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The Honeymoon Chronicles, Part II: Calder’s Pool

On Wednesday I told you all about the earthly paradise that is La Colombe d’Or, and yesterday I shared my first artwork inspired by this epicentre of the arts. And yet I would do La Colombe an injustice if I stopped there. For combine my relentless enthusiasm for all things Mediterranean, with my love of art, and my complete obsession with the effect of light on water, and ripples, and you will be unsurprised that during our stay at that little Provençal Inn, I fell head over heels in love with the swimming pool which languishes at the centre of the hotel.

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Surrounded on three sides by the old stone residences which make up the charming accommodation of La Colombe, and on the other with a spectacular view of the rolling hills around St-Paul de Vence, the swimming pool benefits from lush planting, cypress trees clipped into perfectly curvaceous almost anthropomorphic forms, ancient ceramic pots overflowing with palms and flowers, and quaint wooden loungers each fitted with a distinctive apricot cushion for the ultimate in comfort.

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But above all of the charms of this magical pool is the original art which surrounds it. On the one side, a dark contemplative piece by contemporary geometric artist Sean Scully sounds all wrong on paper, but the dark colours perfectly complement the zing of orange of the sun loungers lined up against it. Opposite, the bird mosaic by Georges Braque fits perfectly harmoniously with the lush vegetation surrounding it, peeking out from behind the cypress trees as though wary of the tourists taking their places alongside the pool. And best of all – that stunning Alexander Calder mobile, whose fast metal arms swing slowly and silently in the still Riviera air, and whose base stands majestically on the water’s edge.

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All combined like the colours mixed on an artist’s palette in ripples moving across the delicate green waters whose depths were punctuated with light manifested in every shade of cerulean blue and forest green. I became fascinated, dazzled by the interplay of colour on the water, and took so many photos that a post dedicated to this phenomenon of La Colombe d’Or was a must.

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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.

The Honeymoon Suite I: Bedroom at La Colombe d’Or

I knew that staying at La Colombe d’Or would inspire me. It wasn’t just that it happens to be stationed in one of the most exquisite locations in all of the French Riviera, but it has also inspired countless of the world’s most famous modern artists, and I wasn’t going to be the exception. So armed with my handy box of gouache paints, brushes and using the Colombe d’Or’s ashtray for water (sorry Colombe!) I set about painting what most inspired me. And from the very first morning, when I awoke to find light flooding into our bedroom, the rays dancing and undulating as they reflected across from the swimming pool right outside the room, I knew what I would have to paint.

The work which resulted is this one, the first in my Honeymoon Suite series. The painting depicts not only the effect of the light entering through a quaint wooden window into our pastel-coloured room, but also the proximity of the Alexander Calder mobile, and the Braque mosaic, just outside our room, which never failed to excite me. In  the foreground is the little desk which I used to paint this very same painting, breathing the cypress-perfumed air which wafted through the window as I did so.

Honeymoon Suite I: Bedroom at La Colombe d'Or (2015 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, gouache on paper)

Honeymoon Suite I: Bedroom at La Colombe d’Or (2015 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, gouache on paper)

Like so many artists who went before me, I could have stayed in the Colombe d’Or to paint forever.

© 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

The Honeymoon Chronicles, Part I: La Colombe d’Or

To say that my wedding and the honeymoon which followed was a whirlwind of emotions would be no exaggeration. Within minutes of cutting our sensational ombre wedding cake in Chelsea, we were whisked off in the old fashioned style, straight to our honeymoon, leaving our guests behind, and sadly no tied up cans trailing our vehicle. Our destination was the French Riviera, and with only further wedding cake to keep post-wedding hangovers at bay, we tried to prepare ourselves mentally for this further change in circumstances as we were whisked through the night to the South of France.


Our arrival in the tiny village of Saint-Paul de Vence near Nice could not have been more different from the city we had departed. Utterly at peace, with a distinctive fragrance of pines and cypresses freshening the air. As darkness had already descended, the village was permeated by little yellow street lamps, subtly illuminating the central plaza where pétanque balls lay in wait for the following day’s play. And amidst the darkness, one sign glowed more than any other: Lighting a golden dove on a blue and yellow sky, it was the sign of La Colombe d’Or – we had arrived.

