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Posts tagged ‘Coast’

The Honeymoon Chronicles, Part VIII: Antibes

Of all the places we visited on the French Riviera, I think Antibes was most probably my favourite. Drawn to the old coastal town by its arty reputation, and in particular by its well known connection with Picasso and the museum which now bears his name, we didn’t ultimately end up going to the Picasso museum at all, such were the alternative attractions the town had to offer. For Antibes was all about the atmosphere of its street life – its bustling covered market place, its squares full of cafes and its ancient city walls today imbedded with art galleries – and to enjoy this, one could do no better than to simply stroll. And that is precisely what we did.

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Beginning our visit in the more modern spread of the town, we gasped in delight as we walked along the sandy beach to see the old town in the distance, its silhouette characterised by the rising tower of the Picasso museum, by the old roof of the terracotta and yellow Church of the Immaculate Conception, and by the ancient ramparts which encircle the town. Moving inside those ancient walls under a series of arches and along various beautiful streets, we entered a centre teeming with life, colourful houses, and cafés spilling out onto the pavements.

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Having sampled one such elegant café all decorated in soothing shades of grey, olive and white, we moved out of the town slightly to tour its amply sized marina, full of yachts and sailing craft, and then spent some time on the little beach which is perfectly nestled within the curve of the ancient walls, like a mother’s arm, scooping up sand enough for her child to play in. It was back to the cafés after that, via a multitude of art galleries, colourful shops selling local produce, and sandy squares where locals played pétanque. In the Place Nacionale, we found Antibes’ beating heart in the form of a shady square lined with cafés, bistros and brasseries, and playing host to a busy antiques market, and there, around a fountain which reminded me of the stunning street fountains we had discovered in Aix, we ended the day with a well deserved ice coffee and a glass of wine. Santé!

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All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown ©2015 and 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.

Mallorca Sketchbook: The beach at Banyalbufar

It’s got to be one of the best town names on the island: Banyalbufar, a name which perfectly recalls Mallorca’s rich historical past; the Moorish heritage which laid down the first mountain paths, sophisticated waterways and impressive palaces, and the people who masterfully tamed the inhospitable mountain slopes with agricultural terraces and dry stone walls. It was in the course of exploring and photographing those iconic coastal terraces that my partner and I recently came across Banyalbufar which, owing to its perilous coastal location, more than benefits from its fair share of Moorish terraces. But instead of exploring the town, we decided to head for its far more inaccessible beach instead, taking the countless steps and steep slopes down to the rocky water’s edge.

The terraces around Banyalbufar

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The beach was not the most beautiful I have ever seen, but it certainly had its charms, not least in its sloping boat platform loaded with small vessels ready for their launch directly into the crystal clear waters, and it was these charms which inspired me to open up my sketchbook, and start making a little drawing of the beach in my favourite sketching medium: a staedtler liner pen. This is the result.

The beach at Banyalbufar (2015 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen and ink on paper)

The beach at Banyalbufar (2015 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen and ink on paper)

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2015. 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. For more information on the work of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, head to his art website at www.delacy-brown.com

Interpretation No. 13 – Ibiza Town

Busy times are upon us in the Spring-awakened island of Mallorca, and with the high season just around the corner, all of the businesses across the Balearics are preparing for the onslaught of tourists in their thousands. For The Daily Norm that means something of a quieter pace of life, as my creativity is diverted and energies exhausted on the multiple requirements of work. Nonetheless, I have happily retained the odd hour for a little personal engagement in private creations, and next off the easel is the 13th gouache in my collection of “interpretations” – landscapes reinterpreted with a simpler finish and flattened matt colours.

I started this little landscape as soon as I came home from the island of Ibiza. My first time on the island left me much enamoured, despite the fact that in low season it was worse than deserted, not least in the historical old town from which this view originates.

