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Posts tagged ‘Landscape’

Christmas in Bruges… Sunny landscapes

After a rather soggy start to our weekend sojourn in Bruges, the sun, when it came, cannot have been more welcome. As always happens when the depressing influence of cloud breaks and the atmosphere breathes a sigh of relief, Bruges opened itself up to receive the first glimmers of winter sunshine. And suddenly, before our very eyes, the city, which until now had appeared quaint, suddenly revealed the full extent of its beauty in full multi-coloured high dimensional clarity – like a bride whose blushing face is uncovered before the doting groom, the obfuscation of her lace veil being swept aside.

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While Bruges exudes charm throughout its network of canals and cobbles, across its staggered rooftops and old timber town houses, it is a city which comes alive when the sun magnifies the resplendence of its colours and details. I loved the fact that on so many of the gothic spires or roof windows, a sweep of grey tiles would be broken by woodwork painted in a vivid high-gloss red; or the fact that in Bruges’ many squares and principal streets, its tightly packed buildings are each given personality through a veritable rainbow of coloured facades and golden statues.

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As is the case with any city set on water, such colour and charm as resides above the waterline is swiftly replicated as the tranquil canals provide a mirrored surface hungry to reflect the panoply on tones glowing alongside it, so that in providing a double vision, the waters of Bruges complete a fully immersive picture of architectural brilliance across all visual planes. Yet in Bruges, unlike in Venice for example, its skyline is additionally punctuated by the addition of windmills and peaked rooftops, which, when seen alongside gothic spires, creates a uniquely spiked spectacle softened by a multitude of trees which must look splendid in warmer seasons.

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Bruges is a place of unique and consistent beauty which is not disturbed by the touch nor inevitable destruction of modernity nor vulgarity. Yet in the sunshine it reaches an apotheosis of visual brilliance. I am so glad I was able to see it at its sunny best.

© 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.

Christmas in Bruges… Rainy landscapes

I always knew that I wanted to see Bruges (or Brugge) at Christmas time. Famed for its UNESCO protected idyllic old town, interlaced with canals which fill the city with all the charms of Venice mixed with a heavy dose of Medieval mysticism, there is no doubting that Belgium’s watery pearl makes for a stunning destination all year around. But with Christmas markets springing up all over town, and fairy lights strung across cobbled streets scattering their reflected golden light across the rippling canals, Bruges goes up one notch when the festive season arrives. It is a cosy Christmas card paradise, and the ultimate destination for the most magical time of the year.

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Hopping across the channel by Eurostar, we found ourselves in this quaint historical city within a mere few hours from London. However the short distance meant that there was no escaping the British rain. So it was that for our first 24 hours in the city, we encountered a Bruges blanketed in cloud, but also enhanced by the rain. For as darkness descended and the Christmas lights came to life, the combination of rain and canals made for a city which dazzled in this reflected light, as every surface of its historical beauty became magnified in the light of the season.

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So while sunshine was to come the very next day, this first day was characterised by the bedazzlement of Christmas… a time of year so magical and so beautiful that no matter how gloomy the weather, the stunning light of the season shines through. In this enhanced light, Bruges really shone, demonstrating to we first-time visitors why Brugge is famed throughout Europe as one of the most beautiful cities history has left us to enjoy.

© 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.

Ode to a Tuscan Sunset

We’ve left Verona now, more’s the pity, and in my mind the single antidote is to dip into Italy once more. In London, sips of creamy limoncello and a bottle or two of Valpolicella Ripasso is partial recompense for our melancholy departure from Italian shores. Another is to look back upon photos and remember breathing deep of that ever-enchanting peninsula.

In so doing, I’ve rewound a few months, to Easter 2018 in fact, when the trees were yet to burst forth on trees ravaged by the cold “beast from the East”, and we took a trip to Tuscany. As is ever the case with a first travel in Spring, the fresh air hit us like a flurry of fresh water in an arid desert. To strip off winter layers and drink in the steady warmth of the Tuscan Spring was a encounter which was all the sweeter for its first annual embrace.

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As well as the air, what struck me was the light. It had none of the harshness of the cold winter back at home. Softness pervaded the landscape, especially as the sun descended towards the end of its shorter day, and around 6pm it sunk beyond the sea line leaving the sky surrounding it to blush in rosy admiration.

The photos on this post are dedicated to that time, when rolling fields layered with olive groves and vines bathed in the first warmth of a new Spring, and exuded the golden optimism of a new season waking up to Summer.

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© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2018. 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.

