The Wonderful World Of Art: Part Two: Post 1900s

On Tuesday, we explored the beautiful art books concerning artists of the period before the 1900s. This post continues our journey into the wonderful world of art through books about the artists of the Twentieth Century.

Even though the next four artists were born in the mid 1870s and 1880s, they came into their own over the turn of the century, a time of great excitement and hope for the future, when photography was in its infancy and Australia became a nation, achieving their peak fame in  the 1920s. They include: Australian printmaker, Margaret Preston (1875-1963); photographer, Harold Cazneaux (1878-1953), and painter, Elioth Gruner (1882-1939), both of whom were born in New Zealand, but grew up in Australia and  Australian artist, Hilda Rix Nicholas (1884-1961).

Margaret Preston by Elizabeth Butel 1985/ 1995

Well-known for her still life paintings and woodcuts of Australian flora and fauna and one of Australia’s leading Modernists of the early 20th century, Margaret was the most prominent Australian woman artist of the 1920s and 1930s, during which time her designs were used in painting and printmaking, as well as interior decoration, fabric design and even floral arrangements. The cover shows her Self-Portrait 1930.BlogArtBooksReszd30%Image (686)Studying in Munich and Paris, and travelling in Italy, Spain and Holland, between 1903 and 1919,  Margaret was heavily influenced by Japanese art and the Post-Impressionism, Fauvism and Cubism movements of the time. She also attended Roger Fry’s Omega workshops in decorative art in Britain during the First World War. Below is a photo of her, taken in 1930, by my next artist, Harold Cazneaux, titled: Margaret Preston in the Garden, from page 43 of this book.

BlogArtBooksReszd4017-07-30 13.37.02Her works display a love of asymmetry; pattern as a dominant element of design; simplified composition, where natural patterns are so closely observed that they can be broken down into discrete units, as seen in the photo below of The Brown Pot 1940 from page 57; a degree of primitivism; and a great appreciation and love of Australian flora and fauna, as well as the small things of life. BlogArtBooksReszd2517-07-30 13.37.14 Her earlier works show an emotive and sensual use of colour, as seen in the photo below of her hand-coloured woodcut Anemones 1925, from page 32 of the book:BlogArtBooksReszd2517-07-30 13.36.31 but as she progressed, she adopted a more restricted colour range, with a major emphasis on blue and a graphic use of black and white, as shown by this photo of one of my favourite oils: Implement Blue 1927, from page 38:BlogArtBooksReszd3017-07-30 13.36.45This detailed book discusses her early life and the three major phases in her work: the periods from1875 to 1920; 1920 to 1930; and 1924 to 1963; accompanied by a comprehensive bibliography of all her works; newspaper and journal articles; and books and monographs, as well as a catalogue of all her oil paintings; prints (etchings; woodcuts; masonite cuts; screen prints; stencils; and monotypes); fabric designs; ceramics and wood blocks. Here is a photo of one of her works on the cover of the October 1926 issue of magazine, Woman’s World, from p 42:BlogArtBooksReszd20%IMG_0027We feel very lucky to have one of her framed prints,  a hand-coloured woodcut, titled Christmas Bells 1925.BlogArtBooksReszd5017-07-30 13.40.18 For more information  on Margaret Preston, see: http://www.margaretpreston.info/ and https://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/collection/works/?artist_id=preston-margaret.

The Cazneaux Women by Valerie Hill 2000

Another lovely book featuring the monochromatic works of early Australian photographer, Harold Cazneaux (1878-1953) , with their beautiful women subjects , romantic compositions and a wonderful use of light and shade. The book cover features his photo of British artist and theatre designer, Doris Zinkeisen with Her Brushes 1929.BlogArtBooksReszd25%Image (683)

I have always loved black-and-white photographs for their focus on design and composition, line and structure (form and shape), pattern and texture, contrast and tonal variations and the play of light and shadow, without the distraction of colour. These elements are superbly illustrated in the dramatic work of contemporary German photographer, Maik Lipp: See http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/01/maik-lipp_n_4019302.html.

While it was the only medium in Cazneaux’s day, when used today, it also lends a timeless or vintage aesthetic to the work, as can be seen in the work featured on this website: https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/06/beautiful-black-and-white-photography/, although I still think the subject matter and treatment plays a big part of it too.  Compare the previous two links with  the work of Imogen Cunningham: https://www.imogencunningham.com and Endre Balogh at: http://www.endresphotos.com.

But back to Harold Cazneaux!

While Cazneaux also photographed historic cityscapes, and industrial and landscape aspects, this particular book is devoted to 36 plates of Cazneaux’s women – his wife Winifred and small daughters, Rainbow, Jean and Beryl, as well as stylish portraits of well-known women in the 1920s and 1930s including artist, Margaret Preston, writers Ethel Turner and Theo Proctor, performers, Dame Nellie Melba and Anna Pavlova; and a large number of Sydney social belles. I adore this photo: Bathing Baby 1909 from p 50:BlogArtBooksReszd2017-07-30 13.38.14The plates show the developments in camera art,  as well as women’s fashions and the changing role of women, from the formally posed wet plate images of the 1870s (and earlier albumen prints), through the Pictorial period to the start of Modernism, where Max Dupain and Olive Cotton (see later) made their mark. Here is another favourite photograph by Harold Cazneaux: The Sleeping Child 1914 from page 64.BlogArtBooksReszd2517-07-30 13.38.37We also learn about Harold’s life, his relationships with women and his artistic influences from his parents, Pierce and Emma, both early photographers; stepmother Christina, who nurtured his talent; his wife, Winifred, who trained at the first photographic studio, where he worked; John Kauffmann, who introduced Pictorialism to Australia, and the Sydney Camera Circle of the early 1920s. Harold’s photograph, Rainbow in the Cosmos 1916, from page 62, is delightful!

BlogArtBooksReszd2017-07-30 13.38.30

His photograph Pergola Pattern 1931, from page 100 shows such a superb mastery of composition, pattern and contrast and the play of light and shadow!BlogArtBooksReszd2517-07-30 13.39.30

The Cazneaux Collection, containing 272 exhibition prints; 200 working photographs and 4300 glass negatives, mainly from 1904 – 1940, as well as his personal papers and letters from 1903 – 1953, is held at the National Library of Australia: See: https://www.nla.gov.au/selected-library-collections/harold-cazneaux-collection.

