,With the first day being at sea it did give us a chance to find out more about the ports we were visiting. One way we did this was to look at the organised trips available in a brochure and by attending a presentation in the theatre. One thing we have noticed is that these trips have slowly risen in price so we decided to prioritise the ones we wanted and in other ports find our own way around.
The first port being Roses offered a chance to visit the Salvador Dali museum.
Inaugurated in 1974, the Dalí Theatre-Museum rises on the remains of the former Municipal Theatre of Figueres and is considered to be the last great work of Salvador Dalí. Everything in it was conceived and designed by the artist so as to offer visitors a real experience and draw them into his unique and captivating world.
The Dalí Theatre-Museum's collection allows the visitors to capture the artistic journey of Salvador Dalí (1904-1989) through a broad spectrum of works. The route around the rooms allows visitors to capture his first artistic experiences, surrealism, nuclear mysticism and his passion for science, guiding them to the works of the last part of his life.
As an artist this seemed too good an opportunity to miss and being in the morning we would have chance to look around Roses on our return. Unfortunately, we were late arriving at the port, possibly because of the strong headwinds on the way there. This meant we were late arriving and had to go straight back to the ship.
On arriving at the museum you are immediately struck by the huge geodesic dome, the large eggs on the roof and the loaf decorations on the walls. We were informed, by our excellent guide, that these two icons were symbols for life; the egg representing birth and the bread being the staple of life.
As you enter the square you again see his sense of fun with figures wearing diving costumes on the balcony.
On entering the building, the first impressive sight is the centre courtyard where a car in stands the middle of the entrance with a statue on the bonnet and large boat on a plinth above it. All around are weird sculptures in the windows. As you look up onto the stage on the far side you see a picture, made of thousands of pixels, that changes when viewed through a camera from a nude to a portrait of Abraham Lincoln.
As you go from room to room there are various surprises. When I hear someone talk about of Dali, I usually think of his iconic melting clocks so it was interesting to see his more traditional paintings along side his more surrealistic work and to see another side to this artist.
One of the most interesting finds was a three-dimensional anamorphic living-room installation with custom furniture that looks like the face of Mae West, when viewed from a small staircase and looking through a lens. Dali's original and famous work of the 'red lips' couch was part of this installation!
Another fascinating room had a ceiling painted by the artist where the bottom of the feet gave the impression of two giants standing above you. He based this particular painting on Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel painting.
A fascinating insight into Dali's work and fascinating talk by the guide. It was interesting how his career had progressed and how he was fortunate to arrive in America just as they were ready for an eccentric character such as him. It was interesting to see such a wide range of his work, and not just the well known pieces.
The Museum was developed from a theatre that he had known as a child which he rebuilt and left to his home town as a memorial. When he died he was buried here and many visitors paid their respects at his crypt.
A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to go on a cruise visiting ports in Spain and Portugal. Because of preparing for my exhibition, this is the first chance I have had to put down some of my thoughts and observations.
We arrived at Manchester early in the morning and were surprised by the long queues to get through customs, as well as the chaos caused outside the airport, where cars were stopped to drop people off to avoid the new charges. The flight though was without incident, although the guy next to me was a little large for his seat!
On arriving at Malaga, there was a very long wait for the cases before we set off for the port. Having booked the holiday for some warmer weather, it was a shock to arrive to heavy rain. After boarding the ship, we waited for our cases only to find that one of them was soaked through. When we opened it, we were fortunate, as my jacket had taken the worse of it. Another couple, we spoke to, had to send half their clothes down to be dried out in the laundry room. It seems silly these days that a simple plastic sheet couldn't be used to protect the cases.
The next day was spent at sea, sailing to our first port of call. This gave us a chance to relax into the cruise and get our bearings. We thought about sunbathing but although sunny it was very windy.
We decided to find a place to sit and it gave me a chance to do some sketches. Having had a long day travelling to the port, quite a few passengers soon closed their eyes to catch up on their sleep on the settees whilst others read or played card games etc.
A relaxing day and a chance to plan what we wanted to see over the next few days.
We enjoy cruises because we can go to bed at night and in the morning we are in a new port or country and have the opportunity to explore the sights and culture.