Folio // Verona – The View from the Top

There’s nothing quite like the experience of viewing a city from above. In a single sweeping 360 degree motion, you can admire an entire landscape sweeping out before you, appreciating its scale and geography, but all seen from above. From the perspective reserved for those with wings, it’s possible to feel almost superhuman (and as those with vertigo will tell you, a little sick too) as you gaze down upon a city’s every day life unfolding while you, from on high, are like deity gazing down upon your subjects.

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It was no surprise to us that Verona, a city so magnificent from up close, would be equally as beautiful from the top of the Torre dei Lamberti. And as the city’s tallest tower at some 272 feet high, you are guaranteed a truly commanding view if you make it to the top. From there, the city’s grey marble streets and yellow and auburn palazzos became dominated by a sea of terracotta roofs, all apart from the striking semi-circular form of the ancient arena, and the sweeping green like snake of the river, twisting its way around the peninsular of the city’s ancient heart. Best of all were the proximate views the tower afforded of the nearby Piazza delle Erbe and the stunning statuary atop the Palazzo Maffei. Who would have known, from the Piazza down below, what incredible detail lies hidden within the folds and undulations of those wonderful depictions of ancient deity.

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Seen from above, Verona shared a new perspective of its indisputable beauty, reasserting why it remains the favourite city of literature lovers and true romantics everywhere, whatever the angle of their admirable glances.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2018. 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.

Memories of Marrakech, in Abstract

It seems incredible that the summer is now drawing to its close. Why is it that time always goes so fast in the summer, yet the winter always seems to be an interminable torture without end? Yet the excitement with which this last summer season started infects me still, and I remember with what feverish anticipation we headed to the wild planes of Africa for the first time in our lives, to visit the Moroccan city of Marrakech.

In all the bustle of the new summer season, I barely had time to reflect upon the mesmerising pink tones of a city so unlike others I have visited previously. I created a few small art works, but soon my mind was focused towards Sicily. Amongst them, I painted this small study of the terracotta hued rooftops of Marrakech – a rather traditional work, but capturing something of the essence of that hodgepodge of a city. Yet when I looked upon the work the other day, sitting as it does on my bookshelf, I felt incomplete. This work, like the Windsor landscape and abstract coupling I have just completed, needed its abstract counterpart. And that is exactly what I set out to create.

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Memories of Marrakech (©Nicholas de Lacy-Brown 2017, acrylic on canvas)

Featuring the same very Moroccan palette of pinks, blues and earthy tones, this abstract seeks to reinterpret my earlier rooftop study, injecting a whimsicality into the composition. In reimagining this work, I was also able to layer the abstract with double meanings. The round arc of a satellite dish also resembles, for example, the crescent and star which is the design of many an Arabic flag, while another dish is placed so as to recall the dome of a mosque.

Abstraction, as a concept, intends to remove something of the figurative and pictorial, at least from its normal compositional placement, if not from the canvas altogether. What interests me about this piece is its clear abstract quality, while retaining an evident illustrative quality of both Morocco and Marrakech. For me, that makes it the perfect souvenir of that fantastically unique city.

© 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 

A Windsor Weekend, Part V: The Landscape

Ravishing greens, resplendent sweeping hedgerows, and the dappled light of richly verdant, leafy trees at the end of their mighty display of seasonal prowess…such were the impressions left upon me as we strolled from the imperial statue of George III in Windsor Great Park into the wealth of bucolic pastures beyond. However what really struck me about this particular spot were the two groups of trees which accumulated to make two perfectly oval collectives, almost like green mushrooms or large rosettes of broccoli.

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Windsor Landscape (©2017 Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, acrylic on canvas)

Utterly mesmerised by the sight of these rounded groupings, together with the composition of fields, green strata, and an old fallen gate, I started collecting images which would later inform a quick painting of the scene. Painting en plein air this was sadly not, but I started this small landscape as soon as I got home, when the mesmeric joys of these idyllic Windsor pastures captivated me still.

© 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 

Norms in Tuscany

Take a ravishing view of rolling Tuscan hills, a freshly patterned blanket, the distinctively shaped Chianti bottle, a ciabatta loaf, a crostini tart, and of course some good smoked cheese and pesto, and you have just about the best picnic set up in the world (with the exception of course of Glyndebourne, but who can compete with the crème de la crème). Mix in an iconic vespa (for transportation reasons as well as Italian chic) and you’re set. Or at least the Norms are set. For while we may have left Tuscany, the Norms are continuing to chill in Italia, to revel in the seductive landscape, indulge in the region’s plentiful wine production, and live la bella vita in a way that the Tuscans do best.

