Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘Summer’

From Illyria to Italy, Part 1: Diocletian’s Palace

We’ve just got back from a Roman adventure, a trip back in time some 2 millennia, both in terms of the cities visited, and the antiquated service received from Veiling airlines who lost our luggage on the first day (but more about that vexation another time). For our double-dose city tour took us from the ancient Roman ruins which form the centrepiece of the beautiful Croatian town of Split, to both the ancient and the modern manifestation of the Roman world in the city of Rome herself.

DSC02738DSC02807DSC02818DSC02740DSC03189DSC02923

So first let me sweep you over along the graceful Adriatic coast, to the coastline of Croatia littered with an archipelago of dalmatian spotted-islands, stopping at Split, one of the most splendid cities of old Illyria. The city has an illustrious history, but the man who truly placed it on the map was Emperor Diocletian who, attracted to the city because of its naturally occurring sulphur springs amongst other things, constructed a vast palace complex in the city to which he retired in 305AD. It is that very palace, still incredibly well preserved, which sits at the centre of today’s modern but manageably sized city. However unlike the standard Roman ruins sitting apart and cordoned off in most modern cities, these actually form part and parcel of daily life, since the Medieval city was actually built on, and expanded within, the old palace remains.

DSC02490DSC02522DSC02922DSC02683DSC02547DSC02456

Thus it was that in around 615AD, long after the collapse of the Roman Empire, refugees from Salona settled in the palace, gradually building within its walls, and changing the fabric of its interior. Such is the history which gives Split it’s inherently unique character – a city of ancient cobbled stones, Roman pillars and ancient temples coupled with superimposed Medieval houses, early-Christian churches and later Venetian-gothic touches.

DSC02948DSC03205DSC03206DSC02483DSC03217

 

This architectural medley is the focus of this first post of photos from my holiday in Split. Staying bang in the centre, with the most incredible views onto the Cathedral of St Dominus which itself was built on the old sight of Diocletian’s mausoleum, we were ideally situated to make the most of this UNESCO protected marvel. With its hodgepodge of styles, bustling narrow streets, and Roman columns, archways and temples at every turn, the city made for an easy photographic target, as this small selection of a very large collection of photos suggests.

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. 

Shakespeare 400: A Midsummer Night’s Dream

2016 is the year of Shakespeare. It is a festival which marks the great Bard’s birth, and his death, and above all things a celebration of his incredible works, masterpieces which have shaped generations, been interpreted and reinterpreted across the centuries, and which are a core of both British and global theatre. In exploring my own reinterpretations of his plays, some 20 years after I completed my first Shakespeare collection at the age of 13, I have moved onto my second work, painted in my new interpretative abstract style.

The play is A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a comic frolic of cross-purpose love affairs, mischievous spells, sparkling forest fairies and of course the famous Donkey metamorphosis of Bottom, all set between the trees of a forest near Athens. That wonderfully magical forest setting forms the background of my work, a simplified design of vertical brown stripes, creating a sense of the darkness and depth of the forest which characterises the tone of that mystical Midsummer’s Night.

Midsummer FINAL

A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2016 ©Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, acrylic on canvas)

Central to the piece is a large yellow shape, representing the wall in the story of Pyramus and Thisbe, whose chink provides the only channel for communication for the two forbidden lovers after whom the story is named. Creating something of a play within a play, the tale of Pyramus and Thisbe (originally told by Ovid) is acted out at the end of the play by the theatre troupe from whom the actor-turned-donkey Bottom comes, and which likewise reflects the theme of forbidden love which is played out in the forbidden love between Hermia and Lysander.

It is in fact that disallowed love affair which sends Hermia and Lysander fleeing to the forest, where in their wake Helena, Hermia’s friend, and Demetrius, the man Hermia’s father wishes her to marry, follow. These four characters then become the pawn of Oberon and Titania, the King and Queen of the forest fairies whose own conflict results in a series of magical mischief which in turn results in the four youngsters of Athens variously falling in and out of love with one another while under the bewitchment of the “love-in-idleness” flower. That same juice is used to bewitch Titania, who in turn is caused to fall in love with the metamorphosed Bottom.

