Tuesday, 25 July 2017

A few museums in Bologna

Bologna is a beautiful city, full of old buildings and loads of history, but at the same time it is a very lively and hip city, because there are so many students.

I spent 2 1/2 days there and of course there is much I have not seen, but if you go there, these are a few museums I really liked and that I recommend.

The Museum of Modern Art of Bologna is absolutely worth a visit. It has some beautiful works, both paintings and sculptures by 20th and 21th century (Italian) artists.
I especially loved the collection of works by Giorgio Morandi, he has now become one of my favorite painters!
Via Don Minzoni 14
Admission: 6 euro's.

Museum of the history of Bologna
A very modern museum, that takes you through the ages of Bologna's rich history. It starts on the Etruscan road and it ends in the present, showing you how Bolgona changed and grew, and how important the role of Bologna was in earlier centuries. Very interesting and very well done.
I would advice you to take the audio tour, since all the explaination is in Italian, and the audiotour is available in several languages.

I would have loved to see more about the present time, especially the period of WWII (partisans) and the difficult years of the sixties, seventies and eighties (bombings). But perhaps this is still too close for some people to be completely open about it.

Via Castiglione 8
Admission 11 euro's

Museum of Medieval history of Bologna
I loved this almost oldfashioned museum. It does not have a clear route through the museum, but that adds to the fun, in my opinion. There are several rooms on different levels of this medieval palazzo housing a lovely collection of medieval books (breathtaking), armory, religious items, paintings and for example little statues carved from ivory. The items date from the early middle ages to the 15th century.
Each room hides treasures, and it is a surprise where you will end up. The courtyard is lovely as well.

Via Manzoni 4
Admission 6 euro's

Zoological museum
Part of the University of Bologna and free of charge. It is in some ways a very old-fashioned museum, but that is for me part of the charm. It has just rows and rows and rows of glass cabinets, filled with stuffed animals. In that resepct it is also a history lesson of what academics in the 18th and 19th century  thought important and how museums have changed.

The ground floor houses the huge collection of birds, put together in the 18th and 19th century. These collections are grouped together by country or continent.
The first floor has the collection of mammals and some other species like fish, and on the top floor you find the skeletons of several species. Very interesting to see how actually, most skeletons are the same for each species. There is not much difference between the skeletons of a monkey, a cat or a human.

Via Francesco Selmi 3
Admission: free

Friday, 21 July 2017

Summer Vacation

Nothing says more Summer holiday to me than these photographs of Marilyn Monroe on the beach. As from today I have six weeks of free time, all the time I want to read, draw and go to amazing exhibitions.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Home improvement: the coffee table

Last week I was browsing on Pinterest and I must say this is more inspirational than I ever thought. I especially loved the images of beautifully styled coffee-tables.

I used to have a wooden coffe table that was quite small and to be honest I never gave styling a lot of thought.
But since a couple of months I have a new coffee-table, a beautful large one made of glass. I love it, it is so stylish and chic. Only, I did not quite know what to put on it. Pinterest gave me a lot if ideas. And I learned a few things about styling a coffee-table as well. Grouping things together on a tray for example. In that way you can still put a lot of stuff on it, but it will look composed and put-together.

Adding layers by putting down lovely coffee-table books was another thing, just as putting down plants and something quirky and fun.

Well, I did my best.

Since I already have some beautiful art-catalogs on the lower shelf of my table, I decided not to put another stack of books on top of the coffeetable.

I did buy a tray and opted for a silver one (not too shiney), that was round. I thought it made a nice contrast with the glass squareness of the table.

First I put down some plants on the tray. I already owned the two little orchirds, but I bought the green plant in the tall blue pot. Love that colour!

In a fair trade shop I often buy these little birds made in Zimbabwe. This tall one I bought especially for this display. The little one I already had.
And I put down a little egg, I bought in my favorite Russian museum (The Hermitage in Amsterdam).

I also experimented with other bird statues and a blue and white vase, but this seemed to be the most beautiful display of them all. I also like how the tray is not completely full and stuffed with things. The objects on it are still visible in a very nice way and are highlighted.

The last two things I added were these vase of flowers. I love flowers but I do not always have them. When I do not have flowers, I usually have a nice green plant on that corner. And I added three little tea-lights, in green and blue.

So this is the end result, and I am very pleased with it!! In truth, it is not so much different than it was before, but somehow the tray makes all the difference and I love it!

Friday, 14 July 2017

Ruin, Beppe Fenoglio

Ruin is the story of Agostino Braida. His family rented him to a farmer as a farm-hand when he was just a little boy. For seven gold pieces and a pair of trousers each Christmas, Agostino works every day of the week without taking a break.

Tobia is the farmer who is hard for his little helper, but also for his wife and children. His dream is to once own his own piece of land and not rent it from a rich man in town. He wants to safe his family from the hardship he endured when he was a child, but in the meantime the situation is almost unbearable.

Beppe Fenoglio describes the countryside around his hometown Alba, and he knows how hard the situation for the farmers and the tenants was. He knows about the heartbreaking poverty and the bitter struggle for the next meal, because he witnessed it.
The farmers work hard on their small properties, never growing enough to life from, but too much to die.

There is no escape from this poverty and almost no hope. The little hope Agostino has every now and then is crushed

In the end Agostino will be alone on the piece of land his parents owned and he will be the last one standing, his whole family has succumbed to poverty and illness.

