Tuesday, 19 March 2013

a quiet couple of days .....

Hello friends ..... As you can see it has been a week since posting and I am not going to be able to write about all I have seen and done since our time in Andalucia and now we are in a beautifully modern little apartment built into and old farmhouse just outside Cardona, not far from Barcelona. I am having a couple of quiet days hoping to break this bad health cycle before moving on from here .... Steve has gone into Solonses, and I am literally going to write this blog, then read a book! Delicious amidst all the travel.

What a time we have had, despite myself and the weather. I can't even begin to write about the mezquitta in Cordoba or the Alhambra in Granada other than to say they are every bit as wonderful as one imagines. I have just finished reading People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks and am now reading Leo the African by Amin Maalouf. Both books talk about the cross over time between Moor and Catholic times, the expulsion and so forth. wonderful to be reading these books while actually in the towns mentioned.

I am just going to write briefly about the last two days and the will write again from France.

I MET ERSI ........ And I must tell you all that she is just as beautiful in person as one expects from her blog. I can't tell you how exciting it was to find her in the beautiful tucked away medieval village where she lives! The week before they had had a huge amount of snow as we could tell from many flattened trees on our drive there .... Broken branches, evidence of flooding. Apparently the snow was gone in five days and then there was a rain deluge. Having made the decision to go and find Ersi, it was quite an adventure getting there. Steve was marvelously patient! And he could see the joy it gave me - I could not stop grinning for hours. I was lucky enough to see a few of the pieces Ersi is preparing for her exhibition - most of the finished work was with the photographer. The work was beautiful - understated, evocative.

I really didn't want to leave after the few hours I had with Ersi but I am certain I will see her again and spend some creative time together. I will be plotting and planning for sure. Fiona and Helen, I remembered your messages and Ersi was so pleased.

The next day we headed towards the Pyrenees - the plan had been to spend a few days in one of the mountain villages and do some walking. Ha! Everything is still snow covered and oh so cold. Steve put his protective foot down and said no ....... And now we are booked into the cutest little spot,with two bedrooms and a kitchen so we can eat our own food for a couple of days. Quite a treat when travelling for so many weeks with barely any downtime. Down lower in the foothills of the Pyrenees the sun is shining, birds are singing - there are no cars or people to be heard. Cows at the back window!

The first few pics will be of the divine little village we made our base in Andalucia - when we arrived and opened our window a rainbow greeted us. (Actually lost the rainbow photo but found it again so it is the last pic!) Next photo the village was a white out and we had a domestic day. Di and John hosted us in their home and it was a perfect english speaking respite for us in Spain. We are both working out how to get back there for art immersion and mountain bike riding for Steve......

The next photo will be Ersi and me in front of the church in Beceite and then some of the snow yesterday. We are hidden away here today and tomorrow, then off to Barcelona for our last two Spanish days.

Thank you all for wandering along with me and leaving comments. I have enjoyed them. x

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

across the north and around the corner of portugal .....

From Bilbao we kept travelling west, through Comillas with its particularly beautiful cemetery and famous angel, past the fishing village of Luarca and further along to Santigo de Compostela. Along the northern border with Portugal and onto a little medieval village atop a hill, planning to walk the woods but spending an indoor reading day as the rain was just too heavy and the mist impervious to curious eyes.

I have found it difficult to photograph places such as the cathedral in Santigo de Compostela and the Mezquita in Cordoba (which I am saving for the next post) - these are just too overwhelming in their beauty and best either photographed professionally or in small details which is what i am doing. I think sometimes it is just better to put the camera away and soak in the personal experience.

Many of you are asking if I am finding inspiration or influence along the way and the truth is that in light of the marvels one sees when travelling through centuries of art and architecture in this part of the world the temptation is to stop creating altogether. What are my meager attempts in the face of this ..... And yet, because the urge to create is so strong within, we find a way to make our own small mark in the hope that it sings or reveals itself to someone!

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

First few days of spain .....

We have now been in Spain over a week and I had been hoping to post through Steve's laptop so that I could use better quality images but having tried last night I found that it took sooooo long to upload each image as they are so large, it would take forever. So - back to iPad blogging.

We have been struggling a little in Spain with a lack of language, rotten weather and ongoing ill health which has been disappointing but we have seen many beautiful things that literally take your breath away.

Our journey began in San Sebastian and the headed west along the north of Spain. In this post i am just sharing some photographs of some glorious artwork in San Sebastian, the Ibarrola forest and Bilbao.

Thanks to Ersi who sent me a list of things to look out for I was able to see some magnificent rusted sculpture on the edge of the ocean by Chillida and a modern interpretation of a Pieta by Jorge Oteiza. I will be seeking out more work by these sculptors in Barcelona - in fact I think I have seen a couple more Chillida sculptures as we have driven around. There is a whole garden near SanSebastian dedicated to his work but unfortunately it was only open on a Tuesday.

Ersi also told me about the Painted Forest by one of their famous painters, Ibarolla (not sure I have the correct spelling!) I did my research and realised it would be hard to find - and it was! It took about three hours to find and then another hour to Bilbao which was only an hour from San Sebastian! These times however, are the moments one remembers and for me, it was absolutely worth it. What I saw as something remarkable was something Steve saw as vandalism. How different we all are. Steve certainly is not alone in his thinking - apparently the painting of the forest was/is very controversial.

For many many years I have wanted to see the Guggenheim in Bilbao and it was everything I had hoped. A juxtaposition of hard titanium in soft billowing forms. Just exquisite. Even more wonderful than this building,or equally wonderful, was the installation in the largest of the galleries by Richard Serra. Just think about walking inside a huge rusty structure, very like pages of a book, about thirty meters long and three or four high ....... Steve left me for an hour and a half to wander and I spent an hour enraptured with this installation. I was also able to enjoy an exhibition of work by Cy Twombly - what a treat.

More of Spain in the next post!

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

across the atlas and into the desert .....

We have been in Spain a few days but before I write of it, I must tell you of our trip to the desert in Morocco. Only a two day taste but an unforgettable memory.

Eight of us from the conference, two drivers and our guide Aziz drove almost to the Algerian border, across the High Atlas and Anti Atlas mountains, the Black Mountains, down to the edge of the Sahara for a tip toe into Berber nomadic life. Aziz is one of seven children born to a camel trader who put all seven of his children through school and university. A few of them are now in the tourism industry and many are teachers. Aziz is studying for his masters degree presently and was a very gentle young man with a gift for what he is doing. He was able to share not only the joy of his people but expand on current ideas and historical thought.

You can see from the photos (once again I wish I was doing this through the computer with better quality photos) how arid and awe inspiring the Atlas Mountains are - intriguing formations and then nestled into most gullies, Berber villages which blend into their backdrop. We had our pottery and artifact stops along the way and enjoyed delicious tagine on kasbah rooftops in congenial company.

Our all day drive managed to get us to the very first of the sand dunes - certainly enough to pretend we were deep in the Sahara with Lawrence of Arabia. The men all donned their white turbans and looked their part! Sleeping in a Berber tent was a little like sleeping inside a vacuum dust bag ...... very little sleep was had but the experience will be a lasting memory. Sunrise over the desert was almost more wonderful than sunset. As luck would have it, there was also a full moon that night. Just perfect.