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Paris by Day

How time flies… it’s something on which I comment often. But who can help but do otherwise when already we find ourselves 10 days into a New Year with not a single post on The Daily Norm to bid you all welcome to a brand new year! So in doing so now, I am choosing to start the year as I mean to carry on… by featuring photos of what must easily be the most elegant city in the world, not to mention one of history’s most important cultural bedrocks. Just one glimpse below this text, and the familiar geometric lattice work of the Tour Eiffel will reveal that I can only be talking about one city…my beloved Paris.

Ever since my first encounter with Paris at the age of 14 I was inspired to an extent never repeated by any other city. It was as though cupid’s arrow unfurled itself from the bronze casting of one of the city’s many streaming fountains and lodged its way firmly into my heart. Since that first trip, I have made it my intention to visit Paris as often as I can, recharging my batteries in the Rues of the countless arrondissements in the way that a mobile telephone needs a frequent reconnection with an electricity socket. When, a few days after Christmas, I made my most recent voyage to the City of Lights, almost two years had passed since the last. Too long a separation for this Francophile, but oh how absence made the heart grow fonder, as on this most recent reacquaintance, the cobbled streets, palatial apartment blocks, flowing fountains and grand tree-lined boulevards inspired me like never before.

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Splitting up my photos from this recent trip into both day and night, we start with those shots taken during my three December days in the city. While we spent much of our time inside some of the best art exhibitions of the moment, these photos were captured during our strolls from place to place. For as the odd glimpse of myself and my partner thoroughly wrapped up clearly suggest, the temperatures were crisp and low, and did not lend themselves to prolonged perambulations. But in those moments when a sun trap was found, whether it be on the vast steps of the Madeleine church, or alongside the riverbank where the sun bounced across the gentle ripples of the River Seine, there were some spectacular winter moments to be had.

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 20136and 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. 

2016: My Year in Photos

It’s beyond crazy that a year has passed since I last compiled a photographic review of my photos. I remember exactly where I was sitting when I last did it, the rush I felt at writing the post before jetting off the following day to Venice…I practically remember what I was drinking (gingerbread green tea surely… it comes highly recommended). Short of remembering the clothes I was wearing, it seems so ridiculously proximate in time that I feel almost in a state of dreamlike disorientation as I engage on the annual tradition of writing this post. Even filing through my many thousand of photos does not convince me that enough time can have passed for a year to be up already. And there was I thinking that leap year 2016 had one more day to its number.

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And yet my calendar tells me that we are once again here again, coming to the end of another year, and one which for me has been very, very busy but full of light, sunshine and happiness. All of these things have mainly been the result of my location which, for another full year, was based on the paradise island of Mallorca in the Mediterranean sea, a backdrop which provided a daily life rich in sensual pleasures, and from which other fantastic locations such as Barcelona and Granada were only a short plane’s hop away.

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Yet asides from the visual riches so inherent in Spain, 2016 was a year which provided us with the opportunity to explore old favourites such as the enduringly attractive city of Rome, and also to embrace the new: the island of Menorca, Split in Croatia and Vienna in Austria were just three of those exciting new destinations which we were lucky enough to discover in 2016. It was also a year of discovery for my young family too…One of my highlights has to be the visit to Mallorca of my sister and young nephews, and experiencing their joy as they dipped into the warm sea for the first time.

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When I look back over 2016, I remember a year of stark contrasts. Because for all of the beautiful experiences which manifest in these photos shared today, I cannot deny a feeling of trepidation as I leave a year which presented so many new dangers. As if Brexit in June was not bad enough, the Trump election in the US just 5 months later was like rubbing salt into a still unhealed wound. And in my personal sphere, the news that I will soon be leaving to Mallorca to take up life again in London likewise will come with its share of challenges. Only time will tell how this cocktail of external and personal factors will play out, and the experiences which will result. However I am confident that in 12 months time, another year will have quickly passed. I look forward to sharing with you the photographic gallery which will surely result.

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 20136and 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. 

Merry Christmas from The Daily Norm!

Christmas always brings out the nostalgia in me, and as I thought of the best way to relay my festive wishes you all, faithful followers and new readers  of The Daily Norm alike, I decided to head back in time, some 5 years in fact, to when this blog first emerged from the depths of cyberspace, and when this Santa Norm painting was born. As jolly and red as ever, and with his sack of presents filled to the brim and ready to distribute to good little baby Norms all over the globe, this Santa Norm is as iconically Christmassy as ever. So with this red jolly fellow at my side, I want to take this opportunity to wish you all the very best of Christmases this year, from me, the Norms, and of course from Santa Norm too. May your Christmas be simply magical, and thank you all for your incredible support, comments and readership during 2016.

