All posts by Pamela Reid

Art and about Europe: When in Rome – look up!

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Photo: Visitors to The Vatican, their colours mirror Raphael’s innovative palette.

I am forever grateful to my high school art teacher, Sr. M Ursula, who taught me a great deal, including to look up. She would take us on tram trips into the city, telling us to “look up” at the buildings, the skyscapes. Don’t stay at eye level, observe the architecture, its features, how it tells the history. This lesson has been invaluable for my photographic view and in travelling, but none more so than my first day in Rome and the next…and the next, which led to return visits. My head and neck keep turning, my hands want to touch, and I can hear Sr. Ursula’s voice telling me what to “see”.

As with most of my “Art and About” blogs, I’ll start with my morning walks. So much to look up at as day breaks over the Forums, I pass the Vittorio Emanuele II Monument and head towards The Colosseum.

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Photos: Around The Forums, “Hail Caesar”; Vittorio Emanuele II Monument; birds fly over The Colosseum at dawn.

The Vittorio Emanuele II Monument, designed by Guiseppe Sacconi, sits at the foot of Capitoline Hill. It’s an elaborate and imposing white marble building with two contrasting dark bronze winged Victories riding chariots, looming up into the sky. Rounding the Monument, I climb the stairs to the Basilica of Santa Maria in Aracoeli, arriving at the top of Capitoline Hill.

Capitoline Hill houses the Mayor and Municipality offices. Formerly, it was sacred to Rome as a destination for victorious generals and triumphant processions. Here I greet the day, “Good morning, Rome.”

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Photos: Stairs to Basilica of S.Maria in Aracoeli; daylight filters through the ballustrades, a gull perched on a guardian;
one of the statues of Roman age representing the Dioscuri, defenders of the Republican Rome; clock tower on Piazza del Campidoglio; Romulus and Remus.

IMG_7088Photo: From the top of Capitoline Hill, “Buongiorno, Roma.” with love.

With such a perfect start to the day – followed by a pot of good coffee at my hotel – what to do next requires little planning, nothing more than which direction to take? In Rome, a cornucopia of visual delights, you simply step outside and wander. “Being in Rome” is enough.  (I’ll write other blogs on Rome, its art and sights, but this is mainly pictorial, about looking skywards). Typically, strolling until lunch time, or through the afternoon, “looks” like this:

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Photos: Bridges across the Tiber River are adorned with statues; typical streetscape architecture; door to Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri (St Mary of the Angels); around Piazza del Popolo; the Jewish Synagogue; Staircase to Palazo Doria Pamphilj.

Throughout Italy, nothing is more look up than standing inside a basilica or monument, awe-struck by the craftsmanship and design of domes. The Romans were the first to create these engineering marvels. I searched an engineering history site to learn about the dome in nearby The Pantheon:  “Behold! The Pantheon. One of the most amazing structures ever built. Its massive dome, weighing nearly five-thousand tons, spans 150 feet unsupported and rises almost as high in the air. The interior could house a sphere 142 feet in diameter. At the height of the dome there is an oculus, a hole nearly 30 feet in diameter, which lets in light to relieve the darkness of this massive, enclosed space.

After the fall of Roman Empire, later generations of architects would go mad trying to replicate this. A Roman could have explained it easily. Take an arch, then spin it around 360 degrees. That is a dome. Yet, even if the architects of the Middle Ages could have grasped this concept, they were missing the key element: concrete. The dome of the Pantheon was literally poured into place.”

I have a book about Piero Fornasetti, “Designer of Dreams”, an artist of decorative versatility. When thinking about writing this blog, I recalled that Fornasetti had created a series of seventeen plates, based on domes of Italian churches, as a gift for the Brenta construction company.

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Photos: The dome inside The Pantheon, looking up to the daylight and night; three of the domes inside St Peter’s Basilica; Some of the plate series by Piero Fornasetti – Centre is St Peter’s Basilica; (clockwise) S.Ivo Della Sapienza, Rome; The Pantheon, Rome; Florence Catherdral; S. Maria della Salute, Venice.