BlogArtBooksReszd25%IMG_0023I loved the background of the these two photographs: Doris Zinkeisen: New Ideas Portrait with Leaf Background 1929 from page 91 (above); and A Study in Profile 1931 from p 104:BlogArtBooksReszd20%IMG_0025There are also significant collections of his photographs at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra, and the Mitchell Library and Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney. See: https://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/collection/works/?artist_id=cazneaux-harold.

The Art of Elioth Gruner: The Texture of Light by Deborah Clark 2014BlogArtBooksReszd25%Image (689)

This cover features Elioth Gruner’s oil painting, titled Thunderstorm 1928.

Elioth Gruner (1882 – 1939 ) was also a master of light and shade, as seen in his very famous painting, displayed in the Art Gallery Of New South Wales: Spring Frost 1919, which introduced me to his work, seen in the poster below. The shafts of sunlight and the steam rising from the bellowing dairy cows can probably be better appreciated by viewing this link: https://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/collection/works/6925/.BlogArtBooksReszd2017-07-30 13.48.48We were also lucky enough to attend an exhibition of his work, Elioth Gruner: The Texture of Light, at the Canberra Museum and Gallery in 2014, many of his landscapes painted en plein air from the Sydney to the South Coast of New South Wales, including Cooma and the Monaro; the Canberra region, Yass and the Murrumbidgee River valley and the Southern Highlands, all part of our new home! Is it any wonder that we brought the book based on the exhibition home with us!!BlogArtBooksReszd20%IMG_0032There is even a painting of our old stamping grounds in Northern New South Wales with his painting Shelley Beach, Nambucca Heads 1933 (photo above from page 86), and Winter Afternoon, Bellingen, NSW 1937 , the latter held by our old home art gallery NERAM , which also owns his paintings: Beach Idyll 1934 and The Beach 1918, another personal favourite (seen in the photo below from page 21 of the book)!BlogArtBooksReszd2017-07-30 13.55.28I adore his landscapes depicting pastoral life and the rural homesteads of the period, like Manar, a large cattle and sheep property between Bungendore and Braidwood, seen here in his oil painting, Manar Landscape 1928, the first photo below from page 52 of the book and Autumn, Manar 1939, 2nd photo below, from page 53.BlogArtBooksReszd25%IMG_0028He was obviously very popular in his day, enjoying the support of both conservative and progressive elements of the Sydney art scene, as well as winning the Wynne Prize for landscape painting seven times between 1916 and 1937.BlogArtBooksReszd25%IMG_0031 It was wonderful to see his paintings so closeup, to examine and admire his techniques for reproducing light and shadows, using short, choppy brush strokes and different tones of greens, as exemplified by Morning Light 1916, his first painting to win this award, shown in the photo above from page 26. Spring Frost 1919 was his second Wynne Prize.BlogArtBooksReszd2017-07-30 14.06.21Hilda Rix Nicholas: The Man For the Job by the Bendigo Art Gallery 2010

We were also very fortunate to see an exhibition at the Bendigo Art Gallery in 2010 of the works of Australian artist, Hilda Rix Nicholas (1884-1961), who also came to fame in the 1920s, the second Australian artist after Rupert Bunny (who I discussed in the first part of this post last Tuesday) and the first woman to have a solo exhibition in Paris in 1925.BlogArtBooksReszd25%Image (690)

She too painted many lovely paintings of life in rural Australia, especially her family property, run by her second husband, Edgar Wright, at Knockalong near Delegate, on the Southern Monaro. I love this painting of His Land 1922-1923 from page 30.BlogArtBooksReszd2017-07-30 14.34.14 Other favourites are:  In the Bush 1927, from page 41; BlogArtBooksReszd2017-07-30 14.35.04 Bringing in the Sheep 1936, held by our local art gallery, Bega Valley Regional Gallery, shown on page 54 of the book;

BlogArtBooksReszd2017-07-30 14.35.43 and The Homestead of Tooraloo 1945 from page 60.BlogArtBooksReszd2017-07-30 14.36.05The book also chronicles her brilliant early career, from 1907 to 1918, in France, Morocco and Italy, marred by the desperate loss of her travel companions, her sister and mother, from illness and the untimely death of her new husband of six weeks on the Western Front in the First World War. For more about Hilda Rix Nicholas, see: http://knockalong.com/?page_id=664.

No discussion of the art world of the 1920s is complete without reference to the Bloomsbury Group, the subject of the next two books:

Charleston: A Bloomsbury House & Garden by Quentin Bell and Virginia Nicholson 1997

The Bloomsbury Group was a very famous name in the British art world, and while most of its members were born in the 1880s, their main flowering came during the 1920s after their move to Charleston in 1916 to escape the horrors of the First World War.BlogArtBooksReszd25%Image (696)

This lovely book is an ode to Charleston and all its inhabitants: Vanessa Bell and her husband, Clive (temporarily),  their sons Julian and Quentin, the co-author of this book; Vanessa’s lovers, Roger Fry and Duncan Grant, to whom she bore a daughter, Angelica; David Garnett, Duncan’s homosexual lover, and Clive’s lover, Mary Hutchinson, as well as other members of the Bloomsbury Group: Vanessa’s sister, Virginia Woolf, and husband, Leonard, who lived nearby; Lytton Strachey; Desmond MacCarthy; EM Forster and Maynard Keynes, not to mention chief cook and housekeeper, Grace Higgins.

Starting with a map of the garden and ground plans of each storey of the house and an  introduction with its highly appropriate title: A Vanished World, a chapter devoted to Charleston’s golden age from 1925 to 1937, which was shattered by the death of Vanessa’s son, Julian in the Spanish Civil War, just before the Second World War.

Through the following chapters featuring each room : Clive Bell’s study and bedroom; Vanessa’s bedroom; the spare bedroom; and those of Maynard Keynes and Duncan Grant; the green bathroom; the dining room and kitchen; the library; the studios; the garden room and finally the beautiful garden, Angelica’s ‘earthly paradise’, including the productive Walled Garden and numerous old photographs, we get to know all about their unconventional lives and their art.

It is backed up by the following small paperback:

Charleston: Past and Present  by Quentin Bell, Angelica Garnett, Henrietta Garnet and Richard Shone 1987/ 1993

BlogArtBooksReszd30%Image (697)

This official guide to Charleston also describes the contents of each room, and includes essays on Life at Charleston, including personal letters and memoirs, like the childhood memories of the garden, written by Quentin Bell; and the memoirs of Vanessa’s daughter Angelica and her daughter Henrietta, who recalls her grandmother, ‘Nessa’. It is possible to still visit Charleston. See: https://www.charleston.org.uk/ for details of opening times.