We were all inclusive as well, which helped with holiday financing! With a buffet-style eating area and a 'sit down and be waited on' restaurant, we have the best of both worlds and as cruises are now much more relaxed in 'dressing for dinner', this type of holiday offers us a relaxing combination of style and comfort. With onboard entertainment included, we were now set up for an enjoyable two weeks!
When I started to write this blog, I was just going to put down my thoughts about the first three days of my exhibition but as my writing progressed I realised that there was much more that I wanted to mention.
After setting up the exhibition, I have to admit to feeling nervous when I opened the doors to the public, not knowing what their response would be.
We opened early on Friday 5th and immediately had about eleven people through the door. A lot of interest and a few cards sold. Whew! My nerves settled!
There was then a lull as people arrived for lunch at the café. Eventually, numbers picked up by mid afternoon and I managed to sell one painting to a couple, who had already two of my paintings from previous exhibitions in their collection. This was a football scene for the husband. I also took a deposit for another painting and sold a few more cards. For quite a rainy dull day this was a good start.
Saturday arrived with much better weather and although sales of cards continued and the person came in to finish paying for the painting from the day before, numbers were not as good as expected considering the people milling around.
On Sunday, we arrived early and as there was an Apple Festival in the park, numbers increased considerably, as did visitors to the exhibition. Another football picture was sold as well as some prints and cards.
A successful start in many ways. Some excellent feedback from the public; a chance to chat with other artists and friends who came along to support me; all of which I appreciated very much!
The only slight complaint about the venue is that some visitors had difficulty finding the room, as it is advertised as the farmhouse and some went into the café instead. Apart from this it is an excellent venue in a superb setting.
This leads me on to my second topic. Whilst talking to the organiser, we were discussing the fact that cutbacks were effecting galleries, such as my own local one Salford Art Gallery. We saw this as a bad thing but were surprised when he said there had been some good outcomes from these cutbacks.
He explained that as a venue, they now had to look at other forms of income and this had led to the inclusion of all sorts of activities at the park and the gallery.
We have recently visited Whitby and noted that the town now offered several themed weekends to encourage people to visit. This had made the town even more popular and an all year round destination.
We noted that Astley Hall and park was organising several such events. On Sunday was Apple Day, where stalls were set up and local growers and societies provided activities for families. You could buy apples, press your own juice or try for the longest peel. A local choir sang and a wicker workshop took place allowing members of the public to have a go!
Also this month they have arranged a Pumpkin day on the 27th October and a Fright Film Night on the 31st, where they intend to show horror films in the old hall.
Activities such as these encourage the community to keep coming back and also raise money for the upkeep of the buildings.
In the park there is an historic old house, walled garden and room featuring World War 1 history, several activity rooms and of course a superb café. The Gallery is part of a community hub and has only been refurbished four years ago. It contains an art gallery, community gallery and local history hub where people can come and research their family history.
Looking at this and talking to some of the visitors with Salford connections, we all thought of the mansion in Buile Hill park. Here is an excellent site for a similar hub. The Mining museum could be refurbished and the other rooms used for a wide range of activities. The gardens could be replanted and activities organised to bring the local people in, as well as extra funding could be arranged from grants. This once great park could be restored to it's former glory with a little foresight by the council.
I realise that Ordsall Hall offers some of these things and Peel Park has had money spent on it, but Salford has a great heritage site just waiting to be developed and at the moment it is falling into ruin just like Monk's Hall, which was a fantastic building in the past.
Greater effort should be made to get grants to do this work, I personally can't see that the small market town of Chorley is more financially sound than Salford but what they have achieved at Astley Hall should be an example to other authorities.
A busy day hanging all my paintings in the Farmhouse Gallery. It was a shame we weren't open as a few large groups arrived at the café.
There was a very good hanging system, which made the task easier. I just underestimated the number of paintings needed so will be busy tonight preparing more.
The gallery is set in a beautiful park. There is a 17th Century house that is open of a weekend, as well as a walled garden, pleasant walks and an excellent café. For families there are several activities on at weekends, starting with an Apple Festival this Sunday the 7th and Pumpkin Day on the 27th October.
Something for all the family and an exhibition to view as well. Who could ask for more?
