Skip to content

Norms Palma Series: Paseo Marítimo

It may be mere weeks until Christmas, and while the streets of Palma de Mallorca are finally alight with the most impressive panoply of festive fairy lights and bustling with late night shoppers, by day, when the sun remains shining, Mallorca remains a summery affair. Once you are next to the water, enjoying the rays of clear sunshine refracting across bobbing water and dazzling the many white boats resting in the city harbour, you could so easily be in the summer. I guess it is that reason alone which makes Mallorca so popular in the winter as well as in the summer – for now is the time to reap the rewards of both seasons.

norms-paseo-maritimo

Norms in the Port of Palma (2016 ©Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen on paper)

This is very much how the sun-loving Norms feel, whose great joys in life include a chief enjoyment of the water, especially in good weather. And what better way is there to enjoy both fire and water than on a day of bobbling about on the Mediterranean. Why, to gain the pleasure of the mariners life, a Norm doesn’t really need to leave the harbour. Which is just as well, since Palma’s harbour is rather congested at the best of times, and a Norm may find it a simpler affair to enjoy his or her boat whilst still moored in the city waters. And why not, since from there they can enjoy the magnificent view of Bellver Castle in the background to boot. Now that’s what Norms call a sailor’s life.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2016. 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. For more information on the work of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, head to his art website at www.delacybrown.com

Three photos suggesting the onset of Christmas

It’s the 25th November. Which means only one thing: no no, not black Friday. I would frankly rather pay double the original price than fight my way to near death for the sake of a much tried and tested cut-price pair of Calvin Klein boxers. No, the 25th November means that the final countdown to Christmas has finally begun. And with one month to go, its time for the sceptics and the anti-festive moaners to return to their holes of gloom, for the festive season is truly upon us. And indeed in my home, its onset has come early.

Yup, that’s right, my home is well and truly a Christmas wonderland as this year I took to decorating even earlier than usual. The reason is largely a practical one – travelling a lot during the latter weeks of November and the early ones of December, I pretty much knew that it was now or never. And as the evenings get even darker as each day passes, I am surely enjoying the festive cheer which this prompt decorating spree has brought.

dsc06522dsc06534dsc06526

So as we begin this final month’s countdown to Christmas day, here are three photos – just small snapshots from my very Christmassy home – suggesting that the onset of Christmas, at least in my world, is very much here. Merry pre-christmas everyone!!

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2016. 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.

Palmanova: Colonial Age

It’s funny how coincidence so often dictates the trajectory of life. My weekend in Barcelona was booked on a whim, out of a desire to feel the stimulation of a big city. I had no idea when I organised the trip that the Picasso Museum was showing the most incredible exhibition of cubist art at the time I would be going. I likewise knew nothing of the show, nor the style of painting advanced by the Crystal Cubists when I started work on this painting, Palmanova: Colonial Age, which I am delighted to be sharing today. Yet somehow all of the elements of this period seem to have merged in one. The painting, and the trip, while advanced in separate moments, seem to sit perfectly alongside one another as a further phase in my development as an artist.

The project arose out of a restaurant decorating commission in the original Cappuccino Grand Café in Palmanova, Mallorca. A combination of the elegant tall palm trees swaying by the seaside outside, and the preexisting interiors of wood panelling which could not be changed, inspired an Indian colonial scheme, underpinned by rich greens and mustard yellows. This scheme was further advanced when coincidentally I found old artworks containing monkeys and palm trees which perfectly complemented the design, while the name of Farrow & Ball’s shade of yellow, Indian Yellow, likewise came as a signal for the design forming in my mind. But when we decided that the design required a painting for a finishing flourish, this image immediately jumped into my head.

palmanova

Palmanova: Colonial Age (©2016 Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, acrylic on canvas)

 

Palmanova: Colonial Age is a painting which is defined by the characteristics of crystal cubism which I admired so much in my last blog. Pictorially, it narrates both the surroundings of the restaurant where it now hangs – the sandy beach, the mountainous horizon, the sea and the palms – and likewise the Indian elements which underpin the interior design. But as I took the theme further, I realised that there were other similarities too between India and Palmanova. For while the “colonial” style of design stems largely from the time when the British Empire colonised and ruled India, Palmanova is an area of Mallorca likewise famous for its strong British population, and the local businesses, largely catering for Brit needs, are evidence of the success of this “colonisation”.

