Tag Archives: art

Italy | Museums you don’t want to miss when visiting Florence

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Pic by Toni Rodrigo

Italy is high on everyone’s travelling list – whether it’s for the food, the rich culture and history, or the stunning Amalfi coast. There’s something so irresistible about the combination of pizza, gelato, Roman history and beautiful beaches and countryside. I went to Rome as a teenager and toured all the famous sights – the Coliseum, the Trevi Fountain, the Sistine Chapel and many more before eating my way through the city then moving on to tour the Amalfi Coast and Pompeii. It was an amazing trip and one I’ve never forgotten, and although sadly I haven’t yet had the chance to return to this beautiful country it is definitely on the list. Ever since reading Under The Tuscan Sun, I’ve always loved the idea of summering in Tuscany and experiencing all the tastes, sights and sounds described in the narrative. While I may not be getting the opportunity to experience all Tuscany and the wonderful city of Florence has to offer, if you are planning a trip look no further than this post for tips on visiting the best museums and galleries on offer – and where to book your tickets.

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Pic by Gareth Williams

Uffizi Gallery

An absolute must-see when you visit Florence, the Uffizi Gallery is a highlight of this historical city. The unique museum, which was originally constructed in 1560 as a palace for Florentine magistrates, now hosts a huge range of masterpieces. Creating an area to home the art collections of the Medici family, the areas later grew to host masterpieces commissioned by Medici which became what visitors will see today. As one of the world’s most prominent art museums, it provides a home for some of the most important art pieces of the Renaissance including works by Leonardo da Vinci. Other famous works you can spot among the displays include Botticelli’s Primavera and Birth of Venus, and works by the likes of Caravaggio, Rembrandt and Michelangelo.

As visitors plan to make their way through the labyrinth of rooms, they should be aware that this is one of the most-visited museums in the whole of Italy, welcoming over 1.5million visitors each year. This many people does create lines with weekends, Tuesdays and mornings being the busiest times – buy your tickets ahead of time to skip the queues.

Accademia Gallery

Traveler’s simply cannot visit Florence without taking the opportunity to view one of the most famous statues in the world – Michelangelo’s David. The Academia Gallery, an 18th century museum founded by Grand Duke Peter Leopold, was chosen as the new home for the statue in 1873 after it was moved from its original location on the Signoria square. Expressing the genius of the young artist, the statue is known as a symbol of the free Florentine republic of the beginning of the Cinquecento. Later more statues by Michelangelo have been displayed in the same room, transforming in this way the Gallery into a Michelangelo museum: the four unfinished Prisoners, destined to the tomb of Pope Julius II, and never sent to Rome, the unfinished Saint Matthew and the Pietà of Palestrina, attributed to mature Michelangelo. Book skip the line tickets here.30303775721_cf2343537f_z

Palitine and Modern Art Gallery

This extraordinary collection is housed in the winter apartments of the Medici, on the first floor of the Pitti Palace, and features masterpieces of famous artists of the Baroque and Renaissance period. Visitors can see works by the likes of Raffaello, Tiziano, Rubens, Van Dijk, hanging from the walls creating an overwhelming and magnificent effect completed by the luxurious furnishing. In the Modern Art Gallery, a collection founded after the First World War displays the development of Italian art between 1745 and 1945. The heart of the Gallery displays the collection of small pictures, masterpieces by the Macchiaioli, Fattori, Lega, Borrani the revolutionary young artists who used to gather in Florence around the mid 19th century. Book skip the line tickets here.

Bargello Museum

The medieval palace was once where the chief of the military police resided, but it was restored in the second half of the 19th century and became a museum of Renaissance statuary and of minor arts. The museum holds a collection of statues, starting from Quattrocento artworks by Donatello, Ghiberti Luca della Robbia, includes masterpieces by Michelangelo, as the Bacchus and the Brutus, and reaches the end of the 16th century, with Cellini and Giambologna. Also on display are a range of precious items including the outstanding collection of ivories, the Renaissance maiolica from Urbino, jewellery and objects decorated in enamel. Book skip the line tickets here.