After a busy day, the exhibition is now up at the Cornerstone Langworthy Road, Salford. The organiser, Tony Easom, has put a lot of work into organising this with the two main themes being the Billy Unsworth story and the Flowers of Manchester. Billy Unsworth was a Salford man, who was killed in the first World War and Graham Walker, a former serviceman, has been collecting information and pictures about him and has displayed them in this event.
The second theme is 'The Flowers of Manchester' with images of the Manchester United players who lost their lives on this fateful day in Munich. Also featured are paintings celebrating the history of Manchester United since this date.
There are also paintings from other local artists with many of the pictures featuring local scenes.
The Cornerstone gives artists the chance to show their work to the public and is one of the few places that is able to do this. It is an excellent community hub where a wide range of activities are available for local people. This facility should be a beacon for other centres in Salford.
The exhibition is on until the 31st August, weekdays 8.30am -8.30pm and is well worth a visit.
As part of The Art Of Salford's annual exhibition at the Cornerstone, Langworthy Road, the organiser Tony Easom decided to include a tribute to the players who lost their lives in Munich Feb 1958.
In 1958, I was only seven so have very little memory of the crash or it's effects. I have followed United since I can remember and decided to honour these players by selecting memorable events in the club's history.
From standing in the Stretford end, for every game, my first heroes were Dennis Law and George Best. At one game. I was on the sideline, when George's boot came off ! For ordinary players this would have meant stopping and putting the boot back on, but not George! He continued playing, holding the boot in his hands. It's memories like this that make you realise just how good he was! I love watching TV clips from this period. It's amazing watching him going past players, as they tried to kick him. He would ride their challenges and carry on, not thinking at all of going down! These clips should be shown to Neymar to show him a real genius!
I was fortunate enough to be at Wembley in 1968, for the European Cup Final and that memory will always be one I treasure. The King, otherwise known as Dennis Law, didn't play in that game but his goals earlier on in the tournament certainly helped the team to the final.
The excitement in extra time as United scored and collected the cup was unbelievable! Sue recently bought me a commemorate T-shirt of this match.
The next couple of paintings show the iconic ground which is Old Trafford. The ground has been continually improved and as you go to a game, the nearer you get, you can feel the excitement building up until you are inside. The atmosphere inside the ground is electric and when the fans erupt when a goal is scored! Absolute magic!
The next highlight, was in 1999- you've guessed it- when United won the treble! Watching the team progress in each cup competition, as well being the leader of the Premiership, was nerve wracking for all supporters. As they achieved each one, the pressure increased until the European cup final, where they were losing until added time. Then scoring the two goals, in two minutes! What a fantastic achievement! Sue and I were in Manchester, with thousands of supporters, to greet the team as they toured the city. The crowds were unbelievable!
The last picture shows a memorial for the Munich Disaster, with the crowd at the ground remembering the people who tragically lost their lives on that fateful day, 60 years ago. Hopefully this selection of paintings of mine will be a small but fitting tribute!
Until the end of August, the paintings are on sale at the Cornerstone, Langworthy Road, Salford.
Last night was the opening ceremony for the first ever Salford Open Art Exhibition at Salford Art Gallery and the official opening of the exhibition, 'Salford Royal Academy Takeover'
These exhibitions are a landmark in our city, as for the first time several organisations have come together to create them. Salford Art Gallery has worked with the Lowry and Salford University to bring about these events. Other notable establishments involved, include the Royal Academy and other art galleries in the region, who have loaned paintings. A Manchester city centre gallery, Contemporary Six has also been involved in this unique event.
This has been a concerted effort and as the mayor, Paul Dennett said, in his opening speech, raising funds for this took a great deal of effort but after seeing the exhibitions, it has all been worthwhile.
On the night, the Open exhibition was full of visitors, as they viewed 159 artworks by artists linked to Salford. This exhibition featured a wide range of work, covering a diversity of subject matter. It was encouraging to see that art was flourishing in the city of Salford! There is something in the exhibition to suit everybody's taste; including two of my landscape oil paintings!
After the speeches and prize giving, there was a chance for everyone to view the work and enjoy the evening. On a personal note, it was nice to catch up with old friends and meet artists I had only seen on Facebook.
