The Art of…


Water Lilies by Claude Monet. Photo courtesy of Discover Walks Blog/Matthieu

I’m supposed to be in Paris. Today. I should be there right now. It’s been the plan for 5 years to go to Paris in September of 2020. It’s the year a friend retires (she has) and the year I turn 60 (I will soon), and we were going to celebrate both milestones in Paris. We’ve read every guide book twice or thrice and have well-organized lists of what we want to see, do, and eat. We’ve talked endlessly about the trip, and the promise of it has helped us both through some difficult days. Covid doesn’t care about any of that, though, and so we had to cancel our plans.

This Water Lilies mural by Monet is one of 8 panels that grace 2 rooms at the Musee de L’Orangerie and I was very much looking forward to seeing it in person. Instead, I took a virtual tour today which only increased my desire to actually go there. The tour is nice though, and if you’re interested you can take it yourself. The link for the musuem will take you directly to it. The link for the photo has a nice walking tour if you’re looking for a bit more of Paris.

The Duoro Valley – Part 5

From Nightjar,

This is the last set of photos and it shows the olive plantations that are also an important part of the landscape, some wine cellars, and the Pinhão river, a Douro tributary. I hope you enjoyed this series. The Douro Valley is a magical place with a long tradition of wine and olive oil production. Its sustainability is currently threatened by an increase in intensive farming and tourism. In a way, it’s being a victim of its own beauty and of the quality of its products.

Olive plantations, ©Nightjar, all rights reserved

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The Douro Valley – Part 4

It’s time for the next leg of our journey with Nightjar.

The vineyards planted on Douro’s steep hillsides produce grapes with unique properties for wine production. We went in August, middle of the dry season and a little before harvesting starts. This region has been producing wine for nearly 2 millennia and is a UNESCO heritage site. Traditional farming methods are still used for the most part, but lately and due to increased demand, the pressure put on the river has been increasing to worrying levels. In addition to erosion, environmentalists have been denouncing the massive use of herbicides that obviously end up poisoning the river.

©Nightjar, all rights reserved

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The Douro Valley – Part 2

I had some sort of brain fart yesterday and didn’t get part 2 of this series posted. Because of this, I’ve decided to post the series on Monday,      Wednesday and Friday this week with the last 2 posts on Monday and Wednesday next week. That way there will be 2 weeks with beautiful photos by Nightjar, to whom I sincerely apologize. Without further ado, Nightjar presents The Douro Valley, Part 2.

I had never seen a lock operate before, let alone actually navigate through one, so I was really looking forward to this part of the cruise. Being raised 28 meters (92 feet) up a dam and looking back on it as we go upstream is quite an experience. I think these photos tell the story well.

Going towards the lock, ©Nightjar, all rights reserved

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The Douro Valley, Part 1

Welcome to a new series from Nightjar. The story is told in 5 parts, beginning today and ending on Friday.

I’ve had this series semi-prepared for over a year but I kept meaning to write up a better story to accompany the pictures and since that never happened, I never shared them. I have now decided to write up something not as detailed as I had planned initially and just share the photos already. I’m sorry I couldn’t put more into this, but I hope you all enjoy it anyway.
Back in 2017 I did a (partial) Douro up-river cruise. Douro is one of our major rivers and the region around it is where Port wine comes from, as well as being home to important almond and olive plantations. I’ve regretted this trip, not only because cruises here are becoming too popular and thus environmentally costly, but also because shortly after it a scandal broke about workers’ rights abuse by the companies running this business. So, destroying the environment while trampling workers’ rights, that doesn’t exactly make me want to repeat it. But anyway, I selected a few photos I took during the trip to share. Here you can see an overview of the river and the surrounding landscape, some of its bridges and one of its dams. In the next chapter we, and the boat following us, will navigate through that dam. A 28 meters / 92 feet rise.

Overview, ©Nightjar, all rights reserved

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What Remains After

Because I have so many links about art saved (>200), I’m trying to group them by themes. Today’s theme is abandoned spaces, and although the title seems a bit dark, it’s not a commentary on current events in the world. 

What remains after we are gone? After the life industrial has faded and transformed into its modern, shiny, robotic cousin? (Well, that’s how the moving pictures show it…)

The end of everything? The slow decay of silent things, with no one to witness their passing? The carcasses of once-great buildings, now uncertain in their unstable uselessness and sharp aura of danger? There is potential in these abandoned and lost spaces – but a melancholy potential, the complete opposite of new beginnings, a potential that is meaningless and only full of the possibilities of what could have been, what never was, what never will be. A lot of never will be.

From THE END OF EVERYTHING, by Jan Erik Waider.

Still, what it can be is a whole lot of art.

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Bricks and Mortar and Water – Part 2

This is Part 2 (Part 1 here), which may or may not extend into Part 3 (spoiler: it will! (spoiler: most likely but no promises)).

Anyway, I arrived at the aqueduct, and was duly impressed:

Here’s an attempt to get the full length in one photo.
© rq, All rights reserved.

Getting closer to the brick texture here.
© rq, All rights reserved.

View from the other end – it was definitely a shifting light kind of day.
© rq, All rights reserved.

Of course, where possible, I have to climb onto things, so here’s a view back towards the mountains. I walked quite a distance across the top, but not all the way – some few metres along, the arches seemed slightly too damaged to risk (that mossy-grassy patch in the photo, actually), and my formerly brick-laying Lithuanian colleague agreed.
© rq, All rights reserved.

There were also figs.
© rq, All rights reserved.

Now I don’t actually remember what I was going for in this photo…
©rq, All rights reserved.

… but my Lithuanian colleague was kind enough to take a photo of what I looked like taking it.
© rq’s Lithuanian colleague, All rights reserved.

A window into the world.
© rq, All rights reserved.

That’s all for Part 2, then – Part 3 will take a closer look at the decrepit brickwork and the arches, because there’s a few interesting things, if you like that sort of thing. :)