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Posts tagged ‘San Gimignano’

ITALIA Season – Florence and San Gimignano: My photographs

I have no qualms in declaring that Italy was the making of me. When I embarked upon a Gap Year trip studying art history across the main focus points of artistic Italy in 2001, it opened my eyes to a realm of creativity that I had never before imagined could exist in such abundance. Growing up in Sussex, the limits of my art education had been trips to see recreated plastic Victorian seaside scenes in the local Worthing museum, and a Monet exhibition at the Royal Academy which, having been hyped up on TV, I dragged my parents up to London to see.

Italy changed all of that, and the city which really began my love affair with Italia was the city of Firenze. It is a city so richly overflowing with beautiful cobbled streets, consistently charming buildings, stunning architectural gems such as the Duomo and the Ponte Vecchio, and a wealth of artistic treasures, that it is hard not to become utterly seduced, not to mention that it sits at the centre of a vast plain of equally lovely Tuscan countryside.

When I returned to Florence some years later, my visit was brief, but the city had lost none of its charm. Staying only a few days, old sights were revisited as I tried to recreate those carefree days of 2001, trying to stumble upon those once-loved haunts while following my mental recollected map of the city (which did not always prove to be correct!). But my time in Florence was short, as the nearby city of San Gimignano beckoned, a city which is so complete in its preserved medieval heritage that UNESCO has ring-fenced the whole town and marked it with its rubber stamp of protective approval. No wonder the place was so overloaded with tourists.

In the mood of Italia Season here on The Daily Norm, I enclose some of my favourite shots from that trip. They’re not your typical photos of the cities, but small, detail shots of little items of life that amused or interested me. Enjoy!

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2012. 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.

Sunday Supplement ITALIA – Tuscany Wharf: 15km to San Gimignano

It’s ITALIA Season on the Daily Norm, celebrating, for at least two weeks, everything that’s fantastic about Italy. And to kick of the season, here on the Sunday Supplement, the weekly showcase of my art, I am featuring my 2010 painting, Tuscany Wharf: 15 km to San Gimignano. 

I was inspired to paint the scene when my Partner’s family and I were driving through the incredibly beautiful green and golden rolling hills of the Tuscan countryside. The journey, from Donoratico down on the coast up through the hills, past Volterra and on to San Gimignano involved so many curves and bends and meanders through the Tuscan countryside that when we reached a road sign advising us that after around 90 minutes of said meandering, we were finally within 15 km reach of our final destination, my Partner, whose face was very green by that point, breathed a huge sigh of relief, or as much of a sigh as could be mustered after a double dose of very soporific travel sickness tablets.

As we approached San Gimignano, a UNESCO world-heritage protected town, famous for its collection of medieval towers which grew taller with each new construction as rich merchant families sought to compete with one another, the view was better than ever. Approaching the town from some distance, seeing the iconic towers gradually emerging from behind the brow of a set of undulating hills, was quite a sight, and one which I have attempted to capture in my painting, which celebrates all the beauty of the Tuscan countryside from rows of perfectly lined up vineyards and golden fields with rolled up hay, to the curly-wurly road itself, rising and falling over and around the crests of hills, lined by cypress trees and Italian pines.

However what makes this representation of Tuscany different is that sliced through one part of the landscape is a vertical insight into another world. It’s industrial Northern England, a scene with such industrialised toxicity that the smoke bellowing out from the factory chimneys pour into the Tuscan scene, filling turquoise skies with a decided collection of clouds. The English scene, which was inspired by the works of L. S. Lowry, was inserted by way of marked contrast to the beauty of the Tuscan scenery. However both scenes appear to be in sync, as if they represent the same geography in a parallel universe. Where the tuscan hills roll upwards, the english scene follows the same trajectory, with a row of cramped terraced houses following the same incline of the Tuscan hill. Where in tuscany there is a round bail of hay, in the English scene, the bail of hay is replaced with a cylindrical oil container. Similarly the roses, planted next to a vineyard so the grape grower can detect disease early, is replaced by the barbed wire keeping trespassers off the industrial site. Thus it is that the two landscapes appear inescapably conflicting, and yet coexisting in perfect union.