1930 to 1960s

The Boyds by Brenda Niall 2002/ 2007

The Boyd family is a very famous artistic dynasty in Australia, founded by Emma Minnie à Beckett (1858-1936) and her husband Arthur Merric Boyd (1862-1940), whose children also pursued art: William Merric (1888-1959) became a potter; Theodore Penleigh (1890-1923); and Helen à Beckett (1903-1999) were both painters and son, Martin à Beckett (1893-1972) became a writer.

William married a painter, Doris Gough, and raised five talented artists: a potter, Lucy (1916 -2009); sculptor, Guy (1923-1988); and three painters: Arthur (1920-1999); David (1924-2011); and Mary (1926-2017).

They in turn have raised artists like Lucy’s potter son, Robert; Guy’s sculptor daughters, Lenore, Sally and Charlotte; Arthur’s children, Polly, Jamie and Lucy; David’s daughters, Amanda, Lucinda and Cassandra; and Mary’s children by her first husband, John Perceval: Matthew, Tessa, Celia and Alice Perceval, as well as musicians and writers.

BlogArtBooksReszd30%Image (681) - Copy

In her fascinating book, Brenda Niall traces the family biography from 1840s Melbourne with convict heiress Emma Mills, who married William, the son of Victoria’s first Chief Justice; her daughter, Emma Minnie, and son-in-law, Arthur Merric Boyd; their children, who grew up at Open Country, Murrumbeena, and  Boyd grand-children, all of whom were famous, especially Arthur.

See the Table of Contents of this book at: https://web.archive.org/web/20060618070355/http://www.mup.unimelb.edu.au/catalogue/0-522-84871-0.html.

This book is so well-written and hard to put down and features many photos of the family and their homes, as well as colour-plates of their artworks!

Open Country, now obliterated by Melbourne suburbia, was the meeting place for many prominent Australian artists in the 1940s and 1950s. See : http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/boyd-familys-murrumbeena-gatherings-a-fount-of-inspiration-for-australian-artists-20141124-11ss2n.html.

Another famous Boyd landmark , which can still be visited, is Arthur Boyd’s property at Bundanon, on the Shoalhaven River, near Nowra, which he bought in 1979 and donated to the Australian people in 1993 and which we visited years ago. It is well worth making the effort to visit, even though opening times are limited and there is a long narrow drive in. It’s wonderful to see his house and studios and the landscape, which inspired him.

It  also includes a huge art collection of over 3 800 items, with more than 1 300 works by Arthur Boyd, over 1 200 works from five generations of the Boyd family dynasty and a number of works by Arthur Boyd’s contemporaries, such as Sidney Nolan, John Perceval, Joy Hester and Charles Blackman, from which regular exhibitions are held,  as well as hosting an artist-in-residence program each year. See: https://bundanon.com.au/ for visiting times.

Olive Cotton by Helen Ennis and the Art Gallery of New South Wales 2000

I love Olive Cotton’s work! Olive Cotton (1911-2003) was one of Australia’s leading twentieth century photographers, whose career spanned six decades from the 1930s to the 1980s. The front cover of the book shows her delightfully titled photograph: Only to Taste the Warmth, the Light, the Wind 1939: BlogArtBooksReszd40%Image (682) This small book, which was produced to accompany an exhibition of her work by the Art Gallery of NSW in 2000,  contains photographs from the 1930s to mid 1940s, when she worked with her first husband, Max Dupain, at his studio in Sydney, as well as work from the 1980s, when she revisited her negatives and her passion for ‘drawing with light’. I love this photograph of a dandelion head, titled: Seedhead 1990 from page 59.BlogArtBooksReszd2517-07-30 17.53.50Her photographs display her great love for nature, as seen in her landscapes and flower studies; her keen observational powers; her wide range of subject matter; her fluidity of style, moving freely between Pictorialism, the style perfected by her predecessor, Harold Cazneaux (see above), and Modernism; and her great love of the photographic medium.

BlogArtBooksReszd2517-07-30 17.55.03Her photographs are so beautiful and almost like paintings eg Interior (My Room) 1933, shown above, from page 13, and Cardboard Design 1935, shown below from page 25:

BlogArtBooksReszd2017-07-30 17.54.46

I also love Tea Cup Ballet 1935, a different take on the same subject matter of Margaret Preston’s  Implement Blue 1927, shown below, from page 24;BlogArtBooksReszd2517-07-30 17.54.50

Jean-Lorraine By Candlelight 1943, from page 37;

BlogArtBooksReszd2517-07-30 17.54.24

and The Sleeper 1939, shown below from page 31:

BlogArtBooksReszd2517-07-30 17.54.32

Margaret Olley by Barry Pearce 1996

BlogArtBooksReszd25%Image (687)

Another famous Australian artist, Margaret Olley (1923-2011) came to fame from the 1950s and 1960s on and is still very popular today. The book cover features one of her early works: Portrait in the Mirror 1948. The photo below is of one of her very famous paintings: Afternoon Interior with Cornflowers 1990, from page 103.BlogArtBooksReszd2017-07-31 11.06.33 I adore her still-lifes and rich, cluttered interiors, full of colour, vases of flowers and vintage objects and furniture. I just love the colours in her painting Chianti Bottle and Pomegranates 1994-1995 (photograph from page 112):BlogArtBooksReszd2017-07-31 11.05.59 This book traces her life, her travels and her work, reproduced in the numerous full colour plates in this lovely book. The mask in the photo below, painted in her Interior IV 1970, page 59 of the book, bears testament to her three trips to Papua New Guinea between 1965 and 1968.

