Skip to content

Discovering Mallorca: Exquisite exclusivity in the Embarcadero of S’Estaca

I should warn readers now that the photos you are about to see may make your eyes saw from their exposure to beauty. For few readers of The Daily Norm in the last few months can doubt the breathtaking natural beauty of the island of Mallorca I call home. But even paradise has its highlights, and the little port, or Embarcadero of S’Estaca is pretty much as good as it gets.

Nestled in a tiny cluster of rocks at the foot of the steep craggy cliffs of the Tramuntana Mountains, S’Estaca is a breathtaking coastal estate first owned by the notorious Archduke Salvator and subsequently by the even more famous Hollywood star Michael Douglas together with his exwife. While the glamorous Mallorquin finca he now calls his home is strictly off limits to most but a lucky few, the tiny little landing port of the same name can be enjoyed by the wider public, or at least those adventurous enough to traverse the steep cliffside paths stretching from the Port of Valldemossa.

DSC09467 DSC09379 DSC09321 DSC09418 DSC09582 DSC09460 DSC09404 DSC09619

Those who make it will discover what is easily one of the most stunning little ports I have ever encountered in my life. With just a few fisherman’s huts clinging to the cliff like birds nests, a semi circular landing platform on which local fishermen still sit to mend their nests, and surreal rock clusters like an illusion straight out of the mind of Salvador Dali, S’Estaca is the epitome of picturesque. And what perhaps tops it off is the water: naturally enclosed by the rock forms encircling the bay, the water is as clear, as turquoise and as stunningly beautiful as a manmade swimming pool, but with all the enticing extras that only Mother Nature can afford.

This is beauty at its most unbeatable.

DSC09475 DSC09368 DSC09457 DSC09362 DSC09599 DSC09597 DSC09381 DSC09351

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2015 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

My travel sketchbook: Parque de la Constitución

The pages of my travel sketchbook are filling up! Started in Dubrovnik back in May last year, with a somewhat questionable sketch of a church tower and an even more questionable attempt at poetry (for which, apologies), the contents have since matured into something I now carry with pride, as the very best collection of pictorial memories I could hope for. On my recent trip to Marbella, I used the happy balmy time relaxing in the summer climes to make several additions to my sketchbook, and the first is here.

The sketch shows a corner of what must be my favourite park in Marbella, the Parque de la Constitución. Filled with tropical plants, an observatory, a little shady cafe and with a Moorish-styled amphitheatre at its centre, it is a park designed with leisure in mind, and on a hot Marbella day, it is a wonderful space in which to relax. In this sketch, you can just about make out the arabesque arches of the theatre in the background, together with the observatory and a good number of the many trees boasted by the park. A fine place to sketch in the summer. 

Parque de la Constitucion (2015 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen on paper)

Parque de la Constitucion (2015 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen on paper)

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. 

Ocho Balcones (No.3): Kitchen Contrast

After two weeks, it has become something of a new tradition to begin the week with the latest addition of my new collection of gouache paintings, Ocho Balcone. Named after the 8 balconies which I get to enjoy every day in my Palma de Mallorca flat, it is particularly pertinent that their bright colours should start off the week afresh in this blog, since in reality it is the cheer of these sunny views which makes the prospect of working after the weekend a little more bearable.

This Monday’s painting is the third in the collection, and depicts the balcony immediately adjacent to our kitchen. I love the time of the day when the sun on the yellow building opposite is so bright that the colours of the inside of my kitchen pale by way of comparison. This painting is an attempt to capture this contrast, when, with the harsh glow of sunlight dominating from outside, the inside of my kitchen becomes something of a monochrome version of its former self.

Ocho Balcones No. 3: KItchen Contrast (2015 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, gouache on paper)

Ocho Balcones No. 3: KItchen Contrast (2015 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, gouache on paper)

More to come, next Monday!

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown 2000-2015. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included on this website without express and written permission from Nicholas de Lacy-Brown is strictly prohibited. For more information on the work of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, head to his art website at www.delacybrown.com

Musings on Marbella: My little neighbourhood

Marbella is a name synonymous with glamorous hotel resorts, mass tourism and indulgent beach parties, tacky celebrities and multiple cosmetic surgeries. But as I have pointed out so many times before, beyond Puerto Banus and the vast stretches of tourist-ravaged coast either side, the actual centre of Marbella on Spain’s Costa del Sol is an authentic gem in the crown of Andalucia. Not only does the town boast an utterly picturesque old town at its core, including a baroque masterpiece of a church and ancient Moorish walls, but its modern expansion has an altogether more down to earth atmosphere, where chirpy Andalucian locals take a coffee on the sidewalk, walk along the seaside and even head occasionally to the gym.

DSC01089 DSC01090 DSC01087

This is the real Marbella which I am lucky enough to call my neighbourhood, for my family have owned a home at the heart of the old town for almost a decade and a half, and as a result I have become well accustomed to this part of the world. The result is that when I visit, I reflect more introspectively, and create on canvas rather than take a whole raft of new photos of sights often explored before. My collection from this year’s trip is not therefore extensive. But it is characterised by the very authenticity which makes this area of Marbella the real soul of the city, rather than the superficiality which exists at its fringes.

