Art and about Europe: Paris Style

Photo:  Steps of Palais de Tokyo, Opening of 2017 Paris Fashion Festival

Who doesn’t love Paris (a rhetorical question)?  The city of romance, art and architectural history, fashion, people-watching. Films, books, songs, cruising the Seine, strolling the Champs Elysees, sitting on the steps of Sacre Coeur, wining and dining. Everybody loves Paris!

A recent trip with my sister was a return to Paris – we hadn’t visited together since (way back) in the Seventies. How fortunate that we arrived on, and found ourselves in the midst of, the Opening of 2017 Paris Fashion Festival at the Palais de Tokyo. So many ‘beautiful people’, paparazzi and plenty of attitude.  The very best of Bienvenue à Paris!


Usually, I commence “Art and about Europe” blogs with my morning walks.  In the city of love, Cupid rises at daybreak, his bow and arrow aimed at brides and their grooms, with the Eiffel Tower as a romantic backdrop.  


Art is in abundance in Paris….the big decision for the day is where to start?  As everything ‘now’ was fashion, how exciting to see an exhibition of Irving Penn’s photography at Le Grand Palais.

Photography by Irving Penn:  Three Dahomey Girls, One Reclining (1967); Large Sleeve (Sunny Harnett), New York (1951); Spencer Tracy, New York (1948); Carl Erickson and Elise Daniels, New York (1947); Audrey Hepburn; Irving Penn’s camera equipment.  

It’s a short stroll, along the Seine riverside, from Le Grand Palais to the Musée d’Art Moderne, exploding with colour and contemporary art.  

Photos: Larger-than-life Robert Delaunay’s Rythme 2 (1938); Narcisse – Jean Gabriel Chauvin (1939); Jean Besnard’s Synthèse Humaine (1930); Rivière Blanche, a massive string of pearls (Murano glass) by Jean-Michel Othoniel (2004); Alberto Giacometti’s Aika (1959); Portrait of Carmen Baron (1944) by André Derain.

Photo:  Out and about – Paris style.

The neighbouring Le Petite Palais houses the Museum of Fine Arts. An impressive “look up” experience (built for the 1900 Universal Exhibition), it is based on a trapezium shape, made up of four wings around a semi-circular garden bordered by a richly decorated peristyle. It is a welcoming mix of traditionally elaborate and open spaces to explore.

Photos: The winged angel in Le Petite Palais entrance; Large ceramic works around the garden; Soir Antique – Alphonse Osbert (1908); large male sculptures.

There’s much to see when wandering Paris…..and wander we did:
Photos:  Striking sculpture by Anna Quinquaid, outside the Palais de Tokyo;  A diminutive ‘me’ outside the very grand entrance to Le Grand Palais; art instruction inside Musée d’Art Moderne, of course we cruised the Seine; night light’s in a neighbouring building.

Some “must do” totally tourists photographs:
Photos: the impact of old and new outside Le Louvre; riding The Metro; Sacre Coeur, Montmartre; the best view of Paris……..and fromage!

Photo: Brides and fashion photoshoots combine as dawn breaks behind the Eiffel Tower.


© 2018 Photos and text Pamela Reid/tPRo  (excluding those of artists/photographers’ works)





Day & Night: At the National Gallery of Victoria



Xu Zhen’s enormous Eternity Buddha in Nirvana floats under the Leonard French glass ceiling in the Great Hall.

It’s my daughter, Annie, and her husband Sam’s first wedding anniversary. The gift for this occasion is ‘paper’, a symbol of the strength that comes from the interlaced connection of paper’s individual threads. How fortuitous then, that the National Gallery of Victoria has an exhibition by Louise Paramor, “Palace of the Republic” – wonderful vibrant paper sculptures, along with a room of her colourful plastic assemblages.   A smart lunch,  followed by a day at NGV Australia, was the perfect Anniversary gift.

The much larger-than-life paper sculptures are new works using the ‘honeycomb’ technique which the artist learnt during a one-year residency in Berlin, 1999. The plastic assemblages are constructed from found objects.  There’s fun in identifying all those bits’n’pieces, the building blocks of each sculpture. 
Photos: Annie and Sam, “Palace of the Republic” by Louise Paramor. Exhibition is on at NGV Australia until 12 March, 2018.