I’ll finish this blog with more images from The Pantheon and Vatican City, ending the day as I started it. Perfect! Sunset over The Vatican.

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Photos: Door leading from The Pantheon; façade of The Pantheon; inside St Peter’s basilica; sunset over The Vatican.

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“Buona note, Roma

© 2017 tPRo/Pamela Reid

 

The Art and Architecture of Barcelona (part 2) – Miró makes me smile!

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Feeling smug, sketching in Fundació Joan Miró

I wrote about the Barcelona sights and particularly, Gaudí, in earlier blogs. Barcelona has everything on offer to see, touch, taste and dance to.  This time I’m writing about some of my visual arts experiences. 

Hopping on my city tourism favourite, the on-off bus, I headed out through the gardens to the Fundació Joan Miró. Created by Miró and opened in 1975, the museum houses his works as well as other ‘out there’ contemporary art. 

Joan Miró i Ferrà was born in Barcelona April 20, 1893, growing up in the Gothic quarter (he passed away on Christmas Day, 1983, in Mallorca).  After his 1918 solo exhibition in his home city, Miró settled in Paris. While he moved amongst The Surrealists and their influences, Miró’s style – if it can be defined – is more one of ‘experimentation’ in shapes, space and abstract objects, across various mediums and textures, in a palette of bright, bold colours.  Most of what Miró created isn’t really identifiable or recognisable, which is what makes it so appealing.

While it wouldn’t be considered an artistic critique, the quirkiness of Miró makes me happy. https://www.fmirobcn.org/en
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A visit to the Pablo Picasso museum in Barcelona is on every ‘to see’ list. I was a little disappointed as it displays mostly his early works. While it’s fascinating to see an artist’s developmental stages, I was expecting to see “in the flesh”  his later works, or some that I may be familiar with. (Taking photographs is not permitted).

On leaving the Picasso museum, however, I chanced upon MEAM (Museu Europeu D’Art Modern) Carrer Barra de Ferro 5, a beautiful palace rebuilt in 1792 by a wealthy textile merchant, Gomis. During the Napoleonic invasion, Marshal Lecchi, who commanded the French troops, used the palace as his regular residence. In 2011, the MEAM opened, under the sponsorship of the “Foundation for the Arts and Artists”, created in 2005 to promote figurative artists. What a treat! Moving from room to room, peeping into salons, the ground floor space exhibited splendid nude works by Spanish sculptor Josep Clarà (1878-1958).

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So beautifully curated…. these sculptures speak more than any words.

The upper gallery space held an exhibition of contemporary portraiture. Wow!
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MEAM also has evening programs of flamenco dance and Catalan, classical as well a jazz music. I returned on a Friday night, with newly made Australian friends, for an intimate jazz concert in one of the salons. https://www.meam.es/en

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Sketching in MEAM – lucky me!

Over at MACBA (Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona), it was multi-media, contemporary art of another kind – “Punk” – defined by MACBA as “Punk appeared as an explosion in the mid-seventies. Musicians, artists, designer, activists and desperate youngsters raged against the economic crisis, the end of the hippie dream, unemployment, the lack of future. Anger, speed, noise, incorrectness, opposition and provocation have defined ‘punk’ beyond the stereotypes of studs, leather and spiky hair.

Punk is an attitude with echoes of other violent, angry and irrepressible movements such as Dada and Situationism. It has survived to this day as one of the most influential cultural references of the 20th century.”     http://www.macba.cat/en

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In a separate space, across from MACBA, there was another esoteric exhibition. I didn’t quite understand it, but nevertheless enjoyed the experience. Skateboards made from focaccia bread and a mechanical heart pumping away in an illuminated cross. This is surely the energy that makes art so much fun!
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Have the best time in Barcelona.  I did!

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Contemporary portraiture exhibition – MEAM

© 2017 tPRo/Pamela Reid

 

 

 

 

 

 

Art and Architecture of Barcelona……Gaudí!