BlogArtBooksReszd2017-07-31 11.07.50 I love the lemons tumbling out of the basket in  Lemons 1964, the photo from page 51. BlogArtBooksReszd2017-07-31 11.08.23 They were such comfortable homey interiors too like Yellow Tablecloth with Cornflowers 1995, photograph taken from page 126 of the book.BlogArtBooksReszd2017-07-31 11.05.27 In fact, I could own any one of her works. They are all so beautiful, as well as probably being very pricey these days! Another favourite for its rich warm colours is Clivias 1984, photograph from page 97 of the book. I just love that kelim!!!BlogArtBooksReszd2017-07-31 11.06.53Fortunately, she left her possessions to the Tweed Regional Gallery at Murwillimbah, so we were able to visit the Margaret Olley Art Centre during our recent trip to Brisbane, a wonderful treat! The first photo below is The Chinese Screen 1994-1995 from page 10, while the last photo is Yellow Room with Lupins II 1994-1995 from page 122.BlogArtBooksReszd2017-07-31 11.08.47 The centre also includes a recreation of key areas of her famous home studio at 48 Duxford Street, Paddington, Sydney : the Hat Factory (living room, dining room and  kitchen) and Yellow Room, all built to scale, with original architectural elements like windows, doors and fireplaces, and over 20 000 items, collected by Margaret over many years as subject matter for her paintings. See: http://artgallery.tweed.nsw.gov.au/VisitUs and http://artgallery.tweed.nsw.gov.au/MargaretOlleyArtCentre.

BlogArtBooksReszd2017-07-31 11.05.17Finally, some books about some contemporary artists among the Baby Boomers, all of whom have a deep affection for Australia and its amazing flora and fauna!

Criss Canning: The Pursuit of Beauty by David Thomas 2008BlogArtBooksReszd25%Image (688)

The book cover above features Still Life with Poppy Cedric Morris 2007.

Criss Canning’s art is very similar in style, talent and subject matter to Margaret Olley. In fact, Margaret Olley was a close friend and supportive mentor and in 1999, Margaret actually bought one of Criss’s paintings : Waratah in a Green Jug 1999, seen below from page 139 in the book and donated it to the Art Gallery of New South Wales.  See: http://www.thecourier.com.au/story/4417688/olleys-living-legacy/ and https://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/collection/works/61.2000/.

BlogArtBooksReszd2517-07-31 11.01.42I first discovered Criss Canning, when she visited my garden club in Armidale with her husband David Glenn, of Lambley Nursery fame. See: https://candeloblooms.com/2016/03/08/favourite-gardens-regularly-open-to-the-public-nursery-gardens-in-victoria/.

Her love of native Australian flora can be seen in her painting titled: Winter Banksia 2001 from page 155.BlogArtBooksReszd2517-07-31 11.02.09This beautiful coffee table book was written and published to coincide with her retrospective exhibition at Ballarat Fine Art Gallery in 2007 and it certainly does justice to all her wonderful sumptuous paintings with full page colour plates in glossy paper. Below is another ode to Australian flora: Gum Blossom 1995, photo from page 123.BlogArtBooksReszd2517-07-31 11.01.25David Thomas traces her life from her birth in 1947, exactly one month before my husband (!), and childhood in Laburnum, near Blackburn, a suburb of Melbourne, which was then rural acreage; her struggles as a single mother of two young children; her sojourn on the island of Rhodes in Greece, inspired by Charmaine Clift; her marriage and life with David Glenn in Ascot, near Ballarat, and her later more minimalist works, influenced by  her love of  Japanese artseen in Freesia’s and Japanese Tea Service 1996 from page 175 and the geometric designs of Charles Rennie Mackintosh.BlogArtBooksReszd2017-07-31 11.01.11I adore her beautiful floral studies: their rich colour; bold composition; strong patterns and dramatic contrast and flowing textile backdrops, as can be seen in her paintings titled: Black and White 1999, the first photo below from page 77 and Arthur Merric Boyd Coffee Set 2003, the second photo below from page 160.BlogArtBooksReszd2017-07-31 11.00.52BlogArtBooksReszd20%IMG_0044I love her talented portrayal of metal surfaces and her patterned backgrounds, as seen in the first photo below: Silver Reflections 2003 from page 162 and the silver tray in the second photo below: Native Flowers and Silver Tray 2001 from page 149,BlogArtBooksReszd20%IMG_0045BlogArtBooksReszd2517-07-31 11.01.54As well as her wonderful sense of colour, as seen in Poppies 1987 from page 43.BlogArtBooksReszd25%IMG_0047 To see more of her work, visit her site at: http://crisscanning.com.au/.

Salvatore Zofrea: Days of Summer by Anne Ryan 2009BlogArtBooksReszd25%Image (693)

This lovely book features the work of Salvatore Zoffrea, an Italian-Australian printmaker, who produces beautiful woodcuts of Australian flora and the bush. The book cover features his woodcut: Mountain Devil Grevillea with Eggs and Bacon Pea, Native Iris and Kunzea, while the photo below shows Bowerbirds with Native Irises and Eggs and Bacon Pea from page 43.BlogArtBooksReszd2017-07-31 10.59.57 Like Criss Canning, he was also influenced heavily by Japanese art, especially its traditional Japanese woodcuts, as well as European art. I love his delightful work: Tea Tree with Bronze Pigeon in the photo below, taken from page 39.BlogArtBooksReszd2017-07-31 11.00.06 I love his attention to detail, the busyness of his designs, his use of colour or lack of colour, his sense of wonder at the beauty and abundance of the Australian bush and his underlying message of the importance of conservation and sustainability. The photo below is a closeup of a double page spread, page 62 and 63, featuring his large woodcut, 3 metres long, titled: Bellbirds at Kurrajong, which was made by carving nine blocks of marine plywood and was his artistic response to a local incident at Mandeni, near Merimbula, where a bellbird population was culled due to their destruction of eucalyptus trees. Little did we realize that five years later we would be living in the area!BlogArtBooksReszd2017-07-31 11.00.25 We felt so lucky to see these wonderful prints by chance when passing through Wagga Wagga in 2010. See: http://www.wagga.nsw.gov.au/art-gallery/exhibitions-landing/past-exhibitions/exhibitions-2010/salvatore-zofrea-days-of-summer); http://mrag.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/ZofreaProposal_sml.pdf and http://mrag.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/ZofreaEdKit_11_01_10.pdf.