Our bedroom at La Colombe d’Or

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La Colombe d’Or (the golden dove) is a legendary destination in the South of France. First opened in the 1920s by Paul and Baptistine Roux, it began life as a quaint little inn nestled against the magnificent ancient ramparts of the village of Saint-Paul de Vence. Its stunning garden terrace abundant in shady fig trees together with its cosy restaurant interior soon began to attract a faithful clientele, and as the French Riviera became progressively more a centre for thinkers and artists, so too did La Colombe become a gathering place for the crème of the artistic set.

Around the pool and in the gardens

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As the years went on, and the Roux family continued to welcome and befriend some of the world’s most famous artists and intellectuals, so too did La Colombe’s remarkable collection of modern art grow, much of which was swapped in exchange for accommodation and their famously delicious Provençal cuisine. So La Colombe d’Or grew, both physically (gradually subsuming neighbouring buildings) and reputationally, and its art collection today stands as one of the most staggering private collections of modern art you could ever hope to see. On its walls, original works by Picasso, Braque, Sonia Delaunay, Calder, Miro, Chagall, Cesar and so many others hang; its leafy terrace is dominated by a stunning ceramic mural by Fernand Leger; and its most stunning swimming pool languishes alongside a remarkable Calder Mobile, a mosaic by Braque, and a recently installed ceramic mural by Sean Scully.

Interiors, and La Colombe’s incredible collection of modern art

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For any enthusiast of 20th century art, or indeed for anyone beloved of the utmost aesthetic tranquility, La Colombe d’Or is a paradise on earth, beyond mere description – it has to be experienced. In the unpretentious little chairs which are clustered on its restaurant terrace, one can see the ghosts of the famous writers and artists who used to sit there in the shadows of the fig trees Jacques Prévert, Yves Montand, James Baldwin, Pablo Picasso… In the unapologetically rustic walls and furniture, you feel as though invited into the warmest of family homes. And in its paradisal gardens, fringed by pillars and scattered with fallen blossom, and alongside that most sensational of swimming pools, you feel as though you have entered some kind of parallel world. Utterly at peace. This was paradise found.

La Colombe’s stunningly cosy restaurant terrace

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And so in La Colombe d’Or, we happily stationed ourselves for the first four days of our honeymoon. And so the rush of emotions which had commenced at our wedding continued. It was to be the most sensational few days imaginable.

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.

Roots entwined: Our story illustrated

Two weeks ago I married my soul mate, and the man I am now lucky enough to call my husband, and on yesterday’s Daily Norm you were bombarded with photos of our ceremony. However, our marriage was a culmination of 6 years together, almost to the exact day of our first date in fact, on 16th June 2009, and from that moment onwards, I lived life as a man complete.

In celebration of our journey together since that first June date, I prepared for our wedding by drawing a little illustration of our adventures as a twosome. Inspired by the magical words of Louis de Bernieres in his stunning novel, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, which were read at our wedding, my illustration takes the form of a complex interlocked image of our adventures, each stemming from the routes which now bind us so firmly together.

Roots entwined (2015 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen on paper)

Roots entwined (2015 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen on paper)

Love is a temporary madness, it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides. 
And when it subsides you have to make a decision. 
You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined
together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. 
Because this is what love is.

Love is not breathlessness, it is notexcitement,
it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion.
That is just being in love, which any fool can do. 
Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away,
and this is both an artand a fortunate accident.

Those that truly love have roots that grow towards each other underground,
and, when all the prettyblossoms have fallen from their branches,
they find that they are one tree and not two.

Louis de Bernieres, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin

The day I married my soul mate

I knew I wanted to marry my soul mate Dominik almost from the first moment we met. It was within a few dates that I knew we were two inseparables, so alike in our tastes and ambitions, thoughts and feelings, that it was like finding myself all over again, and gaining the best friend, companion and lover a man could wish for. We marked our commitment very early only – it was within 6 months that we placed eternity rings around one another’s hands on a snowy night in Montmartre in Paris – but it took us a further 5.5 years to seal the deal.

