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Posts tagged ‘Semana Santa’

Abstract #26: Todos Rectos

I have long been inspired by the Semana Santa parades which fill the streets of Spain with their melancholic processions at Easter time. Too many times I have berated the confusion of ignorant outsiders who see the parades as anachronistic, or worse still, reminiscent of the unthinkable 3Ks. In truth, they make for a stirring spectacle, no matter that their devotional repercussions are undoubtedly far weaker than they might have been 100, even 50 years ago. Yet with the sinister pointed masks of the nazareños, the swinging thrones lifted on high allowing a precious statue of Jesus or the Madonna to make its annual outing into the streets, and their moving brass band harmonies resonating throughout cobbled streets, Spain’s Easter parades are for me a highlight of the annual calendar.

Readers familiar with my blog will know that this will not be the first time I have painted Spain’s Easter parades. They feature in my Seville Triptych, my study of Domingo de Ramos, my Semana Santa code, and my painting Catholicism CatholicismBut these solemn spectacles never fail to move me, and it was during the afternoon in the week immediately preceding the parades that a moment’s reflection on what was to come brought this image sweeping before my eyes. That same evening I bought my canvas and set to work.

Abstract #26: Todos Rectos (2016 ©Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, acrylic on canvas)

Abstract #26: Todos Rectos (2016 ©Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, acrylic on canvas)

Featuring all of the various characteristics of the parades; the pointed hats of the nazareños, the enthroned statues of Jesus and Mary, the candles, trumpets and incense smoke, this new painting encapsulates Semana Santa, with each aspect reduced into an abstract form typical of my new style, and with a highly limited colour palette of deep blood red, yellows and touches of blue.

Asides from the forms, the title of the piece is something of a play on words. Todo recto in Spanish means straight on, like the direction of the parade, led by the trumpet. But to be todos rectos is to be literally all right, referring not only to the moral righteousness of those involved in the procession, but also eluding to the right wing politics with which the Spanish Catholic church was always historically associated. And of course to be recto is also to be straight. Enough said.

It’s a painting with which I am wholeheartedly delighted. A finely balanced addition to my new collection, and the many of my works which have been inspired by Easter in Spain.

© 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

Countdown to my new Solo Exhibition | 5 days – Semana Santa Code

This is the third post of artwork shares as The Daily Norm warms up for my first solo art exhibition in 6 years. Moving on from the more emotionally raw works of my accident collection which will take centre stage at the exhibition, I move on, albeit gradually, to my works inspired by the culturally abundant, vividly colourful country of Spain. 

For in the third work I am featuring by way of preview of next week’s exhibition, Road Traffic Control (The Semana Santa Code) I may be representing the Spanish Semana Santa parades which are characteristic of Spanish cities up and down the length and breadth of the country during Easter Week, but I also continue to reference the road traffic symbolism which dominated my work from the time of my 2008 accident onwards.

Whether or not the influence of the accident was still dominant in my mind when I painted this work I am not sure. To some extents I will never truly escaped the effects of my accident in my art, just as I will never totally escape them in life. However, the road traffic imagery in this painting was used, not so much as a reference back to my own accident, but as a way of portraying the traditional parades of the Spanish Easter celebrations through a less traditional mode of illustration.

The Semana Santa Code (Oil on canvas, 2011 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown)

The Semana Santa Code (Oil on canvas, 2011 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown)

The idea came to me when I noticed that the Spanish Nazareños, marching along the roads of Spanish cities with their pointed conical caps, looked much like walking traffic cones. And so the idea was born. From the use of traffic cones, I moved on to utilise familiar traffic signs and symbols by way of “codyfying” (in the same way as The Highway Code does for traffic) some of the religious meanings and motivations underlying the Easter parades. For example I converted the typical motorway sign into a symbol of Mary, Mother of Christ, while the crucifixion was replaced with the sign for a crossroads.

For its scale (the painting measures almost 2 metres across) and the relative simplicity of the image, I really do love this painting, a fact which will be reflected as I plan to hang this work at the very opening of my show next week; for as a painting reflecting both the Spanish culture which has so entranced me, and the road traffic imagery which was the cause of so much personal all-encompassing pain, this painting really is apt illustration of the time when (s)pain became the Norm.