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Photo: Exterior Casa Batlló 

I have to start with Gaudí. “Unique” in the real sense. Ebullient, wondrous, magical buildings and features. I was keen to learn more about him as I knew nothing of Gaudí’s personal life, only that it ended when he was hit by a tram on the streets of Barcelona. Why were his extraordinary – even outrageous – designs and architectural works so readily accepted, even permitted to happen? How would I get inside his imagination?

I didn’t learn too much. Antoni Gaudí i Cornet (1852-1926) was intensely private and not much is told of his personal life and, yes, I saw the very spot where he was hit by a tram. He was unhealthy as a child, studied architecture in Barcelona and, the more success he achieved, the more he withdrew socially. I learnt, also, that his vast and innovative designs were not readily accepted and that Gaudí did, indeed, meet with resistance. But, I did get to experience Gaudí, which is akin to being “a kid in a lolly shop”. There’s so much of his modernist work (there really isn’t one Gaudí style) around Barcelona, here I’ll write about Casa Batlló. 

Built between 1904-1906, Casa Batlló exudes fantastic Catalan architecture. You look up, around, inside/outside, you touch the textures and run your hands along the bannisters.
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Photos: Light, shapes, colour’n’movement inside Casa Batlló. 

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Photos:  Wood features in the large, stained glass windows, as well as the grand staircase; skylights flood with shapes and textures.

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Photos:  Up on the roof, you’re surrounded by more shapes, curves, lines and, especially, coloured mosaics.

g11Photo: The building’s rooftop façade is a dragon-like animal’s back. 

All internal features – bannisters, skylights, window frames – are ergonomically designed.   Casa Batlló is a masterpiece, guiding you from one line and space to another, exhibited through the use of light.  Gaudí was a genius!

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© 2017 tPRo/Pamela Reid

 

 

 

 

 

 

England’s Lake District – picture perfect!

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I’m planning my travel itinerary for September this year and so much looking forward to returning to the Lake District in Cumbria. As I’ve often told friends, “My heart sings when I’m in the Lakes.”

Living in Cheshire –  back in the 70s – I experienced my first weekend away in the Lakes. With my then flatmates Jen and John, we stayed in a rambler’s cottage in the Newlands Valley, on a road looking up towards the Swinside Inn.
I vividly recall that first night. It was so cold that my breath was frosty steam in the outside air. Inside the Swinside, however, it was warm and cosy. Locals had gathered and were singing “Streets of London” accompanied by a harmonica. It was the first time I’d heard the song and I became an immediate Ralph McTell fan.
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Photos – back in the 70s:  John and Jen towards Cat Bells; Jen and me outside the Fish Hotel, Buttermere; Jen in the lolly shop in Keswick; locals singing “Streets of London” in the Swinside Inn. 

It was two decades before the “business of life” allowed me to travel from Australia back to England, this time with my family. I’ve now re-visited several times, always returning to the Lake District and always with the same Jen and John (now married for over 40 years).

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Photos – returning to the Lake District: 1997 Annie midst Lakeland Stone structures, out strolling with our children; 2004 family and (old) friends at Ashness Bridge, returning to the Swinside Inn  for lunch.

There is so much to do in the Lake District, it’s a playground for young and old. I can’t possibly write about everything (refer links below). This blog is about how we enjoy ‘the Lakes’.

We stay in Keswick on Derwentwater, home of the Derwent Pencil factory (adding to my collection of pencils on each visit). As with every day, everywhere, I set out on an early morning walk.  Then, there’s a ‘usual’ in that the men folk – after a hearty breakfast – head off on a lengthy trek, leaving the ladies to stroll, browse galleries, drink tea, maybe a glass of wine with lunch. Come the cocktail hour, we’ll all meet up for an aperitif, then dinner.
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Photos: early morning walks around Keswick and Derwentwater

There are many structured walks and books on trekking around the Lake District. Renowned British fell-walker, Alfred Wainwright (1907-1991), published more than forty guide books including a seven-volume “Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells”. http://www.wainwrightroutes.co.uk

