Molecules, mosaics and mercenaries

More art in the wilds of Yorkshire!

Below is an immensely sized sculpture by Jonathan Borofsky. Molecule man 1+1+1.  I enjoy being able to glimpse the greenery through the little holes in the metal men.

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Disturbing figures linger under the trees.

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Below are Riace – works by Elizabeth Frink. Frink was a leading figure in British sculpture and was part of the post-war group of British sculptors known as the Geometry of Fear school.

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The four Riace sculptures were inspired by the discovery of two fifth-century BC Greek bronze sculptures in the sea off Southern Italy in the 1970s.

Frink saw them on display in Florence and described how ‘the original figures are very beautiful, but also very sinister’. The bronzes depict ancient Greek mercenaries: warriors who would fight in exchange for sacrificial offerings in their benefit

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On a lighter note here is Niki de Saint Phalle’s, Buddha 2000. I love all the colourful mosaic detail on this one.

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Even more sculpturey goodness to come!!

Yorkshire, sculpture and grey days

On a grey bank holiday we headed off to Yorkshire Sculpture Park for a dose of culture and some fresh air. There’s around 60 sculptures set in 500 acres of park land on the Bretton Estate as well as five indoor galleries.

Below is one of Marc Quinn’s huge, sexualised orchids. At first glance it’s a beautiful flower but it also bears a rather close resemblance to lady bits as well!!

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It might have been a bit of a grey day but we still managed to whizz around acres of park land and enjoy some art.

There’s plenty of Henry Moore’s imposing sculptures dotted around the place, sometimes placed in formal gardens and other times they’re marooned in fields,surrounded by sheep!

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The sculptures sometimes almost blend into their surroundings, seeming as if they have always graced the grounds of the 18th century Bretton Estate.

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Below are several sculptures by Masayuki Koorida.  According to YSP’s info the sculpture specialises in “highly finished sculptures in granite. Incredibly smooth and beautifully curved, the sculptures remind the viewer of amoebas, molecules and the aesthetic of Japanese anime.”

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Brian Fell’s Ha Ha bridge spans an empty cutting. Its rusty, metallic industrial feel provides a foil to the lush greenery of nature.

YSP says: “By incorporating the word itself into the sides of the bridge he not only refers directly to the ha-ha beneath but also provides an amusing reminder of the original coining of the term derived from the cry of surprise at discovering a boundary.”

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Next up we see colourful tiled sculptures, LED horses and contemporary trees made of toilets and sheds!

Altes

On route to our next photogenic village we stop off briefly to take a closer look at one of the many traditional water wheels that are still dotted around the region.

They are protected monuments so if you buy land with one on it, it has to stay there forever!!

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They still function as well as ever, even if they’ve been left to rust for decades.

Next on the photo tour we head to a pretty little village called Altes.

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It’s a typical, Algarve village of whitewashed houses with lattice work, handcrafted chimneys and narrow, cobbled streets nestling in the foothills of the Serra do Caldeirão.

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There are so many pretty windows that I became virtually delirious with snappy delight!

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Dotted about the whitewashed alley ways are delightful terracotta pots full of fleshy succulents and geraniums.

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Some of which I have absolutely no idea of what they’re called!

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Sunlight bounces off the blindingly white buildings, contrasting with the solid blue of the sky.

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Here’s a few more colourful snaps of plants and paintwork.

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Plus a local feline stares me down as I capture them in my view finder.

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At the eastern end of Alte, past the school, are the springs (fontes) for which Alte is well known. The area around Fonte Pequena (little spring) is very pretty with a bridge across the stream, the start of a series of waterfalls and a picnic site.

There’s also a paved garden area dedicated to Alte’s famous poet, Cândido Guerreiro..there are tiled plaques on the wall with some of the poet’s works on.

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As usual there are lots of pretty tiles to be found on the local houses.

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While sunshine bathes some of the local flora in glorious light and colour.

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Querenca

Next on our photo tour is the tiny town of Querenca. Virtually empty when we visited it is an oasis of white and blue tranquility.

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It features the Church of Nossa Senhora da Assunçãoa in the village centre that was specially opened up for us.

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White and blue are a typical motif to be found all around the village.

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While inside the unassuming church you can find a wealth of religious details and artifacts.