© 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

Nicholas de Lacy-Brown’s new solo exhibition, When (S)pain became the Norm, will be at London’s Strand Gallery from 13 – 18 May 2014. For more details, click here.

Semana Santa: Norms attend a Procession

In 2012, I embarked on the ultimate of Norm sketches, when I set about working on this extra large sketch of Norms attending one of Marbella’s Semana Santa processions. After much labouring on this sketch which is some 4 times larger than the scale I usually work to, I declared the sketch complete, but was never overly happy with the results. For me, the proliferation of white and pale tonal shades meant that the details were getting lost – the main parading figures at the centre for example couldn’t be all that easily distinguished from the crowd collected around the parade.

Two years later, and having expanded into the use of a greater range of grey tones starting with my Nativity Norms and then extending into my Norm Saints collection, I decided to go back to this sketch and give it a whole new tonal overview. So taking the sketch carefully out of its frame, I set about adding new shadows, colouring the sky and the ground, the tunics of the Nazarenos, and even adding touches of gold. The result in a sketch which I am so much happier with. The tonal contrast now encourages a greater narrative of the procession, and focuses the audience first on the parading figures, and only then the watching crowd. The use of darker tones on the ground means that the figures are now much more distinguishable, while the use of varying colours on the buildings does likewise with the crowd.

Semana Santa - Norms attend a procession - the 2012 original (© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen on paper)

Semana Santa – Norms attend a procession – the 2012 original (© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen on paper)

Semana Santa - Norms attend a procession - the 2014 revamp (© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen and ink on paper)

Semana Santa – Norms attend a procession – the 2014 revamp (© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen and ink on paper)

It may have taken 2 years to get right but hey, the result was worth the wait!

© 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

 Nicholas de Lacy-Brown’s new solo exhibition, When (S)pain became the Normwill be at London’s Strand Gallery from 13 – 18 May 2014. For more details, click here

Marbella Medley | Folio 2 – Semana Santa

Heading to Spain for Easter is often a risky business. Far from providing the wall-to-wall sunshine much promised of the tourism posters, my experience of the country at this time of the year has been that rain falls more widely than just the plain, and for more days than the tourist board would care to admit. And this Easter was no exception, with the Spanish skies tipping it down for 3 out of the 6 days I was on holiday there. Unfortunately, what this seasonal capriciousness also means in that the Semana Santa (Holy Week) parades, which are otherwise the other big certainty of a trip to Spain at Easter, will likewise be cancelled. After all, local churches cannot risk the damage which might otherwise be done to their priceless statues, many of which are centuries old, whose procession in the open air is central to the Semana Santa parades.

Happily, this year, save for the unfortunate cancellation of the big climax to Marbella’s Semana Santa festivities – the Easter Day parade – I was able to see a full set of stunning processions on each of the evenings when I was in town. With their military bands and mighty golden tronos, their multiple rows of candle-bearing conical-hooded nazareños, and collective of local dignitaries, these parades are full of all the pomp and traditional ceremony that a Spanish town or city can muster, and represent the centrepiece of a year’s religious celebrations.

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As I have said on this blog many a time before, these parades are totally inspirational to me, and cannot help but move me, even though I do not share in the religious sentiment behind them. So even though this year must have been the 10th or 11th time I have seen the parades, I could not help but chase them all around town, taking photographs of each detail as I went. The parades, which largely run at night, are nevertheless notoriously difficult to photograph, and the set I am sharing today have their fair share of blurring issues. But I kind of like this, because in the blur you get a sense of the mysterious and solemn atmosphere which is created when you see the flickering candlelit tronos emerge from around a street corner, seen through the puffs of incense and candle smoke which are so characteristic of these parades.

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Special mention also has to go to the military sheep who was perhaps one of the more unique aspects of one parade. Appearing to be some kind of military mascot, the sheep did a sterling job, joining in the parade for the full 4+ hours of its duration. With its tilted hat and little Spanish flag ankle cuffs, this sheep was fully dressed for the occasion and is so endearing that I have given him two photos in this collection – it’s only what he deserves.