Somewhat tongue in cheek therefore I have applied the colonial theme to this sunny stretch of Spain when creating a cubist painting which for me perfectly complements the seaside location and the elegance of Britain’s great colonial age.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2016. 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. For more information on the work of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, head to his art website at www.delacybrown.com

Cubism’s hidden depth: The Crystal in the Flame

Any artist will tell you that paintings flowing from instinct will always work better. Those forced, because of instruction or a self-imposed target, will often miss the mark. When I paint from the heart, it always works better, and the style to which I always find myself returning in those unencumbered, free-flowing moments is a form of cubism.

I have always shied away from over-categorising my work. I rarely find such labels to be helpful, as indeed can be said of pigeonholing people. But I am the first to admit that there is something decidedly cubist about my recent work, especially when I design straight from the heart. This tendency arises, I believe, from my perfectionist attitude when it comes to composition and line, since there is nothing quite like the geometric delineation of cubism to satisfy that inherent need for order within me. However, it is also a tendency which arises directly out of my adoration for the genre in general.

Cubist works have always held an enduring fascination for me. In a gallery of plenty, they are always the works which later I will proclaim to have been my favourites. And last weekend, when I was lucky enough to attend an entire exhibition of cubism at the Picasso Museum in Barcelona, I realised quite how innately inspired I am by the cubist age.

Portrait_of_Josette_1916_Juan_Gris.jpg

Juan Gris, Portrait of Josette, 1916

severini-bottle

Gino Severini, Still-life with Bottle of Marsala, 1917

juan_gris

Juan Gris, La Guitarra, 1918

The museum’s fascinating new exhibition, Cubism and War: the Crystal in the Flame, sets out to explore another face of the artistic masterpieces produced during the time of the First World War. When WW1 broke out, cubism as an artistic genre, was considered to be a fully-established school, with the likes of Picasso and Braque, Diego Rivera and Juan Gris its leading proponents. Rather than break with this new innovation when the war made images of blood-soaked trenches and destroyed landscapes a reality, those same artists and their followers were determined to keep the style alive. However, whether it be as a direct response to the horrors of war or a reflection of the modern, mass-machine, emotionless reality of the age, the time of war did bring about a distinctive sub-class of cubism, and it is this period on which this exciting new exhibition focuses.

juan_gris_jose_victoriano_gonzalez_perez_spanish_-_still_life_before_an_open_window_place_ravignan_-_google_art_project

Juan Gris, Still Life before an Open Window, Place Ravignan, 1915

still-life-with-compote-and-glass

Pablo Picasso, Still-Life with Compote and Glass, 1914-15

Known as “crystal” cubism in reference to the tightening compositions, enhanced clarity and sense of order reflected in the works, this new modification of cubism has been likewise linked to a much broader ideological transformation towards conservatism in both French society and culture (the crystal movement was largely painted out of Paris). It was certainly a purification of the style, moving from a complex analytical form of cubism, in which cubism was used to decompose a particular image or person after study, to a synthetic process whereby the cubist composition was built on the basis of geometric construction without the need for prior study. The “crystal” period took synthetic cubism one step further with works inherently characterised by a strong emphasis on flat surface activity and large overlapping geometric planes controlled by the primacy of the image’s underlying geometric structure, rooted in the abstract.

pierrot-1919

Juan Gris, Pierrot, 1919

1024px-juan_gris_-_still_life_with_newspaper_-_google_art_project

Juan Gris, Still Life with Newspaper, 1916

The exhibition brings together an incredible away of works from the crystal period, and such was the perfection of the works on display that the show got my little perfectionist heart all in a flutter. Moving between a kind of infatuated admiration of the works and a despair at my own failure to produce masterpieces of the kind, I left the exhibition full of inspiration and a determination to continue along my own road of crystallised composition. I have already started work on my own painting inspired by the show. But in the meantime I am happy to recommend the exhibition to you all and to share some of its masterpieces on this post (most of which are Juan Gris, by far my favourite of the lot!).

Cubism and War. The Crystal in the Flame, runs at the Picasso Museum, Barcelona, until 29 January 2017.

