate both the permanent collection and the works chosen for the exhibition.

Look at this.  We found it in a room of paintings largely from the 17th and eighteenth centuries.  Well, maybe this photo doesn’t convince, but in real life, in glowing, luminous detail, it did. It’s a Dutch 17th century still life, right?

Five tulips in a Wan-Li vase, Rob and Nick Carter, 2016.

Well, no.  It was created not by a Dutchman in the 17th century, but by a British couple, Rob and Nick Carter in 2016.  This is no oil painting on board or canvas, but an image on an iPad.


Stop.  Look.  Take your time.  Watch as those tulips, with their waxy-textured petals and burnished stems gradually lose their lustre.  Their colour fades.  The stems become limp. Later still, those once glossy petals take on the texture and appearance of crisp autumn leaves as the exhausted stems slump slowly to the ground.  In some 25 minutes you have watched the life and death of a vase of tulips, filmed over a ten day period.

That film might have been speeded up.  But we, as viewers were slowed down.  And having taken the time to watch this captivating film, we were ready to give other works in the same gallery our fuller attention too.

This is my response to this week’s WordPress photo challenge: textures.  As photos, mine don’t really pass muster this week.  Taking a photo of an iPad image in a public gallery is not really all that easy though.


Author: margaret21

I'm retired and living in North Yorkshire, where I walk as often as I can, write, volunteer, and travel as often as I can.

15 thoughts on “Snapshot Saturday: the texture of tulips”

  1. I loved the Bowes Museum when we visited it years ago! Of course, that grand staircase and the clockwork swan stick in the mind, as well as the wonderful views out of the windows.
    This must be such an interesting exhibition and I like the idea of the pieces interspersed throughout the rooms.


  2. That reminds me of a friend who paints wonderful paintings of peonies, buying them in the local flower market and waiting for them to begin to die before she paints them. She says the best moment for printing them, when they fully embrace their colours and softness is at the end, and yet what she depicts in the canvas is so full of light and life.

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  3. This sounds like a very intriguing exhibit–even works you’re familiar with become new and compelling when different works are juxtaposed among them. I’m not sure I would have the patience to watch a 25 minute film, though . . . that says more about me than the film.

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  4. In truth, we didn’t watch every moment of it. But it was far more involving than I would have believed. And I think it was partly that it was placed in a room of ‘Old Masters’ that we were shocked into giving it our full attention.


  5. What a wonderful journey your post has sent me on – first to the Bowes Museum (which is now bookmarked) and then to the amazing art of Damien Hirst (another bookmark!). The tulip film sounds fascinating – too bad I’m not planning to be in the north of England any time soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, even if you can’t go for some time, the Bowes Museum is such a good place. Sadly, a couple of rooms were closed, including that housing the Damien Hirst. So every excuse for us to plan another visit too.


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