Getting ready for the big moment, and with mother of the groom and my nephews…

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I suppose for us, the big step was engagement, and the marriage was only ever the cherry on the cake, or at least that was how it felt when we decided to opt on a completely secret, tiny ceremony two weeks ago, inviting only our most intimate family and very few friends, in order to keep our wedding small, both numerically and economically. For us it felt more administrative as we filled in the forms and gave our official notice. And when, in the days leading up to our wedding, people asked if we were nervous, I couldn’t understand why we were supposed to feel nerves, when on paper it all seemed so simple.

The magical moment, and stepping out into a confetti of peonies 

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That was until the wedding. In that moment, when joining hands before a Chelsea registrar, we looked into each other’s eyes, and placed the final wedding band on our fingers, suddenly it all became very, wonderfully real. The extent of our commitment, the magic of the moment, the utmost celebration of the most perfect union: the moment I married my soul mate. Now, looking back on those magical few minutes, my memories are flooded with the great surge of emotion I felt in that moment, the pride and the love, and the utmost and complete joy.

Photos, celebrations and a top-notch lunch

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So for anyone doubting whether the US decision of last week, which legalised gay marriage across all states, was the right one, let my experience cast those doubts asides. Gay marriage in the UK has enabled me to commit myself not to a boyfriend, nor a civil partner, but to a husband, in the eyes of the law and before my family and friends. It has enabled me to bind myself to my one true soul mate, and in doing so share the same right afforded to everyone around me, whatever their sexuality. The world is finally moving forwards, common sense is prevailing, and equal love is truly victorious.

Rounded off with an incredible cake (courtesy of

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

Festival of colour: The Summer Exhibition 2015

There’s nothing quite like the rejuvenating power of bright, unapologetic colour to lift the spirits amidst an atmosphere of grey, and this is no more so than in London where, on a recent visit, the skies were characteristically gloomy and very un-summery. Heading therefore towards this year’s Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts therefore brought with it the promise of some element of seasonal rejuvenation, even if it could not improve the weather. But this year’s show, the 247th in the Academy’s history, did not just flush us with the spirit of summer, but with a festival of colour, never before seen at the annual show in such quantities.


The reason for this panoply of colour is surely its chief curator, Michael Craig-Martin RA, whose work is famous for its blocky poster-print colours with exact outlines and pop-art motifs. With such an artist in charge, there was no way this show was going to be boring, and any doubts as to the fact were quickly swept away at the entrance to the RA, whose usually beige monochrome staircase had been transformed into a riot of multicoloured stripes in an installation by Jim Lambie.

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For those who dared climb what felt like a staircase of moving molten colour, a further punch of colour lay in wait in the form of the first three galleries, painted in bold magenta, blue and turquoise as a magnificently energised backdrop to a surprisingly fantastic selection of works. I never saw those lofty galleries look so rejuvenated, nor did I ever enjoy a Summer Exhibition with as much enthusiasm and high praise. For after years of continuous disappointment and what always seemed to be a relentless recycle of the RA cronies, at last we were presented with a show crammed with unapologetically figurative works, with paintings which exhibited actual talent (Tracey Emin’s usual crappy scrawls excepted), where superb print works were given a rightfully more prominent hang, and architectural models were actually interesting.

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Here we had paintings of places and cities, of streets you could walk in, of portraits you could empathise with, and where there was abstract, it was playful and bold – accessible and expertly conceived. In one room, a superb tapestry portrait by Grayson Perry (Julie and Rob) could have stolen the show, but was well accompanied by a gallery of moving, inspirational works such as Elise Ansel’s brilliant take on Bellini and Titian (Feast of the Gods II) – another riot of colour (above, top).


Considering the multiple works in Tom Phillips’ “A Humument”

So many works pronounced that the arrogant age of contemporary art installations and badly conceived “paintings” is dead, from the many offerings of an RA favourite, Stephen Chambers, to the last gallery entirely devoted to the doodles of Tom Phillips, whose work A Humument, involves the almost total recreation of a long lost novel thanks to his reillustration and reinterpretation of every page. And by way of confirmation that this new re-emergence of a classical pictorial style is both correct, and beloved, an already abundant array of red dots was already evident, despite the early days of the exhibition’s season.

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For those disappointed by past Summer Exhibitions, this one is not to be missed – it will change your mind for sure. The Summer Exhibition shows at the Royal Academy, London until 16th August 2015.

