After a night in Switzerland, we spent two nights in Germany at the apartment of some long-time friends of my husband. They live in Esslingen, outside Stuttgart; one day they drove us to a magical forest playland where we spent hours in sensory delight. Simply put, the Eins und Alles complex is a forest full of hand-built delights made from natural materials. It is an experience for people of all ages. The following photo is of a set of spiralled structures that were geometrically pleasing to my eye! They are set into the ground, and one could climb them or walk through them. I just enjoyed staring at the spiral patterns!
Before we actually explored the forest, we toured the buildings which housed what I’d describe as hands-on science/play museum installations. My husband sat on a chair (after climbing it!) which was too big for him, we walked a maze of tilting stepping stones, and we each sat in various tubs full of materials such as dried beans and corks. In the building, I came across this wonderful piece of artwork that captured my eye for pattern and colour. It made me want to break out an old file folder and start designing stencils.
Meandering through the forest, we came across this long display of huge wooden carved figureheads of famous people. I only photographed five here, but many more lined the pathway. I saw one of Prince (King) Charles, which struck me as ironic because we’d just spent the four days before Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral in London. I was just absolutely amazed at the work of whoever carved these accurate figureheads.
Oh hey, a four-poster wooden bed in the middle of the forest! You can see that it is covered with a layer of leaves to make it somewhat comfortable for a nap. According to our hosts, people do nap on this. Later in our walk, we came across several wooden-slatted hammocks, so we four each parked ourselves on one and really took naps! It was so refreshing. I had just had a bit of a cry with Tina (the woman with the funky haircut) over grief we’ve both endured recently, so lying on the hammock and staring up through the trees and watching the branch and leaf patterns was perfect therapy at the moment.
We four had so much fun with this next forest experience! Each of those colourfully-painted sticks hanging from the wood ceiling in the structure was hollow. They are only attached to the ceiling, so you can walk through them and they swing wildly, clanging together and making beautiful music. We each walked through several times. And this pattern lover didn’t just walk straight through; I traced curved and zig-zagged paths through the space, just to be able to hear the music for a longer time. And all I kept thinking about was just how much my two (grown-up) children would have loved this when they were younger. They would have tried swinging on the sticks and banging them together as hard as possible to get the loudest sound, haha!
Ah, another carving in wood! This was hardly noticeable as we walked by; but the roses caught my eye, so I took a close-up photo. It amazed me (again – I was amazed the whole day by everything in this forest) that a few cuts and some paint, as a whole, could make such a beautiful piece of art. Side note: I just learned yesterday of something called the Mackintosh rose – have you ever heard of it? The image I saw led me down a rabbit hole exploring the art of an artist I’d never heard of. I’ll be having fun soon with drawing my own Mackintosh roses! They are similar to this carving!
The last Germany artistic delight I’ve picked to show you is the roof of the interior of this yurt in the forest playland. Would you look at the orange painted wood slats and all the colourful decorative painted motifs on it?!?! I could have sat in there for hours studying all the patterns and colours in the motifs! Even the little benches we sat on, plus the tables scattered about, were covered in decorative painting.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this edition of Artistic Delights from my Europe trip! At the end of this particular day of exploring a German forest playground, my mind and heart were so happily swimming with visual stimulation. I’m finding that all the visual stimulation of our trip (I’m so glad I captured so many photos of all the little things that delighted me) is starting to appear in my own art practice. I’m working on a lot of little projects that I look forward to showing you at some point this winter!