Weather Fair

I have come down with the flue. No, not the swine flue, just the ordinary one. One benefit of being ill is that you watch TV programmes in the middle of the day, picking up gems normally lost in everyday doings. Like this splendid documentary on Ian Fairweather I just watched.

Apparently Fairweather led a very special life. Born in 1891 in Scotland and died on Bribie Island outside Brisbane in 1974. He served in both world wars and were twice kept prisoner of war for a long time. He travelled extensively in Europe and Asia, studying both Japanese and Chinese.

No wonder he developed a layered approach, combining several experiences and memories into one painting. Like the Monestary, described in this way by the National Gallery of Australia:

“On the one hand, Monastery may be considered a recollection of an experience many years before when the artist stayed briefly at a monastery near Beijing. He described it to his early biographer Nourma Abbott-Smith as a place of spirituality. He recalled that the snow outside covered the monastery while the inside was illuminated by hundreds of candlewicks floating in golden bowls, casting flickering shadows and softening the carved aspect of the statues. In a broader sense, as Murray Bail noted in his later book on the artist, Monastery also represents all monasteries, all contemplative silences and so summarises this serious artist’s obsessions.”

I think we need more people like Fairweather, who can assimilate various cultures and create something new, who are curious and passionate, and who can capture both the specific and the general.

We could use a bit of more fair weather also. In Sweden, SMHI a government agency under the Ministry of the Environment provides weather forecasts. In addition to general forecasts and weather warnings, it also provides industry-specific services, simulations and analyses, statistics, climate studies and contracted research.

Recently they launched a service providing property managers with forecasts making it possible to adjust the temperature and thereby lowering the energy cost. It will be interesting to see what kinds of products and business models SMHI and other government agencies can provide to support sustainable development.

This reminds me of informative arts experiments of letting interactive art show complex real-time data. Maybe SMHI could be inspired by Fairweather’s work and provide a weather art service?

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