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.

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Museo Historico Municipal, Trinidad, Cuba

Our casa particular in Trinidad was at the La Boca end of Calle Simon Bolivar.
It was an easy 10 -15 min stroll into Playa Mayor - the UNESCO World Heritage area of Trinidad.

Along the way, we passed the Museo Historico Municipal, which we had been advised was the best and most interesting museum in Trinidad.

Naturally, we happily spent an hour strolling through the rooms of this 1830's mansion once owned by the Borrell family. The house was later purchased by the Cantero family who renamed it Palacio Cantero and refurbished it in the Neo-Classical style.

There was a small entrance fee, although we chose not to pay a guide to take us around. 
The information in our guide books and the Spanish notes on the walls in each room were enough for us to get the gist. We had been to enough museums in Cuba by now to know how basic (and often inappropriately or incongruously) pieces were displayed. As a result, we preferred to move through at our pace, in our own way.

The most impressive feature of this museo is the bell tower.
The 360 panorama of Trinidad is worth the climb up the rickety stairs.

We did the climb not long after the museo opened, apparently by 11am though, the bus crowds make this climb very unpleasant and claustrophobic.

Frescoed archways and columns were featured throughout the house.

Mr Seasons negotiating the narrow, rickety stairs to the bell tower.
There was only one way up...and down!

But the view was worth it.

View of Playa Mayor

Bell tower of Iglesia y Convento de San Francisco.

This post is part of Saturday Snapshot.