These photos were taken in literally a few hundred square metres of my house and the little hilly street we live in. They present just a few details from the neighbourhood we live in… the real Marbella which so many visitors miss.

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2015 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

My travel sketchbook: One-armed lady

There was an awful lot I could have sketched when I was recently in Malaga. It wasn’t just that I was inspired to paint the landscape interpretation I went on to create shortly after our return, but I also felt the need to flip open my sketchbook and capture the captivating elements of the city. And I didn’t need to look much further than the view from my hotel, the Molina Lario, to find inspiration.

For the rooftop of the hotel is easily its best attraction. With a little pool and poolside bar, the roof allows you to splash around to your heart’s content with the most stunning city view as your backdrop. In fact the view had inspired me before, when last year I created a mixed-technique etching and woodcut print of the view. But not content with that, I decided to return to the same inspiration, focusing in on Malaga’s famously unfinished single-towered cathedral for inspiration. And here is the result. The latest page of my travel sketchbook, all with pen.

Malaga Cathedral, detail (2015 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen on paper)

Malaga Cathedral, detail (2015 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen on paper)

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. For more information on the work of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, head to his art website at www.delacy-brown.com

Ocho Balcones (No.2): Cables in the Calle

Another week has begun, time continues to traverse its fleeting path through the year, and it’s time for me to present this week’s second addition to my new Ocho Balcones collection: a series of small gouache paintings illustrating the views which I am lucky enough to enjoy from the 8 balconies of my Palma de Mallorca flat.

Today’s view is has a much more narrow field of vision than the first. The balcony from which the aspect is seen is not even in view. Instead, the painting focuses in on a particular aspect of this view from our dining table, namely the electricity (or are they telephone?) cables which are so characteristic of the old town of Palma, and which hang directly outside our apartment.

Ocho Balcones No. 2: Cables in the Calle (2015 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, gouache on paper)

Ocho Balcones No. 2: Cables in the Calle (2015 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, gouache on paper)

From the first day we moved into this flat last autumn, I have been fascinated by these cables which hang at the same level as our apartment, and which provide a divertingly original aspect to an otherwise colourful view of pastel houses and the typical Mallorquin green shutters. Enveloped in some kind of striped cloth, they almost look like a complex form of flag pole suspended midair over the street. In reality I have no idea what the cables are for, nor what function the striped material has. I only know that I love to look at these structures each day, and thoroughly enjoyed capturing them in this second sunny scene from my new gouache collection.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown 2000-2015. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included on this website without express and written permission from Nicholas de Lacy-Brown is strictly prohibited. For more information on the work of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, head to his art website at www.delacy-brown.com

Interpretation No. 15 – Malaga

The week ends as it begun, with the introduction of another of my new little paintings, created comparatively quickly (that is, in relation to my oil works) with gouache on paper, and inspired by another stunning landscape of the Mediterranean. As with the other works in my collection of “interpretations” which began back last summer on the Amalfi Coast, my landscape of Malaga attempts to simplify the forms of the landscape by stripping out many of the architectural details, while using flat areas of colour to delineate architectural forms and their contrast with the haphazard lines of nature around them.

Interpretation No. 15 - Malaga (2015 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, gouache on paper)

Interpretation No. 15 – Malaga (2015 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, gouache on paper)

My photos on Wednesday will hopefully help to persuade you as to why the southernmost large Spanish city of Malaga should have brought out the artist within me, and in creating this 15th interpretative landscape, I have attempted to catch the city at one of its most alluring times, when the sun has set to create a golden backdrop to the diverse architectural shapes of the city: from the baroque majesty of the “one-armed lady” (the cathedral) to the simplified robust walls of the ancient moorish Alcazaba palace.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. For more information on the work of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, head to his art website at www.delacy-brown.com

Musings on Málaga: Southernmost City

The beautiful city of Malaga in Southern Spain is not only the 6th largest city in Spain, but also the southernmost large city in Europe. Located alongside the sparkling Mediterranean sea just south of the sun-roasted mountain plains of Andalucia, Malaga is an ancient city whose streets, style and very essence seem to reflect the baking heat of this most southern of European suns. And while its beating heart may run volcanically hot, the city has recently shown itself to be a hot pick for visitors too, boasting some of the best historical sights and cultural highlights in all of Spain.

DSC00882 DSC00908 DSC00912 DSC00785 DSC00678

Its ancient historical centre is crowned by a magnificent cathedral, unique thanks to its unfinished second tower which has led the monument to become known as “the one-armed lady”. Its eastern hills are topped by the even older Castle of Gibralfaro and the Alcazaba fortress, a potent reminder of the region’s moorish heritage, heavily reminiscent of similar treasures in nearby Granada and Seville. Its newly renovated port and seaside front-line is fringed by stunning botanical gardens which sway gently alongside baroque palaces. And amongst its fantastic collection of impressive museums, the city can count the Picasso Museum, the Carmen Thyssen Museum, the new Russian Museum, the CAC Málaga Contemporary Art Museum and the recently opened Pompidou Centre Málaga amongst its collection. 

