Friday, 20 April 2018

Impressions from Texel

This year in April the Portuguese students and their teachers arrived for their visit in Amsterdam. Two weeks before we had visited Porto and of course they also came to us.
We had a great programme, and on the last day we visited the island of Texel and the village of Den Burg. Here are a few impressions of this lovely place.

The lighthouse

Den Burg

Lovely cat, posing for the photographers.

The sea


Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Biographies I want to read this year

I love to read biographies. A good biography does not only give you new insights in the life of a person you admire or find interesting, but also tells you more about the time that person lived in.

I tend to read mostly biographies about historical people I admire, but also about writers and artists I love.
For this coming year I have selected a few biographies I really want tot read.
The first one is: Marilyn Monroe by Michelle Morgan. I read several other good biographies about Marilyn Monroe, but I love to read another one and I hope this is a good one as well.

Then Evelyn Waugh, a life revisited by Philip Eade. Brideshead revisited is my alltime favorite book and I also really enjoyed the other books by him I read, so I would like to know more about his life. I always have the impression he was not the nicest of men, but hopefully this biography will help me understand this fascinating man better.

The same goes for Daphne du Maurier by Margaret Forster. I really enjoy most books I read by Daphne du Maurier and I just want to know more about herself. I have read the book by Tatiano de Rosnay, but that was not really a biography but more of a novel in some respects.

Sergei Diaghilev by Dutch writer Sjeng Scheijen is about the founder of the Ballet Russes and all the interesting history surrounding that, Russia and ballet and France and people like Vaslav Njinski and others. I cannot wait!

Diane Arbus, Portrait of a photographer by Arthur Lubow is about the photographer Diane Arbus who was well known for her photographs of people on the edge of society, like circus people. I am interested in photography and I would like to know more about her. I have seen the movie Fur with Nicole Kidman and I liked it very much, but I do realize this is not a factional biography. So, that is why I want to read this book.

Friday, 13 April 2018

Miniatures from the Middle Ages

Did you know:

  • that a Medieval copyist could finish 4-6 pages in one day?
  • that real gold was used to decorate the pages? 
  • that paint could be made from plants or by grinding up precious stones?
  • that red ink was used for initials and titles, to help the reader navigate the text? 
  • that at Court a worldy story like that of King Arthur was read aloud to a group of listeners? 
  • that this is the reason some of the books are so large, all listeners had to be able to see the illustrations. 
  • that books were meant to last years, if not generations? 

These are all little fun facts I learned when I was at the exhibition of Magical Miniatures in Utrecht. Here many medieval text could be seen, each one beautifully decorated. The colours were fresh, just like the drawings were made yesterday, instead of 600 years ago!

There were religious books like psalmbooks and Bibles and wordly books like the tales of King Arthur or historical stories, and most of them were decorated beautifully. There are of course the illustrations to complete the story, but also little drawings and fun little things next to the texts. Flowers, but also animals like birds or even monkeys decorated the pages!
The illustrations give us a little insight into the Middle Ages, they show us the farmers at work, the siege of a town or the nobelmen hunting.

I absolutely loved the exhibition and I knew again why I studied Medieval History in the first place!
Of course I did not photograph at the exhibition, all the manuscripts had to be shielded from light, but these are the postcards I bought there.

Tuesday, 10 April 2018


Art cannot be found only in museums and galleries, but also on the street. Graffiti and paintings form some pretty interesting images sometimes. Not always beautiful, but often funny or interesting.

Sometimes I feel streetart is commenting on (political) issues in that city, but often I do not know the background of the image. And some of them may not have such a background and it is just an image without a deeper meaning.

I just know that I often see streetart and most of the time I really enjoy it.
Porto, March 2018. It was in an alley, so I could not get a very clear photo. 

Bologna, May 2017

Porto, March 2018

Florence, May 2015
Paris, October 2017

Friday, 6 April 2018

Confession of the lioness, Mia Coutho

In a small village of Kulumani people disappear. The lions that live around the village kill them and eat them. The last victim was the sister of Mariamar Mpepe. A hunter is called from the city, to kill the lions and stop the murders.

I never read a book from Mozambique, but after this book I immediately looked up more information about this country. It became independent from Portugal in 1975, and almost immediately a civil war broke out that lasted until 1992.

This war changed things and the results are still visible. The lions for example learned during the war that people were an easy source of food. Many people are traumatized by what they experienced and some of them cling to old traditions that give them some form of security in uncertain times, and others cannot get over the cruelty they witnessed or endured.

And others? Well, let's say that lions do not commit rape and do not kill for revenge. That is the work of men who use the lions as a disguise for their own actions.

The story is told by two people, Mariamar and the hunter from the city, Arcanjo Baleiro who both have their own demons from the past they have to deal with.

Antonio Emilio (Mia) Coutho was born in 1955 as the son of Portuguese colonists who moved to Mozambique in fifties. He worked as a journalist, but has also studied biology and now works at one of the national parks in Mozambique.
He is considered one of the best writers in Africa, and he has won several literary prizes for his books.

I really liked Confession of the Lioness, apart from a little bit in the ending for Arcanjo that I found too convenient. But it is well written and slowly it reveals the story, and this is very well done. And I loved getting a glimpse into a world I did not know before and I am sure to look for more books by this author.

Original Portuguese title: A Confissão da Leoa (2012)

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Inspirational art: Joaquin Mir Trinxet

Joaquin Mir Trinxet (1873-1940)
Camino de la casa Guell (1918)

This painting was in the exhibition Impressionism and beyond I saw a couple of weeks ago. I immediately was drawn towards this beautiful painting of the woods. The only thing you want to do is walk under those trees and enjoy the sun through the leaves.

Friday, 30 March 2018

The park of the Serralves museum in Porto

In Porto you have one of the best modern art museums in Europe, the Serralves museum. This is set along the boulevard leading towards the ocean. In the 19th century the Cabral family bought an estate here, and put a beautiful house on it. They also designed an amazing garden.

In 1987 the Porguguese state bought the estate and decided to turn it into a modern art museum. The Portuguese architect Álvaro Siza (from Porto) built a completely new museum on the estate in 1991. The old Art Deco villa is used for temperary exhibitions. Inside the park you can also see some modern art, although most of it can be found inside the museum.

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