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The sleepy little town comes alive each year with a traditional chorizo festival ‘Festa das Chouriças’.

It’s in honour of São Luís, the local patron saint of animals, and combines traditional gastronomy with religious customs.

We head to some more hidden villages next!

Photo tour

Photo tour – two little words that strike fear into my loved ones and frenzied joy into me!! Luckily for them I am more than happy to grab my camera and head out solo.

Here’s some snaps from a few of the sights we saw on a full day snap happy tour of the Algarve region .

Below is the futuristic looking sanctuary of Loule, perched high on a hill above the town.

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The original Shrine of Our Lady of Mercy (aka Sanctuary of the Sovereign Mother) was built in 1553 while the super modern dome was a far later addition .

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The next stop is Loule itself. It features a castle and a bustling market hall.

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The castle used to boast a series of defensive walls approximately 940 m (0.58 miles) in length. Three towers, a turret and a stretch of ramparts with a walk way along the top define the defensive structure.

Inside it lies the – “alcaidaria” – where the commander of the castle lived – which was possibly built in the 14th century and was rebuilt in the 18th century

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Above is a bronze statue of an elderly farmer selling her wares close to the central market.

The attractive arabian style market hall is home to lots of colourful stalls and I waltzed through it with unbridled delight!

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Decorative shaped tomatoes, colourful sardine tins and fresh fish offer plenty of photo opportunities.

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Look at the shiny, fresh, dead little fishes.

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Or you can enjoy them in more sanitised, colourful packaging such as these little sardines.

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We’ve still got lots of little villages to check out so come back soon!

Eastern Algarve tour

Another day, another tour of the delights of Portugal. This time it was a day exploring the eastern Algarve.

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First up was a brief return to the capital of Faro before heading onto the port of Olhao. Sadly we had mere minutes to take a look at the market hall before speeding onwards.

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Next up we briefly cross the border into Spain and the town of Ayamonte.

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Again we had very little time to spare in the town so we just snapped some of the colourful tiles in the town centre.

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Patterns galore and palm trees make the town a pleasant place to sit and watch the world go by.

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Here’s a few more colourful painted tiles.

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Next on our whistle stop tour is Vila Real de Santo Antonio.

This pretty town is easy to find your way around, because it’s laid out on a grid system. The town was designed that way by the Marquês de Pombal.

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Vila Real has a large town square, ‘Praça Marquês de Pombal’, which is edged with orange trees and surrounded with white buildings, shops, cafes and restaurants. Its grey and white cobbles radiate out from a central obelisk.

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There’s lots of lovely details scattered around the town. Including highly detailed tiles on many of the buildings.

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Lots of the buildings are in a sad state of disrepair. Partly because anything over one hundred years old can’t be knocked down, only refurbished.

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Here’s another of the decorative tiles.

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Another of my favourite touches is that some of the houses are completely tiled from floor to ceiling. Whether this is purely decorative or whether it helps keeps them cool in summer I am not sure.

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At the end of the 19th century the town was a major canning centre for sardines and tuna. There’s a museum dedicated to the business.

It includes lots of the surprisingly decorative packaging and tins.

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There’s also an exhibit of lithography which was used for the print of the labels.

Finally we visited the lovely town of Taveria. Thanks to a cock up I have already posted about that though!!! Opps 🙂

Tavira

Tavira is a beautiful town with a river cutting through it. It’s in the eastern Algarve and feels a world away from the tourist hordes of the usual beach resorts.11150398_10152739047927353_7724253535114584378_n

Between the 8th and 13th centuries Tavira was under Arab rule until its conquest by the Knights of the Order of Santiago in 1242.

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The gracious seven arch bridge, over the river Gilão, was believed to be Roman in origin for a while but is now thought to be Moorish, although its present appearance was acquired in the 17th century.

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There are more than 20 churches in and around the town along with plenty of other sights.

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The Moorish occupation of Tavira between the 8th and 13th centuries left its mark on the agriculture, architecture and culture of the area.

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That Moorish  influence can still be seen in Tavira today with its whitewashed buildings, Moorish style doors and rooftops.

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Above is Igreja de Santa Maria do Castelo, is a 13th-century Gothic Church, built on the site of a Moorish mosque but rebuilt by an Italian neoclassicist following earthquake damage 500 years later.

