Saturday, 15 July 2017

Galeria de Arte, Trinidad, Cuba

After finishing our Lonely Planet walk around Trinidad, we ended up back in Plaza Mayor.

We had a quick look through the Museo de Arqueologia Guamuhaya (the building with the Ionic columns in the photo below. The Art Gallery is the yellow building on the other corner.)

The Museo was an odd mix of bits and pieces, but I wanted to go into the courtyard to see the bust of Alexander von Humboldt. I had read a bio about him last year and was thrilled to know we had a Cuba connection with this amazing scientific thinker.

Humboldt briefly stayed in this house in 1801 when it was owned by Don Antonio Padron.

Public toilets do not seem to exist in Cuba.
Quick museum visits helped out with this little issue, although you could never be quite sure of what you would find (thankfully, we decided this part of Cuban travel was not photo-worthy!)

The Universal Benito Ortiz Galeria de Arte was much more interesting.
Built in 1809 for Ortiz de Zuniga (mayor of Trinidad) it now houses the works of modern Cuban artists (some are for sale).

Some of the original frescoes can still be seen on the walls.
The modern works provided a curious contrast against the older, faded frescoes and traditional architecture. I confess I preferred the older frescoes and wish they had been better preserved.

The balcony provided some great views of the plaza as well as up and down Calle Simon Bolivar and across to the bell tower at Museo Historico Municipal.

I spotted this old style arched window that Trinidad is famous for on the top floor.
The radiating wooden slats allow the air to enter but not the sunlight.

This post is part of Saturday Snapshot.

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Trinidad, Cuba - Giddy Up!

Trinidad was the most touristy part of our time in Cuba. 
All the main squares, streets and museums were teeming with busloads of tourists from all round the world. The area around Plaza Mayor was fascinating in a preserved-historic-town-for-tourists kind of way, but it was our walks around the back streets that proved most interesting.

Almost everyone knows about the beautifully preserved pastel coloured houses and cobblestone streets to be found in this UNESCO World Heritage site. 

All of that is true and then some, however for us, a huge part of the charm of Trinidad was it's horses.

According to our Lonely Planet guide 'the first sound in the morning is the clip-clop of horses' hooves on the cobbled streets followed by the cries of old men selling bread from bicycles.'

Like every other town in Cuba, it was actually the roosters and chickens that woke us every morning, but the sound (and smell) of horses played a big part in our day walking around Trinidad.

This post is part of Saturday Snapshot.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

City Walk, Trinidad, Cuba

One of the great features in any Lonely Planet guide are their city walking guides.

Cuba was no different.

The 2 km suggested photographic walk for Trinidad was a great way to get away from the touristy area around Playa Mayor, which by midday had become very crowded and felt like we-could-be-any-city-in-the-world. 
The sanitised, almost fake feel to this area, didn't do much for as at all. 
It was an exhibition space, for show, and only used by tourists.
The locals were workers in the museums, restaurants and market stalls, but they didn't live or play here.

We couldn't wait to move on.

After stopping on the steps next to the Iglesia Parroquial de la Santisma Trinidad (which was a designated wi-fi area) to post a few pics on Instagram and facebook, we followed the suggested trail.

Plaza Mayor (below) filling up with tourist groups was the starting point.
Iglesia Parroquial de la Santisima is off to the right.
Museo Romantico is off to the left.

As you can see, it's very picturesque and photogenic.
But it also looks like a movie set rather than a lived in, vibrant, everyday setting.

This is apparently the 'classic shot' in Trinidad.
Looking up the cobbled Calle Echerri towards the tower of Convento de San Francisco de Asis.
Mr Seasons got the money shot with sunshine bathing the tower and street in light.
My shot had no sunshine and was off to one side for a wider panorama of the street.

Travelling with someone who likes to take as many photos as myself has it's pros and cons.
One of the pros is seeing how we view the same subject slightly differently.

Below I preferred the wide shot of this calle. I liked framing the all the transport - the bicycle, the old car, the horse & cart and the tourist car negotiating all the baches (potholes)!
Mr Seasons was all about the car!
Our post on driving in Cuba is here.

'On Calle Samuel Feijo, horses and riders often congregate with the shadowy Sierra del Escambray looming behind them.'

We knew we were getting close to Plaza Mayor again when we spotted this familiar tower down one of the sidestreets...and markets stalls started to reappear.

Nearby was the noisy, vibrant Taberna la Canchanchara...full of tourists sipping canchancharas and mojitos, talking loudly above the sound of the musicians. The music sounded fabulous so we sat on a nearby stoop, tapping our toes, for a while to listen.

Less than an hour later, we were back at Plaza Mayor, ready to tackle one of the museums that circled the square.

My post for the Museo Historico Municipal, Trinidad is here

This post is part of Saturday Snapshot.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

The Dark Matters, White Rabbit Gallery

The White Rabbit Gallery in Chippendale is fast becoming one of my favourite haunts.
Not only is there a fascinating, regularly changing exhibition of contemporary Asian art on display, but there is also a gorgeous teahouse and dumpling bar underneath it.

The most recent exhibition is titled The Dark Matters. It runs until the 30th July.

The ancient Chinese got their ink from smoky oil lamps, brushing away deposited soot and mixing it into a paste that hardened into “stones”. This black was pure, indelible and did not fade, and they fell in love with it. By adjusting the ink’s dilution and the density of their brushstrokes, painters could create a multitude of shades, from deepest blue-black to palest dove grey. Black had always been the colour of mystery, night, the void. The better the artists got to know black ink, the more superficial, even gaudy, colour seemed. As the Daoist philosopher Laozi declared: “Colours cause the eye to go blind.”
Black—utterly simple yet infinitely subtle—allowed one to see the truth.
Chinese artists no longer live in a simple, natural, orderly world. They get their blacks not just from ink stones but from printer cartridges, spray cans, propane torches, X-ray film, newsprint, polyester, computer bits and steel. And they use blacks to convey realities the classical masters never dreamed of: oil spills, air pollution, megacities, mass production and political machinations. The artists in this show don’t shun light or colour, but in using them they follow Laozi’s advice: “Know the white, but hold to the black.” Containing more than ever, the dark also conceals more than ever. And it matters more than ever that we see.

Grinding 2013-16 by Shangrao, Jiangxi.

'The neatly arrayed shapes speak of isolation, anger, pointless rules and grinding toil....For all its hard edges and barbaric spikes, his meaningless anti-landscape has an air of harmony and calm.'

I had a lovely chat with the young attendant on duty in this room about how our modern phones have turned us all into artists. So many of the viewers (including myself) were searching for the right angle, the best light and shadow and the most harmonious composition. 

Art inspiring art!

Water Drops 2014 by Kung Wen-Yi and Ko Yu-Cheng

Billennium Waves 2015 (video) by Tang Nannan

Infinite Landscape 2011 by Yang Yongliang

'The ancients used landscape to convey feeling,' 
'I use landscape to criticise society.'

AIP-PF 2004 by Chang Nai-Wen

Crystal City 007, 2015 by Wu Chi-Tsung.

His crystal city is a phantom landscape of transparent skyscrapers whose reflections, refractions and shadows create a constantly changing 3-dimensional pattern under the moving light.
'I feel like our civilisation has created a new, invisible world. We can't see it, but we all live in it.'

This post is part of Saturday Snapshot.