All this is represented by my painting of shapes and lines. The energetic lines which cross the canvas are those of Titania and Oberon, whose ballet of magical conflict weaves in and out of the play’s plot. Where they meet, and form shapes within their overlaps, these shapes represent the four young lovers, Helena, Hermia, Lysander and Demetrius. The grey triangle is of course the donkey head of Bottom, and when Titania’s “line” traverses the space, it is transformed blue, as though bewitched by Oberon. Meanwhile above Oberon’s line, the blue curve represents his faithful assistant Puck, the cheeky little fairy who mischievously applies the love-potion, and above the red triangle of Titania, the four little pink lines are her flying little fairy assistants, Peaseblosom, Cobweb, Moth and Mustardseed.

For those unaware of this brilliant play, the description above may bamboozle the mind. Where that is the case, please enjoy the painting instead, whose simplified lines and structure make, in themselves, what I hope is a thoroughly pleasing image for Midsummer’s Night.

© 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

Across the Water to Menorca, Part 4: Virgin Beaches

So after all the sun shone on our weekend in Menorca, and while our stay saw its fair share of grey skies tumbling across the island, the times of sunshine were all the more remarkable by contrast. And for my final post of my little Menorca season, I am sharing photos captured on a long sunny Sunday afternoon, where the sun did nothing so well as to magnify the sheer stupefying beauty of Menorca’s natural scenery.

For where Menorca lacks in the city buzz of Palma here on its neighbouring island of Mallorca, it gains in the untouched virgin landscape which nature has left for us humble visitors to enjoy. Just as I thought Mallorca’s beauty could not be beaten, along came the calas (coves) of Menorca whose colours just blew my mind. There, the sands were so white, so pure and unsullied by the slightest hint of humans, that as they slowly descended beneath the fringe of the mediterranean coastline, they did so creating a paradisal cerulean blue melting into darker azure tones. Across the waters, the crystal clear seas shone and glimmered, and just underneath the surface, one could admire the camouflage effect of the odd rocky outcrop contrasting against the golden surface of the seabed.

DSC01220DSC01245DSC01253DSC01212DSC01246DSC01204DSC01249DSC01207DSC01232DSC01213

We could have quite easily spent months visiting the many calas which pepper Menorca’s coastline, such are their number, but we satisfied ourselves with the double whammy of the Cala Macarella and its smaller even more beautiful sister, the Cala Macarelleta, just around the corner. Approached through a densely planted aromatically fragrant pine forest, both beaches are a sight to behold and a treat for all the senses. The waters are every bit the match of the Caribbean, untouched, unspoilt and in the month of May blissfully underpopulated (save for the odd nude bather).

DSC01210DSC01244DSC01216DSC01192DSC01255DSC01203DSC01227

Here in the Mediterranean, paradise always feels very close at hand, but in the calas of Menorca, I feel we had practically made it.

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.

Soller FINAL

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

Discovering Mallorca: The walled wonder of Alcúdia

The Mallorca winter has been pretty comfortable so far. With barely three days of rain, temperatures in the teens, and sunshine pretty much every day, few can complain about the 2016 winter, although residents everywhere are looking a little worried about the sheer lack of rain, especially if this coming summer is as dry and hot as the last. Nonetheless, winter is winter when all is said and done, and even when we stroll out into a crisp sunny day, I still reminisce about the days of the summer and early autumn, when our coats remained out of sight, and trousers too had an only infrequent airing.

In the midst of these remembrances, one such special sunny day (some time at the beginning of October when my mother was in town) came to mind, and I realised that until now, it had gone unreported on The Daily Norm, such was the shockingly busy month which followed with a house move followed by a manic season of multiple Christmas decorations. Driving to the North of the island, the day afforded us yet another new discovery on this island of plenty, as we headed to the town and municipality of Alcúdia.

The old town of Alcúdia 

DSC02281DSC02299DSC02254DSC02286DSC02289DSC02261DSC02243DSC02240DSC02294DSC02230

As with much of the island, Alcúdia has become synonymous with its long stretch of shallow sandy beaches, which predictably attracted an influx of tourism and the accompanying construction of endless 1970s hotels, a sight which, while improved by the sparkle of the cerulean Mediterranean sea, is not the most aesthetically pleasing.

However, head inland, and you reach the real Alcúdia, and there, behind a circle of painstakingly restored medieval walls, you find an arabic citadel perfectly brought back to life. With its narrow streets filled with little shops pouring out onto the streets, and small scenic squares bustling with a range of popular restaurants, it is no wonder that the town has become a favourite of tourists hanging out on the north of the island, making it second only to Palma as the island’s most beautiful historical town.