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.

Domingo de Ramos

It’s Palm Sunday and all over the world, people will be marking the start of Easter Week. I’m not that religious myself (I went to Catholic school and sung in a church choir throughout my childhood, but that’s probably the extent of it), but there is something undeniably enchanting about the celebrations which are afoot in the Christian church at this time of year, especially in Southern Spain.

In celebrating Semana Santathe Spanish go all out in a devotional show which makes the spine tingle with its emotional impact. Every evening in Spanish towns and cities throughout the country, but particularly in the South, brotherhoods (hermanidades) of various churches dust off the various statues of Jesus and Mary which usually sit in the enclaves and side chapels of their churches, dress them up in flowers and candles, and with great fanfare parade these statues upon gilded tronos around the streets of their respective cities. The hermanidades themselves are likely to parade as nazareños, the slightly sinister masked figures who accompany the floats, with their pointed conical hats carrying candles which sway to the rhythm of the parade. Seeing row upon row of these figures lined up in the street is a moving and dramatic sight.

Grupo de Nazareños (2009 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown) Oil on canvas

Grupo de Nazareños (2009 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown) Oil on canvas

My first ever experience of one of the Semana Santa parades was in my (sometimes) hometown of Marbella on palm sunday. Decked in rich velvet costumes of red, green and white, the nazareños carrying their heavily decorated silver and gold crosses and candlesticks completely inspired me, and I painted this quick oil painting named after the day of the parade which inspired it – Domingo de Ramos.

Of course those who know my art will know that this is but one artwork which has been inspired by the moving spectacle of Spanish Semana Santa, but as it depicts Palm Sunday, it seemed only appropriate to share it with you today.

And if you like my artwork, don’t forget that all of my Spain-inspired paintings will be on display at my forthcoming exhibition, When (S)pain became the Norm, starting one month today!

© 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

 Nicholas de Lacy-Brown’s new solo exhibition, When (S)pain became the Norm, will be at London’s Strand Gallery from 13 – 18 May 2014. For more details, click here.

 

Mallorca (Part II) – Photography Focus 1: Semana Santa

I’ve never made a secret of the fact that I love the way the Spanish celebrate Easter. Their Semama Santa (Holy Week) processions are amongst the most atmospheric and moving sights that you will see in Spain. Originating in Southern Spain and still at their grandest in Seville, the processions have been overshadowed elsewhere by a common misconception that the nazareños, those participants who dress in pointed hoods by way of penitence for their sins, and who march along silently holding candles alongside the huge tronos (floats) are, or at least resemble, the dreaded Ku Klux Klan.

It’s true that the resemblance is uncanny, but that is where the resemblance ends. The sanctity and purity of these stunning Spanish spectacles do not deserve to be overshadowed by a hideous clan of bigots who ripped off the costume for their own immoral pursuits. Rather, while the hooded figures of the Spanish parades certainly lend something of a sinister feel to the spectacle, they are integral to the magical solemnity which results.

Knowing as I do that the parades are at their biggest in Andalucia, I wasn’t really expecting to find any processions in Mallorca. However, as we ventured out for dinner on our first night, the very familiar drum beat of a Semana Santa procession began to ring in my ears, and as we approached our pre-designated restaurant, we met, by sheer coincidence, a procession just as it passed through the very same street.

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The processions in Mallorca are smaller than the Andalucian affairs, but lose none of their power as a result. This is created largely thanks to the brass bands which play stirring, chromatic melodies which are enough to bring tears even to the eyes of even the most hardened atheist. Meanwhile, the pointed nazareños amble slowly along, burning a passage of candles as they process, and behind them, a life-size statue, normally Jesus or Mary, is carried along on a trono (throne). In Andalucia, these are carried by a number of men baring the huge weight of both the statute and its often elaborately gilded platform. Here I was interested to see that the tronos were carried by men actually hidden underneath the platform, and surrounded by curtains, so that all that could be seen of the men were their feet making the painstaking journey through Palma’s streets.

