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Arrábida Bridge, Porto

Porto’s beautifully elegant Arrábida Bridge (Ponte de Arrábida) carries motorway traffic over the River Douro on the western portion of the ring road around central Porto.

From the River Douro:-

Arrábida Bridge, Porto from River Douro

Photo from Wikipedia (taken from the Vila Nova de Gaia bank of the river Douro):-

Arrábida Bridge

Statue on top of bridge pillar:-

Arrábida Bridge, Porto, Statue

Support pillars and statue:-

Arrábida Bridge, Pillar and Statue

Close up on one of the bronze statues (from Wikipedia):-

Bronze Statue on Arrábida Bridge, Porto

Arrábida Bridge looking back towards Porto:-

Arrábida Bridge Looking Back to Porto

NAT TATE An American Artist 1928 – 1960 by William Boyd

21 Publishing Ltd, 1998, 71 p.

NAT TATE cover

Complete with cover flap comments from David Bowie and Gore Vidal attesting to its subject’s importance this is an account of forgotten US artist Nathwell ‘Nat’ Tate, whose final artistic act was to burn as many of his works as he had managed to lay hands on (“perhaps a dozen survive”) before committing suicide by jumping off the Staten Island Ferry. The usual biographical conditions apply, obscure origins, father unknown, mother died young, adoption by her rich employer (emphatically not Tate’s father but an avid admirer and buyer of his work,) an influential teacher at Art School, chance viewing of his work by the founder of a gallery, socialising with other artists, the development of his style – aslant to that of his contemporaries and details of which Boyd provides – descent into alcohol, meetings with Picasso and Braque, disillusionment. The text is interspersed with photographs of three of the surviving paintings and various important stages of Tate’s life, four of which depict Tate but in only one is the adult artist the sole subject. Boyd gives us a convincing, if short, portrait of an artist and his life.

Yet the story of Tate is of course entirely fictitious. Not fictional, such biographies imagining the circumstances and lives of real people abound, but fictitious. Tate never existed. He is a total invention by Boyd.

On the book’s publication in 1998 the cover picture, containing as it does a cropped version of that black and white photograph of the adult “Tate” obviously photoshopped over a coloured one of New York, might have provided a clue to those not in on the joke but anyone at all familiar with Boyd’s work coming to it post hoc would be immediately aware of its confected nature on its first mention of Logan Mountstuart, protagonist of the author’s 2002 novel Any Human Heart. Boyd would also employ photographs to an equally verisimilituding end within the text of his 2016 novel Sweet Caress.

A hint of Boyd’s purpose in writing this book (apart from sending up the hagiographic artistic biography of the forgotten genius) may be gleaned from the passage where there are speculations on possible reasons for “Tate”’s destruction of his work and his suicide. “Tate was one of those rare artists who did not need, and did not seek, the transformation of his painting into a valuable commodity to be bought and sold on the whim of a market and its marketeers. He had seen the future and it stank.”
Pedant’s corner:- “the layers of white turps-thinned paint that was repeatedly laid over them” (Boyd treats this as if paint is the subject of the verb laid; that subject is in fact layers, hence “were laid”,) swop (swap.)

Leixões and Matosinhos Beach

This is a panorama of Leixões from the SS Black Watch’s bow:-

Leixões Panorama

On the edge of the beach near the harbour entrance lies this monument “Tragédia do Mar” or “Tragedy of the Sea” a sculpture commemorating the Shipwreck of 1947, where 152 sailors lost their lives:-

Matosinhos Beach Monument

Matosinhos Monument

Much further along the promenade, too far away for us to walk to as we were pushed for time getting back to the ship, was this sculpture, “She Changes” by artist Janet Echelman.

Leixões Sculpture

I found this better photo by António M.L. Cabral on the internet:-

Ferrera Park, Avilés, and Seaside Sculpture

Thee is a lovely park in Avilés, called Ferrera Park. It was well used by people strolling or jogging and had that essential for a park – water; in this case a pond by which there were not only geese but a black swan.

Black Swan, Ferrera Park, Avilés

Off to the side was a nice parterre garden:-

Garden in Ferrera Fark

Complete with fountain:-

garden in park 7 fountain

You know you’re not in Fife anymore when you see a tree like this:-

Tree, Ferrera Park, Avilés

Just behind the parterre garden was this painted building:-

Painted Building by Ferrera Park, Avilés

The sculpture is called Avilés and seems to be by an artist called Benjamín Menéndez:-

As the SS Black Watch left we passed this striking sculpture. It’s by Benjamín Menéndez and is called “Avilés”:-

Sculpture, Avilés

Face-on view:-

"Avilés"

This interesting rock formation stick sout into the Ría Avilés estuary:-

Rock Formation, Ría Avilés Estuary, Spain

Further out where the estuary meets the Atlantic we could see loads of surfers riding the waves into Playa San Juan de Nieva but they were a bit too far off to photograph.

More Views From Aretxbaleta Bidea, Above Bilbao

From the ridge at Aretxbaleta Bidea looking in the opposite direction to Bilbao you can see right over to the city’s airport – off to the left of this photo of a distant bridge:-

Distant Bridge Near Bilbao

In the park area at the top of the ridge is this sculpture. For obvious reasons it’s called “The Fingerprint” whether officially or informally I don’t know:-

Fingerprint  Sculpture, Aretxbaleta Bidea

Looking towards south Bilbao:-

Towards South Bilbao

Looking towards north Bilbao:-

Towards North Bilbao

Even further north:-

apanorama 7

Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Exterior Exhibits

There are external and internal exhibits at the Guggenheim.