Pic by Erik Drost

Pic by Erik Drost


All of the museums offer a range of tours, talks, joint tickets and bookings for larger parties hoping to visit during their stay in Florence. With each of the museums welcoming such a large volume of visitors each year, it is best to book tickets in advance to avoid wasting your trip in queues. All tickets for tours, talks, entrance and more can be found here – book skip the line tickets for museums in Florence.

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Melbourne | The city of street art | Australia

imageThe most liveable city in the world has been my home for the past four months and I don’t think I’ve ever been happier living in a city than I have been since I moved here. From the second you get off the plane you can feel the city is alive and buzzing with excitement at the arrival of yet another new face eager to unlock its hidden treasures. From bars hidden behind bookcases and acoustic performers lining the streets, to the regular festival takeovers and the incredible street art that lines alleyways across the city. Melbourne is a city of life and excitement with amazing discoveries hiding around every corner – even after four months I still have so much to learn about this city and feel like I have barely scratched the surface.imageWith just three weeks left here I guess I’m getting a bit emotional at the thought of leaving the place that has become home to me, the first home I’ve had in 18 months. I’ve loved every second of my life here and that’s exactly what it has been. I have built a life here over the past four months, more than just meeting friends before hitting the road again, this is a place where I have friends, family, a career and a home. I’ve met so many amazing people who have set my soul alight and I know that even when I fly to the other side of the globe, I’ll be leaving a big piece of my heart here. You all know who you are, every single one of you amazing people have made this one of the best experiences of my life and it’s you that makes the thought of leaving seem incomprehensible.imageimageBut if you know anything about me by now, you’ll know that I’m never one to dwell on the sad times, instead I have a series of posts lined up to celebrate Melbourne and all that has made this city incredible for me. All the reasons I’ll be returning in just a few short months, all the things that have made me live every single day with a smile on my face. And what better to start with than the amazing graffiti that lines the streets of Melbourne? I love art – walking around the city to see bold, colourful statements that reflect the consciousness of a passionate, exciting and creative city is one of my favourite parts of Melbourne. From the political and the poignant, to the current and the comic – there’s a piece for all tastes and the constant fluctuation of work is what keeps it exciting. You never know what will spring up next and what will disappear, this change is what keeps the walls of Melbourne alive in a way that other cities just cannot keep up with.imageMuch as you often find you stumble across incredibly relatable and poignant posts across social media that seem to be written especially for you and your emotions at that moment. Melbourne city walks are like a live feed of passion and emotion spread right across your eyes – it’s amazing what you will stumble across if you just take a second to look up from your phone as you wander the cobbled walkways. Of course, if you’re planning on exploring the city anytime soon you’ll need to know the best places to start so here’s the best places to venture if you fancy seeing some of the most awe-inspiring pieces on show. Start out at the famous Hosier and Rutledge Lanes, just off Federation Square, before heading to Caledonian Lane, off Little Bourke Street, then check out Union Lane, off Bourke Street Mall.imageimageIf that’s not enough for you, head for the rear of 280 Queen Street in Finlay Avenue, 21 Degraves Street, or the corner of Flinders Lane and Cocker Alley. Over towards Carlton there’s some amazing artwork at 122 Palmerston Street, and don’t forget Centre Place between Collins Street and Flinders Lane. All of these areas feature some of the best street art I have seen, and it’s so wonderful to see them displayed in a place where it is valued and considered art – Melbourne is such a modern city and I love the attitude that appreciates the art instead of squashing these amazing talents like in many cities. Another great area for checking out the art is Brunswick Street and the rest of Fitzroy where you’ll find some pretty spectacular scenes hidden amongst the streets.11390285_10152841231267617_5301555924944016490_n

 

What do you think about street art in cities – is it just graffiti or something much more? Where are your favourite places in Melbourne to spot the latest and best street art?