Nearby beaches and the port

DSC02303DSC02364DSC02320DSC02309DSC02357DSC02304DSC02337DSC02329DSC02301

As I sit now in my cosy apartment, breathing is the perfumed scent of the hyacinths imported into our home from the nearby flower market on La Ramblas, I’m dreaming of those summer days when we can wonder freely, without coats, and with the air flowing around our knees. Something tells me the time is close at hand. And in the meantime I leave you with my photos of Alcúdia, and the memories of the pleasantly warm first encounter of this magical town.

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.

The last greens of Summer

The official start of autumn is almost upon us, and although here in Mallorca we still enjoy days of hot humid sunshine, there is a definite sense of autumnal anticipation in the air. Although the trees are not yet brown, the leaves have already metamorphosed from the rich forest green of summer to a lighter almost translucent lime green, and on the occasional tree you can already see the edges of the leaves gradually give in to a golden manifestation.

And while the onset of autumn, and the winter thereafter, is not a prospect which fills me with joy, there is a real beauty to the melancholy which fills the streets of Palma de Mallorca as the high season comes to an end. Businesses, packed all summer, start to breathe a sigh of relief for the rest which is just around the corner; plants re-emerge freshly abundant after months without rain and water; and long dappled shadows dance amongst a decidedly warmer golden sunlight, which streams through the dying leaves like a last embrace before their inexorable descent.

DSC01207 DSC01257DSC01246 DSC01280 DSC01270 DSC01323DSC01331 DSC01309DSC01320

It is the beauty of this time which I have attempted to capture with this small set of photos, just from strolling around the streets near my home. Here in Palma, we are not quite in autumn, and the colours are not yet that characteristic autumnal auburn and gold. These are the last greens of summer.

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.

Musings on Marbella: My little neighbourhood

Marbella is a name synonymous with glamorous hotel resorts, mass tourism and indulgent beach parties, tacky celebrities and multiple cosmetic surgeries. But as I have pointed out so many times before, beyond Puerto Banus and the vast stretches of tourist-ravaged coast either side, the actual centre of Marbella on Spain’s Costa del Sol is an authentic gem in the crown of Andalucia. Not only does the town boast an utterly picturesque old town at its core, including a baroque masterpiece of a church and ancient Moorish walls, but its modern expansion has an altogether more down to earth atmosphere, where chirpy Andalucian locals take a coffee on the sidewalk, walk along the seaside and even head occasionally to the gym.

DSC01089 DSC01090 DSC01087

This is the real Marbella which I am lucky enough to call my neighbourhood, for my family have owned a home at the heart of the old town for almost a decade and a half, and as a result I have become well accustomed to this part of the world. The result is that when I visit, I reflect more introspectively, and create on canvas rather than take a whole raft of new photos of sights often explored before. My collection from this year’s trip is not therefore extensive. But it is characterised by the very authenticity which makes this area of Marbella the real soul of the city, rather than the superficiality which exists at its fringes.

These photos were taken in literally a few hundred square metres of my house and the little hilly street we live in. They present just a few details from the neighbourhood we live in… the real Marbella which so many visitors miss.

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.

The Honeymoon Chronicles, Part III: Saint-Paul de Vence

There would be few who would have blamed us if we had never left the sensational tranquility which can be found within the stone walls of La Colombe d’Or. And yet the hotel is itself nestled against the ancient stone walls of the tiny village of St-Paul de Vence in the South of France, and within those mighty ramparts can be found a tiny little village so utterly picturesque that it was worth the struggle of leaving our well-appointed loungers beneath La Colombe’s Calder mobile.

While Saint-Paul is visibly ancient and utterly medieval with its maze of cobbled steep streets nestled within large protective ramparts, its reputation ballooned largely owing to the fame of La Colombe d’Or and the increasingly famous jet set of artists and intellectuals who stayed there. What then followed was the opening of the Fondation Maeght, one of Europe’s most significant collections of modern art installed in a museum created by Marguerite and Aimé Maeght just up the road from La Colombe d’Or. Consequently, with some of the most important art of the modern era on its doorstep, it is no wonder that the fame of St-Paul has magnified, nor indeed that the village itself has become a mainstay of art. For besides the usual offerings of Provençal soaps and local olive oils, the village is crammed full of art galleries.