A lesser writer would make this tale of misery into something sentimental or something laughable. 

But not Beppe Fenoglio. His clear way of writing is without embellishments, but that makes it even more powerful. The story of Agostino captures you and does not let go. You cannot escape, just like Agostino cannot escape his fate.

I love the writing of Beppe Fenoglio and for me he is one of the greatest Italian writers of the 20th century. And Ruin is just another example of a wonderful Italian classic.

Original Italian Title: La Malora
Published in 1954

Monday, 10 July 2017

The reading spot of my dreams

Reading is my favourite way to spend time. I can easily read for an entire afternoon and when that happens, I hardly notice the world around me. 

I enjoy imagining my ideal spot to read, and there are a few things that come to mind whenever I design it in my dreams.  

First of all, I like light, a lot of light. This could be natural light from huge windows, or when it is dark outside, from a lamp. 

I love the light from the many windows in this photograph!
Source (pinterest)
I am a bit particular about my lamps, there are not many lamps I like. A bit of an industrial feel to it makes a lamp beautiful for me.
Source:Lighting at Arhaus.com
Secondly, I like somewhere comfortable to sit. A sofa with a lot of cushions is great, but a comfy chair can also work very well. In that case I do need something extra to put my feet up, because for me that is the best way to sit and read.

A very comfortable couch in a beautiful colour, with a lot of cushions. 
Source: Sofa's at Arhaus.com
And these chairs also look comfortable to read in, and I love their colours!
Source: Chairs at Arhaus.com

Source: Living room furniture at Arhaus.com
I prefer neutral colours, like white and grey, for my furniture. That combines very well with my favourite shades of blue, green and turquois.
For me, a room with this colour scheme is not cold or boring. There are splashes of colour, coming from a couple of things: the books, cushions, art and of course, plants.

The pink chair works very well here, although I would prefer it to be green or blue. 
Source (via Pinterest)
Not enough books on these shelves, but I love the idea of putting beautiful ornaments together and I love the colours in this photograph as well.
Source (via Pinterest)
The bookcases are important. I do not like dark wooden bookcases, but prefer light wood or white ones. It is not the English library look I want, more the Scandinavian loft! 😊

I like my bookcases in rows, covering the whole wall. But I also combine books and plants on the shelves and decorate with souvenirs from my vacations or childhood.

These bookcases have both beautiful books and souvernirs and momento's. Lovely. 
Source (via pinterest)
And if you have a bookcase that is a bit irregular, you can also put plants and artwork on top of it, making a lovely display. I love how they made the bookshelves and the art very playful and easy looking. It looks like it came together naturally, and not like a stylist worked on it. 
Source (via Pinterest)
My drink of choice while I read is a cup of tea and you need a place to put your cup, so the last thing in my readingroom would be a large coffee-table. Large enough not only to hold my cup of tea, but also stacks of books, and lots of plants and flowers. Some people can really make something beautiful out of a simple thing like a coffee-table, almost making it a piece of art in itself.

Love these beautiful orchids and those blue pots.
Source (via pinterest
Beautiful light, neutral colours, a comfy couch and a wall full of books. This appartment seems to have it all!
Source (via Pinterest
In a room like this, I do not think I would ever leave! But when I look around my own living room, I know I am very fortunate, because I already see a lot of the elements I love. But it was great fun to look around the web to find the imagines that I felt made my imaginary room visible.
My own reading-spot!

My wall with my bookcases
As you can see this article was a collaboration with Arhaus.com, who asked me to dream about my favorite reading spot and be inspired.
I had fun finding the images that showed my imagination and I hope you are inspired as well!

Friday, 7 July 2017

The other books Agatha Christie wrote

Agatha Christie is a well loved author by many, including myself. I love almost all of her detectives, and enjoy her immaculate plotting and well written scenes.

However, for a long time I did not know that Agatha Christie also wrote six other books, not detectives but novels, under the name Mary Westmacott. Well, I did know, since I read about it in her biographies, but I never realized that these books are also still for sale.

Somehow I came across those novels and decided to buy them. They are published in new, matching jackets and I really like having them on my shelves as well. I intend to read them soon, and I will definately let you know how I like them.

The first book is Giant's bread, published in 1930. It is about a young man who is a musician and the two women he loves.

In 1934 Unfinished portrait was published. It is about a young woman who lost everything and everybody in her life and how she finds the courage to live despite her difficulties.

Ten years later in 1944, Absent in the Spring came out and it is about a middleaged woman who is forced to look back at her life.

After the War in 1947 The rose and the Yew tree was published, a story about a young woman who thinks her life is pretty much settled, but then has to make a choice between love and social status.

In 1952 she wrote A daughter's a daughter, a tale about a mother who gives up hope of remarriage because of her daughter, and the resentment that grows between them.

The last book, The burden was published in 1956 and tells about the rivalry and the love between two sisters and the consequenses for both of them.

Agatha Christie used a lot of her own experiences in these novels, and I must say I am looking forward to reading them!

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Inspirational art: Alejandro Campins

Last week I was at an exhibition about contemporary Cuban Art. It was very interesting to see the colourful paintings, and see how the artists took their inspiration from the landscape, the culture and the political situation.

I especially loved the work of artist Alejandro Campins. His work was both colourful and very beautiful and a little mysterious. His paintings made you think.

So here are a few impressions of his art, the three paintings I loved the most.
August rain on a January day

The last falling

City of the dead
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