These powerful processions are not easy to capture on camera, being that it is often dark, and the parades are always moving. However, I managed to take a few shots which I feel encapsulate the atmosphere and pomp of these wonderful spectacles. Testament to their rich tradition, and also by way of building in further atmosphere, I have taken these shots in black and white, something which I feel really lends itself to the solemnity and distinctive quality of the occasion. Without further ado, I leave you with a gallery of shots.

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. 

Valencia (iv) – Day 2: Sea, Sanctuary and Semana Santa

It’s easy to forget that Valencia is by the sea. With its centre some distance inland, you can barely make out the horizon of the Mediterranean, even from the city’s highest point atop the Miguelete bell tower. You can’t smell the sea, nor see boats, and I suppose it doesn’t help that the old river Turia is now dried out, diverted, and turned to gardens. And yet a ten minute journey away on Valencia’s tram will take you swiftly coastwards, where the Mediterranean sea stretches out like a swathe of azure blue above a foreground of softly undulating white sand.

And it was to the coast that we headed on this, second day of our Valencia Odyssey, taking the tube from Xativa out to the old Marina. But before we could even leave the historic centre, our walk took us into the Southern stretch of the city, below the Plaza de la Reina, and into the far bigger, much grander Plaza del Ayuntamiento. If the Catedral and the Plaza de la Virgen behind it is the beating heart of the city, then the Plaza del Ayuntamiento is its administrative brain and spinal cord. The Plaza, and the Ayuntamiento (town hall) sitting at its centre, resembles something closer to New York than old town Valencia. It’s highrises are not glass skyscrapers, but they are tall and magnificent, straight out of the art deco and Modernista era of architecture. At one corner of the square, a whole series of domed and turreted multi-storey business blocks come together like a meeting of the giants, and the effect is magnificent and altogether imposing. In the square’s centre, a vast plaza is broken up with a suitably impressive fountain surrounded by flowerbeds and flower sellers, while numerous benches enable visitors to sit and gaze up at the many elaborate buildings, and the stucco, wrought iron, and sculptures which decorate their facades, sending out a message of the grandeur and supremacy of the administrative heart of this city.

Features of the Plaza del Ayuntamiento

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Walking through this impressive plaza, and onto the main shopping street lined, amongst others, with the beautiful Modernista Estacion del Norte, and the vast colonnaded bullring (this has to be one of Spain’s most impressive) we made our way down into the fairly modern and efficient (if a little slow) tube and journeyed outwards towards the coast. There, we alighted a few stops before the sea, just as the metro makes its seamless transition into an overland tram, so that we could make a visit to one of Valencia’s more unusual museums – the Museum of the Semana Santa Marinera de Valencia.

For those unaccustomed to Semana Santa, Spain’s Holy Week celebrations, they are generally mistaken into believing that the sinister hooded figures with eye-holes cut into pointed hoods, marching en masse by candlelight and accompanying religious paraphernalia, are none other than the infamous KKK. This is an unfortunate confusion which comes more of the KKK’s widespread infamy than any ignorance of spiritual and sacred tradition closer to home. For in Spain, long before the 3 K’s surfaced with their abominable practices, the churches of Spain’s towns and cities parade their holy statues out of the churches and around the streets on each of the nights of Holy Week. The men with the hoods are nazareños, Christian faithful who cover their faces as an act of penitence before unveiling their faces again when Christ is risen from the dead. These parades make for powerful spectacles – I know, having seen many in Andalucia, and having been inspired to paint many representations of the same.

DSC_0863Anyway, here in Valencia, it seems they do things a little different. For one thing their statues are built more as freezes, depictions of the Passion story, tailor made for being paraded rather than living in the side-chapels of churches. Secondly, these larger sculptures are paraded around on wheels, rather than carried by hundreds of men in unison, as is the practice in the South of Spain. Thirdly, and perhaps the reason for the second of these differences, the Semana Santa in Valencia is called the Semana Santa Marinera because the parades actually take place, at least in part, along the beach, hence the location of this museum. This must make for quite a sight. Sadly, owing to the time of year, we had to make do with the museum itself, which is more of a holding place for the floats and costumes during the year. I must say, it made for something of a creepy and solemn spectacle to see all of the statues lined up, the crucifixes with their realistic depictions of bleeding Christ, and the hooded figures set out as mannequins. As interesting as I found it, I’m glad I was not there alone.

