After a rather soggy start to our weekend sojourn in Bruges, the sun, when it came, cannot have been more welcome. As always happens when the depressing influence of cloud breaks and the atmosphere breathes a sigh of relief, Bruges opened itself up to receive the first glimmers of winter sunshine. And suddenly, before our very eyes, the city, which until now had appeared quaint, suddenly revealed the full extent of its beauty in full multi-coloured high dimensional clarity – like a bride whose blushing face is uncovered before the doting groom, the obfuscation of her lace veil being swept aside.
While Bruges exudes charm throughout its network of canals and cobbles, across its staggered rooftops and old timber town houses, it is a city which comes alive when the sun magnifies the resplendence of its colours and details. I loved the fact that on so many of the gothic spires or roof windows, a sweep of grey tiles would be broken by woodwork painted in a vivid high-gloss red; or the fact that in Bruges’ many squares and principal streets, its tightly packed buildings are each given personality through a veritable rainbow of coloured facades and golden statues.
As is the case with any city set on water, such colour and charm as resides above the waterline is swiftly replicated as the tranquil canals provide a mirrored surface hungry to reflect the panoply on tones glowing alongside it, so that in providing a double vision, the waters of Bruges complete a fully immersive picture of architectural brilliance across all visual planes. Yet in Bruges, unlike in Venice for example, its skyline is additionally punctuated by the addition of windmills and peaked rooftops, which, when seen alongside gothic spires, creates a uniquely spiked spectacle softened by a multitude of trees which must look splendid in warmer seasons.
Bruges is a place of unique and consistent beauty which is not disturbed by the touch nor inevitable destruction of modernity nor vulgarity. Yet in the sunshine it reaches an apotheosis of visual brilliance. I am so glad I was able to see it at its sunny best.
© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2018. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.
It has become something of a trend to describe Milan as an ugly city. Tourists who travel there come away disappointed when they find a famous Italian city which is not filled with Renaissance palaces and cobbled maze like streets glowing calmly under a terracotta sunset; which lacks the romance of bridges reflected in a calm river, or the magnificence of baroque churches and grand old museums at every corner. However to visit Milan with the expectation that it will be like Rome or Florence or Venice is to miss the very unique charm which Milan holds above other cities. Yes it’s big, and urban and thriving. And yes it has a whole identity quite asides from pandering to tourists. But I would hesitate to call it “industrialised” as many do, and I would certainly never call it ugly.
For me Milan is a city with a beauty all of its own. It’s big and bustling and oozes elegance from every corner. Its streets resonate with the sound of old squeaking trams and the clip-clopping of Prada stiletto heels. It’s a place which is characterised by the charm of Northern European cities, but the all the chic of the Italians. And chic it certainly is. For Milan is the capital of fashion, and its Quadrilatero della Moda is a district bedecked with lavishly decorated boutique shop windows and prices to make you faint, yet humbled by the charm of its private little ateliers and shiny cobbled pavements.
Milan reminds me of Barcelona. It has the same spirit of creative energy while surging towards a future where the Italian capital, Rome, has long since lagged behind and which is evident from its skyline glittering with modern skyscrapers and measured but thriving urbanisation. Its history is evidenced by one of the most splendid and enormous of all Italy’s cathedrals, while its cathedral of transport, the Stazione Centrale, is the most impressive train station I have ever seen, with its lofty art deco interiors which soar hundreds of metres into the sky. Meanwhile Milan is a city which takes pride in its food, but not just in the traditional dishes such as its creamy saffron risotto and ossobucco. Milan is a place where food is crossing new boundaries of creativity as the city surges forwards to greater levels of gastronomic superiority… again, far in advance of other cities in Italy.
Our brief trip to Milan brought one day of rain, but also one of beautiful sun. These photos are a reflection of the city on that wonderful sunny day. Now who can call this city ugly?
© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2011-2018. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.
It’s all too easy to be complacent, to get used to the good things in life and stop appreciating them, and here in Palma de Mallorca, where we are literally surrounded by the utmost of urban and then rural beauty at every stretch I am constantly reminding myself just how lucky I am. Such complacency resides more than anywhere else in the home, where we enjoy the same stunning surroundings every day, but the constantly changing beauty of our immediate environment provides a frequent reminder that it should be appreciated afresh every day.
Such were my musings when I got up one early morning a few days ago, and looked out of the window onto the multi-coloured panoply of old town streets which surround our apartment. Radiant in warm yellows, terracottas and greens, the nearby streets are archetypally Mediterranean, and look simply resplendent under the golden morning and evening sun rays. But what enchants me even more is the length of the early shadows, adding fresh stripes to an already linear landscape which move across the facades with the sun.
This small set of photos was snapped quickly before work, when in a sudden moment of realisation, I was made to stop and appreciate my daily views afresh. Even my sculpted model, made during my first ever sculpture attempt in London back in 2011, appears to be captivated by the view she now enjoys on a daily basis. And who can blame her.
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For all its different shapes and colours, and the play of sunshine and shadow, this photo, taken a few days ago on my sunny London balcony just had to make The Daily Norm Photo of the Week. It features a little statuette of St Blaise, the patron saint of Dubrovnik, purchased in the same glorious Croatian city from the bustling morning market they have there in the shadow of St Blaise’s church. Now transferred to England, this delicately glazed dark marbled icon looks happy enough on our balcony, particularly when the sun is shining causing his curly metal staff to form a stunning snail-like shadow.
But asides from the saint at its centre, glossy from the reflection of plants nearby, I love this photo for the vibrancy of the green plants and the stunningly red geraniums, offset into a blurred defocus in the picture’s immediate foreground. It is the very image of a warm summer’s day, complete with all the golden comfort of dappled sunlight which makes a green and leafy summer such a beautiful season to behold.
Let’s hope this summer will bring many a day like this one over the next few months.
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.