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rotterdam, 31 december 2015

an ox-alien

Here we are, already in the third week of another new year! I hope it has been treating you well so far… and that in 2016 we can all be kinder to each other.

On 31 December 2015 the sun was bright and the sky was blue (a good omen for the new year ahead?), so we decided to take advantage of this winter clemency, laced-up comfy boots, and bade farewell to the old year with another visually rewarding city wander through the streets of Rotterdam… where lively street art, dynamic architecture and evocative tall-masted boats abound, and on this gloriously bright last day of the year all in vivid technicolour.

rotterdam, 31 december 2015

apparently rotterdam’s quirky ‘cube houses‘ are intended to represent trees, with all the houses clustered together making up a wood, but to me they seem to be inspired by that simplest (but undeniably classic) of Dutch bar snacks… the kaasblokje

rotterdam, 31 december 2015

lasers from on high
(probably wise to keep that window closed!)

rotterdam, 31 december 2015

firebird
(details from the garden wall mosaic community project)

rotterdam, 31 december 2015

beautiful bugs

rotterdam, 31 december 2015

abundant growth

rotterdam, 31 december 2015

no cat can resist the mighty allure of… STRING

rotterdam, 31 december 2015

vanishing point

rotterdam, 31 december 2015

go green… ride a bike

rotterdam, 31 december 2015

1991 mural by little-known dutch ceramics & textile artist harry boom (1945-1995)… so much more interesting than damien hirst’s tedious spot paintings!

rotterdam, 31 december 2015

hypnotic

rotterdam, 31 december 2015

beautiful beryl bay… a perfect spot to curl up with a good book and a cuppa!

rotterdam, 31 december 2015

alliteration

rotterdam, 31 december 2015

witty?

rotterdam, 31 december 2015

weight(less)

rotterdam, 31 december 2015

quayside

rotterdam, 31 december 2015

and when, in the middle of the afternoon, the sun begins to set and the winter chill really kicks in, one must seek appropriate fuel!

rotterdam geometries

soaring  |  ponderous

rotterdam geometries

propped  |  aslant

rotterdam geometries

highly strung

rotterdam geometries

perched

rotterdam geometries

mellowed

rotterdam geometries

guided

rotterdam geometries

ingenious  |  hypnotic

rotterdam geometries

sheathed  |  rationalised

rotterdam geometries

dwarfed

rotterdam geometries

dappled  |  faceted

Pieter Bruegel (I), The Tower of Babel, c.1565

… and that first ever ‘wolkenkrabber’*
pieter bruegel (I)’s “the tower of babel” c.1565
as seen at rotterdam’s magnificent boijmans van beuningen museum

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the buildings and structures pictured
(in order of first appearance, and if known) are as follows:

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* wolkenkrabber – excellent dutch word for skyscraper, literally ‘cloud(s) scraper’ – beautifully visualised in bruegel’s 16th century tower of babel painting

 

Haarlem, Summer 2015

[haarlem]
geveltuin, blue hydrangea  |  full moon, after magritte

Having friends or family to stay is always a great excuse to explore locally, to take time out to notice details of one’s everyday surroundings in a way one might not normally do. We had a lot of fun with our summer visitors exploring, amongst other Dutch cities, our new(ish) hometown (Haarlem) and our (very nearby!) old hometown (Amsterdam). Here’s a summery glimpse of these two fine cities…

Haarlem, Summer 2015

[haarlem]
headless lion  |  red door

Haarlem, Summer 2015

[haarlem]
friendly faces

Haarlem, Summer 2015

[haarlem]
huisjes and hollyhocks

(do the houses imitate the beer… or does the beer imitate the houses?)

Haarlem, Summer 2015

[haarlem]
a tasting  |  a truth

Haarlem, Summer 2015

[haarlem]
oak (wijngaardtuin)  |  lavender (hofje van oorschot)

Amsterdam, Summer 2015

[amsterdam]
the anatomy lesson

Amsterdam, Summer 2015

[amsterdam]
turtle, seahorse, yarn bomb

Amsterdam, Summer 2015

[amsterdam]
disembodied jib  |  petunia-tastic hanging basket

Amsterdam, Summer 2015

[amsterdam]
good grub @ foodhallen

Amsterdam, Summer 2015

[amsterdam]
local brew  |  eye lights

Amsterdam, Summer 2015

[amsterdam]
canis minor, or a plutoid?

Amsterdam, Summer 2015

[amsterdam]
easy riding hells hound

Amsterdam, Summer 2015

[amsterdam]
watery gevelstenen

Haarlem, Summer 2015

[haarlem]
a bit of boating (on the spaarne river & bakenessergracht)

Haarlem, Summer 2015

[haarlem]
clover gevelsteen  |  strawberry geveltuin

Haarlem, Summer 2015

[haarlem]
city gardens (hofje van oorschot & luthers hofje)

Haarlem, Summer 2015

[haarlem]
window shopping

Haarlem, Summer 2015

[haarlem]
decoy

Haarlem, Summer 2015

[haarlem]
… and finally: RIP
this beautiful tree, as seen from my studio window at the end of may, came crashing down (along with some 400 other trees in haarlem) on the 25th of july, during what has been described as “the worst summer storm since records began”… it was a magnificent tree and is a very sad loss indeed.

