Category Archives: travel

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.

 

 

A box of birds

“A box of birds” means happiness.

One morning two weeks ago my sister-in-law Clare, Matthew and I sit outside at Blueskin Nurseries Café in Waitati.  Clare suggests taking us to Orokonui Ecosanctuary just up the hill as we all love birds.  The sparrows watching us think this is a good idea.

Orokonui Ecosanctuary is an ecological island wildlife reserve developed by the Otago Natural History Trust in the Orokonui Valley, 20 km north of Dunedin.  The 307 ha nature reserve was surrounded by a predator fence in 2007.  The forest is being restored to its former glory by keeping pests out, revegetating and bringing back species that were locally extinct. 

The first birds we see are takahe.  These flightless birds were for a long time thought to be extinct.  What a joy to see a species of bird for the first time ever.  Here is the chick!

The following three photos show one of the parents feeding this chick.  Look how they use their legs, scooping up grass.

New Zealand forests are too often eerily quiet as populations of songbirds have been decimated by introduced predators over the decades.  But the forest at Orokonui is an absolute symphony of song.  No words of mine can describe what it is like to hear this orchestra of birdsong.   Here are some of the musicians.   First – the tui whose loud song is interspersed with clicks and rattles…

The melodious bellbird or korimako…who is belting out a tune while I photograph.

I have written a post about a New Zealand parrot called the kea, but here is a parrot I had never seen before called the kaka.  These gregarious birds are extremely entertaining to watch as they get up to their various antics.  I want to capture the red under-carriage during flight but they are too fast for me.

The brave little robin likes to come very close to us because she is after the insects we disturb as we walk along.

A bird who evades my camera most of the time because he is so quick is the fantail.  This bird flits and teases as he pursues flying insects.  Only when he ever-so-briefly perches do I have any hope of a photo.

How I love the tomtit – a tiny bird with enormous presence.

Even when we can’t see any birds at any particular moment, we can always listen to their music.

…and enjoy the scenery…

When our excursion is over we descend back down the hill to Waitati.

A pony walks over to be patted.

A spoonbill flies across Blueskin Bay.

The day is a box of birds.

Happiness.

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now

It doesn’t matter what the weather turns on in New Zealand.   Blue sky and sunshine can be delightful but clouds add drama to a landscape.  My first post of photos from a two week trip in March celebrates the beauty of autumnal weather in Aotearoa – The land of the long white cloud.

High on the Port Hills overlooking Christchurch with Matthew – husband and travel companion.

From Christchurch we travel to Waitati, near Dunedin.  Here is Blueskin Bay.

Blueskin Bay patterns – land, water and sky.

Matthew and our sister-in-law, Clare, walk ahead of me.  Huge tides mean that later, all this expanse of sand will be covered with water.

Residents of Blueskin Bay in a haze of morning mist and sea spray.

The weather closes in as we explore the Otago coast.

A southerly cold-front blasts the South Island and temperatures plummet.

Next day, on the trip from coast to mountains, I take this photo out of the car window as we drive in the rain.

Pine Cottage, our accommodation at Lake Pukaki (near Mt Cook). Matthew would like it to be known that it is 4 degrees C.

Sheep, snow and clouds on the high country sheep station where we stay.

The Church of the Good Shepherd at Lake Tekapo.

Matthew in his soul place; Mackenzie Country.  The clouds part a little for Aoraki Mount Cook.

Matthew on the braided river-bed where icy water flows from glacial melt of Tasman Glacier.

The milky-coloured water contains ‘flour’ – particles of rock ground down by glacial action.  Above, the clouds seem to be a boiling mass.

A rainbow over the Rakaia River at Coleridge.

Just us at Lake Coleridge.

Into the eye of the sun, Lake Coleridge.

“That’s a bright flag”, says Matthew as he drives. Simultaneously I am photographing the scene from the passenger seat.

“A drive to the end of somewhere”, is Matthew’s description of our wanderings.

Mountains framed by clouds – revealing, concealing.

A cloud’s attraction to a mountain…one so ethereal, the other so solid.  Opposites attract.

“Bows and flows of angel hair and ice cream castles in the air / and feather canyons everywhere, I’ve looked at clouds that way…”  Joni Mitchell

The weather wasn’t totally inclement.  There was sun – and there were birds (OH! THE BIRDS!!).  So more photographic essays will follow shortly.

Walking with Claude

“Walking with Claude”
a drawing in oil pastels and coloured pencils of Monet’s house and garden in autumn.
320 x 400 mm. February 2018.

Does the spirit of Claude Monet walk in his garden?  He said his garden was his greatest masterpiece – so perhaps he lingers within its borders.  But all the tourists might drive him mad!  He (like many artists) used to be infuriated by the interruptions of curious people.

I like to think he may come and go – leaving when it is busy and returning when all is quiet.  The garden was nearly empty of people in late autumn of 2012 when I was there.

Who knows?  Perhaps we walked side by side sharing in silence our solitude.

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On a former occasion, in 2005, I visited Giverny with my family.  Here I hand the page over to Matthew to introduce his song “Walking with Claude“…

Matthew, Emily, Lucy and Alicia on the Japanese bridge in Monet’s garden. August 2005. Photo by Julie

Walking with Claude  by Matthew Clements

“In the summer of 2005 we spent time in Monet’s garden.  It was during one of our last family holidays before Emily, Alicia and Lucy sprouted their own wings.

I wanted to write a song which somehow captured the artist in his idyll.  My mother, Barbara, was a gifted gardener.  I thought how she would have loved Monet’s garden but her advancing age made it unlikely she could ever make the journey.  In fact, she never visited Europe during her life.  So the song became my description to her of his wonderful garden.

By the time I wrote the song a year later, my own impending kidney failure somehow impacted the spirit of the song as I compared my mother’s mortality with my own.

The brilliant Perth guitarist and singer-songwriter Simon Nield, already with well advanced cancer that would soon take his life, found his own meaning in the lyric and recorded me singing it in his studio in 2007.  He then overlaid some of his own gorgeous guitar.  Thank you Simon!”

 

“Day Trip to Giverny”
Drawn in January 2018

 

Time and Space

Time and Space
Coloured pencils and oil pastels
280 x 390 mm
December 2017

  • Here  – an erect rose
  • There – bones of the exoskeleton encasing Centre Georges Pompidou
  • Beyond – walls, roofs, spires (Notre Dame) and air

Layers of time.  Forms in space.