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After that slightly macabre visit, it felt good to be out in the sun again and walking towards the sea, not that it was terribly straightforward. It’s obvious that Valencia was not built as a seaside resort. For one thing, the city centre is far from the coast, with the result that the approaching areas are very suburban, and, to be honest, a little scary. Amongst all the tightly packed tower blocks, I felt very conspicuous – the two lone tourists with large cameras in hand walking along slightly lost in this very untouristy area. Eventually, via several main roads and diversions, we made it to the sea, but again the approach was far from obvious (luckily I speak enough Spanish to ask bemused locals where we were going). Valencia is known for having one of the biggest commercial ports on the Med – it is not known for its beaches, and while a rather pleasant paseo maritimo has now been forged along the coast, it is one strip of civility in amongst a whole hotbed of industrialised landscape. The golden sands, presumably imported, look a little out of place in this vast industrial centre, and even the pleasure port, itself a creation of recent decades, still has a very urbanised, working feel to it.

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The restaurants along the paseo are clearly tourist-centric however, and as we walked along, I made a point of avoiding every restaurant which had posted a waiter outside, touting for business. As this left no options open to us, we opted instead for the arm of the Marian Real Juan Carlos I. There a rather tatty looking cafe, 39o 27N, appeared nevertheless inviting, offering us a prime position in the sun, next to the sea. Too good to resist in fact, and despite a rather unfortunate incident when I sat on a man’s coat for some 5 minutes believing it to be a complimentary blanket (thus inadvertently stealing his table causing him to walk off in a huff) we relaxed into a good hour’s worth of sun worship next to the blues of the Med and the sparkling white of the shore. From out on the harbour arm, the industrialised landscape beyond almost looked romantic.

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Croquetas for lunch…

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After a few croquetas and a small cerveza, we headed back in land, preferring the pull of the old town to this recently fabricated coastline. Heading up again to the north of the old centre as we had the previous day, we were aiming towards the second of Valencia’s two main artistic attractions: the Institute of Modern Art (IVAM). IVAM is said to be one of Europe’s finest museums of contemporary art. Set within a vast spacious building (as contemporary art museums often are) and close to the old Turia riverbank, it is a building full of fragmented exhibitions, but somewhat lacking in a consistent display. When we turned up, I was a little confused to be handed around 6 leaflets, each in turn providing information about different temporary exhibitions being held at the site. Very little of the museum’s permanent collection, which I understand to be large, was on display – there was an exhibition of the metal abstract sculptures of Julio Gonzalez, and an exhibition of the paintings of Valencian painter, Ignacio Pinazo, another exponent of the Impressionist mood in Spain. Otherwise all offerings were temporary, not that this made them any less interesting.

Jeff Koons jewellery

Jeff Koons jewellery

Of particular interest was the exhibition From Picasso to Jeff Koons, an exhibition not of the artists’ ordinary works, but of their creations in jewellery. Thus we were treated to a wide range of artistic jewellery, arranged in various artistic genres, from minimalism to surrealism, and included, as the name suggests, creations from the likes of Koons (his inflated rabbit was made into a rather fetching silver necklace) and Dali (though sadly not his Mae West lips which I have seen recreated as a ruby broach in another exhibition). We also enjoyed a show entitled Arte y Espiritualidad, in which the relationship between art and spirituality was examined. I particularly enjoyed the various installations made from multiple skulls in plastic and pastel coloured material (they looked a bit like sherbet), as well as the interplay between old religious works and very modern creations. I also loved the work of Equipo Cronica, a brilliant Spanish artist who takes works of popular Spanish culture (Picasso, Valezquez, Goya) and reinvents them for the modern age. Below is his work, El Patio de las Tentaciones (1972) which to my mind appears to be based on Velazquez’s Mother Jerónima de la Fuente

