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Posts tagged ‘Sea’

Marseille to Marbella, Part IV: L’Estaque

Any art historian or Impressionist aficionado will recognise the name L’Estaque even if they cannot bring a vision of the place immediately to mind. Today, this small fishing village could be easily missed. It is now but one suburb merged involuntarily into the insuperable urban sprawl of Marseille. Yet 100 years ago it was at the centre of an artistic movement. Not only did the port and the surrounding landscapes inspire some of the most preeminent forefathers of Impressionism, but it is also credited as being instrumental to the birth of the Cubist movement.

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How and why cubism came about here is unclear, but Cezanne, a forerunner of the movement, was evidently as inspired by the geometric volumes of the railway bridges and houses clinging to the hills as he was by the hard-edged stone quarries near his birth city of Aix. But it was perhaps the contributions of Georges Braque which were to be the most significant. While his initial response to the landscape was a fauvist expression in a multi-coloured palette of startling bright tones, it was his decidedly cubist landscapes depicting L’Estaque’s house-filled hillsides which really put the town, and cubism, on the artistic map.

L’Estaque by Braque and Cezanne

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Given its place in art history, I felt that this little former village had to be on our Marseille itinerary, even though for many, it may go unnoticed. Happily we were able to take a boat the 30 minutes along the bay – a far preferable trip to the alternative of a sweaty commuter train out of the Gare St Charles – and this approach gave us  the advantage of seeing the hillsides of L’Estaque from afar, characterised as they are by the arched railway bridges which feature so predominantly in Cezanne and Braque’s landscapes.

I would be lying if I said that we were blown away by the town. It is, in essence, a very simple seaside village with a hand-full of bars and a port packed with fishing boats. It is also somewhat difficult to imagine the quaint village which Braque and Cezanne might have discovered when they arrived years ago, free from the modern industrial structures which sit just outside the town, and the tall wire fencing which closes off much of the port from view. However, once we strolled up into the higher streets, and looked across both the port and the rooftops of the gradually ascending town, suddenly the shapes and volumes which must have inspired that new cubist way of depiction fell into place, and the true artistic significance of L’Estaque gained clarity.

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Satisfied, therefore, by our trip and the insight it provided into the birth of cubism, we grew fonder of L’Estaque, a notion which a few glasses of rosé on the sunny portside promoted. And then, as though reminding us that a contemporary society also lives today in this town of cubist history, a bugle call and a loudspeaker announced the commencement of Le Joute – a form of water based jousting which captured our attention for the remainder of the afternoon. Only then did we head back onto the water, gliding away from L’Estaque in a boat bound for Marseille, watching behind us as the forms of houses and rail bridges grew smaller until they resembled mere cubes on a craggy hillside…

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

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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

Autumn returns to Palma

It’s incredible how quickly Summer has given way to autumn. One week ago I was still swimming in the sea. Even by moonlight it was warm enough to take a dip. This week things have changed. Clouds have broken into days of untouched blue, the sun graces us with its welcome smile for fewer hours, and everything seems to be taking on the calm melancholy which characterises the season.

But while in England I may have recorded the entry of the new season through walks in the  parks of London, kicking through crispy leaves to find the conkers that lie in wait beneath, here in Palma my autumn is decidedly more maritime. On these September mornings, as the sun rises that much later, I enjoy nothing more than walking in the ultimate in open spaces – the incredible marina of Palma, which in the morning can always be found basked in a tangible balm of tranquility.

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The photos I wanted to share today were all taken on a couple of walks I took last week, as I noted the first seasonal changes. Along the dockside, the only sign of the change is the quality of the light – altogether more caramelised in its amber warmth than the intensity of summer sunshine. But within the town, the turn of the season is especially notable in the metamorphosis of the leaves, painting the city a wonderful shade of toffee.

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Of course we are still in September, and the summer may not have had its last hurrah. But for the moment at least, the autumn of 2016 has made its first debut. And for all of the beauty it brings, I give it a warm welcome.

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2016 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. 

Soller: First touch of summer

Although, as I write, some clouds have descended over Mallorca, this moment is the first in a long time when the sun has not shone. And while the sunshine in March often came accompanied by a chilly wind, reminding of winter, last weekend an intensity of heat seemed to welcome in the first touch of summer.