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Melbourne | Art & blogging with Andy Warhol & Ai WeiWei | Australia

12801410_10153322204992617_812625605486026040_nI wrote a post last week about how social media really affects your travelling experience by bringing you closer to people you might never have crossed paths with otherwise. Well the other week I had the perfect example of this when I finally had the opportunity to meet up with someone who has been supporting my travels every step of the way. Starting out with a few comments on my blog and a passing tweet or Facebook comment, we soon started chatting regularly, providing each other with a wealth of travel information and a listening ear. I love the way we became much like modern-day pen-pals, always keeping in touch along our independent journeys through Australia. Finally the day came when we found ourselves in the same city and couldn’t resist meeting in person for a day of art, culture and chatting blogging, Amy and I headed to the National Gallery of Victoria for the incredible Andy Warhol and Ai Weiwei exhibition.1622071_10153879755861093_7085872547509599261_nThis major international exhibition has brought together the works of two of the most significant artists of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. It explores the huge influence of Warhol and Weiwei on modern art and contemporary life, focusing on the parallels and points of difference between the two. The NGV exhibition presents more than 300 works, including major new commissions, immersive installations and a wide representation of paintings, sculpture, film, photography, publishing and social media. As described on the website: “Presenting the work of both artists, the exhibition explores modern and contemporary art, life and cultural politics through the activities of two exemplary figures – one of whom represents twentieth century modernity and the ‘American century’; and the other contemporary life in the twenty-first century and what has been heralded as the ‘Chinese century’ to come.”12803150_10153322204432617_4795580638982975734_nWhether you know a lot about art or not – and I admit that while my interest and curiosity continually finds me poking around in galleries, I actually have very little knowledge about art – this exhibition is fantastic. I was so impressed with the cross-cultural diversity of the pieces and the way they made poignant comments on society, offering great similarities over huge periods of time. The historical significance and the cultural significance is the part that really interested me, learning about how these stunning pieces reflected the politics and state of society at the time of making. And how these beautiful installations were still so accurate decades later – it really highlighted how our concerns in society can become timeless, that they may appear in lightly different forms but essentially boil down to the same issues. Ones that particularly stood out were concerns over mass-production and commercialisation as it took over the world, others included communication – from the basic right up to social media, and another that really interested me was the mass production of food and whether we can trust those who provide us with it.12802700_10153322204922617_6607751453238181792_nI loved learning about Ai Weiwei, while Andy Warhol is someone everyone knows of, I hadn’t yet come across Weiwei and it was a fantastic opportunity to learn about his history and his life’s work. He was a fascinating man and I’ve actually found a documentary about him on Netflix that I’m looking forward to watching to find out more about him. I was really impressed with the interactive nature of the exhibition, it was brilliant to be able to get involved with some of the installations, to experiment with making your own pop art and to have all of your senses targeted by the pieces. It was easily the most diverse exhibition I have seen yet and it really appealed to all ages – I saw people of all ages and backgrounds there taking in the sights and sounds of the pieces. It was great to see such a mixed crowd and really showed the wide appeal of this exhibition, that it was something all could relate to and understand, that it spoke of issues still so poignant in our modern day society.12794576_10153322205037617_2327204439043988776_nSome of the highlights definitely helped draw in the crowds as the exhibition was also featuring a brand new suite of installations from Ai Wei Wei including an installation from the Forever Bicycles series, composed from almost 1500 bicycles; a major five-metre-tall work from Ai’s Chandelier series of crystal and light; Blossom 2015, a spectacular installation in the form of a large bed of thousands of delicate, intricately designed white porcelain flowers; and a room-scale installation featuring portraits of Australian advocates for human rights and freedom of speech and information. All fascinating pieces with interesting motivations behind them – definitely ones to make you think. Plus you’ll get to see classic pieces from Warhol including the famous Campbell’s soup paintings, his own self-portraits and the images he made of Marilyn Monroe and various other famous faces. The exhibition is running until April 24th, so there’s just over a month left to check it out – at just $26 entry I’d call that a bargain for getting to see some of the most famous pieces of modern art and some of the most current pieces by an internationally renowned artist. It’s well worth a look, and there are also a huge range of special events, tours and talks happening in the evenings including the popular Friday Nights at NGV. Find all details at the website.10391817_10153322204927617_2833230169451327107_n

Have you been to the NGV’s Warhol Weiwei exhibition – what did you think? Can you recommend any other galleries in Melbourne, or across the world?

