Friday, November 18, 2016

a teatree and some tapestries

Some more from my trip, in particular some tapestries.
But before I do ... not too much happening at the moment. While visiting a splendid open garden last week I rolled on the side of my foot - and collapsed in a heap on the ground. After hobbling around for some days I finally found out I had fractured a bone in my foot, so it is now encased in a moonboot for the weeks to come!
Couldn't resist taking this a beautiful teatree (leptospermum) at the Mandalay open garden. It was a mass of flowers.
... and this is a small piece I made this week incorporating one of my linocut prints on some hand dyed fabric

Back to the trip. A couple of modern tapestries that I really liked in Lisbon

and I spotted this depiction of wine making in the Ferreira Winery in Porto - no information about it but the winery was very old
An excursion from the Douro River took us to Lamego, to see an important place of pilgrimage, the Shrine of Our Lady of the Remedies which sits on the hill atop a zigzag stairway of 600 steps. This is the view from the top of the stairway

and this is the Museum in the town at the bottom. It houses a fabulous collection of tapestries made in Brussels in the 1500s
4 large tapestries illustrate the story of King Oedipus from the work of Sophocles - not a common subject matter, so thought to have been commissioned. Made in wool and silk, the work of artist Bernard Van Orley and weaver Pieter Van Aelst

The colours are still quite strong and the detail incredibly fine. These are close ups

 These next are part of a series telling the story of Queen Niobe

 and a close up
This is the Standard Bearer  by Charles Le Brun, circa 1680

and some embroidered vestments

and finally two brilliantly painted urns

Another excursion took us to Mateus Palace built in the 19th century and furnished with Portuguese, French and British items from the 16th, 17th and 18th century. No photos allowed inside, but the gardens were splendid. The house is recognisable as that on the Mateus Rose wine label. They used to make the wine, but no longer do. Wine of that name is still produced, but at another winery and to a different recipe.

Further on in the journey we visited Madrid. Stayed at the Westin Palace hotel which had these amazing skylight ceilings in the lounge/dining area
 ... this reflectd in my spoon at breakfast

and in the foyer.

I didn't get a good shot of the tapestry on the wall, but saw several in the Royal Palace from a series of 25 produced in the first half of the 18th century by Antonio Gomez de los Rios for the future Ferdinand VI depicting the story of Don Quixote. Once again incredibly detailed

 And something newer

To finish now, something completely different, from the Vasa Museum in Stockholm. If you thought platform shoes were modern think again. These are "Chopines", probably Italian and early 17th century.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

inspiring patterns in the tiles

Travelling to Portugal I hoped to see some of the tiles I'd heard and read about, and I wasn't disappointed - one can't really not see them. Old and modern, telling stories or just for decoration, we saw plenty of examples as we made our way from Lisbon in the south to Porto in the north, and then in the towns along the Duoro River.

Everywhere in the old town of Lisbon, were cobblestones
or splendid patterned pavements, made from different coloured stone or tiles.

Piles of little blocks to be laid (this was the weekend)  
Some older examples

Tiles on the outside of buildings

 and tiles spotted in entry halls

Tiles for the tourists
We travelled a little further out to the wonderful Azulejo Museum to see examples of the different types and uses of tiles over the centuries. It is well worth the visit.  My camera got a good workout but I'll just show a few here :-)
This is the pretty entrance to the museum which is in an old convent.

Captions are given in English. The introduction states "The Azulejo is an identitary art of Portugal. Its uninterrupted use for the past five centuries differs from how it was perceived in other cultures, asserting a Portuguese taste. The museum is the staring point to appreciate this heritage, found all over the country, applied in the spaces for which it was designed"

A few brief points (search on azulejo if you want to know more) - glazed pavement tiles have been used in Portugal since the 13th century - simple geometric shapes in plain colours to begin with then shapes like alfardons (elongated hexagons) and painted.. By the 16th century they were being used on walls and facades. They provide good temperature control (insulation) and prevent water damage and wear on buildings.  The early motifs influenced by Islamic traditions were later replaced in the 16th to 18th centuries by western motifs and elements. Besides being imressive visually, the tiles have been used in public spaces to tell stories and record history.     
 Some of the antique pieces from the collection

and original pieces in the convent

 with splendid plaster work too.
 The European motifs include nature - animals and plants
A tile wall specially designed for a stair case

An amazing 18 metre picture of Lisbon just prior to the 1755 earthquake which destroyed much of the city

A wall in a moastery dining room

The tradition is continuing. These are from an exhibition of modern tile pictures
  Some examples from a church and an external wall in Coimbra, 
 in Porto
  and some of the works from 1937 on the outside of Pinhao railway station

Finally some early recycling. Tiles from earlier centuries collected from demolished buildings were reused in the Palace at Sintra (in the 18th or 19th century)