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Norms in Tuscany (picnicking with a view of Volterra) (2017 ©Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen and ink on paper)

Here are the Norms enjoying just that same perfect picnic we have described, with the addition of a good book (coincidentally Proust…like me!), a view of Volterra, a good snooze and even a visit from the region’s favourite mascot, the furry cinghiale. Looks pretty darn idyllic to me.

© 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 

Painting my travels: Castagneto Carducci

Painting is slowly re-entering my life. It’s been a long few months without it. As many an artist will tell you, it’s difficult to find inspiration when life is unstable, and an international move, a new London job, plus a mammoth redecoration project has done few favours in terms of my artistic production. But how could I not be inspired by my recent venture to Tuscany? The photos I have been sharing over the last couple of weeks go far in demonstrating just what kind of a place it is. As soon as I awoke on the first sunny day, the birdsong, fresh air and sunrays combined to fill my mind afresh with hypothetical paintings. And this one is the first to result from that round of preliminary creative ideas.

My 2016 collection, interpretative abstract, instigated a new abstract language in my art, one which has followed through to subsequent creative projects, and even the way I choose to capture landscapes in my photography. This meant that as I wandered the towns of Tuscany, I saw the sunlit streets not as townscapes, but as a series of abstract compositions. I was aided in this interpretation by the stark contrast between shadow and light, often casting distinct geometric patterns and lines across monotone building walls, and likewise by the nature of Tuscan streets which are inherently narrow resulting in a more dynamic composition of vertical and horizontal planes.

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Castagneto Carducci #1 (2017 ©Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, watercolour and gouache on paper)

The result is this painting, entitled simply Castagneto Carducci #1, after the town which inspired it and which was featured on Wednesday’s Daily Norm. It uses watercolour, which is not a medium I utilise often, but whose transparency leant a very authentic depth to the depiction of the texture of Tuscan walls. But it also uses gouache in creating flatter colour planes, and the combination of media, together with an angular geometric finish to street-inspired constructs, forms a landscape which is at the same time an abstract composition.

© 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 

 

Tuscan Towns #3 – Casale Marittimo

Driving along on the slower (and far more beautiful) inner coastal road from Castagneto towards Livorno, you may notice on the hills beyond the acres of vineyards a perfectly formed little town perched up at a height. Small as a toy town but quaint in every respect, there is very little in Casale to place it on the tourist map, but with its cute little central square and an endearing piccolo church I defy it not to please any visitor to the max. But for us Casale was not about the uniquely formed sloping streets or the picture-perfect micro-shops. It was about the views, and one very special lunch spent appreciating them.

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At the Osteria L’impronta, we enjoyed one of those lunches that will linger a long, long time in the memory. With the most incredible private terrace all to ourselves, a soundtrack of jazz, sun rays bouncing off the table’s edge and an endless supply of wine produced on the very land whose spectacular appearance we spent our whole meal admiring, it was like a lunch from a legendary time of utopia. The kind of occasion writers conjure up and artists swoon over. And then there was food – a mix of perfectly al dente pasta, crusty bread with deep golden olive oil, and unctuously rich cinghiale (wild boar) from the surrounding landscape. All combined to make this lunch the culinary high point of our holiday, and a true homage to this legendary region of Tuscany.

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© 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. 

Mallorca My Highlights – Part Two: The Second Year

Sometimes I find the thought of Mallorca almost unbearable; that I had such a paradise on my doorstep, that now it feels so far removed from my reality. The ease with which beauty was so readily embraceable; the speed with which it was taken away. The silky smoothness of fresh air as it filled the lungs. The sound of the waves as they nudged gently along the shore.

Yet had I stayed for longer it would have been a paradise lost. A true skill of life is in knowing when the leave the party. Linger too long and the magic is spoilt, and with it the memories are tainted.

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Happily the renewed distance from my beloved Mallorca serves only to enforce the perfection of our two year residency, to allow me the chance to reflect fondly upon a life altering adventure which enabled a level of displacement of which few people can boast. Yes we worked, but we also lived, and the weekends, the evenings, even the mornings in the sun were like an extended holiday. Like we were cheating time.

So in this second collection of Mallorca photos, I look back over our second year on the island, a year in which there was still much to discover and during which the creation of photos went hand in hand with the flurry of artwork I created.

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This may be my final reflection on my two years worth of photos, but it won’t be my last post on Mallorca. For the island has more than earned its place in my heart, and will continue to inspire me. In my reflections, I will relive the turquoise sea and the earthy smell of blood red earth. In my ears I will hear the gentle bells of sheep on a mountainside. And from my hand the palette of Mallorca will play out in my creative output, as the qualities of that great chapter of my life furnish me for the remainder of my story.

© 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.