The moment I really felt it was when I was sitting with my family at a sunny table on the Port of Soller. As sun rays bounced across the water of that tranquil marina, through my glass of chilled white wine and onto my face, I became truly entranced by the elysium of summer. Around me, I was enveloped by one of the most beautiful harbours in Mallorca – a natural almost 360 degree inlet ringed by spectacular mountains and packed with a few rows of little white washed houses which to me recall the French Riviera.

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Soller (2016 ©Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, acrylic on canvas)

It was in that moment that this painting clarified as a mental vision in my mind. I jumped up, asked the waitress for a pen and paper, and on the back of a till receipt made a sketch. A few days later the painting is done. Its key is its simplicity of composition, which allows the viewer the space to breath and reflect on a work filled with the soft colours of the Mediterranean, and to think of their own encounters with this most wonderful part of the world, when the sun first touched them after a long dull winter…

© 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

Mallorca Moments: Cala Deia as the sun descended

A certain mystery filled the air as we sat amongst the rocks besides the lapping Mediterranean sea in the Cala Deia the other night. As the sun descended, and the sky turned from yellow to pink to purple to cobalt blue, the shapes of this stunning rocky Mallorca cove seemed to take on a life of their own, as the rocks in silhouette were anthropomorphised into a gruesome masquerade. And as we walked on amongst the rocks, avoiding where we could little landslides caused by mountain sheep bravely traversing the cliff face in search of food, we stumbled upon even more mysterious forms – groups of small towers built from stones, as though some other visitor to the beach had marked out their destiny in an incantation made from rock.

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Such was the atmosphere as we returned to this glorious little cove, just a few kilometres down a winding road from our favourite village of Deia. It was an evening which commenced as the sun began its descent, and grilled squid was thoroughly enjoyed with a glass of wine, and ended as the sky’s luminescence was slowly drained and replaced by a soft blanket of dark blue velvet. The strangely formed stones, the silently lapping shore, and even a seagull waiting atop an island rock modelling perfectly as though in premonitory anticipation of some significant occurrence, all coincided to create an evening characterised by the kind of magic which is unique to the Tramuntana mountains, and to the incredible little rocky coves they envelop in their craggy folds as they plummet dramatically down to the sea.

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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 Moments: Post-work beaching

Life is deeply enriched by the smaller moments, the spontaneous unplanned hours of wonderment which make a day unexpectedly special and are subsequently recalled with as much fondness as the very best of meticulously planned holidays. Such moments can happen anywhere, from finding a cosy new candlelit cafe with a single empty table waiting as relief from a wintery rainstorm, to the sudden impulse to take a walk which leads to the discovery of a hitherto undiscovered magical corner.

Last night, I enjoyed with my partner one such unplanned magical moment. We had a choice between going to the gym or going for a walk. The weather had been good as ever, as a fiery orange sun had been burning high in the Mallorca sky all day and was only now cooling. So a walk it was, and in a moment’s inspiration we decided to head to the beach, to paddle and admire the water’s sparkling majesty.

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But once down at the water’s edge, we found the May waters to be so seductively warm that we dived right in. And there was the magical moment. Wading out to see with a silhouette of Palma’s stunning cathedral on one side, and a magnificent liner cruising into the Port of Palma on the other. Meanwhile, as the sun began to sink, the waters were infused with a golden light, like swimming in a melting pot of precious metals.

We emerged from the sea enlivened by our seaside dip and excited by a further treat which lay in wake…a frozen yoghurt layered with fresh fruit and laced with sticky white chocolate and apple syrups. The cherry atop a large serving of the good life.

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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.

Arrival – Painting the moment when the Mallorca Move sunk in

In the time since we arrived in Mallorca a little over 2 months ago, I have been constantly creating. Such are the benefits of stepping into an intrinsically creative role as Artistic Director of an amazingly dynamic company. But the time for painting for my own personal collection has not been so profuse. Yet I knew that I was going to paint very soon after we arrived. It was in fact on the Tuesday following our arrival on a Saturday evening that a painting first appeared in sharp focus in my mind.