This exhibition will continue until November and now will be a feature on the Gallery's calendar every two years. It will give the chance for local artists to showcase their work in a prestigious venue. Exhibition opportunities in Salford have been lacking for quite some time now in Salford so let's hope that this exhibition draws lots of visitors and favourable comments to encourage the local council to fund more events like this. Salford Art Gallery have organised workshops and activities through out the summer to complement the exhibitions, which will add to the experience.
In the next gallery hangs the work from several notable Royal Academicians, which again is another impressive exhibition. I attended an excellent talk, given by Danny Morrell, earlier in the week and the stories behind these paintings are fascinating. The whole exhibition is well worth seeing.
Linked to the Salford Art Gallery's exhibitions is a smaller one at Ordsall Hall, situated at the Quays area of the city. Here the Academy paintings are from the gallery's own collection. Again, a nice place to visit over the holidays with several activities taking place, especially for those of you who have children or grandchildren.
So no excuses over the next few weeks, not to enjoy the diversity of artistic talent on show.
Salford people should be proud of their heritage and thank all these organisations for their hard work putting these exhibitions together.
After a quiet few months I have a busy few weeks ahead. As well as a couple of pictures in Eccles Community Art Gallery, along with other members of Salford art club, I was invited to show a couple of my paintings in the Summer show at the Legacy Art Gallery in Todmorden.
We dropped off the paintings a couple of weeks ago and didn't really have a chance to look around the town. This time we planned a full afternoon's visit.
As we arrived there was already a nice buzz in the gallery. As you entered through the front door, my two paintings were on the far wall and I was pleased how good they looked. After viewing the exhibits and chatting with Stella Hill, the owner, we went to a nearby café for a hot drink.
After the drink, we decided to explore a little further. Across the road there was an interesting antiques and collectors market, which seems to be on quite often.
As we wandered around town, we came across a couple more galleries and some interesting shops, the types you don't find in many larger towns.
Being a Sunday some of these weren't open and we certainly plan another visit to explore further.
As we wandered we even came across a couple of surprise sculptures that certainly livened up the place.
As we arrived back at the gallery for a final look, it was pleasing to see that the rooms were now full of people enjoying the artwork and excellent buffet.
An enjoyable afternoon, I now have to hope that someone likes one of my paintings enough to buy it.
I am always interested in seeing the work coming out of Universities. Sue and I have been following the progress of a friend of ours from the art club, George Lee and were invited to his final exhibition.
It has been interesting talking to him about his course and seeing the work he has been doing.
The course has involved various areas of study including photography, printing and sculpture, as well as being taught about organising and publicising an exhibition. For his final work George had focused on the decline of the local public houses and the changes in society related to this.
His exhibition featured a Warhol inspired wallpaper, several photographs and sketches as well as a large Resin sculpture containing items from a pub. His area was distinguished by a large Flemish Weaver pub sign.
It was really pleasing to see his work and we wish him all the best with his future endeavours in the artistic field.
It was then interesting touring the other students exhibitions. Like in a lot of these shows you see a wide range of work. There were a few with a political or moral message, some traditional art and a range of abstract work. Many students were at different levels of development and still experimenting with ideas.You could see that a few had decided upon a theme and one stood out. This was because they already had the language to go with their work as well as an accomplished style.
An enjoyable evening and we look forward to next years when another member of the art club will be on show.
Fancying some fresh air, we decided to go to the Quays and this gave us the chance to see the latest exhibition by Chantal Joffe. at the Lowry Centre.
On entering the rooms, the first impression is that these are in quite a naïve style, with loosely painted images. The paintings explore motherhood and show Esme, Joffe's daughter, as she grows up. These images are enhanced by the juxtapositioning of mother and daughter within the canvas.
As you become immersed in the paintings, the images start to convey messages of the interactions between groups or feelings of awkwardness in adolescence. Joffe has played around with different viewpoints and we found the way that she hadn't always painted the full heads of her subjects unusual and interesting.
The artist also pays homage to Paula Modersohn Becker, who was a key figure in the development of Modernism in the early 20th century and is probably the first Western woman artist, to paint herself naked. The information said, 'Her frank, but intimate approach defied expectations of how the female body should be painted, as defined by her male counterparts'.
You can see several pictures that represent similar poses from both artists.
So, to sum up, an exhibition that surprises you; at first you see a picture and think the eyes are painted wrong or that is not a natural pose but this is where an artist can convey more than a photograph. Well worth a visit.