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That night I met a famous Thai artist and hung out in his gallery

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One of the main things I absolutely adore about travelling is all those completely unexpected and unplanned experiences that you stumble across on your journey. For someone who was little miss organised at home, it’s a refreshing change from life at home and has led to some of the most exciting and memorable moments for me. By following my gut instincts and my heart, I have opened myself up to a wealth of experiences and opportunities to meet amazing people I would never have come across otherwise, and for that I will be forever grateful. All of my friends know exactly who they are – the girls I randomly met at the pier who I ended up sharing bungalows with and having the best girlie sleepover. The Pioneer Club who have well and truly stolen my heart after partying on the islands and getting matching bamboo tattoos. The couple I met deep in the jungle who live just an hour away from me at home – all have played a huge part in my journey.

One night in Phuket was a perfect example of this, I was supposed to meet some blogger friends for dinner but I was given the wrong directions to meet them and we totally missed each other. Starving, I wandered along the street with food on my mind and found a little restaurant that looked more like a school cafeteria serving just Thai people so I headed in and had a delicious plate of fried rice and satay chicken. I ate surrounded by awesome Thai men who didn’t speak a word of English but we still managed to communicate the basics as they tried to teach me some words and tried to trick me into eating deathly spicy food. It was such a perfect example of how welcoming and friendly the Thai culture is, the group of men made me feel completely at home and despite a serious language barrier, we realised that humour is something that can translate across any language if you give it a chance. It was such a fun experience and one I might not have had if it weren’t for missing my friends.imageAfter saying my goodbyes and leaving the restaurant, I wandered down the road trying to find my way back and happened to pass an artist working in a gallery at the side of the road. Curiosity got the better of me and I couldn’t resist a peek at his work. I tip-toed into the workshop, trying not to disturb him while he worked, but he looked up straight away and welcomed me in. It turned out that Monthian Yangthong is hailed as one of Phuket’s, and possibly Thailand’s, most popular and talented artists who has exhibited his works all over. I was so lucky to walk in at that point because I had the amazing opportunity to see him working on his latest piece, surrounded by walls adorned with previous works. Known as “the artist who steals faces”, his latest collection is a series of woodcuts made of the faces of well known western artists ranging from painters and musicians, to politicians, scientists and more.

The works are amazing. Imposing, and yet welcoming, the carvings use a combination of dark and light to tell the story through the faces of these well known characters. Some are haunting and the others seem almost endearing. I’m no art expert, but I know how amazed I was by the level of complexity to his work – how each carving took so long to prepare and plan, how he created many different variations of the same work to contribute to a final piece, and how he told each individual’s story through minute additions to the carving that were blended in to the very faces. It was so interesting to see the different stages of each work, and to see how his works have changed over time. From a family of Buddhist farmers who originate in the north, Monthian finds these values translate over into his works with symbolism of both appearing in the form of wheat and lotus flowers, plus the use of water.imageI spent several hours hanging out in his workshop, watching him work, talking about art and Thailand. He was interested to hear about my travels, and although at times we had to struggle to translate certain words, we managed to have a really interesting chat about his background and his works. It was such an enlightening night and a great experience for someone who didn’t really know much about art to speak to someone who has dedicated his life to it. One of my favourite things about the evening was that while we chatted about art and life in Thailand, his family all sat on the floor alongside us and painted. Such an artistic family, his wife was working on a painting of sunflowers, while his two beautiful little girls painted and made cut-outs. None of the three of them spoke any English, but they made me so welcome by showing me their paintings, offering me oranges and water. It was so touching to see how kind they were and how welcoming to a random person who walked in off the street, but it was a perfect example of the amazing Thai culture that has made me feel so at home in this amazing country.