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Santa Norm (2011 ©Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, acrylic on canvas)

© 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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Norms: The Saints Collection | Saint Ramon Llull of Mallorca

There is a spiritual kind of sensibility in the air which is very tangible for me at Christmas time. It has much to do with my childhood experiences of singing Christmas carols by candlelight in cold churches, the orangey smell of the Christingle mixed with candle wax, and my life changing art history course in Italy when the Catholic churches of Florence and Rome in December really came alive in my imagination. All of this means that I am at my most spiritually receptive at this time of year, particularly when it comes to admiring Renaissance and pre-renaissance gilded altar pieces and religious masterpieces. And it is for that same reason that when it comes to my own creativity, I love creating Saint Norms.

First inspired by an altarpiece I saw in the Accademia in Venice, my Saint Norms was a collection of illustrations started in early 2014. The last two I made were later that year, following our move to Mallorca. With Santa Lucia and Saint Nicholas, I laid the collection to rest…that was at least until now. For following a recent visit to the magnificent Cathedral of Palma, I became inspired by the island’s own patron saint, Ramon Llull.

Born in 1232 in the turbulent period following the reconquest of Mallorca from islamic rule, Ramon Llull was a writer, philosopher and Franciscan tertiary famous for creating what is quite possibly the first major work of Catalan literature, and for his prominent work on elections theory and computation. While he may just have been a happy-go-like writer of salacious poems, he turned towards saintliness following a continued apparition of Christ on the Cross, the likes of which first came to him as he sat writing in his Mallorquín home.

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Saint Ramon Llull Norm (2016 ©Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen and gold paint on paper)

Such is the scene now imagined here in this latest Saint Norm sketch, which also includes all of the traditional trademarks of Mallorca craftsmanship, from the ancient zig zag frescoed ceilings, to the Mallorquín lenguas fabric cushions on his chair.

Now my latest Saint Norm is completed, I finally feel fully ready for Christmas.

© 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

Norms Palma Series: Christmas Shopping at La Pajarita

While there is no doubt that the island of Mallorca truly comes alive when the summertime descends, its capital city of Palma is often uncomfortable when packed with tourists and baked under a relentless sun. But come Christmas, when the tourist hoards are back at home and the city becomes once again the realm of its locals, Palma metamorphoses into a festive delight of late night shopping, Christmas carols and streets filled with lights. As the local Palma Norms prepare for this most favourite of their annual celebrations, they delight in the sparkling manifestation of Christmas in the streets of their city, bouncing from shop to shop as they stock up on presents, food and of course a treat or five for themselves.

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Norms Christmas Shopping at La Pajarita (2016 ©Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen and ink on paper)

But of all the shops in the little maze-like streets of Palma, the Norms’ absolute favourite at Christmas time has to be La Pajarita. Not only is it one of the oldest shops in the city, but the one which sells all of the Norms’ greatest temptations: marzipan fruits, chocolate langues du chats, unctuous turrones, glacier cherries, and boiled sweets of every shape and size. Resembling Norms in both texture and colour, marzipan is probably the Norms’ ultimate delight, and here we join the Norms as they gaze in wonder through the window at the marzipan treats on show, while others bounce away joyfully with their sweet selection wrapped, bagged and ready to go home.

© 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

Revealing my Festive Wonderland

A few weeks ago, the three photos I posted signified the official arrival of Christmas in my home, even though back then it was still November. Now, some 30 Christmas trees later (most of which were for work I should add), time has galloped onwards and as only ten days remain until the full celebration of Christmas truly begins, there can be no doubt that we have well and truly arrived at the festive season. What better time then to share with you the very Festive Wonderland which is this year’s Christmas manifestation of my home.

Christmas decoration is very much part of my annual creative calendar. I relish the opportunity to transform my home with seasonal touches which have the power to add insuperable cosiness and magic in every corner. Thus, over the years, I have amassed quite a collection of baubles and trees which, while changing slightly throughout the years, retains the same core of cherished pieces, each involuntarily launching their own sentimental tale of memories past. However, the rather open-plan layout of my apartment in Mallorca means that my various trees, which in London would have each graced separate rooms, are here seen together in more of a unified space. The effect is quite magical, as tree is reflected in tree, and different coloured light sparkles across the entire living space.