Byron Portfolio: An Artist’s Response to the Byron Shire  by Karen Wynn-Moylan 1989BlogArtBooksReszd25%Image (691)Another environmental artist, whose work I love is Karen Wynn-Moylan, also known as Karena Wynn-Moylan. Her book cover features her watercolour, View From Honeysuckle to Tallows Beach, a familiar scene from coastal holidays in the area many years ago.BlogArtBooksReszd2017-07-31 10.58.11Karen works in a variety of media: watercolours, oils, acrylics and pastels – to record and celebrate the beauty of the unique flora and fauna of her subtropical home environment in the Byron Shire, as well as encourage an appreciation of the environment and the need for conservation. Her love of her local rainforest can be seen in the photo above of her watercolour painting, The Clearing, page 43, while her pastel, Sunsoaked, on page 7, portrays a subject matter typical of the local area!BlogArtBooksReszd2017-07-31 10.59.35 I love The Flowering Beach, a mixed media painting on page 21, the fine dots of colour so typical of the Australian bush.BlogArtBooksReszd2017-07-31 10.59.11 Nasturtiums (Mullumbimby Laneway), labelled The Nasturtians in the book on page 29 and seen in the photo below, reminds me of our holidays at Hat Head with its old-fashioned dirt lane ways, lined with bougainvillea and frangipanis, wooden sheds and garages and leaning wooden fences, trailing with nasturtiums.

BlogArtBooksReszd2017-07-31 10.58.56 For a look at her work, see: http://www.karenawynn-moylan.bravehost.com/.  As a Tasmanian, I really loved her new oil: Summer Above the Snowline: Mt Wellington, at: http://www.karenawynn-moylan.bravehost.com/newwork.html.

The final artist in this post, Michael Leunig, also has much to say about our treatment of the environment, as well as each other, as can be seen in the following book:

The Michael Leunig Collection: Favourite Paintings and Drawings by Michael Leunig 1991BlogArtBooksReszd30%Image (695)Born in 1945, Michael Leunig is a much-loved and well-known cartoonist with delightfully quirky characters, who highlight the absurdities of life, and wonderfully whimsical poetry. The book cover features his well-known cartoon, The Kiss 1985.BlogArtBooksReszd2017-07-31 11.04.10His work is just so much fun and he addresses serious issues with a humorous light-hearted approach, which is very effective, as seen in the photo above of his cartoon, Plastic Shopping Bags in Autumn 1989 from page 22, though we are only just starting to address the issue in 2017! BlogArtBooksReszd2017-07-31 11.03.57I love his characters, Mr Curly and Vasco Pyjama, as well as the small things of life:  his ducks, houses, teapots and angels. The photo above is Mr Curly Comes Home 1973, from page 30, while the colour photograph below is the book cover for The Travelling Leunig, published by Penguin in 1990, and reproduced on page 112 of this book. BlogArtBooksReszd2017-07-31 11.04.58This book is a taster to some of his most famous drawings. We own a number of his books, and his work also appears regularly in the Melbourne Age and the Sydney Morning Herald, as well as a free annual calendar. For more on his work, see: http://www.leunig.com.au/.

I will finish this post  with one of his delightful prayers from his website :

Dear God,

We rejoice and give thanks for earthworms,
bees, ladybirds and broody hens;
for humans tending their gardens, talking to animals,
cleaning their homes and singing to themselves;
for rising of the sap, the fragrance of growth,
the invention of the wheelbarrow and the existence of the teapot,
we give thanks. We celebrate and give thanks.

Amen.

 

 

The Wonderful World of Art: Part One

Now for a visual treat: a post on some of my favourite books about both art and artists, many of which we have bought after attending a wonderful exhibition!

Art is such a personal concept and performs many different purposes from representing our world to exploring personal ideas or beliefs. Being a romantic at heart and a bit of an ostrich, I tend to be drawn to works of beauty, as I feel our world has enough ugliness in reality, without perpetuating it in our art! A typical example is one of my most favourite paintings: End of Dinner by Jules-Alexandre Grun 1913 https://fineartamerica.com/featured/the-end-of-dinner-jules-alexandre-grun.html.

I will start with two general books on art, then introduce you to some books featuring of my favourite artists and art periods in chronological order. Note: This selection is based solely on my art library and is a very incomplete representation of my favourite art and artists! For example, I love Impressionism, but do not own any books on it or its proponents in my art library, so they are not included in this post. Because this is quite a long post, I have divided it into two parts: Part One: General Art Books and Pre-1900s; and Part Two: Post 1900s.

In my last book post on Architectural Books, I discussed one book, which covered both the architecture and art of Islam, so I thought I would begin with:

The Orient in Western Art by Gérard-Georges Lemaire 2000BlogArtBooksReszd25%Image (680)

For over 2 000 years, the Western imagination has been excited by the world of the Orient from Egypt to Palestine and Greece to Turkey with its exoticism and mystery, its domes and minarets and harems of beautiful women, as depicted in the art of :

Bellini, Carpaccio, Veronese, Tintoretto, Rubens and Rembrandt (15th to 17th Centuries);

The beautiful women of Élisabeth Vigée-Lebrun, Jean-Étienne Liotard and Antoine de Favray and landscapes of Jean-Baptiste Hilair in the 18th Century;

The battle scenes of Jean-Léon Gérôme, François Watteau, Baron Antoine-Jean Gros, Anne-Louise Girodet de Roussy-Trioson and Alexandre Bida;  and

Egyptian scenes, painted by David Roberts, Frederick Goodall, William James Müller, Adrian Dauzats, Prosper Marilhat and Rudolf Ernst of the 18th Century.BlogArtBooksReszd2017-07-24 17.09.00

I particularly loved Private Conversation by John Frederick Lewis (p 134; photo above); Odalisque by Natale Schiavoni (p 150; first photo below), Jewish Girl in Tangiers by Charles Landelle (p 169; fourth photo below) and Algerian Woman and Her Slave by Ange Tissier on the book cover (first photo of this post).BlogArtBooksReszd2017-07-24 17.09.13 Constantinople featured in The Slave Market by Sir William Allen 1838 and View of Constantinople by Germain-Fabius Brest 1870.BlogArtBooksReszd2517-07-24 17.10.09 Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres was entranced by the women of the harem, with some beautiful sensuous nudes like Odalisque (p 202, photo above); Little Bather; Grand Odalisque and Turkish Bath (see: http://www.jeanaugustedominiqueingres.org/), as was Théodore Chassériau – I love his Dance of the Kerchiefs 1849 (p 226).BlogArtBooksReszd20%IMG_0018 Jean-Léon Gérôme painted some lovely river scenes, while Gustave Moreau was fascinated with classical mythology and especially, Salome. Auguste Renoir’s Odalisque 1870 and Seated Algerian 1881 are also favourites.BlogArtBooksReszd2017-07-24 17.09.32While the book also features the work of more modern artists, to my mind, none match the beauty and romance of the earlier period. It is a lovely dreamy book and does credit to these beautiful artworks!