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approximate translations & explanations of dutch words used above:

gevelsteen – ‘gable stone’, a carved and often colourfully painted stone tablet set into the wall of a building, serving to embellish and memorably identify the building. Introduced in the second half of the 16th century they became less widely used with the advent of house numbering during the 18th century, but the tradition certainly lives on and ‘gevelsteen spotting’ can be a very visually rewarding pursuit!

geveltuinen – literally a ‘facade gardens’ (I don’t think there’s a succinct or elegant english translation?) are bright and beautiful mini-oases of green flanking the building facades and pavements on residential city streets, planted and cared for by the streets’ residents. And I discovered this summer, my first living in this city, that Haarlemmers sure know a thing or two about creating charming geveltuinen :-)

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Gent, Belgium

The images above bring to mind an entranceway to a tea party hosted by The Hatter & the March Hare and, if slightly more amber-hued, the road to the Emerald City…

… and Belgium’s Gent is kinda magical that way. Revisiting these photos taken on a two day visit to the city last month I’m reminded of Gent’s many storybook qualities. While we were there the ominous-looking stormy summer skies added a gratifyingly brooding quality to its atmospheric architecture and cobbled medieval streets. But it’s not all gloomy Gothic stonework – bright bursts of colour and contemporary character abound. It’s a fascinating place… and the beer’s not bad either.

Gent, Belgium

spired, steepled, stained

Gent, Belgium

knotted sanctum

Gent, Belgium

magic number

Gent, Belgium

blue hide  |  delirious pink elephant

Gent, Belgium

passionate vine  |  sinuous mosaic

Gent, Belgium

city’s skin

Gent, Belgium

summer greens

Gent, Belgium

luchador ligature

Gent, Belgium

chair stare

Gent, Belgium

hollyhock cyclops

Gent, Belgium

third eye

Gent, Belgium

loaves & fish

Gent, Belgium

literary leanings

Gent, Belgium

“the wool is thataway!”
(gent’s 14th century textile industry hero, jacob van artevelde, points to england)

Gent, Belgium

façades

Gent, Belgium

parrot parlour

Gent, Belgium

faded flourishes

Gent, Belgium

harlequin house  |  chimay triple – everyone’s favourite tipple?

the wonderful photo manipulations (titles unknown, my labels: ‘luchador ligature’ and ‘third eye’) were seen at superette and were made by atelier l’ami

On a recent day off we took advantage of the fine spring sunshine and made the brief 42 minute train journey to Delft. Despite its proximity, famous blue ceramics, and Vermeer connection I hadn’t visited the city before, and was hopeful to catch a glimpse of that particular quality of light and shadow so singular to Vermeer’s paintings.

      Johannes Vermeer, View of Delft, c. 1660 - 1661

view of delft, johannes vermeer, c.1660-1661

view of delft, april 2015

views of delft, april 2015

However, the uncharacteristically clear blue sky and intense spring sunshine had other ideas… and made for far less subtle, but equally rewarding, colours and contrasts.

view of delft, april 2015

delft blue

view of delft, april 2015

play of light & shadow

view of delft, april 2015

building bling!

view of delft, april 2015

for the cows
(as a vegetarian i find the consumption of veal [kalfsvlees] one of humanity’s more dismaying culinary practices… but i’m not averse to a nice bit of art deco stained glass typography!)

view of delft, april 2015

blue segues into green

view of delft, april 2015

city garden

view of delft, april 2015

magnolia, grape hyacinth

view of delft, april 2015

gateway to oz?

view of delft, april 2015

beneath our feet – spring growth, and a handpainted
reminder about what’s important embedded into the pavement

view of delft, april 2015

paparazzi-ing the locals!

some of my work, available on etsy
support worldwide wild cat conservation

instagram

Elegant step-gables and spring sunshine in Amsterdam #gable #step_gable #trapgevel #canal_house #singel #grachtenpand #spring #sunshine #new_growth #green #pattern #symmetry At the Melkweg last night for some RTJ music and mayhem... #melkweg #runthejewels #RTJ #ElP #KillerMike #livemusic #neon #typography #stars #milkyway I ❤ tree skeletons… soon to be bursting into new leaf, so I’m enjoying these graphic lines while I still can #dawn #silhouette #treeskeleton #graphic #filigree #pattern #colour #gradation This magic has just started to unfold in the ‘garden’ on our little roof terrace. Methinks spring has most definitely sprung! #spring #lente #blossoms #plum (?) #pink #petals #stamens #delicate #growth #seasons #cycle_of_life #roof_garden #haarlem Dawn colours #dawn #silhouette #dome #cathedral #kathedralebasilieksintbavo #studio_view #rooftops #haarlem Dressing W-A-Y out of my comfort zone for the “glitter and glamour” themed wedding party of friends tonight. Gulp… they say it’s good to step outside one’s comfort zone now and then, right?! #shimmery #sequins #glitter #festive #ottodame #not_black #colour #pattern #texture

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