Equipo Cronica, El Patio de las Tentaciones (1972)

Equipo Cronica, El Patio de las Tentaciones (1972)

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Leaving IVAM, we had one more treat in store before the day’s end. Passing again by chance, we stumbled upon the Jardin de los Hespérides, a stunning contemporary garden space which, I learn subsequently, has been awarded prizes aplenty for its modern garden design. Simple in its layout, and uniform in its alignment of fragrant cypress trees, citruses and low banks of herbs, the garden is a place of calm sanctuary from the bustling city beyond. In the background, the rear of a beautifully ornate church contrasts wonderfully with the abrasive metals and harsh lines which make up the garden. Meanwhile, in the foreground, wonderfully expressive sculptures are like cubist creations come to life.

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From Sea and Semana Santa, to a contemporary sanctuary in the midsts of the Valencian city centre, this day has once again introduced us to yet further facets of this diverse and variable city. And yet tomorrow there will be greater variance still – for we’re heading down river, to the City of Arts and Sciences, the modern architectural creation which has propelled Valencia forward as one of the world’s leading exponents of architectural innovation and, perhaps inevitably, the less comfortable epithet of one of Spain’s most extravagant spenders…

All photos and wording are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2013 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. 

Sunday Supplement: Road Traffic Control (The Semana Santa Code)

Happy Easter everyone! Yes it may be grey, and bleak, and ever so slightly damp here in London, but my flat is nonetheless filled with all the yellows of Spring, a chicken (cooked Spanish style with a grape juice glaze and caramalised apples) is about to go into the oven, and I am still putting up total resistance to the chocolate temptations all around.

In this final post in a week which has been bursting full of Easter-themed homages, mainly to the sensational Semana Santa spectacles of my dear España, I introduce you to my ultimate canvas exploring the theme of Semana Santa. This vast painting, entitled Road Traffic Control (The Semana Santa Code) was painted by yours truly towards the end of last year and is consequently my most recent painted depiction of the Semana Santa parades. But this work, which measures some 150cm across, depicts Semana Santa processions in a slightly unusual way, using road traffic symbols from the highway code to illustrate the main characters in a typical Semana Santa procession. In fact, the symbolism is at times so detailed that I like to think of the painting as being something of a new Da Vinci Code, the likes of which I will decrypt in today’s Sunday Supplement.

Road Traffic Control (The Semana Santa Code) (2012 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, oil on canvas)

Traffic Cones and the Lily Cathedral

Road Traffic Control - Nazareños detail (2012 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown)

The idea behind this interpretation of Semana Santa came to me when I was watching a procession last year and it occurred to me that the Nazareños with their pointed hats look a bit like walking traffic cones. From there the idea was born – their candles were swiftly replaced by zebra crossing lamps, the large lanterns carried at the front of the parade were replaced by traffic lights, and the banner held at the front of the procession was replaced by a “Controlled Zone” sign – after all, isn’t religion an attempt to control or at least orchestrate a way of life? The road is of course no different from the kind of road which a procession in Spain would walk along, except that here it spirals and wafts like a ribbon in full flight, from its point of emergence from a large lily, which represents a great Spanish Catedral, the smaller bell-like cala lily representing the cathedral’s campanile.

Brass Bands

Road Traffic Control - Brass band detail (2012 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown)

Road Traffic Control - Drums detail (2012 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown)

In every procession, there are at least two brass or military bands setting a rhythm and a melodic resonance for the procession. Generally speaking, a band will either lead or follow the Jesus tronos, and a second will either lead or follow Mary. Here the representation of the bands follows the road traffic theme, with old fashioned car hooters and police ribbon making up the first band, while roundabout drums with sides made up from a road’s diagonal warning lines (which warn of an approach to a junction or crossing) make up the second.

