Category Archives: travel

A Room with a View

“A Room with a View”  –  coloured pencils, 31.5 x 28 cm.  January 2019

We have a room with a view!

On our first night in Venice I sit at the open window – looking, listening, still.  And then I reach for my camera.  Perhaps this view (this sentiment) can be captured in a drawing.  Shutter clicks follow.

Sounds of lapping water drift upward.   Distant voices from figures on the bridge float on the air, echoing between stone.  It has been raining; maybe it still is – [I can’t remember].  The buildings are lace silhouettes, their white lights reflect on black water.

(“E.M Forster, I’m borrowing your novel title for my drawing.  Is that OK with you?”) 

The following three nights I hardly glance outwards as I flit about the room.  I am already used to the view – desensitized.  Isn’t that a peculiar thing about human nature…

 

 

Early One Morning

“Early One Morning”
35 x 28 cm in coloured pencils.  January 2019

Early one morning just nine Saturdays ago I set out from my vacation rental into the maze of lanes outside.  “I won’t go far”, I called to daughter, Alicia, who was still in bed.  My plan was to orientate myself within a small radius from the apartment, in our sestiere, Cannaregio.

We had arrived in Venice the previous afternoon in rain.  The forecast for our entire four-day stay was rain.  Indeed in the night it had drummed down steadily.  I had woken early to the plaintive call of seagulls.  When I roused myself to the window the sky was blue and the moon sharp.  So I quickly dressed and rushed out. Who wouldn’t?

First I took a photo of our building’s entrance so that I’d be able to recognize it again.  The distinguishing feature was “hooligan” scrawled in graffiti.  Noted.  Senses erect I took a few steps this way (into Campo SS Giovanni e Paolo) then that way (to Fondamenta Nuove – the vaporetto stop).

Before I knew it I was OUT AND ABOUT in Venice.  Wow!  What an achievement, what joy!  The low winter sun illuminated all it touched.  Stone and water glowed.  Hardly anyone was around, the time being before 07:00.

I took the brave (for me) decision not to retrace my steps.  Instead I pushed on, map in one hand, camera in the other, past Santa Maria Assunta dei Gesuiti.  In tiny lanes between canals I witnessed light, shadow, water and movement.

I would do a loop back to our apartment.  En route I took the photo which became my reference for “Early One Morning”.  Where was I?  On Rio Terrà di Franceschi detta la Botesela.  (The name is longer than the thoroughfare!)

Was the pooled water a remnant from the just-finished high tide or was it from the night’s rain?  I don’t know but it looked perfect in its Venetian context.  Sunshine bathed upper walls of buildings.  It couldn’t reach lower – the result being an almost spiritual vertical ascension from deep shadow to radiant light.

Early one morning just as the sun was rising...” in Venice –  Serenissimo – Most Serene.

(And I found my way home.)

 

Let Your Heart Speak

How to get to the island of Burano from Venice – arise early.  Alicia and I are two of only four passengers aboard the 07:10 vaporetto on a bright Sunday in November 2018.

The ferry skits past Murano.  Venice is framed in the distance.

Here we are in Burano, an artist’s paradise of multi-coloured dwellings.  And we seem to be almost the only people up.

We immerse ourselves in the joy of colour.  We become part of the colour.

Like the other islands in the lagoon, Burano has a network of canals.

At first the water remains inside them.

But then –

Look at this!!!

The tide is coming in.  Even the town square is morphing into a lake as water pops up through holes.  The locals are laughing at me as I exclaim madly and photograph their morning coffee turning wet.  They’re perfectly used to it.

Raised platforms are erected, ready for the spread of water.

A nonchalant local goes about his day as usual…

…while a tourist improvises…

I am overwhelmed by the almost silent beauty of the changing landscape.  A little lapping sound perhaps…and a breeze.

Alicia and I continue our walk and our photography.

(Let there be light)

We wander across a pedestrian bridge to Mazzorbo, a tiny piece of land adjoining Burano.  There is a market garden/vineyard which is open to wander through.  In the garden is a sign which reads, “Let your heart speak“.  This is a message to the school children of Burano who are invited to partake in the creativity of the garden.  I am touched, and write it down so I don’t forget.

We peek inside the 13th century Chiesa di Santa Caterina, then pay our respects to those who reside in her graveyard.   This is a view back to Burano through chrysanthemums outside the cemetery.

By the time we meander back to Burano the tide has receded.  Wet pathways glisten.  Any remaining water has been pushed back into the canals by brisk brooms.

The tourists have arrived.  Shops are open.  The town begins its Sunday trade.  Alicia spends time in the lace museum while I walk and photograph.  (The dog comes over to say hello and gets a warm reception from me.)

The cat (typically) ignores me.

Colours, colours, colours!!!

I discover that Burano has its very own leaning bell tower (17th century).

And finally I return to Alicia back at the designated meeting place.  I manage to capture her while she is unaware of me.

Thank you Burano.  This morning excursion is one of the highlights of our Italian trip.  It is nothing short of a magical mystery tour…a mother-and-daughter special!

Let us all endeavour to take the message in the Mazzorbo garden into 2019 – and beyond.  Happy New Year!  Let your heart speak.

 

 

Enchanted Venice

It’s true.  Venice is a tourist trap.  It is groaning under the weight of people as much as it is soaked by increasing washes of acqua alta.  It is claustrophobic and impossible not to get thoroughly lost…continuously!  When the tides are very high the waterbuses (vaporetto) stop running leaving one stranded.  It is wet, wet, wet.  Who would go there?  Who, having been, would ever want to go back?

(After five days I said to my traveling companions, “I don’t think I’ll ever come back here”.  They nodded in agreement.)

It’s a lie!  I don’t mean what I said about not wanting to go back.