A weekend in Barcelona

Barcelona: the creative beacon of Catalunya, a thriving city with all the charm of a seaside town, a capital for culture and a statement in gastronomic, stylistic and artistic innovation. It is a mere hop across the sea from Mallorca; on occasional days of peculiar weather, some have even declared that one place can be seen over the horizon of the other. And yet Barcelona may as well be a world apart. It is not just a pretty city fringed by palm trees and an attractive port – it has been the inspiration for some of history’s most famous creatives, and today continues to be an icon for stylists, fashionistas, foodies, designers, architects and artists across the world.

img_5546img_5548img_5545img_5535img_5576img_5515img_5518img_5524dsc06504img_5526

Famous for its modernista architecture by the likes of genius Antoni Gaudí, as well as for its connections with the likes of Pablo Picasso and Joan Miró, and more recently for the 1992 Olympics which put it firmly on the global map, Barcelona is a veritable feast of visual inspiration for any artist or photographer. Yet as I took the opportunity to fly the short 30 minute journey across the sea to Barcelona last weekend, I found myself so utterly wrapped up in the striking city vibe that I quite forgot to photograph anything. Almost complacently I walked the ravishing streets, soaking in the atmosphere but forgetting to capture the sights all around me in a two dimensional form. That is why, as a new week begins, I am left with a head full of wonderful memories and few photos to support them.

dsc06484dsc06473dsc06479dsc06499img_5569img_5533img_5520dsc06502dsc06505dsc06480

And yet those few photos which I did capture are fully representative of the kind of weekend which we really enjoyed. For rather than prioritising previously experienced touristic sites or much-explored museums, this trip was about reconnecting with the urban vibe, and enjoying all of the accompanying pleasures which inevitably partner a large city. For us that meant a combination of (largely window) shopping, particularly in chic concept stores such as Jamie Beriestain, where Christmas has come early in the form of full-sized pine trees glittering with gold, or fully indulgent fine dining in new eatery hot spots such as the El Nacional food market or the impressive restaurant, Petit Comite.

This little album is therefore representative of a weekend in Barcelona which involved much dining, and much refined wine-ing, strolls in the autumn sunshine and the odd Gaudi interaction. In short everything which a weekend in one of my favourite cities is guaranteed to offer.

dsc06500img_5503dsc06468dsc06509img_5585dsc06474img_5552img_5606img_5538img_5613

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2016. 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. 

Norms Palma Series: Paseo Mallorca

I find it awfully coincidental just how much the Norms and I have in common. They adore lounging around in galleries, and sipping coffees in a city’s best cafes. They love to be beside the seaside and they adore rivers and greenery too. And so it is no surprise to me that the Norms, likewise, adore the area of Paseo Mallorca, the green spine of Palma where a river runs out to the sea and where cypress trees and palms grow gracefully besides the water and elegant residential blocks. After all, it is a place which has inspired me a good number of times, and no doubt inspires these green loving creatures too.

Here we see the Norms enjoying the leafy surroundings of the Paseo Mallorca, where a stroll along the broad avenues adjacent to the river is every bit as chic as a walk along the paths of the Bois de Boulogne or a perambulation alongside the River Seine. Little norms, old norms, doggie norms, even homeless norms…all of them enjoy hanging out in this recreational idyll. I can even see two who look suspiciously like my partner and me heading off together to work, a backpack loaded for the day and a must-have camera in hand. Must be that coincidental similarity again…

norms-on-paseo-mallorca

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2016. 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. For more information on the work of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, head to his art website at www.delacybrown.com

A Portrait of Mallorca

Sometimes I just want to paint what’s on my mind. The energetic fusion of ideas applied to canvas in a mixed and multifarious revolution of form and colour. But unlike the Expressionist movement, which tended to splash and splosh their emotion onto canvas in more of a literal application of paint, my variety of expressionism materialises in more of a controlled fashion. I suppose it says something about my rather controlling mind (a tendency for which my partner may testify). For my wildest form of expression is something more cubist in nature. I have always been enchanted by the age of the cubists. The ability to show an object or a subject on multidimensional planes has always filled me with an ultimate sense of pictorial satisfaction. And while my cubism is less a single subject and rather more a mixed bag of ideas, it definitely belongs to the genre.

retrato-mallorca-final

Portrait of Mallorca (2016 ©Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, acrylic on canvas)

This cubist work, which also belongs to my interpretative abstract way of thinking, is the latest canvas to hop off my easel and says everything and anything about the island on which I have spent the last two happy years of my life. It is for me a true portrait of Mallorca, because beyond the tacky tourism for which the island is so unfortunately infamous, the island is one of true bucolic peasant culture, with its own cuisine and characterised by a stunning mixed mountainous and coastal landscape. All this is represented in the imagery packed into this “portrait” which includes the spiralled ensaimada pastry for which the island is famous, the lacey headdress and straw hat worn by the traditional peasant women, as well as their flowing striped skirts flapping in the Mediterranean breeze. There too are the mountains and the beaches, the glittering coast and the yachts which encircle the island like moths around a light source. And of course the sails of the windmills, which likewise characterise the lower lying stretches of countryside.

