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Posts tagged ‘Clapham Common’

Breakfast at La Baita

Autumn is a love-hate time for me. On the one hand, I relish the new spectacle of fiery colours transforming the landscape from green lushness to a wealth of auburn warmth. On the other, I bemoan the passing of my favourite season of Summer, and the conclusion of my sun-drenched travels, which feel as though they have ended before they even begun. But in this latter respect, I have an antidote, right around the corner from my London home; a place where I can go and feel every inch as though I am back on holiday, surrounded by the vivacity of the Sicilian spirit, and food to match the very best Italian fare: La Baita on Clapham Common.

Located at the very centre of the Common, alongside the grand Victorian bandstand after which the cafe is named, from a distance you would assume La Baita is your bog-standard park cafe selling bacon butties and ice cream. However the Italian name signifies that this cafe is more than your British norm. Rather, run by Sicilians and southern Italians with a true passion for the food of their great nation, it is a fantastic little eatery with food so good that I have never found an Italian restaurant in London to beat it.

Clapham Bandstand

Breakfast at La Baita (2018© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen on paper)

Whether it be because of the fine food, the passionate staff, or the beauty of its parkland surroundings, La Baita has become our “local” in every sense of the word. Some weekends we even go twice a day! So it felt only natural that over our last few visits, I should capture the cafe’s terrace in my sketchbook, at the season’s leafy best. After all, it won’t be long before those leaves have fallen ground-wards, and the terrace of La Baita becomes paved with a transient crispy carpet of auburn gold.

© 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 

Beauty and the Beast from the East

They call it “the Beast from the East” – a Siberian shock wave of icy blasts and perilously wintery temperatures which has swept onto the shores of the UK and shows no sign of budging. Yet with the “Beast” has come the snow: a transformative blanket of pure, frosty white which has proved to be the very antithesis of beastly, as a very chilly but utterly mesmerising walk around my local park was to prove.

I have seen Clapham Common in every season, and have often obsessed myself over the light filtering through its lush summer leaves, or the auburn tones of its autumn face. Yet I don’t think I have ever been so stunned by the beauty of Clapham Common as when I was seeing it dressed, like a blushing bride, in an unbroken veil of white. Covering metre upon metre of grassy planes, and managing to find its way onto even the tiniest of tree branch, lamp post and railing, the snow rendered Clapham Common completely transformed, and the result was divine. I have never seen a familiar place so changed, nor the local residents so equally dazzled by this new manifestation.

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It’s incredible what nature can create when left to its own devices. Take the pond for example. It wasn’t just frozen, but some effect of the water underneath had created large circular patterns all over its surface like a retro design from the 60s. Meanwhile, the way in which white would gather at the trunks of trees, but leave green and orange trunks and branches revealed, lent an ever better contrast to the colours, like a freshly daubed application of unmixed paint on a white canvas.

But of course beauty is fragile, and within an hour of taking these photos, the sun disappeared, and a fresh gale of blizzards took its place. The Belle of the ball had left the dance floor, and the fearsome Beast had returned to dominate the airwaves once again.

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© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2011-2018. 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.

Green in Common

Sometimes it’s the simple things that are best in life: It’s a well known philosophy, and one which one does well to remember in this world of plenty, of multiple-distraction and rapid pace technology. Living in Mallorca it was a sensation I knew well, as my favourite moments would be sitting on a sunny bench besides the harbour side with a book and my beloved by my side. No music, no gimmicks, just the sound of water and the bobbing up and down of boats. Now I’m back in London, I feel the same when I’m enjoying the great expanses of green which we city dwellers are so fortunate to have on our doorstep. Right where I live I’m a mere stroll away from Clapham Common, Wandsworth Common, Battersea Park to name but a few. And in those spaces one can strip back the protective urban layer and enjoy the simple pleasures.

Green in Common FINAL

Green in Common (2017 ©Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, acrylic on canvas)

Such was my inspiration for this piece, my first completed work on canvas since I returned to this mammoth city, an urban conglomeration so large that perhaps this small painting speaks in protest. Inspired by the sight of a vast beautiful tree, I planned a work for which this simple landscape of trees and clouds would form the backdrop for a more dramatic tree portrait. But when I walked away from the canvas, with the protagonist still unstarted, I revelled in the simple beauty of this mere line of trees. So I declared this painting finished: my ode to verdant simplicity, and the moments I most cherish, wherever I happen to be.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2017. 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 

Sunday Supplement: Clapham Common

Autumn is coming. It’s inescapable. When we are lucky enough to enjoy the sun, we notice that its heat is no longer so all embracing, and that a chilly breeze is never far behind. All around, the lush green of verdant England is turning slowly paler, then yellow, and then auburn, as the trees slowly relent to the weather forces around them, tired after a summer’s efforts to grow and sustain thousands of new leaves, now letting them drop to the floor as the tree retreats into its winter slumber.

Autumn is a time of death and decay, but also a time of great beauty, as summer fades away, and the canvas of colours all around changes perceptively from blues and greens, to deep oranges, umbers and reds. I love autumn, and no more so in the large parks for which London is so famed. Just around the corner on Clapham Common, the trees scatter such a bounty of leaves all about them that often a carpet of golden curls is all that can be seen for miles around. This is all the more enhanced when the long rays of the autumn sun cast long shadows upon them, allowing the shades of orange and red to dance around the park like wild fire.

Clapham Common (2010 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, oil on canvas)

It was on one such sunny afternoon that I was inspired to paint this scene – a vivid painting capturing light and shadow across fallen leaves in Clapham Common. Now I come to think of it, it’s a bit Hockney in its bold colours, although this wasn’t the intention. Rather I set about demonstrating how vivid and eye-catching are the hues of autumn, and how beautiful this time of fading summer can be.

Have a good Sunday.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2012. 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. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.