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Posts from the ‘Split’ Category

My travel sketchbook: Hvar

I’ve already described those dying moments of a creamy honey-coloured sunset when we sat in the perfectly picturesque port of Hvar, the indulgently exclusive little island off the coast of Croatia, waiting for our ferry to take us back to Split. The ferry arrived late, a fact which might have caused vexation were it not for the opportunity it provided for the commencement of a new sketch in my trusty travel sketchbook. That same enthusiastically filled moleskin book was mercifully one item which the woefully incapable lost luggage services of Vueling did not have at their relentless disposal, and constantly, deprived of my paints, I was at least able to sketch out the most significant and happy episodes from our trip.

The beauty of Hvar Town’s little harbour, looking over to the Italianate cathedral of St Stephen’s, was one view which could not go unaccounted for as I embarked upon my last sketch of the trip. Here is the result, hoping as ever that in its creation and subsequent sharing, I can relive with you a little of those special moments of our brief Croatian summer.

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Hvar (2016 ©Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen 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

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My travel sketchbook: The Iron Gate

Having left the seaside and retreated back within the ancient solid walls of Diocletian’s Palace, it was always a pleasure to enjoy the very active café culture which is so prevalent in Split. High quality restaurants and laid back bars alike spill out onto the ancient cobbled restaurants where once the Emperor Diocletian himself might have reclined back on a couch to drink a cup of Zinfandel wine (the famous Croatian-born grape). Despite the excellence of their food, Split’s eateries are far from pretentious. Rather, Split is alive with an atmosphere of the bohemian, a resolutely relaxed happiness which is underpinned by a plethora of live music performances from one business to the next. I will always remember one evening sitting in a cosy wine bar, funnily enough called Zinfandel, where live music was being played. Suddenly some girls started dancing to the music out in the street, and their energetic vivacity for life spread like wild fire. Within seconds the rhythm of the night had spread, and practically the whole restaurant and much of the nearby street too were dancing with strangers, inhibitions completely set aside. It was a magical moment.

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The Iron Gate (2016 ©Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen on paper)

Anyway, I digress. One day, heading back to the city from the beach, we stopped off in one of the spiritual hearts of the city, the Pjaca, or People’s Square, which was the first inhabited section of the city set just outside of Diocletian’s Palace. With all of the beautiful renaissance palaces which can be found in the square, the visitor is rather spoilt for choice in terms of the views on offer from one of its many cafes, but perhaps the best of the lot is the view afforded of the Iron Gate. One of four gates (Golden, Silver, Iron and Brass) which mark the four original entrances to Diocletian’s heavily fortified palace complex, the Iron Gate is one of the most distinctive, with its addition of a famous Renaissance clock characterised by its 24 digits instead of 12.

I loved this view, for all its layered complexity. Arch laid upon ancient arch, the renaissance bell tower of St Theodor, and the Venetian style palace overlapping the lot… it all made for a wonderful sight, and a clear requisite of my travel sketchbook. So sitting at a cafe I made a start on this sketch. Made with pen on paper, it’s a quick capture of a view which remain active in my mind for a long time.

© 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

My travel sketchbook: Diocletian’s Mausoleum

The fact that Vueling, easily the most incompetent airline in the world, lost my luggage throughout the entire course of our holiday to Croatia and Rome meant that I was travelling paintless, and brushless – something of a desperate state of affairs for an artist seeking inspiration abroad. Mercifully I had packed my trusty travel sketchbook in my hand luggage, and as though in defiance of the airline’s ineptitude, I set about sketching with even more gusto than ever.

So having completed my first sketch of the view from our room in Split, I moved onto the next without so much as a breath between turning the page, and I didn’t need to go far to find another inspirational view. In fact by turning my head about an inch, I was able to enjoy, a mere two metres away from the bell tower of St Domnius, this incredibly antiquated, beautifully decadent landscape of ancient Roman columns being hit by the long shadows of a sunny Split morning.

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Diocletian’s Mausoleum (2016 ©Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen on paper)

The ancient walls and the freestanding colonnade alongside them are today part of St Domnius Cathedral, but at the time of their construction, almost 2,000 years ago, comprised the mausoleum building at the centre of Diocletian’s Palace where said emperor was destined to live out the afterlife. Despite now housing the Christian centre of Split, the Roman origins of this miraculously intact building are highly evident. Draped with shadow and exhibiting all the signs of their age and glorious past, I found this small corner of architecture both captivating and inspiring. Hence why I rushed to sketch it. Take that Veiling!!

© 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

My travel sketchbook: St Domnius detail

It’s been far too long since I last opened up the pages of my now almost full travel sketchbook. But who could possibly resist the lure of the ancient Roman bricks and the Medieval buildings piggybacking onto the remains of Emperor Diocletian’s palace which form the central foundations of old town Split. And that very same view was one we became well accustomed to, as staying in the incredible Antique Split Hotel, we benefitted from a hotel room which looked directly onto the ruins of Diocletian’s Palace, and more specifically the iconic St Domnius Cathedral which is built on the ruins of Diocletian’s mausoleum.

More than any other building, the bell tower of St Domnius marks out the landscape of Split, distinguishing the city from the other smaller towns along the Croatian coast. From a distance, the bell tower is a delicate, multilayered construct which ascends in a series of cake layers narrowing in size. From up close, it is even more exquisitely detailed, and it is one such layer of details which was the focus of my first sketch, drawn directly from our hotel bedroom.

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Detail view of St Domnius Cathedral bellower, Split (pen on paper, 2016 ©Nicholas de Lacy-Brown)

Now back at home, I miss those moments when, with the windows wide open, I was able to stare in amazement at the incredible views before us, while low flying swifts accompanied by gentle sketching with their harmonious call. It is a moment which comes back to me the instant I open my sketchbook. It’s a true treasure-trove of memories to be long cherished.

© 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