It is a painting which fully encapsulates the multifaceted personality of an island which is much, much more than Magaluf.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2016. 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. For more information on the work of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, head to his art website at www.delacybrown.com

Mallorca Moments: Autumn Skies

There are many who bemoan the onset of autumn, especially those who miss the balmy long light days of summer. But while the summer may provide days of endless sunshine, in the Mediterranean, their clear blue skies are repetitive, no matter how beautiful. Come autumn however, and within the array of the season is a blockbuster of show-stopping sky spectacles. Whether it be by sunrise or sunset, the interplay between cloud and sunlight makes for the most incredible harmonious duet, casting the skies with a panoply of vividly rich colours, from primrose yellow through to a deep blood-rose red.

dsc05881dsc05957img_4499dsc05921dsc05918dsc05869dsc05894dsc02669img_4600

The photos on today’s Daily Norm post are just a few of those I have snapped when I have been lucky enough to capture the light of the sun here in Palma, both at the beginning and at the end of the day. For as any photographer will know, these light effects are brief and ephemeral… and more often than not, I have a camera nowhere near me when the very best skies are on show. And how I kick myself at that moment. But with this set, I have at least captured some of the rich tones of the Autumn skies. And as the season has only really just begun, I cannot wait to see more.

dsc05961img_4501dsc05962img_4505dsc05878dsc02675dsc05915dsc05966

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2016. 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. For more information on the work of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, head to his art website at http://www.delacybrown.com

Norms Palma Series: Santa Eulalia

Palma de Mallorca is full of plazas and piazzas whose leafy trees provide welcome respite from the heat of the summer and an autumnal auburn glow thereafter. Whatever the time of the year, they are always full, as the Norms bounce their way through on an evening perambulation or enjoy a glass of their favourite cocktail, amaretto sour.

Here are the Norms in one of their favourite Palmanese Squares, the Plaza Santa Eulalia. Named after the great gothic church which sits at its centre, the Plaza is a grand square indeed and the perfect spot to indulge in the Norm-watching activity which fills the Norms’ two wide eyes with enough action to thrill them for the day.

santa-eulalia-norms

Norms on the Plaza Eulalia (2016 ©Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen and ink on paper)

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2016. 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. For more information on the work of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, head to his art website at www.delacybrown.com

Discovering Mallorca: Botanical Soller

Were I forced to choose between a beach and a garden, I would take a garden any day. For as enticing as the charms of a beach may be, it is the dappled shady paradise created by a sunny, richly planted garden which for me represents earth’s most sublime elysium. While the island of Mallorca may be famous for its beaches, the proportion of gardens is far lower. Having paid a visit to pretty much all of those beautiful gardens which do exist, amongst them the lush Renaissance terraces of the Raixa, and the arabic tilled patios of the Alfabia Gardens, I had one left on the list to enjoy – the Botanical Gardens in the citrus rich mountainous valley of Soller.

dsc06261dsc06177dsc06219dsc06272dsc06283dsc06252dsc06143dsc06151dsc06330dsc06154dsc06306

Soller’s Botanical Gardens did not disappoint. Created in 1985 as a centre for the conservation, study and understanding of Mediterranean flora, the garden is carefully split into diversely collected plant zones, from the cacti of the Canaries to local Balearic fruit varieties. And while many consider the Spring as a perfect time to make a visit to a garden, the autumn turned out to be a fine alternative, blessing our visit with an exquisite caramel light, and enabling for the enjoyment of a ripe harvest of shiny pink apples, ruby red peppers and yellowing citrus.

Surrounded by the dramatic landscape of the Tramuntana mountains, and benefiting from the coverage of numerous tree varieties, the garden was filled with both inspirational views and sun dappled corners made for meditative enjoyment. My favourite corner had to be the wetlands area, where a pond full of bountiful waterlilies was alive with the diving dance of dragonflies, whose rare and occasional pause on a leaf or bulrush enabled a truly unique appreciation of this fragile and elegant creature.

As ever, a garden proved that in life, the best moments are those which enable us to pause and appreciate the beautiful little things that occur naturally all around us.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2016. 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. For more information on the work of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, head to his art website at www.delacybrown.com