DSC00872 DSC01003 DSC00684 DSC00808DSC00719

it was largely because of the opening of this new branch of Paris’ Pompidou Centre that I strayed back to Malaga this month as part of my annual trip to my family home in Marbella, the smaller seaside town nestling on Malaga’s infamous Costa del Sol. Not only was I desperate to see the new Pompidou, but equally attracted by a temporary exhibition of Louise Bourgeois at the Picasso Museum and an exhibition of Summer-inspired works at the Thyssen. While I could easily fill this post with my reactions from those shows, I decided instead to be more visual in expressing my Malaga experience by sharing a few of the photos I took in the city. There aren’t many mind you… we were there only 24 hours after all, much of which was spent within art galleries. But I think this little collection pretty much sums up the heat, the colour and the spirit of this southernmost city.

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2015 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved.

Ocho Balcones (No.1): From the bedroom

Beloved readers of The Daily Norm may remember that during my recent blissful honeymoon, I painted a group of bedroom views which collectively became knowns as The Honeymoon Suite, for obvious reasons. I would never have thought that something so simple as a bedroom and its view might provide such potent inspiration, but then again, I am a home-loving man, and this applies as much to my trips away as to when I am in my own humble abode… and the cosier the bedroom, the happier, and consequently inspired, I feel within it.

Somewhat ironically, it took a trip away from Mallorca for me to realise just how inspirational are the surroundings of my home here in the beautiful city of Palma, and soon enough I set about painting a new collection, still very much in the production line, of views from my apartment. I am lucky enough to live in a home benefitting from some 8 little balconies, and hence my collection of the super-colourful street views we enjoy from those balconies is appropriately named: Ocho Balcones. Today I present you with the first – the view from our bedroom.

Ocho Balcones (No.1): From the bedroom

Ocho Balcones (No.1): From the bedroom (2015 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, gouache on paper)

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown 2000-2015. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included on this website without express and written permission from Nicholas de Lacy-Brown is strictly prohibited. For more information on the work of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, head to his art website at www.delacy-brown.com

Discovering Mallorca: Palma’s secret city

Regular readers of The Daily Norm will remember that I am utterly captivated by the charms of a cemetery. It’s not a morbid fascination – far from it. For me, cemeteries are amongst the most beautiful and thought-provoking places you can visit. Somewhere to escape the noise of life, to reflect on the emotional strength of people’s devotion to their families, and to admire some of the most startling sculptures you are likely to see in a small compact space. I have been to many cemeteries in my time, not least here in Spain where the mix of sunshine strained through shady cypress trees is particularly poetic. But if the cemeteries I have seen here before were works of poetry, the municipal cemetery in Palma de Mallorca was nothing short of a masterpiece of theatre.

DSC09924 DSC09982 DSC09967 DSC09960 DSC09926 DSC09932

Located close to the outer ring road, the cemetery is not exactly walkable from the centre of town, and as a result, it was not until now, with a hire care at our disposal, that we were able to pass by. But this cemetery was worth the wait. Never in all my life have I ever seen such a vast collection of intricately crafted, magnificently devotional sculpture and stunning architecture in such a compact space. The cemetery is probably the biggest I have ever been in, but it is also amongst the most crowded, and row after row and row after row of tombstones are loaded not with simple flat graves, but elegantly and theatrically decorated with stone crosses, angels and other elaborate sculptures so that the result is a veritable forest of ancient stone.

DSC09941 DSC09984 DSC09985 DSC09914 DSC09930 DSC00005

And most magnificently of all are the series of lavish little side chapels which line the perimeters of the cemetery. Utterly elaborate, constructed in a number of styles from baroque to classical and even 20th century modernist, this collection of buildings looks like an ancient empire, resembling the kind of spectacle which may have been found when entering a roman forum lined with temples.

DSC09966 DSC09974 DSC09944 DSC09950 DSC09929DSC09953

But that was not all. For beneath ground level, a secret staircase led down into what was probably the most spectacular aspect of the whole cemetery – a vast double horseshoe-shaped catacomb itself lined with tombs from floor to ceiling, flooded with light from holes in the ceiling, and slowly sprinkled with dust gently falling in the rays of sunshine. It was like something from Indiana Jones, and with road names engraved in latin we felt like we have been catapulted centuries back to an ancient civilisation.

DSC09987 DSC00003 DSC09990 DSC09998 DSC09997 DSC09992

It was only when we emerged back into the heat of the Mallorca day, the sounds of the nearby ring-road resounding nearby, that we realised we had just found Palma’s secret city.

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2015 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 5,268 other followers