Photo Gallery: Sicily

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The city of Messina, Sicily
Janis and I near Gardini Naxos
Janis and I near Gardini Naxos
The Gival Jewels Factory is in a beautiful Italian heritage home.
The Gival Jewels Factory is in a beautiful Italian heritage home.
Even the front yard sports some marble statuary.
Even the front yard sports some marble statuary.
The chandelier in the lobby.
The chandelier in the lobby.
An artisan at work.
An artisan at work.
Stark landscape near the Sylvestri Crater on Mount Etna.
Stark landscape near the Sylvestri Crater on Mount Etna.
Janis with a giant lava boulder.
Janis with a giant lava boulder.
Walking around the Sylvestri Crater
Walking around the Sylvestri Crater (on the left). The car park area is on the leftover the lava field. You can see a plume of mist on the left from a steam vent. 
Lots of trails to walk here.
Lots of trails to walk here.
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The Sylvestri Crater immediately in the foreground. 
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The long winding road back down to sea level.
Many vineyards along the way.
Many small towns and vineyards along the way.

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Photo Gallery: The Dali Museum

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Here are some additional photos from our visit to the Dali Museum in 2009.

The town square at Figueres, across the street from the railroad station.
The town square at Figueres, across the street from the railroad station. Yes, that’s a Spanish-English Dictionary Janis is holding.
Many tents were set up as artisans and merchants displayed their wares for the may Day celebrations.
Many tents were set up as artisans and merchants displayed their wares for the May Day celebrations.
The Iglesias de San Pedro or Church of St. Peter in Figueres, Spain.
The Iglesias de San Pedro or Church of St. Peter in Figueres, Spain.
Sheila, Chris and Janis waiting in line to see the Dali Museum.
Sheila, Chris and Janis waiting in line to see the Dali Museum.
Two figures on the roof near the entrance to the Dali Museum.
Two figures on the roof near the entrance to the Dali Museum. The white figure is holding a loaf of bread on its head and the gold mannequin is holding  a hydrogen atom, representing Dali’s passion for science, another of his many recurring themes.
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The curved wall that encloses the inner courtyard has recessed spaces with windows and mannequins on three levels.
Looking down on the Rainy Taxi from one of the windows surrounding the courtyard.
Looking down on the Rainy Taxi from one of the windows surrounding the courtyard.
Two crutches holding Gala's Boat.
Looking over the shoulder of a mannequin at Gala’s Boat. You can see the giant backdrop of Labyrinth through the window.
Gala's Boat
Gala’s Boat held up by two crutches, a statue called The Slave of Michaelangelo, and a stack of tires.
The Slave of Michaelangelo
The Slave of Michaelangelo
The immense reproduction of the backdrop for the ballet, Labyrinth.
The immense reproduction of the backdrop for the ballet, Labyrinth.
On an end wall, a portrait of Abraham Lincoln. Close up it's a nude painting of Dali's wife Gala.
On an end wall, a portrait of Abraham Lincoln. Close up it’s a nude painting of Dali’s wife Gala.
The geodesic dome above the stage-cupola area.
The geodesic dome above the stage-cupola area.
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Exterior of the Dali Museum.  The yellow dots on the walls are bread. Eggs represented fecundity to Dali and are an important symbol.
Close-up of one of the loaves of bread dotting the outside of the museum.
Close-up of one of the loaves of bread dotting the outside of the museum.
The streets of Figueres were still busy when we left the museum.
The streets of Figueres were still busy when we left the museum.
One last look at a busy May Day in Figueres.
One last look at a busy May Day in Figueres.

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Hello Dali!

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“I want my museum to be like a single block, a labyrinth, a great surrealist object. It will be a totally theatrical museum. The people who come to see it will leave with the sensation of having had a theatrical dream.”  – Salvador Dali

Figueres is the birthplace of noted surrealist painter Salvador Dali and the site of the Teatre-Museu Gala Salvador Dali – his famous museum. It holds the largest exhibition of Dali’s works in the world, including his personal collection. And it’s not just paintings. There are sculptures, three dimensional set pieces and a lot of interesting oddities that only the mind of the great Dali could have devised.

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The Salvador Dali Museum in Figueres, Spain

On the second day of our three days in Barcelona, we decided to take the train to Figueres, a small town about 25 kilometre from the French border and 140 kilometres from Barcelona. It’s a two hour ride through lovely Spanish countryside passing through the occasional small town along the way.

