Monday, 31 December 2012

Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better man. Benjamin Franklin

January - Christmas and New Year in Sheffield

February - My 35th birthday in London. 
Exploring the Lofoten Islands, Arctic Ocean

March - Walking on the Icknield Way.
Lectures at Cambridge University.

April - Training in Sorrento.
Train ride through from Naples to Sicily
Easter in Taormina

May - Start of Summer 2012 season
New appartment in Mazzaro
New office in Taormina
June - Patriotism from Italy:
Euro 2012 Italy v England
Queen's Diamond Jubilee
Preparations for Olympic celebrations.
July - Amazing week, half working half holidaying in Venice.

August - Moved to Boa Vista, Africa
Saw Loggerhead turtles laying eggs in the wild

September - A difficult month.
A Tropical Storm caused devastation on the island

October - Surveying the devastation.
The Greenery after the storm.

November - Arriving back in UK after over 8 years overseas.

December - Visiting friends and old haunts in Madeira.
Advent in London near Luton and exploring Hertfordshire.
Christmas in Sheffield, Yorkshire

A very happy, peaceful and prosperous 2013, to you all. xxx.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

“The majesty of nature depends upon the force of the human spirit.” ― John Ruskin


John Ruskin - Withered Oak Leaves. 1879.

 Today I went to see the exhibition 'Force of Nature: Picturing Ruskin's Landscapes' in the Millenium Gallery, Sheffield.

It is one of the best exhibitions I have seen in a long time. Chiefly because it features a combination of all of my favourite things. Landscapes, nature, botany, geology, snowy mountains, local landscapes, contemporary artists and some of my favourite sketchers, painters, poets, travel writers and print-makers from the late nineteenth and early twentieth century from J.M.W. Turner to Samuel Palmer, Graham Sutherland, Paul Nash, and a beautiful selection of paintings and sketches from Ruskin's journeys throughout Europe. It even had a beautiful painting by John Brett looking towards Etna from Taormina, my former home. My favourite, apart from Ruskin's incredible Swiss mountain scenes, was a small watercolour by Turner, to illustrate one of Samuel Roger's poems. 

Joseph Mallord William Turner. The Alps at Daybreak 1830-2

 Although he never lived in Sheffield, one of John Ruskin's museums 'The Mineral and Cast Gallery' in Meersbrook Hall was set up in 1890. This was on the street which my grandmother and mother lived. The building still stands today. The Gallery and park at that time were extremely popular, and between 1891-2 alone, 61,000 people attended.

"Nature is painting for us, day after day, pictures of infinite beauty if only we have the eyes to see them.” 

John Ruskin

Today's exhibition in Sheffield, tells of how Ruskin was adamant that the purpose of his works was to record the landscape for geological and botanical purposes rather than for aesthetics. In my opinion, however, he was one of those talented individuals with the ability to combine both, perfectly.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Here we come a-wassailing among the leaves so green...

Dungworth Village

Here we come a-wassailing
Among the leaves so green,
Here we come a-wand'ring
So fair to be seen.
Love and joy come to you,
And to you your wassail, too,
And God bless you, and send you
A Happy New Year,
And God send you a Happy New Year. 

(traditional English folk carol)

Sunday, 16 December 2012

"No snowflake ever falls in the wrong place."

Be faithful to that which exists within yourself. Andre Gide

“Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.” ― C.S. Lewis

Last night I watched 'Where the wild things are' which was an old favourite book from childhood and the new film is a great adaptation of the book. My favourite books are the ones with stories full of childhood imagination, and beautiful illustrations: The Lion, the Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S.Lewis. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame, and my favourite.... The Snowman by Raymond Briggs. Christmas time is a perfect excuse to be nostalgic and dust off those old favourite books and stories. Here is my version of Maurice Sendak's amazing story...

Monday, 10 December 2012

“As for me, I am tormented with an everlasting itch for things remote. I love to sail forbidden seas, and land on barbarous coasts.” ― Herman Melville

I live to experience something new each day -
                                              to learn something new,
                                              meet a new friend,
                                              bring joy into someone's life,
                                              feel the wind newly on my skin,
                                              touch a new fear, a new anger,
                                              and with focused intent and good fortune,
                                              find an ample measure of my own joy.

                                              - Jonathan Lockwood Huie