There’s always room to roam around the contemporary space of NGV Australia. Currently, when you enter the foyer, you immerse yourself in “Spirit and Memory” by Japanese born Akio Makigawa (1948-1999). He moved to Australia in 1974. Described as ‘Zen-like’ (they are), his sculptures are constructed from primary materials, including stone, steel and wood. Makigawa’s works are presented on each floor, they call your attention as you arrive by escalator.  A beautiful sight!
Photos: “Spirit and Memory” by Akio Makigawa. Exhibition is on at NGV Australia until February 2018.

A powerful video installation by Mel O’Callaghan,  “Ensemble”, is at NGV Australia until 12 March, 2018.  Australian, Paris-based, Mel’s work explores human behaviours in relation to ideas of resistance and endurance.  “Ensemble” is a two-channel work depicting three firemen turning the hose on a man who pushes forward against its force. Previously Ensemble 2013 was shown at the Centre Pompidou, in both Paris and Malaga, and the Institut d’Art Contemporain Villeurbanne/ Rhône-Alpes in Lyon, France in 2016. NGV Australia has acquired this work.
Photos: “Ensemble” – Mel O’Callaghan

Across the road at NGV International, the inaugural NGV Triennial has just opened. This massive exhibit features work of over 100 artists and designers from 32 countries, a “festival” of contemporary art/design, presented across technology, architecture, animation, performance, film, painting, drawing, fashion, tapestry and sculpture.

It was coincidental that I had booked to attend an evening forum in conjunction with the opening of the NGV Triennial. Hosted by Matt Anderson, International Culture Editor of New York Times, the topic was “Are Artists and Designers Agents of Change?”. Speakers were six of the artists/designers whose work is showcased at the Triennial: Alexandra Kehayoglou, Brodie Neill, Josephine Meckseper, Richard Mosse, Simone Farresin (Formafanstasma) and Elliat Rich. They each gave insight to their purpose and outcomes.
Photos: Matt Anderson hosts “Are Artists and Designers Agents of Change?”; Gallery foyer installation, Estudio Campana; The gallery café has been transformed into a Moroccan theme by artist Hassan Haijaj; rear Neo-classical sculpture and head of Xu Zhen’s Eternity Buddha in Nirvana.

The forum was after gallery hours, which meant exhibition spaces were closed, but it did give us the opportunity to peek at those works around the immediate foyer/ground NGV level.  There’s an explosion of impact as soon as you step inside: Chinese artist, Yu Zhen’s, “Eternity Buddha in Nirvana”, its more than 14 metres in length, a reclining figure surrounded by replicas of Greco-Roman, Renaissance and Neoclassical sculptures – the Dying Gaul, Farnese Hercules, Night, Day, Sartyr and Bacchante, Funerary Genius, Achilles, Persian Soldier Fighting, Dancing Faun, Crouching Aphrodite, Narcisse Couché, Othryades the Spartan Dying, the Fall of Icarus, A River, Milo of Croton.

For Japanese style and sparkle, there’s the Nendo exhibition of fifty chairs. Each Manga-inspired chair plays with the element of design and line.

There’s so much to see.  Thankfully its on until April, with a summer nights program (19-28 January, 6pm-midnight) that includes a food fest presented by Supernormal Natsu as well as the Moroccan café.  Plenty of opportunities and times to enjoy all aspects of NGV Triennial.

…..can’t wait!

“Spirit and Memory” by Akio Makigawa  – NGV Australia


© Photos and text Pamela Reid/tPRo 2017




There’s an Art in People Watching

Photo: Ai Wei Wei exhibition – National Gallery of Victoria

I’m a people observer: watching, drawing, photographing. It’s a long-time pleasure of mine, whether I’m lying on the local beach or sipping coffee in a favourite city – have I mentioned Rome already?  I find particular enjoyment studying people within an art space. The presence of one person can alter and enhance the mood aesthetic, creating an interesting photographic composition through colour, line or body language.

Photos: Tate Britain, London;  Bruce Armstrong exhibition at National Gallery of Victoria; MONA, Hobart, Tasmania; MAXXI, Rome.

Sometimes I see a person walking towards an artwork or object and I quietly will them to move in a specific direction or proximity (it doesn’t always work).

Photos: MAXXI, Rome; National Gallery of Victoria; Jupiter Artland Sculpture Gardens, Edinburgh; MONA, Hobart, Tasmania.