Interpretation No. 13 - Ibiza Town (2015 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, gouache on paper)

Interpretation No. 13 – Ibiza Town (2015 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, gouache on paper)

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2015. 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. For more information on the work of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, head to his art website at www.delacy-brown.com

Mallorca Moments: A January Sunday on the Port d’Andratx

Before you look onwards to the photos below, I want you to remember (as you purview the crystal clear blue waters, accompanying blue skies and verdant plant life) that this is January. Yes January. And while for the Malloquins, this sunny January Sunday may be expected, to we two Londoners, this is just incredible. 18 degrees, and a sunny stroll on a beach along the Mediterranean sea. If this is January, then what are we to expect from July?

But weather asides, the topic of my latest Mallorca Moment is a place surely worthy of further exploration. For the Port d’Andratx (or Puerto Andratx) on the South Western coast of Mallorca is a gem of the island, whether in Summer or mid-winter. Benefiting from a naturally curved harbour, almost closed to the forces of the Mediterranean sea, Andratx is a true seaside haven, where fishing boats reside naturally alongside pastel-painted houses and hotels, while next to a cobbled harbour edge, cafés provide the perfect sunny sanctuary for visitors to enjoy the stunning views: of clear blue skies, hillsides clustered with houses, and a direct vista onto the Med.

Reflections on Port d’Andratx

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And this is exactly what we did this Sunday past, as we started to explore outside of our home of Palma with the aid of a trusty hire car and something of a will of iron in getting behind a wheel, on the other side of the road, after several years passed without a single day’s driving practice. But as they say – it’s like getting back on a bicycle; the driving skills returned to me, and we whisked off through a picture-perfect mountain road to this inimitable little port.

After a tipple of the necessarily non-alcoholic kind (such are the downsides of driving), our explorations took us to the port’s stunning coastline, where craggy rocks jut out to sea like mysterious figures from a surreal landscape by Dali. There as the winter sun steadily strained over the rocky outposts, long shadows created some stunning photographic effects, and made for an extremely sultry soujourn to while away the early afternoon.

The stunning craggy coastline

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But heading back towards the car, we found another wonder of nature away from the coast, where a small river met the port. Here, with rushes and long grasses growing naturally in marshy land alongside the small little stream, we felt as though we were in a rural idyll rather than metres away from a bustling port. My photographs taken here have to be amongst my favourite of the day.

Rushes and grasses by a stream

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But you know it’s winter when the sun descends early, and as the pearly round fireball started to make its rosy descent into the horizon, we headed back to Palma, to a garden centre to start a nature reserve of our own. Now, in my office amongst plants freshly installed, I await the onset of Spring, and yet more Mallorca moments in the sunshine.

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2015 and 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.

Mallorca Photo Folio: Shades of Silver

Palma de Mallorca, the Mediterranean city I am now lucky enough to call home, is proving to be a constant photographic inspiration, so much so that on the rare occasion that I go out without a camera, I immediately regret it. Palma is a city with multiple faces: a historically-rich gothic heart; a sprawling modernista old town; a bustling port and fancy marina; a beach and countless modern shop-lined boulevards. No wonder then that at every corner a new photographic opportunity presents itself.

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The result is a gradually increasing collection of photos sitting on my computer which simply must make their way onto The Daily Norm. I could collect and categorise them in a number of ways, but flicking through my albums this morning, it occurred to me that a lot of silver was going on. This was the result of the onset of clouds which, when mixed with hazy sunshine, provided a stunning silvery counter to the vivid blue days we had experienced thus far. Using that idea as a starting point, I have collected together a number of photos whose greys, icy blues and metallic hues make a wonderful colour collective, but also a perfect sampling of the truly inspirational sights all around us.

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2014 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved.

Sorolla: The Colour of the Sea

When I made my life-changing move from London to Mallorca earlier this month, I moved to a place equally as enriched by culture as the city from which I came. In fact comparing the size of Palma de Mallorca to London, you could quite easily declare Palma to be disproportionately abundant in art. Everywhere you walk in amongst the maze of streets in the old town, a flashy new contemporary art gallery or dusty quaint antique shop emerges, and of course the city lays host to Es Baluard, one of Spain’s most significant contemporary art spaces. However Palma is also home to one of the La Caixa Foundation’s finest art galleries, set within the stunning art nouveau setting of the old Gran Hotel building, and its exhibition diary is easily as significant and varied as that of a much larger city. And La Caixa’s current exhibition, Sorolla: The Colour of the Sea is no exception.