If you have the opportunity, I would definitely recommend you check out Monthians’s work – you can find more information on his Facebook page.image

What are the most standout unplanned experiences you’ve had while travelling? How has a mix-up led to one of the most interesting nights of your life?  

Ab Lucy sign off

 

Review: BoomTown Fair – you’d have to see it to believe it!

10561837_10153086792212926_731080842451335370_nTwelve months ago, I staggered out of the festival grounds with my bag on my back, tried my hardest to adjust to reality and started to question if BoomTown Fair 2013 ever really happened. I had no choice but to return to prove to myself this crazy, upside-down world of madness really existed. Last weekend, I found that not only did this world exist, but it was more outrageous, colourful and wackier than ever! (Click on the photo above to watch the official BoomTown Fair 2014 video)

BoomTown Fair 2014 has been hailed another booming success – but why is this festival so successful? Word among the festival-goers is because this incredible explosion of creativity is purely based on the wants, needs and desires of those who are exploring the districts, dancing all night in front of the stages and joining in the bonkers behaviour. BoomTown Fair is truly a festival for the people and the astonishing level of detail in each district and for each stage just further proves this. This year’s festival was no exception, with opportunities for revellers to explore the brand new Wild West district, where floozies beckoned passers-by into the waiting saloons. Elsewhere, a host of brand new, majestic stages awaited the dancing feet of the BoomTown citizens, including a spectacular 100ft Pirate Ship and the Old Mines Stage, plus, of course, all the old favourites like the Town Centre and the Lion’s Den.10584036_10152164328457396_8395003609384827555_nOver two years alone it is incredible to see how the festival has grown in size, volume and craziness, and it is just astonishing to think it started out as 1,500 like-minded souls, before growing to the increased sized of 38,000 for this year. Throughout the six years BoomTown Fair has been running, the festival directors have remained true to their original ideals of good music, good friends and GREAT entertainment – and it seems to be a combination that is working well. 2014 saw the festival entering a new chapter, this year with the new Mayoress Burrita Jose in charge of the proceedings and what a great job she did!10606494_10152223374712617_4295659639092618040_n10603606_10152223374327617_5064836325619090049_nWalking through the Barrio Loco district, not a single citizen could keep their feet from dancing to the beat of the Rio-esque carnival and some bad-ass bass. The party atmosphere followed us round as we explored Downtown and the incredible Boombox and Arcadia Stages, where the beats never stopped. One of my favourite surprises was on the Sunday, when the fiesta escaped the Barrio Loco district and exploded across the festival in the sounds of the drums and the bright colours of the carnival parade. Elsewhere, ravers could see giant mechanical robots shooting flames across the districts, extraordinary fancy dress, stilt walkers and even some raving grannies.10616430_10152223399562617_2703406221675226792_nCamping in Oldtown, we were just a short walk from some of the festival’s finest music venues and most spectacular performances. There are far too many to mention them all, but many of my favourites pitched up at my favourite stage – The Lion’s Den. One of my favourite festival moments had to be seeing The Wailers live – they gave an incredible performance and it was something special indeed to hear the whole crowd singing along. Unfortunately, it wasn’t long after that when the rain started, which certainly hampered Shaggy’s performance. More than just a few of the crowd left disappointed after the weather led to sound problems and a bit of an anti-climax. Refusing to let a bit of rain stand in our way, the true reggae spirit returned to the Lion’s Den on the Sunday night in an incredible performance by the legendary Jimmy Cliff. Truly a standout moment.10603254_10153086807057926_3191403938947974781_nElsewhere, Gypsy Hill, The Woohoo Review and various others had the crowds churning up the mud in front of the Pirate Ship has they danced along. Mayfair Avenue proved the hub of high class and had the glitzy and the debonair swinging along until the sun came up. The Ballroom was a fantastic venue for such acts and my personal favourites had to be DJ Chris Tofu, who gave some spectacular sets, The Sweet Life Society, who were even more incredible than last year, and Renegade Brass Band, who were just unlike anything I have seen before, but had everyone dancing along. As usual, I came to BoomTown Fair with so many plans of who I wanted to see and what I wanted to do, but I came away with a completely different experience to the one I expected.10561665_10152223375712617_7428299814316422695_nToo easily distracted, the Hidden Woods and Tribe of Frog hooked me in and refused to let me go for some time. But as I stumbled out of the woods and down the hill, I was drawn straight back to the centrepiece of the festival. The most amazing stage I have ever seen – The Arcadia Spectacular. This iconic spider robot brought the bass that pounded out of these huge speakers to life with flames, smoke and lasers – want your mind blown? Head straight for the middle of it, just as I did for the grand finale. With fireworks, incredible bass and the ripple of movement as hundreds of ravers dance as one – the Arcadia is an experience not to be missed.10527771_10153086840112926_6028188754869689338_nAlso not to be missed, and luckily we caught them while sitting high on the hill above the Hidden Woods, were the fireworks, which were a sparkling end to a fantastic weekend. All rounded off with a walk to the viewpoint – a bit of a walk but worth every second when you get to sit high on the hill overlooking the whole of Downtown at night, watching the flames pouring out of the Arcadia and the twinkling lights across the valley. At night it was really something, but at sunset, this view really came into its own. BoomTown Fair is more than just a festival; it is a whole other world, a new experience and a way of life. Those who are lucky enough to experience it go home a very different person and can’t help but count down the days until they can return. Trust me, you’d have to see it to believe it.10570387_10152223375292617_8038292311689927695_n