We had stepped out on a walk one afternoon in search of water. Living in a city next to the sea, an awareness of the ocean is continuous, and yet an immediate proximity with the water is not always so easy. Here in Palma, before you get to the sea, you need to traverse roads and parks, jogging lanes and a busy harbour. But on that afternoon, we walked our way through one section of the harbour, passing yacht clubs and huge boats being renovated for the summer, only stopping when we came to the water’s edge.

Arrival (2015 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, oil on canvas)

Arrival (2015 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, oil on canvas)

There, sitting with my legs flopped over the harbour edge mere inches from the surface of the water, I gazed directly into the sinking sun before me as it plummeted behind the hillside silhouette and the outline of Bellver castle sitting atop the city. The sky was glowing more and more yellow, and as the light darkened, the water became more like silky liquid ink, and the reflections upon it were golden. It was in this moment that I allowed myself to dream, to wander from reality into a moment of a pure epiphany; a time in which it dawned on me for perhaps the first time how our lives had changed for the better, and how we had moved to a paradise of Mediterranean harbours, of white gleaming yachts, and sunshine.

And there it was. An image of that same view floated into my mind. It was always intended to be a simple image – just the water, the sun, the reflection, the sunset and the cluster of white yachts bobbling upon the water. Yet in that simplicity there is carried a weighty realisation – that we had made the big leap to a new life and a new beginning – It was the moment of our true arrival.

© 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 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.

Dubrovnik | Day 4 – By land, by sea, by sky

On our fourth and final day in the stunning Croatian city of Dubrovnik, we had the opportunity to appreciate the city afresh not just by land, but by sea and twice by air. Of course the second incident of airborne appreciation was also tinged with sadness, as it was accompanied by the whir of a Monarch airplane which was wishing us through the air towards the UK. But hours before that tragic departure from the city commenced, our first airborne encounter can only be described as an experience of utmost exhilaration, as we took to the city’s cable car up to the steep hills behind the city to enjoy an unrivaled view.

Seen from the cable car, and from the various viewing platforms at the top of the hill, Dubrovnik unveils the secret behind its beauty and its longevity. Perfectly encased in solid walls, and situated on rocky crags sticking out like and island in the Adriatic sea, it appears almost impenetrable – hence why history has so perfectly preserved its ancient streets and buildings – rich pickings for every visitor to enjoy. The views were just amazing. Beyond a sea of terracotta rooftops was an actual sea of every shade of blue and turquoise, and beyond that the almost hairy verdant island of Lokrum, and a scattering of other small islands as the Dalmatian coast stretched out into the distance.

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But it wasn’t just the views of the city that enthralled. Up on this hill behind Dubrovnik, beautiful mountaenous pastures were scattered with wild flowers and random rock forms for as far as the eye could sea, and cutting across the fresh mountain air, the quiet tranquil bong of bells hung around the necks of nearby cattle. Blissful. Sadly the onset of a passing rain shower had us running back for the cover of the descending cable car, and soon enough we were back in the little city centre, which had by this time become so much like home.

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Of course the clock was ticking and our homeward bound flight was not far away. So we decided to while away the last view hours of our trip not by moping around full of the inevitable depression which follows the end of a sensational holiday, but by appreciating Dubrovnik from yet another new angle – this time from the sea.

Dubrovnik’s old port is full of little boats taking tourists out for trips around the nearby coastline, for no trip to Dubrovnik can be complete without appreciating the sheer scale and magnificence of its walls and its geographical position from the sea. For only around £7 each, we not only got a boat trip, but also the boat and a very friendly informative driver to ourselves. He took us along the great walls, explaining the ravaged history of the city including the many attempted (and ultimately successful) invasions of various foreign conquerors, right up to the shocking bombardment of the conflict in the early 1990s.

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Then across the sea, we steered around the island of Lokrum which sits bang opposite Dubrovnik, and sailing behind the island discovered how rich an island of geological formations and unchartered natural beauty it is – there amongst sharply cut rocks were huge spooky caves and multi-dimensional forms – it was like a mystical land out of a fairytale. There were also a few nudist bathers thrown in for free – they might almost have been mythological, were it not for the trendy sunglasses placed upon their otherwise quite unaccessorised skin.