Joaquín Sorolla. El balandrito, 1909. © Fundación Museo Sorolla

Joaquín Sorolla. El balandrito, 1909. © Fundación Museo Sorolla

Exploring the oeuvre of Spanish master, Joaquin Sorolla, the exhibition focuses on what the artist, famous for the luminosity of his light and the proficiency of his landscape, painted best: the sea. Sorolla was born in Valencia in 1863 and as such was painting at a time when impressionism was at its height. Often compared to his friend, artist John Singer Sargent, Sorolla painted both people and landscapes with great sensitivity, and captured a startling degree of light. In painting the sea, Sorolla managed to capture a luminosity which I have always found so difficult when working on coastal images myself. Take his 1904 Estudio del Mar for example: This simple painting of waves breaking upon the shore is alive with the current of water, and magnificently captures the many colours hidden within the ordinary blues of the water. Similarly, his 1905 painting simply entitled Mar depicts shallower waters magnificently, with the light glinting over the surface and the dark purples suggesting rocks lurking just beneath.

Joaquín Sorolla. Estudio de mar, Valencia. 1904. © Fundación Museo Sorolla

Joaquín Sorolla. Estudio de mar, Valencia. 1904. © Fundación Museo Sorolla

Joaquín Sorolla. Mar (Jávea). 1905. © Fundación Museo Sorolla

Joaquín Sorolla. Mar (Jávea). 1905. © Fundación Museo Sorolla

No wonder this exhibition is called “the colour of the sea”, and no better example exists of just how rich those colours can be than Sorolla’s depictions of Mallorca itself, such as his painting of the Cove at San Vincente. If you hadn’t been to Mallorca, you might assume that these superb aqua marines and subtle mauves of the surrounding mountainous landscapes were made up, but I can assure you that they are very much representative of reality. Even my lucky November dip in the sea last weekend proved that much.

Joaquín Sorolla. Cala de San Vicente, Mallorca. 1919. © Fundación Museo Sorolla

Joaquín Sorolla. Cala de San Vicente, Mallorca. 1919. © Fundación Museo Sorolla

Joaquín Sorolla. Rocas de Jávea y el bote blanco, 1905.  © Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza en préstamo gratuito al Museo Carmen Thyssen Málaga

Joaquín Sorolla. Rocas de Jávea y el bote blanco, 1905. © Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza en préstamo gratuito al Museo Carmen Thyssen Málaga

Joaquín Sorolla. Mar de Zarauz. 1910. © Fundación Museo Sorolla

Joaquín Sorolla. Mar de Zarauz. 1910. © Fundación Museo Sorolla

Awash with mediterranean light, Sorolla’s seascapes are alive with the fresh coastal air and tranquil dance of the waves. Seen as a group, you could almost be excused for feeling as though you were on the beach, watching Sorolla painting (he invariably took his canvases down to the beach, hence why they are probably so imbued with the naturalistic light that one sees in reality). However, it’s not just Sorolla’s landscapes which come alive before your eyes. For as this exhibition shows, Sorolla was also particularly adept at portraying people naturalistically, and this is seen no more so than in works such as Saliendo del baño, where a mother dries her child after a dip in the sea, and Pescadora con su hijo – a brilliantly realistic depiction of a mother masking her eyes from the sinking late afternoon sun.

Joaquín Sorolla. Saliendo del baño. Firmado y fechado. 1915. © Fundación Museo Sorolla

Joaquín Sorolla. Saliendo del baño. Firmado y fechado. 1915. © Fundación Museo Sorolla

Joaquín Sorolla. Pescadora con su hijo, Valencia, 1908 © Fundación Museo Sorolla

Joaquín Sorolla. Pescadora con su hijo, Valencia, 1908 © Fundación Museo Sorolla

Joaquín Sorolla. Nadadores, Jávea. 1905. © Fundación Museo Sorolla

Joaquín Sorolla. Nadadores, Jávea. 1905. © Fundación Museo Sorolla

So even if you come to Mallorca and the weather is not at its best, this superb exhibition has the power to transport you right to a sunny day on the coast. Although let’s face it, with Mallorca’s track record of brilliant sunny record all year around, you should probably be able to do both.