Or, I’ll stroll through a gallery looking for people contemplating an artwork.  Their body language is still and I have to be quick to capture that moment before they move on.  There’s elation in the ‘gotcha’, the approach has to be discreet.
Photos:  Dancing Umbrellas – Heide Museum of Modern Art, Victoria; National Gallery of Victoria; Ai Wei Wei – National Gallery of Victoria; Fundacio Joan Miro, Barcelona, Spain.

Gallery staff at work present other photo-opportunities. Their presence in the space is often “I’m here, but pretend you can’t see me.”    I’m watching.
Photos: Glasstresse, Venice Biennale 2015; MAXXI, Rome; Tate Britain, London: A conservator at work, National Gallery of Victoria.

Observing around public art places also offers pleasing and complementary scenarios.
Photos: Street art, Oporto, Portugal; around the cloisters, Monastery of Pedrables, Barcelona, Spain;  Hosier Lane, Melbourne;  me being silly, “circular selfie” Heide Museum of Modern Art.

Photo: Inge King Sculpture exhibition – National Gallery of Victoria

 © Photos and text Pamela Reid/tPRo 2017

Art and about Europe: There’s no place like Rome

Photo:  Italian style in The Vatican

Years ago, I tore an editorial out of a women’s magazine. It was titled “Forty things to do before you die”.  Number 40 was “Sip coffee in Rome”.  I’d never been to Rome and held onto this press cutting until, finally, I did just that. I sipped coffee in Rome.  Until then, Paris to me was the beautiful European city with a reputation for sitting in cafes, people watching.  But Rome!  This is the city for walking and watching.  The coffee is good (of course, it’s Italy), but strolling those streets day and night, exploring the sights and watching the people, capturing those moments through my camera lens –  this for me is now Number One on my itinerary each time I travel.

Walking Rome: It doesn’t matter where you start, this way or that? I have ‘my’ regular Hotel on Via Del Corso. When I turn right for my morning walk, there’s few people out at daybreak, but those who are sharing the experience are like-minded. The early-risers.

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Photos:  Towards The Colosseum; vegetables are delivered to a restaurant; off to work (my photo homage to Jeffrey Smart); local cafe.

If I turn left, I can stroll shopping galore until I reach Piazza del Popolo, a large, symmetrical piazza, with its central obelisk and magnificent architectural surrounds.  The church of Santa Maria del Popolo (built 11th century, then reconstructed in the early Renaissance) is adorned with artworks including: two by Caravaggio, Saul on the road to Damascus and Crucifixion of St Peter; Adoration of the Child by Pinturicchio who also painted the ceiling and frescoes within the church. The Chigi chapel was designed by Raphael…and so much more. Piazza del Popolo is also popular for people watching.

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Photos:  Shopping for scarves, fresh fruit daily, fashionably Fendi; arriving at Piazza del Popolo.

I googled the definition of “people watching” – the action or practice of spending time idly observing people in a public place.  Idle?  I don’t think so!  My late, dear friend, photographer Rennie Ellis, built a creative career and lifestyle from observation, recording social, photographic commentary. Nineteen books of his works since the Seventies have been published, including three posthumously. There have been many “Rennie” exhibitions over the years in Sydney, Canberra, around Melbourne as well as “Everyday People” at State Library of Victoria and the upcoming,opening next week. I worked for Rennie for three years and learnt much from him.   Back to…. The absolute pleasure and excitement in people watching around Rome.

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Photos:  Trading on Ponte Garibaldi; Policeman on duty; tourists around the Trevi Fountain and Piazza Navona.

This is one of my favourite photos, taken outside restaurant Prosciutteria Coronari.  For me, it depicts this leisurely pursuit.


…and some around Vatican City.
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Photos:  Family outing; Nuns in the neighbourhood; a beggar woman on steps just outside the city; mucho Il Papa merchandise.

Rome is also the reason for foodie fotos.  When you’re sitting in your favourite piazza, with that glass of prosecco or spritz, a small bowl of olives, a salad, the oil and vinegar bottles on the table – you’re “in heaven” and life doesn’t get any better.
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Photos:  Happiness is….. with daughter, Annie.

All of this, and that’s just the daytime. When the sun goes down, continue walking, watching, dining. Experience Rome.
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Photos:  Around The Pantheon; complimentary cold tomato and oregano soup at Babette Restaurant; Vivaldi’s “Le Quattro Stagioni” recital in Church of All Saints; looking out from Castel Sant’Angelo.

Photos:  Along via del Corso

© 2017  tPRo/Pamela Reid







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

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.

“Buona note, Roma

© 2017 tPRo/Pamela Reid