After arriving at Figueres, we left the train station and headed for the Salvador Dali Museum. Our walk took us through a large street market. It was May 1st, May Day, and the town was bustling. Among the street vendors we saw several with life size wooden carvings including one of Tintin, his dog Snowy and a bust of Captain Haddock. But the most unusual carving was a life-size Woody Allen!

Tin Tin and friends - life size scultures for sale during May Day 2009 in Figueres, Spain. Tintin and friends – life size sculptures for sale during May Day 2009 in Figueres, Spain.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd a life-size Woody Allen.  Street vendors had all sorts of interesting stuff for sale, mostly art.

Finally we arrived at the Theatre-Museum Dali. It actually was a theatre once which burned down during the Spanish Civil War. In 1960, Dali and the mayor of Figueres decided to rebuild the old theatre as a museum to the town’s most famous son, though actual construction didn’t begin until 1969. The museum opened in 1974 and expansion continued through the 80s. The master himself died in 1989 at the age of 84 and his body is buried in the crypt below the stage at the museum.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA crowd gathered at the Teatre Museu Dali.

Even waiting with the long line to get in was a pleasure as the place is an artistic showpiece, inside and out. The front, where we were waiting features many sculptures, some on top of the building, some on the large balcony, and some in the courtyard.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOutside the museum is this piece called Homage to Meissonier, a painter much admired by Dali. The sculpture itself is by Antonin Mercié. One of the sculptures in the museum’s inner courtyard also sits atop a stack of tires.

On the balcony are several figures including a deep sea diver and statues carrying loaves of bread on their heads. Dali’s work is rich in symbolism and bread plays a large role in his work. The guide book says the diver is a “symbol of immersion into the depth of the subconscious that await the visitor.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe deep sea diver is flanked by dark figures carrying loaves of bread.

After going through the entrance, we passed into a open air courtyard. High walls form a semi-circle around the open space. The centrepiece is an old touring car, an exhibit called Rainy Taxi. Over the hood of the taxi is a statue of a huge buxom woman, The Great Esther by Ernst Fuchs. Behind the car is a huge stack of tires surmounted by two crutches (another element of Dali symbolism found in many of his works) holding a boat, Gala’s Boat. Gala was Dali’s wife and muse.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARainy Taxi, The Great Esther, and the tires forming the base for Gala’s Boat.

The car is called Rainy Taxi because it rains – not on top of, but inside of – the taxi. Inside is some greenery and two figures, the driver and a passenger. Live snails crawl around inside. The original Rainy Taxi was created for the 1938 Exposition Internationale du Surréalisme. The one at the Dali Museum is a reproduction.

Behind this tableau is a giant picture window through which you can see the large stage-cupola area. Above this room is a geodesic dome.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe geodesic dome sits atop the stage-cupola area. In front of the picture window is Gala’s Boat which sits atop two crutches which sit atop a stack of tires.

The room itself is immense and the centrepiece is the stage curtain, a reproduction of the backdrop for the ballet, Labyrinth (1941). Against one side of the room are displays of artwork in recessed alcoves. The most stunning is a large picture of Gala from behind in the nude. But looked at from a distance, the picture becomes a digital image – a portrait of Abraham Lincoln.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPortrait of Dali’s wife Gala and Abraham Lincoln.

On the other side of the room is a staircase and archways to other galleries. There are a lot of them, some simply galleries of paintings hanging on the wall, and some much more than that.

One such striking room is the Mae West Room. It features a living room with two paintings on the wall, a cabinet with two cubby holes for displaying artwork, and a large sofa shaped like lips. At the front of this set are two large, billowing, yellow curtains pulled back and held by ropes. There is a short staircase to an observation platform in front of this and when you mount it and look at the living room set through a large lens, you see the stylized face of actress Mae West.

Mae West RoomThe lip shaped sofa and the display cabinet which looks like nostrils. On the wall, two paintings.
Mae West Room 3Seen from an observation platform, the living room looks like an image of actress Mae West. The curtains form her hair.

There is also a bedroom which features an elaborate bed on dragon legs above which hangs a large tapestry, a reproduction of Dali’s most famous work, The Persistence of Memory.

And yet another room is called the Palace of the Wind and is surmounted by a giant mural on the ceiling. Looking up you see the bottoms of two pairs of feet attached to figures standing up with their upper bodies out of sight in the clouds. The two figures are Dali and Gala “pouring a shower of gold over Figueres and Emporda” according to the guidebook.