Sorolla: The Colour of the Sea runs at La Caixa Foundation Palma until 8 February 2015.

Comparing Seascapes: Sussex and Spain

Two Seascapes, one England, one Spain. In Sussex in England, the sea is a silvery shade of grey. No surprise there, as it is an inseparable reflection of the cloudy skies above, whose repressive covering is broken only by a single glimmer of hope as a glint of light shines through. The seas are active, but not rough, but the winds are sufficiently energetic to catapult the kite surfer across the waters. At the shore the sand is dank and wet, it’s lightening colour resaturated with each swift revolution of the waves. 

The only thing Marbella in Spain has in common is the sea. But its colour is a startling warm blue, glimmering almost independently from the yellowing evening skies above. Above the beach, a golden paseo maritimo is fringed with regal palms whose large canopy of leaves hang as silently still as the warm balmy calm air around them. Through the leaves, the multiple strata of a mountain layered landscape each deliver a different shade of soft pink, while in front the white harbour wall of Marbella’s port colours gently to cream in the face of the setting sun. 

Seascape III: Silver Surfer (2008 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, oil on canvas)

Seascape III: Silver Surfer (2008 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, oil on canvas)

Seascape IV: Marbella (2008 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, oil on canvas)

Seascape IV: Marbella (2008 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, oil on canvas)

I painted these two seascapes in 2008 when I was making a more intentional transition from acrylic into oil. These were part of a series of studies I made as I tried out the medium for the first time. Today, they hang at my parents house in Sussex, and it was when I was there this weekend that I was given the opportunity to reflect upon them, and the marked difference between seaside landscapes.

It comes at a pertinent time: in just a few days I will leave England, including the Sussex seaside town where I grew up for 18 years and which is featured in the seascape above. I will then move to Palma de Mallorca, the archetypal Mediterranean city, fringed with glorious palms and benefitting from sunshine almost the whole year around. Yet despite the very obvious benefits of moving to such a paradise, there will always be a part of me that will miss the English coast – for in its silvery wind swept beauty, the sea in England is just as special as in the Med. It’s just that more often than not, you may need a scarf and some gloves in tow to appreciate it.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2014. 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. For more information on the work of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, head to his art website at www.delacy-brown.com

Dubrovnik | Photography Focus: Part One – Lovrijenac Fort

There can be no doubt that the historically intact magnificent city of Dubrovnik oozes magic and magnificence from every corner and street, in its main grand piazzas and in the shadows of its imposing encircling walls, before its various churches and cathedrals, and from whichever viewpoint the city is admired. And yet for all the magic of mankind’s creation, it is the creation of nature, surrounding the city, which enchants me the most. Not only is Dubrovnik built upon an island cast from vast rocky forms which plunge out to see unabashed by the forces of the Adriatic, but besides the main city, a number of smaller rock forms create little bays and natural harbours which are loaded with a special unique mysticism which make them feel almost otherworldly.

Chief amongst these is the area of the Lovrijenac fortress. Set upon another vast rock and surrounded by a tranquil little bay (Brsalje Harbour) punctuated with its own collection of smaller little rock forms, Lobrijenac felt like a castle straight out of a fairytale. The rocks leading to it were crisscrossed with little steps, and the steep sided rock faces peppered with nature’s best display of yellow and purple wild flowers, mosses and cacti. Meanwhile in the waters below, the proliferation of rocks on the seabed meant that the water under Dubrovnik’s blue skies glowed a ravishing tone of turquoise, while the shape of the rocks themselves looked almost like wild mystical animals, refreshing themselves in the shallow waters.

