I cannot agree with those who say it is unimportant where you stay on holiday. “It’s only where you sleep” they proclaim, while bedding down into a threadbare hostel with more cockroaches than fellow guests. For me, the accommodation acts as a kind of spinal cord of a holiday from which all other experiences branch off; it is the place where the real rest takes place, those moments of marvellous contemplation, and where you can truly feel at home in a strange city. So for me where you stay on holiday is very important, all the more so because these places so often inspire me to paint.
Having started making gouache illustrations of hotels and hotel rooms back on my 2015 honeymoon, I have carried on the tradition in places such as Granada, Rome and Marrakech. And Noto in southern Italy was never going to be an exception, especially when we saw the splendour of the suite in which we found ourselves at the Palazzo Trigona Suites, just next to Noto’s iconic cathedral.
Noto is a city awash with baroque detail and architectural grandeur, and so it felt appropriate that we would be housed in a room which exhibited wonderful high ceilings, a stately black and white chequerboard floor, and all number of design flourishes befitting the period. Such was the grandiosity of the room that we took to playing baroque classical music whenever we were in situ, and against that erudite background I sat down to create this gouache painting.
Featuring the understated tones of grey and gold which made up the room’s design, as well as that wonderful floor and accompanying furniture, the highlight of the painting is the room’s view, looking onto the Chiesa Madre di San Nicolò Cathedral, the side profile of which dominates the piece. It’s a work which feels very different from my illustrations which have gone before it, which seems about right. After all, there’s no place quite so magnificently, baroquely, like Noto.
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