The enchanted city has caught me. In the few weeks since I was there its spell has been intensifying, working its way into my emotional landscape as surely as an incoming tide.

Venice – wait for me!  I will surely return.

Venetian selfie

 

Urbane Saint Germain

“Urbane Saint Germain”  Coloured pencils, 208 x 240 mm.  July 2018

A small piece of Saint Germain des Prés I have photographed and drawn many times is a corner where rue de l’Echaudé splits off from rue de Seine.

For this piece I have to wait patiently for a person to walk into my frame.  Who is it?  It could be male or female (perhaps it is you) though I sense my subject has a European air – as urbane as the surroundings.    Having drawn the streets so many times in great detail, this time I seek only an impression.

Below are more drawings of this immediate area, drawn at intervals over several years.

“The Liberation of Art” drawn in April, this will also be in the “Remember Paris” exhibition in September 2018.

“Rhapsody in Blue” 2014

“de bonne heure” 2012

“Rue de l’Échaudé” 2014

Quiet 2013

“Paris en hiver” 2011

“Urbane Saint Germain” is the final drawing for the “Remember Paris” exhibition this coming September.  To view the catalogue of 30 drawings, their descriptions and prices, click here.

 

 

 

 

 

Finders Keepers

When I explore with my camera I really have no idea what I am looking for.  But when I see it, I recognize it.  Here are 20 photos, taken with an open mind from a recent trip to Europe.

Innsbruck, Austria:  At first glance I see street art. Then I notice I have been fooled by advertising masquerading as street art.  Still, I like it.

Innsbruck, Austria:  On a dingy railway underpass I am impressed by this abstract composed of ripped posters and graffiti.  Certainly beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

A huge poster – the spirit of Innsbruck…

…and the setting for it…

Verona, Italy:  A very small car takes my fancy.

Desenzano, Italy:  Sorry, Sandro Botticelli, I couldn’t resist taking a photo of this.

Desenzano, Italy: An Aussie on an Italian street.  (Actually it’s Matthew.)

Desenzano, Italy: I am moved by this piece of prose pasted on the outside of a church wall.

Desenzano, Italy: A roasting hot Sunday, an art stall in the local markets. I would like to think the cyclist is looking at the art however she is studying her phone.  (Yes, this is out of focus on purpose.)

On a wall in Ivrea.  This town was once Olivetti’s operations base – hence the typewriter!

Geneva, Switzerland: An eye-catching window display employing the use of the complementary colours of yellow and violet.

Geneva, Switzerland: Looking into the window of a Caran d’Ache boutique.  Divine!

Geneva, Switzerland: Juxtaposition of shapes and textures on a wall.

Geneva, Switzerland: Warning – (curious) guard dog.

Chamonix Mont Blanc, French alps: a rook jumps from his perch into nothingness.  Air and snow.

Chamonix Mont Blanc, France: Soft toys on display and soft dogs to lure you in.

Furkapass, Switzerland: Motoring sedately on a Sunday afternoon.

Approaching Munich, Germany: Shapes as we flash by on the autobahn while listening to  “Autobahn” by Kraftwerk playing on the car stereo.  (Fantastic!)

Freising, Germany: a haunting image on a signpost.

Freising, Germany: I don’t know what this says but I am drawn to it anyway.

I search out images when I walk with my camera.  When I find them, I make them my own.  Some will become drawings.  Finders keepers.

 

 

 

 

 

Bay Watch

On the South Island coast I’m on the alert for local fauna.  My first sighting is a sea lion flinging an octopus about in Blueskin Bay.  That dark shape in the water is the sea lion’s head, octopus dangling from mouth.  (If you click on the photo to enlarge it, you can make it out.)

Next morning I see the sea lion again.  This time breakfast is flounder (so I’m told).

…down the hatch it goes…

On the Otago coastline between Oamaru and Dunedin is an outcrop of rocks called Shag Point.  There, all year round, you can see a colony of New Zealand fur seals.  On this day it is pouring with rain and blowing a gale.  I can’t step out of the car without getting soaked so I take these photos from my car window.

At the turn off to Shag Point is a cottage.  Wow!  What an outlook.  Location Location!!

The next day we return to Shag Point as the rain has stopped.  I take a five minute walk from the car park and look down over the cliff.  Can you make out the seals on the rocks?  (It can be hard to tell a seal from a rock.)

This must be the nursery.

…and this is surely Father.  “Wake Up Father“.

After a few days in Otago we find ourselves back in Canterbury.  We stay in this heavenly homestead near Little River (not far from Christchurch).  The house was built in 1900.  We feel we are in a Katherine Mansfield short story.

I am always drawn back to Birdlings Flat, a beach entirely made up of stones.  A group of South Island pied oystercatchers make their way along the beach.

A black-backed gull ruffles his feathers.

Red-billed gulls rest and think about what to do next.  (My aim is to photograph without disturbing the birds, which I succeed in doing.)

The surf continuously pounds this southern-facing coastline.  I lie in the stones and watch the white-fronted terns as they preen themselves…

…call to one another…

…fly in…

…and fly out.

In the lagoon behind the beach a solitary white heron sounds an alarm.  Is it me he is worried about?  There is quite a body of water between us.

But still he flies away.  (Perhaps he always meant to fly away and it is nothing to do with me.  I hope so.)

Driving over the hills of Banks Peninsula we encounter a flock of sheep.  The farmer looks like Jed Clampett.

The view from the top of the hill is outstanding.  That must be Akaroa on the far side.

I suggest to Matthew he might like to check out some Barry’s Bay cheese.  While he is sampling the famous cheeses I hop across the road to photograph the birds.

A paradise shelduck forages during low tide.

On a small island in the bay birds not of a feather stick together.

Toi toi.

A pukeko takes me and my camera in her stride.

…and the next day we fly back to Australia.