As well as having busy visits to towns, cruises also give you a chance to relax in the sun. We are not great sunbathers now but do enjoy short times sat out covered in suntan cream!
We have sailed a few times now and the first time we went on the Spirit, there was very little sunbathing area. Over the years they have added these and it is much better now. You still have the problem, as with a lot of ships, that there are not enough sunbeds for everyone. Some days we arrived back on the boat early from a visit and were able to get a bed, on other days, we found a nice quiet area on the sport's court where we could sit on benches to read and relax.
Not being smokers, however, we did have a gripe that one side of the sundeck was for smokers and if this happened to be the side that the sun shone on, it meant that we couldn't sit there. Also one of the best places to relax was the upper area above the pool, again this was a designated smoking area, which restricted where we could sit comfortably.
On the lower deck, around the pool area at the back of the Spirit, there were tables and chairs to sit on if the sunbeds were full. This gave me a chance to sketch some of the holiday makers as they relaxed.
This was a pleasant area where you could sit in the sun or shade and had the advantage that it was next to the restaurant and snack area. As the afternoon sun moved into early evening, we met a few interested couples who wanted to find out about my work and we enjoyed spending time talking to them. Some of the 'waiting-crew' stopped by too and it was nice to receive positive feedback on my quick sketches.
We have visited Ibiza a couple of times in the past, usually catching a bus from a nearby resort. This time we took the shuttle bus from the port, which approached from a different direction. Deciding to go to the old town, we walked through the shops and found an entrance. Although we were reasonably confident of our sense of direction, it was quite disorientating to come in from a side street.
In the last two towns we had an idea of places to see, including the art galleries, but here we were content to just wander along the narrow streets. To our surprise the first large building we came across was the art gallery. If nothing else there is always a good restroom and air conditioning, as well as a chance to take in the culture of the area.
As the building was set on three levels, we climbed to the roof first and were impressed with the views, which I had a chance to sketch before my back started to burn!
On entering the gallery, we were struck by the spacious, light and airy feel to the rooms. The paintings were spaced out and as the gallery leaflet says they "reflect the personality and character of the gallery".
Abstraction was the dominant theme and there was a range of work on show. The quiet atmosphere allowed visitors to take their time viewing the work and really appreciate them. Although, not all of them were to our taste, it was a joy to relax and view the work.
The top floor was the work of one artist, and everything was produced in white, from pottery to sculptures. It was a conceptual display and unfortunately didn't resonate with either of us. The only connection that we could make from his colour palette was that Ibiza is known as the 'white island.'
As we proceeded downstairs, we entered the lower gallery that had a partial glass floor and underneath you could see the ruins of the old town. You walked over these to see the artwork and this was quite a surreal experience. As well as seeing the paintings hanging on the walls, they were reflected on the floor, which enhanced the experience, To the side was a room where children could create there own artwork. We love the idea of galleries having space for children to produce their own pieces, in connection to the art that they see around them.
A fascinating building and unexpected find in this town. After a drink, we continued to explore more of the old town. The views from the citadel were impressive as were the narrow alleyways. A lot of climbing but well worth the effort. There didn't seem as many small shops as we remembered but it was a thoroughly enjoyable day.
Our next port of call was Tarragona. Here we needed a coach into town and as we stepped off the bus were greeted with a superb view of the towns old ruins of a coliseum.
One criticism of the cruise shore excursion staff were the maps provided. These were often difficult to follow, not always to scale and at times the places of interest were in Spanish or Portuguese. We had planned to visit the art gallery, which we had read about but it took us quite a while to actually find it. However, in our search we did come across some impressive buildings with lots of small alleys and interesting areas to explore. One of the highlights was the magnificent cathedral. We sat on the steps, which led to the main entrance to eat our lunch.
As we wandered the streets, we kept bumping into this same old lady. It was almost ghost like the way she kept appearing, either that or we were going in circles. Sitting for a drink gave me a chance to observe the locals and do some sketching.
Eventually, we found the art gallery we had been looking for and were immediately impressed by the building and art on show. For a relatively small town the quality of the paintings etc. was exceptional.
As well as featuring local artists, there was work by well known painters including a piece commissioned by Joan Miro.
Founded by the Provincial Council of Tarragona in 1976, this museum fills three separate 18th-century houses that have been grouped together and appropriately refurbished. The collection includes 20th-century paintings and sculptures by Julio Antonio, Salvador Martorell, Santiago Costa, Josep Sancho, José Nogué, Ramon Carreté, Lluís Saumells and the winners of the biennial painting and sculpture awards, as well as documentary and avant-garde photography. The museum also has an auxiliary library, a documentation centre and photography archives and offers temporary exhibits and guided tours for school groups.
As we wandered the corridors, the wide variety of work continued to surprise us and we spent a good couple of hours viewing the exhibits before catching the coach back to the boat.
Another impressive town and only the second one we had visited. This holiday was exceeding our expectations and we couldn't wait for what the next day would bring!
,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.