The steel spheres are Tall Tree and The Eye by Anish Kapoor. They are surrounded here by FOG, an installation by Fujiko Nakaya. The mist switches on every so often:-

Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, FOG and Reflections

The giant spider (Maman) protecting her clutch of eggs is by Louise Bourgeois:-

Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao FOG + Spider Sculpture

Salbeko Zubia Bridge, Bilbao, FOG and Spider:-

Salbeko Zubia Bridge, Bilbao, FOG and Spider

Tulips by Jeff Koons:-

Jeff Koons Tulips, Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao

Tulips, Salbeko Zubia Bridge in background:-

Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao + Bridge

Puppy by Jeff Koons. A giant West Highland Terrier covered in flowers. The flowers bloom at different times of the year so the exhibit is always changing. From Museum:-

Jeff Koons Puppy,  Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao

Puppy, museum in background:-

Jeff Koons Puppy, Front

Puppy and museum:-

Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao  and Koons Puppy

Rosslyn Chapel

In April we went to Rosewell, Midlothian, to preview the lots at an art auction. (Left a bid, didn’t get the painting. Ah well.)

Being so near by we took a peek at Rosslyn Chapel on the way back through Roslin. A fine Gothic confection, the chapel certainly stands in contrast to most Scottish places of worship, which tend to the square and boxy.

It has achieved a kind of notoriety by being associated with the Knights Templar – a connection which is seemingly nonsense – and its mention by Dan Brown in the Da Vinci Code, a book whose premise alone is enough to put me off reading it.

More properly known as the Collegiate Chapel of St Matthew, Rosslyn chapel was founded in the 15th century:-

Rosslyn Chapel From Surrounding Path.

Detail:-

Rosslyn Chapel close-in

Side view:-

Rosslyn Chapel Side View

Roof:-

Rosslyn Chapel Roof

Stitch of two photos:-

Rosslyn Chapel Full

This was the auction house building in Rosewell. Slight Art Deco feel, mainly in the paintwork:-

Rosewell Auction House

Painting with Light

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been watching Andrew Graham-Dixon’s BBC 4 TV series The Art of Scandinavia. It’s over now but you can still catch it on the iPlayer.

I hadn’t heard of a lot of the artists but there were some great landscapes in the Norway episode.

The painting which struck me most however was by a Danish artist, Vilhelm Hammershøi. It’s called Dust Motes Dancing in the Sunbeams. I found an illustration on the net on this page and I reproduce it below.

Dust Motes: Vilhelm Hammershøi

A stunning depiction of light, I hope you’ll agree.

In its use of the qualities of light I was immediately reminded of John Henry Lorimer’s Spring Moonlight, which I blogged about here.

As well as Spring Moonlight, which I forgot to mention in the previous post about it is a huge canvas, Kirkcaldy Art Gallery also has on display at the moment two further Lorimer pieces of more normal dimensions, Sundown in Spring, Kellie Castle:-

Sundown in Spring, Kellie Castle: Lorimer

and View of Kellie Castle:-

View of Kellie Castle

both of which exemplify Lorimer’s distinctive style. The pictures are taken from Art UK which is the successor site to BBC’s Your Paintings.

Kellie Castle was the home of the Lorimer family and is worth a visit if you’re ever over in the East of Fife.

Space Artist

The Guardian yesterday featured this painting of the first space walk:-

Space Walk

What makes it unusual is the artist. None other than Alexei Leonov, the subject of the painting.

That CCCP on his helmet makes it seem even more of its time.

Leonov also drew the first work of art actually to be created in space, a view of the sunrise as seen from his Voskhod 2 spacecraft. Here it is with the pencils used to draw it:-

First drawing in space

He almost never made it back into the capsule. His suit had expanded and he had to bleed off air to get it to fit. He could have succumbed to “the bends” but thankfully didn’t.

Ensign Ewart and the Scots Greys at Waterloo

200 years ago today the last battle of the Napoleonic Wars was fought at Waterloo. Famously remembered as a “close-run thing” (though the quote is apparently “It has been a damned nice thing — the nearest run thing you ever saw in your life,”) it was a bloody nightmare. A total of around 48,000 men were killed inside 10 hours.

Last month I visited Edinburgh Castle. Among the memorials on its esplanade is this one, erected in 1938, to Ensign Charles Ewart, of the Royal North British Dragoons (more commonly known as the Scots Greys,) who captured the Imperial Eagle of the French 45th infantry regiment during the battle.

Ensign Ewart Memorial Edinburgh Castle Forecourt

The Eagle itself is normally on display in the relevant Regimental Museum in the castle grounds but it wasn’t on the day I visited. I think it’s on loan to the National Museum of Scotland at the moment. I did find, though, this Memorial to the men of the Scots Greys who died in the Great War.

Royal Scots Greys Memorial, Edinburgh Castle

Also, inside the Castle’s Great Hall, there is a painting, executed by Richard Ansdell some thirty years or so after the event, of the moment of the Eagle’s capture. Titled “The Fight for the Standard” the picture is huge – 13 ft by 11 ft. It is somewhat triumphal in tone and perhaps ridiculously sentimental given the likely conditions of the actual battle.

The Fight for the Standard by Richard Ansdell

Picture from Eric Gaba at Wikimedia Commons.

Perhaps a more famous painting of the Battle of Waterloo is “Scotland Forever!” by Elizabeth Thomson, Lady Butler.

Scotland Forever!

The original is in Leeds Art Gallery but a reproduction is in the Regimental Museum.

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