Messing About with Paint

No 40

Oil on Canvas 40cmx50cm

Roses at the entrance pillar to the Malvira Estate in Canale, Piermont, Italy.

A gentle painting, full of the heat of summer, a loose style to represent the languid life of Italy.

Colours clean, the sharpness of the light.

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Diary of an Adventure

Juba Adventures

Thatcher
Oil on Canvas 60cmx30cm

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From the air, the world that surrounds Juba Town is a green mass, riven with sparkling waterways. Huts are clustered on spots of high ground.

On my morning jog, the first without the bionic magic blue tape, I saw a black otter. Not surprising given the amount of water around the place after the rains. Stopping, it scrutinized my running style, before shaking its head and dashing into the grass.

With people staying in the house, the washing machine schedule is a factor. Particularly as the washing isn’t drying as quickly under cloudy skies.

The PoC camps are grim places after the heavier rains, within which spirits are lifted by World Cup matches. The night roars as goals are celebrated, reaching a crescendo when favourite players are involved. Extending interest beyond the countries playing, to the stars involved.

Addis talks suspended with increasing tension between the ethnic groups of South Sudan. Jitters amongst my staff as we head towards the 9th July Independence Day celebrations.

News that 4 of my paintings have been selected to be featured in the 2014 edition of International Contemporary Artists. Published in New York and distributed to 65 countries it should be out in the last quarter of the year.

Diary of an Adventure

Turin Adventure

Attitude. Flavour. Colour. Attitude. Style. Fashion. Attitude. Italy.

Within the first fifteen minutes of the four hour train journey to Turin, I had managed to cause and incident with two old Italian women (correct seats, wrong carriage), an Australian couple (correct seats, correct carriage. But they had been bumped from the earlier strike affected train). Knocked over my red wine so it splashed the designer jeans (light blue) of a French lady sitting across the isle. Stood on the toes of the women in the seat opposite me, as the space provided between seats assumed everyone was three feet tall.

Our room, in the old Italian factory, looks out over a forest of tree magnolias, with black birds calling. In keeping with the old factory, there are artfully incorporated design elements. Stylish, yet functional.

A new diplomatic incident. Daring to send back a glass of bubbles that had no frizzante. Not even the ‘knife in the glass’ produce the semblance of a bubble. And certainly, not a smile from the waitress, who did her best to argue, swear and ignore the issue. Attitude. The replacement glass? Much better. The early evening, stunning and the food? Savouringly delicious.

Walking in Turin is a treat. The air fragrant with the perfume of passing women. With attitude. Italy. That dash of colour. A scarf. Impossibly delicate fabric. Carelessly draped. In practiced perfection. Ordinary, transformed into style.

An hours drive outside the city, the land transforms itself into valleys and vine covered hillsides, spotted with perfect Italian villages. We visited the Malvira Estate in Canale, which specialises in local cultivars that have been grown in the Piemonte region for 700 years. The Arneis whites are complex wines, smooth, balanced delicacy. The colours, are crystal clear perfection. The Nebiollo and Barberro reds are held in oak for up to 36 months and bottle aged for a further two to four years, released only when ready for consumption. After the brilliance of the white wines, I was a tad disappointed in the reds.

We dined in the restaurant Villa Tiboldi, on a menu selected by Malcom that was crafted precision. The Villa, named after the 16th century chapel that sits in the vineyards is beautiful and I was only sad that our time was so short. Service was excellent, and the food smiled on by the gods.

Soft poached egg, zucchini and candied garlic
Ravioli filled with smoked trout, bursts cheese and chives
Entrecôte steak with hazelnut gratin and summer vegetables
Strawberry Mount Pink

Langhe Bianco Treuve, 2006
Roero Riserva Renesio, 2006

Sylvia recommended we stop at Gelateria Pianeta for Gelato, a short walk from the hotel. We had to fight our way through a hoard of old women intent on ensuring that we weren’t able to discover the solution to World Peace. The gelato was magnificent.

Early evening at our local neighborhood, Sal Salvario, where we are recognised (even without Kirsten) by our restaurant, Eno’ on Via Galliari 12. Kids screaming, mothers with prams and pushchairs sitting at tables outside the pub, while men move between their smoking and yelling area on the pavement and the World Cup soccer inside. Bicycles, dogs, a friendly drunk, and a continual stream of people pulling suitcases heading to the station.

With our bubbles and wine, we were given an odd dish of tomatoes, tuna and olive oil, with some kind of bread and onion mix. Terry managed to distract the soccer watching staff long enough to order the seasonal Fiori Di Zucca Fariti (ricotta stuffed flowering zucchini), which were very good.

Diary of an Adventure

Lyon Adventure

Listening to the unfamiliar sounds of the city waking, against a background of chirping birds. Street sweepers. Suitcase wheels bouncing over cobbles. Traffic. Hooters and the occasional voice raised in anger, or appreciation.

Homeless occupying benches and doorways. Unexpected. People frozen in front of static electronic train schedules. Strike, causing mayhem and anxiety.