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So here I present a miscellaneously mixed magical gallery of decorating touches, featuring bauble details, whole tree portraits, and my favourite photos of all – those blurred out of focus light landscapes which in themselves seem to carry the festive magic which is the effect given by such a mixed scheme of light and glitter.

Merry 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.

Remembrance of things current (No.1): La Madeleine de Proust

Memory is a powerful thing and there are times in life when it is triggered quite involuntarily. Such moments occur frequently during this season of Christmas for example, when the smell of tinsel upon opening a box of decorations may transport you directly back to a moment of your childhood, or when the sound of a carol may take you back to a chilly but magical evening in a carol concert. Such moments of involuntary remembrance were a principal preoccupation for the extraordinary French novelist, Marcel Proust, and the so called “Madeleine moment”, when the narrator is reminded of a whole raft of his childhood by the innocuous flavour of a madeleine dipped in tea, is one of the central most important moments of Proust’s seminal novel, In Search of Lost Time (À la recherche du temps perdu).

It has long been an ambition of mine to read Proust’s masterpiece of 7 volumes but I must admit that on previous attempts to start his epic, the scale, and the style of the work somewhat intimidated me. But I believe that there are good times and bad times to read such a substantial philosophical work, and from the moment I restarted the tome last month, I was hooked. As inevitably happens when I am engrossed in a book, Proust started to colour my present life and my imagination. The coincidence of reading his first volume with a visit to the Crystal Cubism exhibition in Barcelona made for a powerful motivation, and within days a painting, inspired by the very same Madeleine moment, was blossoming in my head.

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Remembrance of things current: La Madeleine de Proust (2016 ©Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, acrylic on canvas)

And here is the result. A work which combines both the Madeleine, the musings which result, and a reflection upon my own current life while reading the novel. Thus you have the knitting with which I have been engaging myself of late, the armchair and lamp in which I have taken to reading the work, and the use of arabesque-like patterns taken from Pakistani fabric. For my current tea of choice is not the tila (lime blossom) featured in the novel, but Pakistani tea – a so called black tea with festive spiced hints. These reflections upon my current environment also inform the title of this new collection “Remembrance on things current” which is a play on the original title of the book, “remembrance of things past”  originally adopted for the seminal english translation before the more literal “In search of lost time” was universally accepted.

Now I am well into volume 2 of Proust’s work, and as his poetical reflections and magnificent belle epoch atmosphere continues to ensnare me, I have no doubt that a second painting like this one will not be long in coming.

© 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

Las Meninas: Fourth Interpretative Exercise

It’s been almost 10 months since I last created a work in my collection of painted interpretations of Velazquez´s famous masterpiece, Las Meninas, and in fact, after I had completed the third of the set, I thought that the group was pretty much complete. It was a collection which was significant not just in itself, but because it launched for me an entire new way of seeing both famous masterpieces and reinterpreting them (something which went on to inspire my new redevelopment of works by Rubens, Van Gogh and Courbet amongst others), but also instigated a new collection of more simplified quasi-cubist works developing flattened colour panes and using acrylic as a primary medium. However, at the time of painting the third Las Meninas, I also started a fourth, but as I remember it, a little while after starting, my interpretation of a Titian got me all carried away, and I left the canvas unfinished.

Thus it may have remained were it not for a spring (well autumn…) clean on which I embarked a couple of weeks ago. Discovering the canvas in its unfinished state I was 50:50 whether to bin it, or finish it. Opting to finish what I had started, I am now happy to present the final interpretation of Velazquez´s renowned masterpiece.

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Las Meninas: Fourth Interpretative Exercise (©2016 Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, acrylic on canvas)

Taking the abstracted character shapes from both the second and third interpretations and reusing them in yet another composition, this work is more of a satyrical take on the modern day clinical art gallery in which works such as Velazquez’s can be seen today… seen but certainly not touched. With their security guards, their roped off works, their cameras and alarms and pristine white walls, galleries are not always the most welcome of places, especially when compared with the abundantly filled, cosy interiors depicted in the likes of the original Las Meninas. But at the same time, this vacuous white gallery setting has become the staple of art institutions the world over, a space which allows the masterpieces themselves to shine in relative safety, free to inspire future generations with their majesty, just as Las Meninas did me.

© 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

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.

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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.

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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.