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Perhaps it was the combination of these magical natural forms and the fading afternoon light when we visited which made this place extra specially supernatural when we visited on our first day in Dubrovnik; it may also have been my artistic imagination which gave the place such significance. After all, only recently I completed my large scale painting, Autorretrato, which was set in a fantastical bay containing random rock forms just like these, an image which I had then carried through to two of my etchings. Whatever the reason though, I found this area just outside Dubrovnik’s walls to be completely stunning, hence why I’m giving it a whole post of its own in amongst my new season of posts from the city.

For all its tranquillity and light, its mystical rocky forms and sparkling sensuous watery ripples, the Brsalje Harbour is definitely one of my favourite of all places in Dubrovnik, but ultimately there are so many more which warranted my artistic and photographic attentions. So be sure to come back soon to The Daily Norm so see what else the Pearl of the Adriatic had to offer.

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2014 and 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. 

Taking Comfort in Nature’s Coastal Tranquility

Sometimes, when the turmoil and hardship of human life becomes too much, the calming touch of nature is the best antidote to balance out the strife of personal unrest. Nature, so often the creator of chaos, is also the bringer of so much habitual beauty that its power to benefit as well as disrupt can go unrecognised in daily human life. Ever on the brink of disaster from storm and flood, mighty waves and perishing temperatures, we humans dance a delicate tango with the forces of nature, yet benefit, on those calmer days, from a natural canvas overloaded with aesthetic masterpieces.

When the balance droops lower into the realms of human strife, it is so often mother nature who will take us lost humans into her comforting embrace. No greater was my appreciation of her warming touch than yesterday, when having suffered weeks of personal tragedy, nature itself appeared to hold out her hand of welcome and restore my morale to a rejuvinated calm. When the dark shadow of sudden, tragic death fell upon myself and my family 5 weeks ago, and extinguished in its wake all the sparkle and joy of Christmas, we found ourselves subdued by the heavy burden of loss. When the new year arrived and we attempted to come to terms with our plight, the days of freezing temperatures and grey skies did nothing to lighten our disposition. And so it was that on Friday, surrounded by the remains of a week’s snowfall, we buried my brother-in-law after weeks of painful waiting.

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The following day, the sun shone for what appeared the first time in weeks. Filling my soul with hope and my thoughts with levity, I was prompted to take the short stroll from my family home to the sea. There on the beach, with a round winter sun gilding the waves with glittering light, I reveled in the tranquil touch of nature. The lap of the sea, and the smell of seaweed upon the warmed pebbles enabled me to reflect upon the turmoil now past, and revive my energies for the fresh start which hopefully awaits. When human troubles became too much, it was this coastal conversation which reminded me that there is always more to hope for, experiences to cherish, and sensory stimulation still to embrace.

Nature restored me and now I feel like I can begin 2013 again refreshed.

This one looks a bit Normy...

This one looks a bit Normy…

As ever, the changing tides and morphing undulations of the beach landscape provided for plentiful stimulus, as perhaps these few photos I captured on my iPhone will show. I wish you all a great week, and a lucky, healthy, happy continuation of your year.

© 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.

Winter light on the Sussex coast

There’s a lot to love about winter in England. When the sun is out, the winds have calmed and clouds erupt like fluffy candy floss into a peachy sky, the effects can be stunning. The winter light is sublime, not least over the dark seasonal sea which seems so much more menacing and destructive in the winter, like a wild beast, lying in wait, ready to pounce ferociously upon the dormant shore. While the summer may provide fair weather views, the winter is more about contrast, drama and suspense. And as a result, beautiful photographs can be found almost anywhere.

Yesterday I was visiting my family in Sussex. As a Londoner, I miss the smells, the sounds and the sights of the coast where I grew up, and make it a priority to indulge in the seaside whenever I am down. Walking along a short distance from Goring-by-Sea to a small café in Ferring, I captured several enchanting shots on my camera. I’m not a photographer but I am an artist. I love beauty and I pursue it relentlessly. These photos show how an impulsive walk along a familiar path can bear fruit of the most artistically fulfilling kind. Beauty is everywhere, even at home.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2005-2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work 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.