I’ll leave it to John to describe these images from a weekend back in 2003.
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Photos by John Baron and Andy Kerr:
1. Looking SW across Newlands Valley from Cat Bells.   The white hamlet is called Little Town.
2. Looking N from the top of Dale Head.  The highest peak in the distance, with a little snow, is Skiddaw.  The green flat bit in the middle distance is part of the Newlands Valley.  Little Town is out of sight around the bottom of the long ridge on the right.  We had walked south along the long ridge from Cat Bells (out of sight) up Maiden Moor, then High Spy (the highest part of the ridge).  Then we dropped down a little, turned west, then a long very steep uphill section to the top of Dale Head at the head of the valley.  ‘U’ shaped valley – classic shape formed by glacier during last ice age.
3. The chaps setting out from Glenridding, the village in the valley next to Ullswater.  We had just started a route to Striding Edge and Helvellyn.
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Lou, Mike Thompson, Derek, Ross, Mike Dixon and a young me (John).
The link for this walk
https://www.walkingenglishman.com/lakes10.htm

While popular for those fells to be trekked, the Lake District has a rich literary history to be explored. So many book shops, shelves stocked with Books! Books! Books of artworks and words. From the most famous amongst all generations, Beatrix Potter, to poets and writers Coleridge, Ruskin, Wordsworth, Hugh Walpole, Arthur Ransome and modern-day writers such as Melvyn Bragg and Richard Adams. There’s Jacobean poets, 18th century historians, ballads, folk-tales and traditions.  For a recent enjoyable read, “The Shepherd’s Life” by James Rebanks https://penguin.com.au/books/the-shepherds-life-9780141979366

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Photos: Books!; I love those sheep…and more sheep; shopping for books and Derwent pencils.

It’s the magic of the waters in the Lake District that captivates the eye and camera. So beautiful, you simply can’t take a bad photo. I’ve taken photos in different seasons, various light and time of day. This is just a sampling. Little wonder the Lake District has inspired so many.

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Here’s some links on what to see and where to stay:

http://www.golakes.co.ukhttp://www.exploresouthlakeland.co.uk/see-and-do
http://www.discoverlakeland.co.uk, http://www.heartofthelakes.co.uk

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© 2017 Pamela Reid/tPRo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Love is all around at the National Gallery of Victoria

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“La Toilette de Venus” 1815, Jean-Baptiste Regnault (oil on canvas)

There’s a new exhibition at the NGV, Love: Art of Emotion. It’s all there in love’s many manifestations: romance (of course), the anticipation, desire, seduction, tenderness, pleasures of the flesh, narcissism and – Shakespeare’s favourite – martyrdom. That Goddess of Love, Venus, and her cheeky boy, Cupid, are ever-present, spreading their message from toilette preparation to dancing putti.

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Photos: Antony and Cleopatra – Gianmaria Mosca (after), 16thC marble; The Singer Farinelli and friends (detail) – Jacopo Amigoni, c.1750-52, oil on canvas; Lordly Elevation – James Gillray, 1802, hand-coloured etching and aquatint; Dancing Putti – Girolamo Campagna, c.1605-07, bronze.

The exhibition is compiled from the NGV’s permanent collection, over 200 paintings, sculptures, drawings and print works, as well as jewelry, costumes and furniture from this European Medieval to the Romantic period. Some works are story-telling, others biblical, mythological, allegorical, historical.

As always, it is exquisitely curated by the NGV. Enjoyable and educational, Love: Art of Emotion is on until 18 June 2017. http://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/exhibition/love    The catalogue is worth purchasing for your book collection.

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Photos: The Artist at Work – Elizabeth Louise
Vigée le Brun, 1830, miniature watercolour and gouache on ivory; Sora Mavera dish, 1530-50 earthenware; Madonna dell’Umilità (Madonna of Humility) – probably Ferrara, C.1470 Painted wood; exhibition catalogue.

Love: Art of Emotion exhibition is produced in collaboration with the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions and The University of Melbourne.

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© all works National Gallery of Victoria (photos by tPRo/Pamela Reid 2017).