There is much more to see here, including rooms with the furniture attached to the ceiling, and a display of stereoscopes. But even upon leaving the museum, surprise await you. As you exit, you look back and see a whole new aspect of the museum – a large rectangular building with a turret at one end. The walls are pink and festooned with figures of bread. Buns really. And on the top of the building, giant eggs alternating with waving mannequins.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe outside of the museum – a pink facade decorated with bread and topped with giant eggs. Eggs were, you guessed it, another key element in Dali’s symbolism.

The Dali Museum is truly amazing and well worth a day trip from Barcelona. I didn’t have the best camera when I made this trip. Nor did I take as many pictures as I now do on trips. But I did take enough to fill another photo gallery. Click on the link below or scroll down if you are on the main page of the blog. Do check it out!

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Sculpture by the Sea, Cottesloe, Western Australia

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In British Columbia they have had an annual sand castle competition for many years. It used to be held on the beach at White Rock, later moving to Harrison Hot Springs. But a couple of years ago it moved again, this time to Parksville on Vancouver Island. Contestants from all over the world attend, building sand sculptures which last for a few weeks before the weather takes them down.

Heroes and Villains was the theme of last year's International Sandcastle Competition at Parksville, British Columbia in July 2015.
Heroes and Villains was the theme of last year’s International Sandcastle Competition at Parksville, British Columbia in July 2015.

But Sculpture by the Sea in Cottesloe, Western Australia is another thing again. Not ephemeral sculptures made of sand, most of the sculptures here are permanent, though not in their permanent location. These works of art are made of wood, stone, steel and other durable materials. They are scattered along Cottesloe Beach, some on the sand, some on the grassy areas, and some in the gardens.

This giant stainless steel pig is one of over seventy sculptures at this year's Sculpture by the Sea exhibit at Cottesloe Beach, Western Australia. Exhibit ends March 20th.
This giant stainless steel pig is one of over seventy sculptures at this year’s Sculpture by the Sea exhibit at Cottesloe Beach, Western Australia. Exhibit ends March 20th. This piece is called Pig of Fortune # 2 by South Korean artist Tae-Geun Yang.

The event started in Bondi, a suburb of Sydney, in 1997, the brainchild of a fellow named David Handley. The following year it expanded to five locations to help promote the Olympic Games in Sydney. They included Darwin, Noosa, Albany and the Tasman Peninsula as well as Bondi. But the additional showings were one-offs. it remained a Sydney event until 2005 when the event was launched in Cottesloe, a suburb of Perth in Western Australia. It has been an annual event there ever since.

This year’s exhibition runs from March 4-20th. My wife and I checked it out Tuesday and had a great afternoon. Getting there is pretty easy. The town is very close to Fremantle and easily accessible by car. The beach is along Marine Parade. It is a short fifteen minute walk from the Cottesloe train station (1.1 kilometres) or a ten minute bus ride if you prefer.

These giant sculptures are along the roadway just before the beach. They are also part of the exhibit.
These giant sculptures are along the roadway just before the beach. They are also part of the exhibit. The sculpture set is called Land of Giants: Quiver, Queen, King, Jester, Giorgio and is by American Peter Lundberg.

We drove in and found lots of street parking on Marine Parade, though it might be rather busy on the weekends. We parked just south of the beach and walked in, taking a path that took us past a couple of sculptures along the street and then down to a Cottesloe landmark, the Sun Dial. This isn’t part of the exhibit but is worth checking out any time. It keeps accurate time any time of the year. The instructions on how to read the sun dial are a bit cumbersome but easy to understand.

The sun dial is a large one just at the south end of the beach.
The sun dial is a large one just at the south end of the beach. Not part of the exhibit but worth seeing.

From the sun dial we walked up past the Surf Rescue building and came across several sculptures along the way. We decided to walk out on the breakwater, which also had a number of pieces of art on it, for an overview of the whole beach, then slowly made our way along the beach checking out the works. This year had works by 77 artists from nineteen different countries including Canada and the United States. The major sponsor is Rio Tinto Mines.

Overview of the beach from the breakwater. The beach house dates from 1996.It is on the site of an ice cream parlour built in 1910.
Overview of the beach from the breakwater. The magnificent beach house dates from 1996. It is on the former site of an ice cream parlour built in 1910. We thought the cranes beside the beach house meant construction was going on. We were wrong!

Many of these pieces must have been moved in by truck as they are huge. Others look like they might have been built in place just for the exhibit. They varied greatly in theme and content. Many were clearly abstract. Interesting shapes with no other significance than their beauty. Others were geometric patterns. Still others had themes. There were several with an environmental theme. And many were representational, often quite whimsical.