The depiction of Jesus

Road Traffic Control - Crucifix detail (2012 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown)

Road Traffic Control - Jesus detail (2012 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown)

For me, the depiction of Jesus came as easily to my mind as the traffic cones – I used the “crossroads” symbol to represent the crucifixion carried on a tronos, while before it, the signs carried by Nazareños represent, in order: the crucifxion (cross roads); pilgrims (elderly crossing); the disciples (pedestrians); Jesus on a donkey; the Holy Trinity (roundabout); the crusades (explosives); no U-Turn i.e. do not turn your back on Christ; and Give Way – to the Catholic faith as the one and only true religion.

The depiction of Mary

Road Traffic Control - Mary detail (2012 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown)

Road Traffic Control - Mary detail (2012 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown)

Mary is depicted using the “motorway” symbol which, with the addition of a small bridging line at the top, resembles a figure with a veil over her head. Meanwhile, the parade which precedes her includes signs with the following meaning: Mary, Mother of Christ (M1); the immaculate conception (no through way); Mother and Child; the ascension; pilgrims (disabled – such as those visiting Lourdes to visit the shrine of Mary).

Finally the painting ends with a sign signifying the end of the “controlled zone”. Hence the title of the painting, “Road Traffic Control”.

Road Traffic Control - Zone end detail (2012 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown)

I hope you’ve enjoyed the painting and have a great Easter Day, wherever you are.

© 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.

The Daily Sketch – Viernes Santo

It’s Good Friday, arguably the most important day in the Christian calendar, and, if you’re not into that kind of thing, an excuse for a day off to do some DIY! I always remember Good Friday with a degree of childlike fascination at an overwhelming morbidity and yet a profound sense of excitement at the scale and importance of the day. In the church where I used to be a chorister, they would hold a three hour service. Towards the end of that service they would strip the contents of the church bare leaving the place utterly bleak. This would mark a huge contrast to Easter Sunday morning, whereupon the church would be bursting at the seams with flowers and a sunny sense of celebration. For many, the role of the church on Good Friday has disappeared, and along with it, much of what made the day special for me in the past has filtered away. I couldn’t even find Ben Hur on the television, which could always previously be relied upon to instal a little Romanic pomp into the day!

Once again I find my thoughts floating towards Spain where, on this “Viernes Santo” they hold the most solemn procession of them all – a wax effigy of a startlingly lifelike dead Christ, and a weeping Mary, while the participants in the parade are dressed in an eery black and, at least in Marbella, there is no band – only silence and a recurring, foreboding drum beat. It’s chilling.

Marbella's startlingly realistic wax effigy of the dead Christ, paraded on Viernes Santo

Since Spain has very much been the concentration of my approach to Holy Week on the Daily Norm, I thought I’d mark Good Friday/ Viernes Santo with the most substantial Norm Sketch I have yet completed – far bigger than the rest and packed full of detail, this is a full on Semana Santa parade, complete with crowds, a tronos, the nazareños, the women wearing mantillas, and the altar boys wafting incense through the air. And below, just so you don’t miss a thing, some detail shots.

Semana Santa (Miercoles Santo) (2012 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen on paper)

Enjoy Good Friday, however you choose to spend it, and see you back here over the weekend.

© 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.

The Daily Sketch – Norms do Semana Santa

It’s Holy week around the world, and very much Semana Santa week here on The Daily Norm as myself and the Norms celebrate the lavish spectacle that are the Spanish Easter festivities. From photos and paintings, to sketches, today the Norms put in their two pennies worth indulging in their very own Semana Santa celebration. Thus a great body of costaleros share the burden of the vast tronos upon which a canopy contains a statue of a weeping Mary, surrounded by candles, lanterns and flowers. Here too, a group of Norms dress in the capriotes of the nazareños, carrying the typically opulent accessories of the procession – ornamental lamps, candles sticks and a magnificent crucifix. In the meantime, a group of female Norms adopt the black laced mantilla and accompanying black laced outfit worn by female participants of the parades.

Tronos Norms (2012 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen on paper)

Nazareños Norms (2012 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen on paper)

Norms wearing the mantilla (2012 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen on paper)

See you tomorrow for yet more Easter-themed ramblings and artwork.

© 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.