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It’s next to the ruins of Tavira castle where you can make the climb onto the ramparts and enjoy the view across the pretty town.

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It’s a far ole drop down! But the pay off is that from atop the walls views of whitewashed houses stretch into the distance.

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Silves and Mount Foia

The mother and I decided to take a half day trip to the town of Silves and then onward to the highest point of the Algarve – mount Foia.

The most prominent monument in Silves is Castelo de Silves, which is now the best preserved castle in the Algarve.

The castle and the Cathedral beside it are the first buildings you see as you approach Silves, as they sit on the hilltop above the town.

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Sé de Silves (Cathedral of Silves) is one of the Algarve’s few remaining gothic monuments with ancient tombs.

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It sits alongside the castle and a network of narrow, cobbled streets weaves away from it, taking you down into the town.

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Inside the cathedral are the usual gilded delights and religious icons, while outside colourful walls and flowers add vivid spots in a grey day.

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Silves sits on the banks of the Arade River (“Rio Arade”). There is history everywhere you look in Silves, reminding you of its affluent past as a Moorish capital (“Xelb”).

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Below the cathedral, whitewashed streets meander back towards the main town.

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From pretty planters to art work adorning the walls, there is something everywhere to catch the eye.

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Naturally I had to take a few (hundred) snaps of some of the details that I spotted along the way.

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As it is springtime the town is full of blossom and none is more gorgeous than the vivid purple of the Jacaranda tree.

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Here’s mum in the pretty central square, Praça do Municipio, full of palms and flowers.

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After a trot around Silves we head to the highest point in the Algarve – Mount Foia. It has an elevation of 902 metres (2,959 ft)

Fóia is the highest mountain of the Algarve and is part of the Serra de Monchique range. It usually offers stunning views of the surrounding area . . .  usually.

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Ha! It was like visiting North Wales in the middle of a wet winter day . . . howling winds, creeping fog and drizzle . . . oh well, can’t win them all!!!

Faro and bones

Faro, the capital of the Algarve, is often overlooked by the hoardes of tourists who disembark at the airport and head straight for their beach resorts.

However it has a wealth of beautiful buildings, a quaint old town and some macabre secrets to share with anyone who takes the time to explore it.

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I hopped on a local bus from Praia D’Oura but I must have picked a route that literally went around the houses as it took nearly two hours for me to arrive!

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First up I headed for the main square in the old town. This peaceful, orange tree lined open space is also home to Faro cathedral.

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The cathedral, with its family of storks nesting on the roof, has a wealth of ornate details waiting to be uncovered. From gilded cherubs to the ubiquitous white and blue tiling that is a feature of the region.

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You can also get a marvellous panoramic view over the old town and out towards the marsh flats from the roof top of this venerable old building.

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The old town itself is a maze of whitewashed houses, punctuated with vivid splashes of colour from Bougainvillea and ornate tiling.

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Grafitti, deep red walls and endless tiles all via for my attention.

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However the main attraction of Faro for me is to be found behind this facade of the Baroque Igreja do Carmo.

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The Igreja do Carmo originally dates from 1719 with the money for its construction financed with Brazilian gold from Portugal’s colony in South America.

It has some wonderful features including these serene figures of Jesus and Mary. However, they are not the reason I am visiting.

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The reason is a little more macabre . . .  it is the Capela dos Ossos (Chapel of Bones) set within a small walled garden within the church grounds.

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The bones and skulls that can be seen are those of over 1200 Carmelite monks that were exhumed from the nearby church cemetery when the ossuary was built in 1816.

An inscription over the entrance reads: “Stop here and consider the fate that will befall you.” A fitting thought as you examine the skulls and femurs that “decorate” the interior.

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It’s not the first bone chapel I have visited. The Capuchin bone crypt, a larger, multi roomed, version can be found in Rome, complete with chandeliers made from pelvic bones!

But each one is a fascinating way of emphasising the brevity of human existence and giving us pause to consider our own mortality in the empty eye sockets of those that have gone before us.

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I personally found it very serene and peaceful, not at all creepy. Indeed I think it shows a healthy respect for, and embracing of, death.

Back amongst the living, out on the streets there’s always time to pause and appreciate some street art before heading back to the bus station to head for home.

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Next we’ve taking a trip to the pretty town of Silves and the highest point of the Algarve!