This piece was called The Pilgrim.
This piece is called The Pilgrim by Australian sculptor Russell Sheridan.
The Burden.
A Burden by Australian artists Suzie Bleach and Andrew Townsend
This sculpture consisted simply of posts with place names in Australia accompanied by red posts with a number on them. The legend indicated what species the numbers signified. All of these species are now extent.
This sculpture consisted simply of posts with place names in Australia accompanied by red posts with a number on them. The legend indicated what species the numbers signified. All of these species are now extent. It was called simply “The Red List (Extinct)” by Australian artist Rebecca Westlund.

A few of the pieces had motion as part of the display. I took a video of one which was a circle of colourful poles with streamers running between them. A class of school children were exploring it at the time. The piece is called Kakashi by Lithuanian Ameican artist Zilvinas Kempinas.

Another was simply called “Eye” and consisted of an LED screen embedded in the dirt and surrounded by some foliage. But if you looked closely, well, darn if it wasn’t an eye! And it was looking around! Kind of creepy actually. It’s by Danish artist Anne-Marie Pedersen.

We ventured further up the beach and found more interesting pieces. One was called Book Cave and consisted of a large number of hard cover books glued together to form a cave. Another was a simple but large geometric figure of wood.

Book Cave
Book Cave by Australian artist Juliet Lea.

As you can see from the pictures, there were a lot of people on the beach not paying much attention to the artwork, just soaking up the sun, swimming and having a good time. The weather was warm, and bringing along your swimsuit and a towel is good idea. Make a day of it.

A geometrical wooden sculpture anchored one end of the exhibit. Lots of sunbathers and swimmers were at the beach.
A geometrical wooden sculpture anchored one end of the exhibit. It’s called Sømærke by German artist KWY and Portuguese artist Lise Kassow. Lots of sunbathers and swimmers were at the beach.

Wandering up behind the beach house, we came across a stainless steel sculpture of a chubby flying boy. We could see our reflection in it quite clearly.

We could see our reflection in this stainless steel sculture.
We could see our reflection in this stainless steel sculpture. It’s called City Dreams by Chinese sculptor Gao Xiaowu

And still further along we came across the largest of the sculptures called Re: Generation. It consisted of a curved bald pate on the ground, a multi-sided face that appeared half buried and a very large fully emerged multi-sided face. They were all in white porcelain or something that looked like white porcelain.

Re-emergence.
Re: Generation by Australian artist Sonia Payes. The couple on the ground were oblivious to the sculptures or anything else for that matter.

We came eventually to the Search and Rescue building which had a room full of smaller sculptures on display. Many were miniatures of ones we saw on the beach and all were for sale. Prices ranged from around $900 to thousands of dollars. My wife saw one selling for $46,000.

Smaller sculptures, many of them replicas of the larger ones, were on disolay and on sale inside the Search and Rescue building.
Smaller sculptures, many of them replicas of the larger ones, were on display and on sale inside the Search and Rescue building.
One of the smaller pieces on display inside.
One of the smaller pieces on display inside was of a tethered elephant.

We also saw a monitor showing a video of a woman in a mermaid outfit suspended in the air on wires. Nearby was a large framed photograph of the mermaid without the wires. I asked about it and we found out the artist was going to be doing his “performance art” at 4 PM by the beach house, so we headed back to take it in. The artist is Chinese photographer Li Wei.

The model reclines on the surfboard, ready to be hoisted in the air as part of a performance art piece.
A model reclines on the surfboard, ready to be hoisted in the air as part of a performance art piece.

A model in flowing white robes was strapped to a safety harness and then she lay down on a surfboard hooked by cables to a crane. Another crane had a platform where photographer Li Wei would stand. After a half hour or so of set-up, she and he were hoisted into the air for the photo shoot. She went up and down several times, changing poses each time. I suspect the photographer will air brush out the wires and cables for his finished pictures.

We then went to the beach house which houses a large restaurant called Indiana and had a tasty meal. The restaurant has large windows and a beautiful overview of the beach.

The beach house and the Indiana Restaurant. It's a beautiful old building with a magnificent view. We enjoyed a tasty early dinner here.
The beach house and the Indiana Restaurant. It’s a beautiful old building with a magnificent view. We enjoyed a tasty early dinner here. A nice ending to a great afternoon.

All in all, it was a terrific afternoon. It’s highly recommended. And it’s free!

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