Tuscany Wharf (15km to San Gimignano) (oil on canvas, 2010 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown)

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2012. 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.

 

January blues? Dream of the summer

There is only one way to get through these cold winter days, bleak and grey as it was in London today. Either book a summer holiday, or dream of one. Or better still, create summer in your home. Christmas is over, New Year is done. What else do we have to look forward to? With this rather depressing thought in mind, I went about stimulating each of my senses with the promise of a forthcoming 2012 summer.

Beloved Cappuccino... this one in Mallorca's Port d'Andratx

Ears: on the CD player, I played the albums of Cappuccino, the ultimate in Buddah-bar cool, emanating from the chic Mallorcan coffee chain, its music reminding me of long evenings spent under the stars in the Marbella version of the cafe chain, cicadas chirping and the warm mediterranean waves lapping upon the sandy shore as I drank wine and ate almond tart. The second and third senses crying out for satisfaction are smell and taste, and what could be better now than to put away the spicy Christmas chutneys and dried up cold meats, and open a good old Spanish cook book. Entering my third day of a Spanish festival of cooking, today it was Andalucian spiced stuffed aubergines, patatas bravas and a good rioja, the summer smells of cooking garlic and a spiced tomato bravas sauce pervading the cold winter air of my flat.

Spanish cooking: Trout stuffed with serrano ham, with chorizo chickpeas and andaluz spinach

Fourthly and all importantly: sight. It’s my summery paintings which get an airing now. Marbella – the town’s long sandy beach, lined with cafes and unusual art deco architecture, the town supported by the stunning backcloth of its Sierra landscape, its buzzing Paseo Martimo reflected into a wide, sparkling expanse of mediterranean sea. On the beach, Henry Moore inspired sculptures soak up the warm rays of an all-encompassing joyful sun, banishing thoughts of winter and reminding all concerned of the joie de vivre of summer.

 

El Faro de Marbella (with Sunbathing Henry Moore's) (oil on canvas, 2010 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown)

Over the Mediterranean, my mind is racing to Tuscany, and my painting Tuscany Wharf captures the essence of that place I love. Hills rolling elegantly into one another, lush green rolling landscapes broken up by perfectly lined up grape vines and bales of hay, while from beyond the windy road interspersed within the valleys, the glorious towers of San Gimignano emerge, a medieval spectacle, one tower after another, climbing in an apparent ascendancy to heaven itself. And as if to remind me in my daydream of summer of the bleak reality of the English landscape around me, a slice of northern industrial England cuts through Tuscany’s rolling hills, cypress trees replaced with chimneys, hills with terraces, and roses with barbed wire, the polluting plumes emitted by factory chimneys managing to escape, pouring out into the previously clear turquoise Tuscan sky.

Tuscany Wharf (15km to San Gimignano) (oil on canvas, 2010 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown)

Back to Spain for the evening, and as the sun sets over a peachy bellini-tinted sea, a postcard floats in the air recollecting memories of a Spanish summer holiday spent indulging in thirst-quenching sangria, ice cold San Miguel, and an unctuous paella, while the evenings are spent whisked away by the rhythmic hypnosis of a flamenco dancer’s wailing cries, or the swish, ballerina movement of the Toreador’s vivid red cape.

Souvenir of Spain (oil on canvas, 2010 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown)

Ahh to dream of the Summer. Check out more of my paintings at my main site www.delacy-brown.com. In the meantime, I’m off to dream of summer…and look for cheap holidays online!

Postscript: Today WordPress included my blog in Freshly Pressed! Thank you so much WordPress and for all those who have previously and subsequently supported my blog and posted comments. Your support means so much. Please come back for more artistic jinks at The Daily Norm!

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2005-2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work 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.

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