Now for something totally different, yet still close to our heart:

A Brush With Birds: Australian Bird Art From the National Library of Australia Introduction by Penny Olsen 2008BlogArtBooksReszd25%Image (685)

Being keen bird-lovers, we had to buy this book! With  full-page colour reproductions of bird art and brief notes on each artist’s life, it showcases bird art from 1788 to the present and a wide variety of styles from the rather stilted representations of the early colonial artists in an attempt to record these strange new birds for scientific purposes (John Hunter, George Raper and Sarah Stone) and the more realistic etchings of John Lewin and the Goulds (John and Elizabeth) to the bird identification guides by the Neville Cayleys (father and son), Ebenezer Edward Gostelow (front cover of the book), Lilian Medland and Betty Temple Watts and the hyper-realistic bird portraits by William Thomas  Cooper, a particular favourite. I love his attention to fine detail like the feathers and his stunning use of colour, seen in the photo below, from page 101 of the book.BlogArtBooksReszd2017-07-24 17.01.43

Lars Knudsen’s Australian Birds by Lars Knudsen 1995

Another bird artist, who loves colour, but was not in the above book, is Lars Knudsen.BlogArtBooksReszd40%Image (697) - Copy Born in 1931, so this book is definitely not in chronological order (!), Lars grew up in North Queensland, where he fell in love with the amazing bird life. He spent many years working in advertising in Sydney, before setting up a studio in Spain in 1977 and painting birds full-time.BlogArtBooksReszd2017-07-24 17.10.28 Since returning to Australia in 1985, he has produced numerous limited edition prints and now has a studio and gallery at Hampton in the Blue Mountains. In fact, I bought this lovely little book, showcasing 29 of his best Australian bird paintings, along with detailed comments about each bird, at Everglades, Leura in the Blue Mountains.BlogArtBooksReszd2517-07-24 17.10.44 They are stunning paintings, full of movement and colour and really capture the essence of each bird. I particularly loved the Orange-Bellied Parrots (p 30); the Whiskered Terns (p 38); both photographed above, and the Regent Bowerbird (p 53); and the Australian King Parrots (p 56), both photographed below.

BlogArtBooksReszd2517-07-24 17.10.53

I love his slightly abstract style, the colours of the backgrounds complementing the birds so well and his love and passion for birds and their environment really shines through. A delightful little book!BlogArtBooksReszd2517-07-24 17.11.10A Vision of Eden: The Life and Work of Marianne North by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew 1980BlogArtBooksReszd25%Image (694)

Marianne North (1830-1890) is a great favourite of ours! An intrepid traveller, contemporary of Charles Darwin and Sir Joseph Hooker and highly talented artist, she produced over 800 oil paintings, now housed in the Marianne North Gallery at Kew (https://www.kew.org/mng/marianne-north.html). Her paintings show such accuracy and attention to detail and introduced the pre-photography public of the day to the huge diversity of life and natural wonders of the world.BlogArtBooksReszd2017-07-24 17.11.58

I love her botanical studies (Page 26 North American Carnivorous Plants in the photo above; and Page 68 Flowers of a Coral Tree, Brazil, in the photo below, BlogArtBooksReszd2017-07-24 17.11.46

as well as her exotic landscapes like the Taj Mahal at Agra (above) and the Road Up To Naini Tal, India (below) from page 126 :BlogArtBooksReszd2017-07-24 17.11.25and her painting of Distant View of Mount Kinchinjunga, from Darjeeling, India (p 132):BlogArtBooksReszd2017-07-24 17.11.34This book follows her life from her early days and home life to her travels in Canada and the United States; Jamaica; Brazil; Japan; Indonesia; India and Ceylon; Australia and New Zealand; South Africa and Chile in South America. I love the simplicity of this painting: A Road Near Bath, Jamaica, Lined With Palms, Bread-Fruit and Cocoa, from page 46:BlogArtBooksReszd2017-07-24 17.12.11

As an Australian, it is fascinating to read her travel diary notes and descriptions of the native flora and fauna,  though she could be quite ascerbic:

Brisbane in 1880  is described as: ‘a most unattractive place- a sort of overgrown village, with wide empty streets full of driving dust and sand, surrounded by wretched suburbs of wooden houses scattered over bare steep hills’ (p 158)

and Tenterfield as: ‘what Australians call “a very pretty place”, meaning that there was not a tree within a mile of it, and that it had a little water within reach’ (p 161).

As she travelled south, her mood improved! Armadale (her spelling, but really spelt Armidale) was ‘a considerable place, with some stone houses in it and a bishop’ (p162), where hotel rooms cost 10 shillings a day and meat, a shilling for 10 pounds.

Bendemeer was ‘a pretty green meadow with a clear river running through it, bordered by casuarina trees’ (p 162), though the accommodation was flea-ridden and noisy!

She was very comfortable in Sydney, staying at the Prime Minister’s house in the Blue Mountains; Elizabeth Bay; and Camden, so by the time she reached Melbourne, she was positively rapturous, declaring the city to be: ‘a noble city, and its gardens are even more beautiful than those of Sydney, with greater variety of ground, and lovely views over the river. It is by far the most real city in Australia, and the streets are as full of quickly-moving people as those of London’ (p 168).BlogArtBooksReszd20%IMG_0019 She even visited Perth and Albany in Western Australia and Hobart in Tasmania, where she raved over Mt. Wellington, as seen in her painting: View in the Forest on Mt. Wellington; p 181; photo above). I had to laugh at her assertion that: ‘Cherries, raspberries, every kind of fruit which grows at home grew better than at home. Half the jam in the world is made in Tasmania.‘ (p 178).

The Art of the Pre-Raphaelites by Steven Adams 1988

While well-connected Marianne was very much part of the establishment, the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood were much more controversial, rejecting the conservatism of the Royal Academy and aspiring to the era before Raphael, hence their name.BlogArtBooksReszd25%Image (675)

This book examines the academic tradition, against which they rebelled; the inception of the group in 1848 and the famous works of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, John Ruskin, John Everett  Millais, Edward Burne-Jones, William Morris, William Holman Hunt and Ford Maddox Brown. They certainly produced some beautiful art, especially Millais’ family scenes (Autumn Leaves 1855-1856), as well as his famous Ophelia 1851 and Rossetti’s classically inspired ‘Stunners’ with their heart-shaped faces,  full lips, hooded eyes, unrestrained flowing hair and extravagant robes, like Proserpine 1874 and The Beloved 1865 (book cover). See: http://preraphaelitesisterhood.com/rossettis-models/ .

