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Across the Palisade with Heather McCutcheon

Heather McCutcheon and her partner, Liam spontaneously decided to plan a trip around Europe.

We both knew we hadn’t seen the best of Europe, and after a setback in our plans we decided to book this trip instead, very suddenly. Before we really knew it we had ordered our Interrail Global Passes and were looking at the maps together. There were temptations to revisit places we knew we liked such as Berlin and Paris, but instead there seemed to be a driving force to push out into unknown cities. We reserved two seats on the trains that followed the route from Rome, Venice, Vienna, Budapest, Prague, Nuremberg to Amsterdam. With the timetables neatly pencilled in my journal, and my bag stuffed with film we sat opposite each other and grinned. By visiting these new places and exploring the variety of culture in Europe we were both inspired to create artwork that reflected our travels. This series ‘Across the Palisade’ is my photographic diary, with travel notes to accompany.

“6 hours in a Trenitalia carriage, we travel from Venice to Vienna with my bag full of film. We had booked this interrailing trip spontaneously, and find ourselves swaying through alpine mountains. Everything in Vienna seems to be illuminated ivory, clean and bright. After relaxing in the manicured grounds of the Museumsquartier, we spend hours in the Kunsthistorisches and Albertina gallery. Our last moments are spent up on the hill at the Belvedere Palace, looking out across the city and being witness to a famous Kiss in it’s halls. Following the Danube we arrive in Budapest, a city defined by water. We spend the hottest day floating with tanned Hungarian bathers at Szechenyi Thermal Baths. Magnificent fountains shoot up into the sky on Margaret Island, both sides surrounded by the water. We stop at the Shoes on the Danube sculpture outside the Hungarian Parliament Building and think of the past. The weather in Prague becomes stormy and brooding to match the gothic architecture evolving before us. The skeleton on the Astronomical Clock chimes its bell as we enter the bustling square. A visit to the Jewish Quarter makes my heart ache as we reflect upon our European history. We see the Rabbi and his son outside the churchyard and step inside the Spanish Synagogue, tilting our heads in awe to see fractals of golden Stars of David spinning from each corner. We cross the German border into Nuremberg, a truly picturesque Bavarian town with gingerbread style houses and winding streets. It saddens me that such a beautiful place could have such a dark past, and we visit the Rally Grounds at Zeppelinfeld to see that they had been left to overgrow and fade away. We focus our attention on the views from Nuremberg Castle and take quiet refuge in the Frauenkirche in the market square, readying ourselves to catch the next train. – Diary notes.

Words by Heather McCutcheon

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