Did you go to BoomTown Fair? What was your favourite part of the festival?

* This review was originally published on This Festival Feeling – click here to see the original.

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In response to Write Meg’s ‘selfie’ post – what if your face just isn’t quite right?

In response to Write Meg’s ‘selfie’ post – what if your face just isn’t quite right?

I was really interested in reading Write Meg’s post this morning about “the humble selfie has practically risen to its own art form” because it is something that I have watched shoot to fame with the introduction of Instagram and as Facebook developed. Only 23, I still remember a time when my house had no computer and certainly no mobile phones. Photos were not digital for the Ruthnum household and they were only taken on special occasions by my parents or extended family – usually with half a finger over the lens or someone pulling a funny face, but with no way of knowing until they had been printed.

Now, everyone has an iPhone or something similar, having had mine stolen recently and lived without it for some time (I actually felt refreshed and relieved to have a short break) but it does leave you at a bit of a loss for things like photo-taking and sharing. I am a big lover of having a camera on every night out and snapping endless pictures of my life, I love Instagram because I see it as a wordless blog and a way of sharing my life with my friends. I am that friend that is partially hated by others for capturing the moments people least want on camera – many will send me that dreaded text the morning after a night out begging me not to put that picture, or that video, on Facebook.

I love pictures that show people in the moment – not posing – just having fun and sharing memories. If a pictures doesn’t not instantly transport me back to a wonderful time and place in the endless library of my memory – what is the point?

However, I am not adverse to the odd selfie, mainly if my face happens to have fallen into place quite well after a night of tossing and turning in my bed. I just don’t understand the point of uploading a different one each day, basically of you pulling the same face, with the only difference being a different outfit!

But that is my next issue – how do these girls get their faces to make such different faces? My face is stuck on two settings – big grinning smile, or neutral. Sometimes it will venture into mildly annoyed from the neutral, but rarely. I’m always one of those people who prefer to have a smile on their face.

But this new generation of girls have pouts, gasp faces, cheeky grins, big eyes, and all the rest that they seem to accentuate in their photos! Genuinely, if you look through my photos on Facebook, you will see clearly that my face does something very similar in each. Mainly because when I take photos, it is usually because I am having the time of my life. I’ll admit, it’s slightly embarrassing but sometimes I do long to be able to pull off a pout, or a sticky out tongue picture – but then I figure, what’s the point?

Let’s be honest, pouts just look ridiculous, especially when you see the pictures of groups on girls tarted up on a night out all sticking their lips out until they protrude further than their noses. Screw it, I’m sticking it the old-fashioned, but classy smile. It’s always worked for me so far!