Appreciating the everyday: Waking up to Palma

It’s all too easy to be complacent, to get used to the good things in life and stop appreciating them, and here in Palma de Mallorca, where we are literally surrounded by the utmost of urban and then rural beauty at every stretch I am constantly reminding myself just how lucky I am. Such complacency resides more than anywhere else in the home, where we enjoy the same stunning surroundings every day, but the constantly changing beauty of our immediate environment provides a frequent reminder that it should be appreciated afresh every day.

Such were my musings when I got up one early morning a few days ago, and looked out of the window onto the multi-coloured panoply of old town streets which surround our apartment. Radiant in warm yellows, terracottas and greens, the nearby streets are archetypally Mediterranean, and look simply resplendent under the golden morning and evening sun rays. But what enchants me even more is the length of the early shadows, adding fresh stripes to an already linear landscape which move across the facades with the sun.

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This small set of photos was snapped quickly before work, when in a sudden moment of realisation, I was made to stop and appreciate my daily views afresh. Even my sculpted model, made during my first ever sculpture attempt in London back in 2011, appears to be captivated by the view she now enjoys on a daily basis. And who can blame her.

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.

Mallorca Sketchbook: Café Corner, Biniaraix

My adventures in the tiny village of Biniaraix a few days ago would never have been complete if I had not reached for my sketchbook and captured the little hamlet in all of its beauty. With such picturesque scenes extending from street to street, it was difficult to choose one which could aptly capture the essence of this village in sketchbook size. However, it was upon having a much needed iced coffee in the single old little cafe outside the tiny central church that I settled upon my image – of the sleepy shady terrace of the main square, looking down one of Biniaraix’s few side streets and across to the incredible mountain ranges which make the village so utterly stunning from every angle.

Cafe Corner, Biniaraix (2015 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen on paper)

Cafe Corner, Biniaraix (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.

Discovering Mallorca: The sleepy wonders of little Biniaraix

They say that the best things in life come in small packages, and this adage could not be better evidenced than in the form of the tiny village of Biniaraix in Mallorca. Nestled amongst the ripples and folds of the Tramuntana mountains, a few kilometres North East of the magnificent town of Soller, Biniaraix is urban living on a miniature scale dominated by the gigantic mountain landscape and extensive citrus groves that surround it.

With only some 150 residents, and roads between the town and Soller which make it difficult for even one car to squeeze through, let alone two side by side, Biniaraix maintains a feel of a village constructed for the horse and cart age. With one main street and various beautiful off-shoots, a single white-peaked church at its centre and a token cluster of cafes and shops straight out of another era, the village is the epitome of cosy.

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But Biniaraix also marks the start of the Barranc de Biniaraix, one of the most emblematic dry-stone walks climbing through the Tramuntana mountain range right to the Monastery in Lluc, a walk which is probably one of the most beautiful in all the world, but which we were only able to do the first 10 minutes of before giving up and heading to the Port of Soller for dinner. Still, we were able to get great photos of the village from afar, and even more colour-filled wonders when back in the village.

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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.

Mallorca Moments: Cala Deia as the sun descended

A certain mystery filled the air as we sat amongst the rocks besides the lapping Mediterranean sea in the Cala Deia the other night. As the sun descended, and the sky turned from yellow to pink to purple to cobalt blue, the shapes of this stunning rocky Mallorca cove seemed to take on a life of their own, as the rocks in silhouette were anthropomorphised into a gruesome masquerade. And as we walked on amongst the rocks, avoiding where we could little landslides caused by mountain sheep bravely traversing the cliff face in search of food, we stumbled upon even more mysterious forms – groups of small towers built from stones, as though some other visitor to the beach had marked out their destiny in an incantation made from rock.

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Such was the atmosphere as we returned to this glorious little cove, just a few kilometres down a winding road from our favourite village of Deia. It was an evening which commenced as the sun began its descent, and grilled squid was thoroughly enjoyed with a glass of wine, and ended as the sky’s luminescence was slowly drained and replaced by a soft blanket of dark blue velvet. The strangely formed stones, the silently lapping shore, and even a seagull waiting atop an island rock modelling perfectly as though in premonitory anticipation of some significant occurrence, all coincided to create an evening characterised by the kind of magic which is unique to the Tramuntana mountains, and to the incredible little rocky coves they envelop in their craggy folds as they plummet dramatically down to the sea.

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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.


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