The Pre-Raphaelites also led very unconventional (and messy!) lives, recounted superbly in Desperate Romantics: The Private Lives of the Pre-Raphaelites by Franny Moyle 2009, as well as the accompanying BBC TV production.

BlogArtBooksReszd30%Image (681)

It is a fascinating read! I think William Morris was very forbearing, as well as being a fascinating character and a real Renaissance man, gifted with so many talents! I adore his work and ethos, so it is not surprising that I own two books about his life and work!

William Morris & Morris & Co. by Lucia Van der Post 2003

Father of the Arts and Crafts Movement and one of Britain’s greatest and best-known designers, whose wallpapers and textiles are still enormously popular, William Morris was born into a wealthy family in 1834 and studied art and literature at Oxford University, where he developed his passion for medievalism and the Gothic and met his lifelong friend, Edward Burne-Jones, through whom he came into contact with the Pre-Raphaelites .

He hated the mass production , pastiche, excessiveness and ugliness of Victorian industrial society, espousing a return to the medieval guilds, simplicity  and true craftmanship, as seen in the ceramic tiles, metalwork, woodwork, furniture, glass, textiles, embroideries, carpets and wallpapers, produced by his firm Morris & Co.

I have always loved his famous quote:

Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful’.

I also love his intensely personal involvement with all these crafts and the way he taught himself the necessary skills, whether it was stained glass; clay modelling; illuminating manuscripts; calligraphy; book production; carving wood and stone; wood engraving; mural and tile painting; natural dyeing or tapestry weaving and hand embroidery.

This lovely small book examines the key components of his work under the chapter titles of: Craft; Colour; Honesty; Pattern; Nature; and Legend, with colour photographs of his beautiful work  and patterns throughout. By incorporating Morris designs in a wide variety of settings and modern contexts, the book also provides inspiration for contemporary homeowners.BlogArtBooksReszd25%Image (677)

And if you still haven’t had your fill of his designs, another excellent book about his life and work is:

The Art of William Morris by Christine Poulson 2004, in which the chapters are more chronologically-ordered, following his early life and university study, his establishment of the Firm, his involvement with the Pre-Raphaelites; his marriage and family life; his homes; his political beliefs, public speaking and writings, published through his Kelmscott Press.BlogArtBooksReszd25%Image (676)

The Arts & Crafts Companion by Pamela Todd 2008/ 2011

The ultimate guide to the Arts and Crafts Movement (1880 – 1920), it begins with its philosophy and background; its proponents including William Morris, Edward Burne-Jones, Walter Crane,  CFA Voysey, William Lethaby, Ernest Gimson, the Barnsley brothers,  Philip Webb, MH Baillie Scott and Charles Rennie Mackintosh, and that is only a small portion of the British Arts and Crafts movement. It was also occurring simultaneously in the rest of Europe and the United States of America.

The main section of the book is devoted to lengthy and detailed  chapters about all aspects of the Arts and Crafts Movement: Architecture, Interior Design, Furniture, Textiles and Wallpaper, Stained Glass and Lighting, Pottery and Ceramics, Metalwork and Jewellery; the Printed Word and Gardens, the latter being the subject of my main assessment during my garden history studies.

I loved reading about these gardens, especially those created by Gertrude Jekyll and Edwin Lutyens (Munstead Wood; Hestercombe; and the Deanery); I would love to visit them one day, as well as Red House, Kent (Philip Webb and William Morris) and Kelmscott Manor (William Morris) in the Cotswolds; Standen, West Sussex (Philip Webb), Snowshill Manor (Baillie Scott), Rodmarton Manor (ErnestBarnsley), both in Gloucestershire and Blackwell, overlooking Windermere in the Lake District (MH Baillie Scott). The famous gardens of Hidcote Manor, Sissinghurst and Great Dixter have also been heavily influenced by the Arts and Crafts Movement. See: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/lists/our-arts-and-crafts-houses-and-gardens.

I also love the simplicity, subtlety and harmony of the wallpapers, textiles and furniture designed by CFA Voysey, who described his ideal interior as:

a well-proportioned room, with white-washed walls, plain carpet and simple oak furniture’ with a simple vase of flowers and repeated decorative  motifs and symbols like stylized hearts‘.

His houses had low roofs, wide eaves, low horizontal windows, white roughcast walls and exposed beams and brickwork.

It was also very interesting to read about the influence of the Arts and Crafts Movement on embroidery (including the Glasgow School of Art); Morris’s mastery of indigo discharge printing and natural dyeing; early electric lamps from the 1880s on; and stunning jewellery, inset with moonstones, amethyst and mother-of-pearl, as well as pearls, opals, coral, turquoise, malachite and lapis lazuli.

At the back of the book is a Source Book with key addresses and websites for the United Kingdom and the United States of America, as well as an extensive bibliography.BlogArtBooksReszd25%Image (679)

Now for books about four more artists, born during the 1860s, who were developing their artistic styles over this first half of this period: Alphonse Mucha ( 1860-1939) from Czechoslovakia; Gustav Klimt (1862-1918) from Vienna, Austria and two Australian artists, Bertram Mackennal (1863-1931) and Rupert Bunny (1864-1947), both of whom achieved their fame in Europe. All of them produced stunningly beautiful art, reflected in the colour-plates of these gorgeous books.