DSC06456 DSC06948 DSC06540 DSC06930 DSC06903

St-Paul is a tiny village with a little church located at the peak of the hill, and the remainder of the streets spiralling around downwards from that centre point. It was a place in which to stroll, and photograph; to soak in the ambient shady streets filled with little shop signs and flowers; to peruse the little shop windows and the multi-coloured offerings of the art galleries; and to breathe in the local perfumes of lavender and soap. And with the village right on our doorstep, we made good use of St-Paul as a destination to shop, stroll and dine. Here are some of the photos I made during our time in the town.

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.

The Honeymoon Chronicles, Part II: Calder’s Pool

On Wednesday I told you all about the earthly paradise that is La Colombe d’Or, and yesterday I shared my first artwork inspired by this epicentre of the arts. And yet I would do La Colombe an injustice if I stopped there. For combine my relentless enthusiasm for all things Mediterranean, with my love of art, and my complete obsession with the effect of light on water, and ripples, and you will be unsurprised that during our stay at that little Provençal Inn, I fell head over heels in love with the swimming pool which languishes at the centre of the hotel.

DSC07077
DSC06704 DSC06294 DSC06241 DSC06268

Surrounded on three sides by the old stone residences which make up the charming accommodation of La Colombe, and on the other with a spectacular view of the rolling hills around St-Paul de Vence, the swimming pool benefits from lush planting, cypress trees clipped into perfectly curvaceous almost anthropomorphic forms, ancient ceramic pots overflowing with palms and flowers, and quaint wooden loungers each fitted with a distinctive apricot cushion for the ultimate in comfort.

DSC07112 DSC06683DSC07107 DSC06649 DSC07021DSC06278

But above all of the charms of this magical pool is the original art which surrounds it. On the one side, a dark contemplative piece by contemporary geometric artist Sean Scully sounds all wrong on paper, but the dark colours perfectly complement the zing of orange of the sun loungers lined up against it. Opposite, the bird mosaic by Georges Braque fits perfectly harmoniously with the lush vegetation surrounding it, peeking out from behind the cypress trees as though wary of the tourists taking their places alongside the pool. And best of all – that stunning Alexander Calder mobile, whose fast metal arms swing slowly and silently in the still Riviera air, and whose base stands majestically on the water’s edge.
DSC06705 DSC06255 DSC07104 DSC07100 DSC06651

All combined like the colours mixed on an artist’s palette in ripples moving across the delicate green waters whose depths were punctuated with light manifested in every shade of cerulean blue and forest green. I became fascinated, dazzled by the interplay of colour on the water, and took so many photos that a post dedicated to this phenomenon of La Colombe d’Or was a must.

DSC06312 DSC06442 DSC07056 DSC07079 DSC06673DSC07298

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.

A two-hour trip to Valencia

If there was to be a definitive demonstration of the term jet-set, a 2 hour trip from Mallorca to Valencia and back again would surely be it. And today that is exactly what I did. Flying from our sunny isle, over the deep blue waters of the Mediterranean to one of Spain’s sunniest cities, just for a quick work meeting and then back again. Happily, amongst my work responsibilities, I was able to fit in a few minutes to stroll around the city. For Valencia’s old town’s is surely one of the most stunning in all of Spain and well worth a full weekend’s exploration. Nonetheless, with only 20 minutes to spare before my flight, I made the most of the time available to me, shooting these photos which I now share.

DSC08502 DSC08577 DSC08549 DSC08584DSC08492

The photos mainly focus on the picture-worthy Plaza de la Reina, and its sister plaza – de la Virgen, both sandwiching the beautifully quasi-baroque Valencia Cathedral between them. While the Plaza de la Reina is very much the bustling centre of the old town, where cafés spill over onto sunny pavements, taxi drivers meet for a chat, and residents wait for the city’s many buses, the Plaza de la Virgen is a grander affair with the Romanesque arches of the cathedral its backdrop and a magnificent fountain with a grandiose Neptune at its centre.

As my photos perhaps suggest, I couldn’t get enough of that stunning fountain which never fails to enchant me, whenever I am lucky enough to visit this marble clad urban space. But also evident from this little selection of photos is the purity and strength of the colours. Just look at those rotund oranges, and that amazing blue sky; that sun dappled yellow wall and those white and blue dazzling fountains of water. They are the colours which made Spain so utterly seductive to me, and the reason why eventually I found myself moving here permanently. Adios for now…

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.