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Posts tagged ‘Valentine Day’

February in Paris – Part 2: Valentine’s in the City of Love

Paris is truly the City of Love. For even if you are not lucky enough to be strolling around the streets of the central arrondissements in the arms of a loved one, there is surely sufficient beauty in those Haussmann-conceived boulevards and palatial streets to fall in love with. And while I have been lucky enough to spend the last 5 years of visits to Paris in the company of my beloved, I also look back fondly upon my first experiences of the city: when young and very much single, I saw the historically rich and artistically abundant streets for the first time and fell head over heels in love – a personal relationship with Paris which has continued to this day.

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So spending this year’s Valentine’s Day in Paris certainly seemed appropriate. Yes, the city was wise enough to cash in on its reputation, such that every restaurant was reserved to the hilt with set menus costing triple the normal price, but putting this rather crass commercialisation aside, I could not think of no better place to spend the year’s most dedicated day of love. The city is one so perfectly attuned with its environment and its picture perfect urban planning that is as though the city is in love with itself, with the nature all around it and vice versa. At every street corner there is a new panorama to be admired and a new direct vista to some stunning iconic building, and with such harmonious town planning evident wherever you walk in Paris, you cannot help but feel satisfied, balanced and free to love.

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The photos which accompany this love song to Paris are something of a miscellaneous homage, taken over the Valentine’s weekend as we strolled and admired the city. From bridges to cafe’s, bull dogs to palaces, they are the archetypal vision of a picture perfect city which will seduce every visitor, and make even the most stalwart singleton feel love for the first time.

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.

Sunday Supplement Valentine’s Special – Engaged in Paris

On Valentine’s Day we witnessed the momentous and happy event that was Normy and Normette’s engagement a-top the Eiffel Tower. The tower is, inevitably, a popular place for engagement, and there can be no surprises why – who could resist the views afforded by the tower, across the ultimate city of love, when choosing a place to pop the ultimate question? I myself got engaged in Paris, although our view was from the Butte in Montmartre – for that place means so much to me as an artist, but also afforded us a view of the Eiffel Tower itself, just as it started sparkling on the hour – that way we got the best of both worlds – what a moment it was!

DSC06085It was in the place of my own engagement (although, significantly, I hadn’t actually popped the question at this time, although you can see that subconsciously, I was intending to) that I set this double portrait which I am featuring in today’s Sunday Supplement in honour of Valentine’s. Painted in 2009, the painting features two friends of mine, Charlotte and Ben, who themselves got engaged upon the Eiffel tower. When they approached me to do a portrait of them for the wedding itself, I couldn’t resist painting them surrounded by the city in which their engagement was sealed, but also in the romantically cobbled surroundings of Montmartre, along with the Tour Eiffel in the background. That way all the charm of Paris is captured, while the place of their engagement is given appropriate prominence in the scene.

Engaged in Paris: Charlotte and Ben (2009 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown)

Engaged in Paris: Charlotte and Ben (2009 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown)

DSC06083The painting, albeit a commission, was a pleasure to create, not least because Paris has always been my spiritual home. The moment I first walked into the Place du Tertre in Montmartre, led their blindfolded by a teacher (on a school trip) who knew instinctively how much I would love it, my heart hit the floor and has remained firmly embedded in those charming cobbles ever since, surrounded by cafes, by artists and the sound of the accordion. It is for this reason that I feel compelled to visit Paris every year, in order to plug myself into my heart and my spiritual being, and likewise why I chose to stage my own engagement in this incredibly special place.

I leave you with the painting, and for those celebrating Valentine’s this weekend wish you a very special celebration.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2012. 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.

Valentine’s kiss for equal marriage

Love is in the air as Valentine’s Day draws ever closer. The empty shelves of post-Christmas and post-sales shopping have been filled with rosy red pleasantries, boxes of indulgent truffles, delicate red roses and cards making declarations of ever lasting love. But there’s something about the commercialisation of love at Valentine’s which has always slightly unnerved me. Yes, it’s a chance to remind your loved one that your cherish them, but isn’t there something contrived about telling them this only when a card shop tells you to?

For these two Norms however, there is no need for a card, a box of chocolates or a bouquet of flowers to demonstrate their true bond of love and affection – a simple, heartfelt kiss will do, here shared in front of one of the most iconic buildings of Paris’ 4th arrondissement, the Hotel de Ville. On holiday from London and staying in the Marais (which also hosts Paris’ gay district), these Norms also have something else to celebrate this year asides from their own love – the British Parliament has just voted by overwhelming majority to give same-sex couples the right to marry.

Doisneau Norms share a valentine's kiss in celebration of equal marriage (2013 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown)

Doisneau Norms share a valentine’s kiss in celebration of equal marriage (2013 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown)

In doing so, Parliament have not made a statement about faith or religion, nor attempted to widen the extents of religious marriage beyond the bounds with which the church is comfortable. Rather, they have recognised, quite simply, that for both men and women who love those of their own sex, being gay is not a choice made or a lifestyle favoured, but who they are, and how they were born. Why then should gay men, women (and Norms)  not be afforded the equal opportunity to marry when they, like heterosexual couples, find themselves in a relationship so strong and so loving that they want to devote themselves to that person for the rest of their lives?

The Doisneau original

The Doisneau original

So this Valentine’s day, even if you do not have a loved one with whom to share a Valentine’s day kiss, take some time to consider the enhanced rights which have been afforded to gay men, women (and Norms) all over the UK. Finally, like their heterosexual counterparts, they have been given the opportunity to validate their love in marriage like everyone else.

And for those eagle-eyed art lovers amongst you, you may recognise the scene which these two Norms now recreate. It is, of course, based on the famous photograph, Le Baiser de l’Hotel de Ville, by celebrated French photographer Robert Doisneau. Last Valentine’s I recreated another of his famous kiss photographs from the 1950s on canvas, in Norm-style. Here is that painting, and the Doisneau’s originals.

Le bazier de l'opera (after Doisneau) (acrylic on canvas, 2012 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown)

Le baiser de l’opera (after Doisneau) (acrylic on canvas, 2012 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown)

The Doisneau original

and the Doisneau original

Happy Valentine’s day to all and everyone, especially those celebrating the manifestation of an equal right to love and marry, at last.