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Posts tagged ‘Chania’

My Travel Sketchbook: Chania Harbour

It’s been a long time since I took out travel sketchbook. Not since Aix-en-Provence have I set pen to paper, and yet I suppose there’s plenty of argument for London being sufficient source of sketching inspiration. Sadly, this life of ours does not provide time for everything, but our Cretan Odyssey was one such occasion which felt apt for a little sketching. So to Crete we return (after our brief sojourn in Sussex) and onto the pages of my sketchbook which had turned their sights in the direction of Chania’s stunning little Venetian harbour.

Chania Harbour

Chania’s Venetian Harbour, looking East (©2018 Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen on paper)

When we first arrived out our hotel in Chania, and stepped onto the balcony, light met our eyes with a dazzling intensity as the Grecian sunshine reflected off the cerulean sea and onto the glimmering whites and creams of the painted harbourside buildings. As an artist, spoilt for choice was to put it mildly. I could have painted and sketched and taken inspiration from 50 or so details of the awe-inspiring views set out before us. But sadly, time was short. With only 4 days to enjoy the vistas, I set about painting the view looking East in the evenings, when the sun from the West illuminated the mosque and the surrounding buildings, and in the mornings, I would turn Westwards, to this beautiful view of the harbour curving its way around the sea, like a mother’s embrace of the ocean – her favourite child.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2018. 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 artwork of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, visit http://www.delacybrown.com 

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A Cretan Odyssey | Part 2 – Chania’s Labyrinth

Crete is an ancient land. Its very rocks breathe a thousand tales of nymphs and satyrs, of the birth of Zeus and the anger of Pasiphaë. But the most famous tale of all is spun from the endless twists and turns of the renowned labyrinth, built by master craftsman Daedalus to house the bloodthirsty Minotaur, bastard son of King Minos’ queen. There, somewhere in the labyrinthine grounds of the great Palace of Knossos, Ariadne spun her thread to lead Theseus out of the complex maze, but only after his bravery put the Minotaur to death. Today, there remain many theories about exactly what shape the labyrinth might have taken; some even suggest it was the Palace of Knossos itself. However, one things is certain in modern day Crete: head to the utterly quaint, twisting and convoluted streets of Chania’s old town, and you will feel like you have found the ancient relics of Daedalus’ mastery.

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We adored Chania. How could it be otherwise? With cosy little streets, strung with canopies of the pinkest bougainvillea, offset against yellow, blue and dusky pink houses and white-edged cobbled streets, it is a town of picture-perfect quality. Everything about the archetype of postcard Greece is embodied here: the bright blue rickety wooden chairs set outside cafes and tavernas serving Greek salad on blue and white checked table clothes, wine in terracotta pitchers, and lazy cats strewn languidly across the streets in the afternoon sun. Unlike many places which have fallen foul of the ravages of tourism, Chania has upped its game. Its shops and restaurants are positively up-market; there is a real feeling of Capri town or the Amalfi Coast about this town. And our unbroken record of finding perfect eateries, night after night, only confirmed the consistent quality of the place.

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So while Chania’s true highlight may be its dazzling Venetian harbour, just behind the front line of seaside houses, this maze of quaint alleyways will ensnare with equal charm. This is one labyrinth to enthusiastically get lost in. 

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2018. Unauthorised 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.

Terracotta Collective: Chania Harbour

Those eagle-eyed amongst you might have noticed a painting in progress hidden in amongst the photos paying homage to Crete in Tuesday’s post. Perched on a little travel easel on the balcony of our hotel in Chania, a canvas, quickly filled with the sun-soaked colours and gently bouncing water which filled our view. So lucky we were to enjoy such an extensive and exclusive platform from which to enjoy Chania’s harbour at all times. It would have been a travesty not to have painted it.

So the very same afternoon I set about erecting my easel and filling my bite-sized canvas. I started with the background – a broad, roughly applied swathe of terracotta, colour of the rich soil which underpins the geography of Greece. Next, the sea and the sky, roughly applied with ultra marine, brush stroke daubings still visible across both. Then came the houses and the mosque which characterise the view – that pink blancmange dome and the gently crumbling whitewash of nearby houses. I tried to capture something of the delicate, transient beauty of the place, with roughly applied dappled paints and terracotta roofs allowing that original tone to shine through from the base of the canvas.

Terracotta Collective 1 CHANIA

Terracotta Collective 1: Chania Harbour ©2018 Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, acrylic on canvas

This is the first painting in my new Terracotta Collective. Painted on a terracotta background whose rich earthy colour is allowed to shine through amongst surface brush strokes of differing thickness, it is a collection which references the rich ground which underpins the life and vivacity of the wider Mediterranean. 

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2018. 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 artwork of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, visit http://www.delacybrown.com 

A Cretan Odyssey | Part 1 – Chania’s Venetian Harbour

You’ll excuse the long absence of The Daily Norm from your inboxes and browsers: We’ve been on an adventure; an Odyssey if you like, to the birthplace of Zeus and the land of the entrapped Minotaur, haunt of Olympian gods and roaming mystical beasts. For as the year rolls on and the summer reaches a glorious pinnacle, our 2018 travels continue – we’re off to the delectable Greek island of Crete.

Laced with mythological connotations, imbued with the smell of wild oregano, and jangling to the sound of wild goats and the sea which swishes upon its mammoth mountainous coastline, Crete is one of the longest continuously inhabited and historically relevant of all European destinations, as well as one of the Southernmost located. Yet for our summer holiday, it provided all of the luxuries, the aesthetics and the charm that could possibly be required of a modern holiday. Daily Norm readers: I welcome you, to Crete.

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We start our adventure in Crete’s second city: Chania. Sprawling along the coast on the North-Western side of the island, Chania doesn’t feel like a city at all when you’re nestled inside the ancient walls of its richly-encircled old town. The sensation is one of a quaint little village, with picturesque roaming streets winding steadily down to a waterfront which is the beating heart of the city.

This harbour, so called Venetian because of time of its construction under the dictate of La Serenissima, is understandably the focal point for the city. It is alive at all hours with the bustle of its bars and restaurants whose collective unity beguiles the visitor with a harmonious panoply of sun-drenched little buildings hugging the shore. It is a waterfront which sparkles and ripples as water bounces off the crystal clear sea and makes fun of the straight lines adjacent, and a place imbued with a historical ambience translated through the presence of ancient stone houses and cobbled pavements. But pulling focus on the harbour is undoubtedly the Küçük Hasan Pasha Mosque, a leftover from Ottoman rule, and which today looks like a perfectly balanced candy-pink blancmange which turns ever so butterscotch in the golden evening sun. 

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We were lucky: our hotel room enjoyed the most stunning balcony views over this harbour, affording us the opportunity to revel in the changing faces of Chania’s ancient heart as it metamorphosed from slow and sleepy morning village to a bustling evening spectacle whose lights sparkled across the deep inky waters. We saw its colours dance vividly in the morning sun, and bathed in the golden light of early evening. And we breathed the deliriously fresh seawater perfume which pervaded the entire harbour, morning till night.

Chania’s Venetian harbour was the perfect way to commence our Cretan Odyssey, promising great things were in store from this island of plenty.

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© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2018. Unauthorised 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.