Fields of gold and green, with the occasional burst of colour from wild flowers.

Brasserie L’EST
Come hungry. Very hungry. Should come as a ‘health warning’ with the notification that you have a successful reservation at L’EST.

The portions are seriously generous, with none of the artful use of space to display the food trend. Rather, mouth watering aromas that fill the evening sky making passers bye stagger with envy. The food is the reason to come, but the service is choreographed excellence.

Disc trays held aloft by magic, as the four fingers of the hand under the tray can’t possibly support the glasses, food, and bottles of wine. That this is then brought down to sit on the butlers stand, seemingly snapped out of the left trouser pocket, in a ‘Merlin’ approved move, is worth watching every time.

The wine list is manageable. That this had Crozes-Hermitage as their recommended ‘House’ wine, made it easier. Their champagne recommendation wasn’t shabby either, as a ‘Loop Doppie’.

Choosing from the seasonal recommendations, as well as favourites (scallops), and the impossible to miss out on (soufflé) resulted in a menu of hedonistic delight

Worth putting on any Bucket List

Escalopes de Foie Gras Chaud
Foie-gras de Canard Maison Cuit en Terrine
Noix de Coquilles Saint Jacques Roties
Risotto au Parmesan Reggiano
Cote de Veau Rotie en Cocotte
Soufflé Chaud Grand Marnier

Thienot Champagne
Crozes-Hermitage Petit Ruche
Crozes-Hermitage Syrah

Diary of an Adventure

Juba Adventures

The roads in Juba Town are a muddy mess after the rain of the past week. Children and dogs thriving in the slush. Malaria now a terror.

Another new deal between the leaders of the warring factions will hopefully bring an end to the fighting. Staff now at heightened risk by unpaid, defecting, soldiers.

At the school, near the office, the soccer field is churned mud through which they have painted white lines in a valiant effort to demarcate areas of play. The ball bounce a lottery as it hits ridges of hardened mud, the acrobatics of the players, with their impossibly long limbs, as they adjust to the movement of the ball impressive.

A cafe style dinner of pate and cheese that Eddie had brought back from his recent trip to Copenhagen. The sunset, red and full of promise. Not quite Turnerish, but still amazing.

Rain thundering on the roof before sunrise. Debated the merits of heading out into the mud for my jog. The rain, gentle and together with a detachment of military out for their formation run, I ended up going a bit further and faster than I intended. Magic blue tape still holding my Achilles together.

Gazillions of butterflies outside the office window. Magical.

Juba Town eerily quiet. Hangover after the opening night of football World Cup? No soldiers on the streets at least. Perhaps there is a ‘Peace Revolution’ in Juba Town, with the sandbags outside the National Intelligence building, replaced by square concrete boxes filled with plants.

The moon, spectacular. Responsible for my nights full of crazy dreams?

From my RAP singing staff member:
The Leadership in my beautiful country South Sudan
Is like a plastic cup of tea.
On the outside it is beautiful and clean.
On the inside its brown and stained.
You can scrub all you like, but the stain will always be there
They are stained forever.

Diary of an Adventure

Vineyard Adventures

On emerald grass, dusted with gold, stark ribs of garden sofas, squat beneath heavy skies, braced for winter. Maison, for their season ending lunch. Probably a tad too much wine, well anticipated by Terry and Hesta with Nicholas driving us.

An unexpected afternoon of sunshine, demanded a braai. My lack of practice evident in a fire that was too cold to give any colour to the steak, while mushroom skewers were cremated. Patient, tolerant, friends and Black Rock the antidote.

With rain sheeting down, sorting cupboards in the studio seemed a good use of time. Interestingly, there were more electronic bits to sort than paint supplies. Filing of painting pictures organized and old discs and drives cleaned and tossed. The paintings from Juba removed from their travel wrapping, and the print of Mina’s portrait prepared for her.

Lunch with Dad and Mary at Willow Creek on a stormy day. Mountains tinged with snow. Perfect weather for the excellent oxtail Terry prepared, accompanied by Crozes Hermitage. The heat from the fire making short work of the wine.

In the garden, clivia’s are starting to bud and the first of the camellia’s are in bloom. Wild Irises, spots of whiteness amongst the foliage. Lush after the first of the winter rain. The sage is still flowering, attracting sunbirds who somehow manage to cling to storm tossed stems.

Truth Coffee Shop should be on everyone’s list of Must Stop places in Cape Town. Being served excellent coffee by attentive staff in a setting that resembles a ‘League of Extraordinary Gentleman’ film set turns the experience into entertainment. The Croque-Monsieur on a wet, cold day should be mandatory.

As part of International Design Capital, the Castle of Good Hope was the setting for Karmers. Amongst the exhibits, spots of design flair. Casually discarded against the stone of the castle. Unexpected brilliance.

De Grendel, for their very good Pinot and excellent bubbles, watching the storms across the mountain. A charcuterie platter to nibble on as we watched the distant activity in the harbour that could, with wine fueled creativity, been sailing ships of the first settlers.