And so it was that, steering back into Dubrovnik’s old port, we felt fully satisfied that we had given this city our best, exploring its streets and slopes and squares and monuments on land, admiring its beauty from the height of its walls and the steep hill behind it, and appreciating its scale and magnificence from out of sea. Our final view of the city may have been from that London-bound plane, but we felt pretty sure that it would not be our last.

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.

Marbella Twenty-Thirteen | Puerto Banús

While Marbella is pretty much famous throughout the world for its richer, glitzier suburb marina of Puerto Banus, about 10km along the coast from the centre, the port, which houses the big gaudy yachts, the high end fashion boutiques and the boy-toy roof-off sports cars is far removed from the true Marbella, which at its heart has a gem of an old town, and in the streets around it extends a charm of a bustling Spanish town, but one which has authenticity and a feel of Spanish community running through its every vein. Puerto Banus is a different kettle of fish altogether. If superficial needed a dictionary definition, Puerto Banus would be it. Constructed from scratch in the late 1960s by Jose Banus, and opened at a lavish 1970 gala with attendees such as Grace Kelly, then Princess of Monaco present, the port very quickly became the favourite destination of the jet set and those with plenty of cash to splash. Today, the port retains its self-indulgent character, albeit that the occupants have probably become richer, and almost certainly tackier, with their fake bodily parts, hideously botoxed blown-up lips, overly worked tans and hair extensions. The lack of taste in the place really does grate, and after an hour or so amongst the nouveau riche, I am rarely happier to get back to the Andalus authenticity and charm of Marbella’s old town.

Taking the boat from Marbella to Banus…

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Marbella’s port

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The catamaran taking us to Banus

The catamaran taking us to Banus

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But get away from the tacky masses, and block out the drones of Essex accents and other unsavoury lingos, and the fact remains that Puerto Banus, built in a uniform dazzling low-rise white, with similarly sparkling white yachts before it and the stupendously beautiful Marbella mountain rising up behind it, is really very beautiful. And there is no better way to approach the port and therefore regard it from a safe distance in all its peopleless beauty than to take a boat from Marbella’s slightly less salubrious marina, to Banus. At the cost of only 8 euros one way, it’s almost the same price as a taxi, but the trip affords stunning views of the Marbellan coastline, reminding passengers of just why the town was named “Sea Beautiful”.

Puerto Banus in all its glory

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Once in Puerto Banus, a few restaurants round the corner from the main boutique-filled thoroughfare enable quiet al fresco dining with a stunning port-side location, while just outside of Puerto Banus, in the stretch between Banus and Marbella are situated some of the most stunning, tranquil and quiet beaches in all of Marbella. So when my partner and I headed to Banus by boat this summer, we were surprised how much of an enjoyable experience we could extract from a Port which we have formerly declared a no-go zone. Not only did the lunch trip and the boat over afford us stunning views of the marina and the coast, but our return journey provided us with the most beautiful vistas of them all. Because for those with the energy and the appetite for a long walk, the walk on foot, along Marbella’s amble seaside-promenades from Banus back to the centre of Marbella, is undoubtedly the most stunning walk to be had on all of the Costa del Sol. While it takes a good 90 minutes without stopping, and longer when you stop to take advantage of the tranquil beaches and the well-situated seaside cafes, the path takes you past bounteous plump cacti, extravagant private villas, luxury hotels and quiet beaches which resemble something out of paradise. The walk is in fact so close to my heart that a couple of years back it inspired me to paint “Paseo Banus” (see below).

The famous Banus yachts

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The photos which you now see are from our trip to Banus, and the stunning walk home to Marbella’s centre which followed. Our walk probably took around 3 hours by the time we had stopped off at our favourite café Cappuccino Grand Café (and on another occasion Ibiza’s favourite – Café del Mar) and also spent a good hour dipping in and out of the super-calm sea, revelling in being the only people on a very quiet beach. But what an afternoon it was – sunny, hot, tranquil, beautiful – the riches of Marbella reserved for those who make the effort to walk out to them.

Walking from Banus back to Marbella

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…and the painting it inspired

Paseo Banus (2011 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, Acrylic on canvas)

Paseo Banus (2011 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, Acrylic on canvas)

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2013 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.