Alphonse Mucha by Sarah Mucha 2005

Alphonse Mucha was most famous for his Art Nouveau posters (advertising and art posters) with their sinuous lines, pastel colours, beautiful women and decorative motifs, but like other artists of the day, he was also interested in a wide variety of other artistic endeavours from pastels, drawings and oils; sculpture; photography; stained glass; architecture and interior design; furniture; tableware and cutlery; jewellery; tapestry and books. The book cover shown below features his colour lithograph Dance 1898.BlogArtBooksReszd25%Image (674)

This lovely book explores his life, influences and beliefs, the history of the time and the birth of Art Nouveau, and includes his wonderful photographs of his models and family. We were introduced to Mucha, when we bought one of his prints, Music 1898, on our second trip overseas and were delighted to see all his other beautiful designs in this book. I can honestly say that I love them all!BlogArtBooksReszd2017-07-30 13.40.49 Compare the colour of our print with the same design, shown in the photo below (p 25), showing the way his designs could be reproduced in a large number of different formats.BlogArtBooksReszd2017-07-24 17.07.26

His women are so sensual, romantic and feminine, and I adore his backgrounds with abstract and naturalistic patterns and strong flowing lines, as seen in Reverie 1897 (p 38).BlogArtBooksReszd2017-07-24 17.08.07Mucha used floral and botanic details, as well as Byzantine, Celtic, Japanese, Rococo, Gothic, Judaic and Czech folk elements in his work, as can be seen in his mosaic backgrounds, extravagant robes and jewellery and arabesques, all embellished with strong stylised outlines. I love the photo below his lamp titled La Nature 1899 (page 14).BlogArtBooksReszd2017-07-24 17.07.02 He used his designs in decorative panels and murals; posters; paintings; jewellery and haircombs; Moet and Chandon labels and menus; packages and postcards; and in 1902, produced a handbook for craftsmen, Documents Décoratifs , containing 72 plates, drawn in pencil and highlighted with white pigment, of all the necessary patterns for creating an Art Nouveau lifestyle, as well as being an encyclopaedia of all his decorative work. They include a realistic study of nature, the designs becoming increasingly stylised for metal, leather, glass and lace work; studies of nudes and women’s heads, showing how the human body has decorative elements; and abstract ornamental framing with repetition of stylised motifs. Below is a photo of two designs for hair combs and jewellery for Documents Décoratifs in Plates 49 and 50 (page 73).BlogArtBooksReszd2017-07-24 17.08.25Mucha had a strong philosophical background to his work. Believing that art influenced all aspects of human life and was instrumental in uplifting the soul and promoting peace, harmony, beauty and a sense of moral goodness, he also was a strong proponent in art for the masses, creating strong stylized and often heavily symbolic designs (both explicit and hidden), which could be used repetitively to beautify goods of common consumption and utility, which could be afforded by the ordinary man. Here is Zodiac 1896 (p 28).BlogArtBooksReszd2017-07-24 17.07.37His idealism is epitomised by his later Slav Epic, 20 huge canvases, representing the last 1000 years of Slavic history, in which he celebrates the Slavic virtues of peacefulness; piety and devotion to learning and the arts; chronicles the oppression of the Slavs by their militaristic neighbours and laments the weakness, born of Slav disunity. The photo below is: The Apotheosis of the Slavs 1926 from page 18.BlogArtBooksReszd20%IMG_0020With his wonderful ideals and sensitivity, it is little wonder that he died not long after interrogation by the Nazis in 1939 and his work was then largely forgotten in his homeland until the 1990s.

The Mucha Foundation was established in 1992 by his grandson John Mucha and daughter-in-law Geraldine Mucha, following the death of their father/ husband and Mucha’s son Jifi. Its aim is to preserve and promote Mucha’s art for future generations and to this end, has an  ongoing program of exhibitions all over the world. See: http://www.muchafoundation.org/. His work can also be seen at the Mucha Museum, which was opened in Prague in February 1998. See: http://www.mucha.cz/.

Gustav Klimt: Art Nouveau Visionary by Eva di Stefano 2008

Klimt is another favourite Art Nouveau portraitist and landscape painter. I have always loved his sumptuous gilded artworks, full of eroticism, symbolism and mystery, and his beautiful nudes, abstract colourful geometric patterns and gold leaf spirals. The book cover features his painting called Water Serpents I 1904.BlogArtBooksReszd25%Image (673) Like Mucha, he too had a thorough grounding in mosaics, metalwork, and painting, even preparing his own paints, as well as the symbolism and decorative motifs of many different eras and cultures from Greek ceramics and Egyptian and Assyrian reliefs to Slavic folklore. While specialising in painting, he also designed fashion and jewellery. This is one of his very famous paintings, The Kiss 1907-1908 from page 199:BlogArtBooksReszd2517-07-24 17.05.52This lovely book discusses his early life and Fin-de-siècle Vienna; his artistic creed; his landscapes and allegorical friezes; the women in his life, his scandalous paintings and his secession years, having been a founding member of the Vienna Secessionist movement. Another very famous erotic painting is The Virgin 1912-1913 from page 227 of the book:BlogArtBooksReszd2517-07-24 17.06.22For more about Klimt, see: https://www.klimtgallery.org/ and http://www.klimt.com/. Also read  ‘The Painted Kiss’ by Elizabeth Hickey (http://www.simonandschuster.com/books/The-Painted-Kiss/Elizabeth-Hickey/9780743492614) and the film, Woman in Gold (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2404425/).

Bertram Mackennal : The Fifth Balnaves Foundation Sculpture Project  by Deborah Edwards 2007

One of the earliest Australian- born artists to seek fame and achieve success on the international stage, especially France and Britain. He was the first Australian artist to exhibit at the Royal Academy, London; the first overseas artist (and first Australian) to be elected to the Royal Academy; and the first Australian artist to have work purchased for the Tate Gallery and to be knighted. The book cover features a closeup of an exquisite bronze Circe 1893, the statuette from 1902-1904 appearing on page 31.BlogArtBooksReszd25%Image (684)Travelling to Europe in 1882, aged 19 years old, he was heavily influenced by Art Nouveau and  the avant-garde aspirations of the British ‘New Sculptors’, creating beautiful naturalistic figures in bronze and marble, based on symbolist themes. By the early 1900s, he had become a prominent civic sculptor and a master of Edwardian style and elegance. I love this bronze Morning (Woman Dressing Her Hair) 1902 from p 110:BlogArtBooksReszd2017-07-24 17.03.58Despite being highly successful overseas, he is less well-known here in Australia, so this book was produced, along with an accompanying CD-ROM, to educate the Australian public about his life,  showcase his smaller domestic sculptures and complement a retrospective exhibition, held in Sydney and his home-town of  Melbourne, where we were introduced to his work. I fell in love with his work- so beautiful and so tactile, the full-page colour-plates of this gorgeous coffee-table book really do justice to his amazing sculptures! Here is a delightful small marble statue, Sappho 1909 from page 70.BlogArtBooksReszd2017-07-24 17.04.20Rupert Bunny: Artist in Paris by Deborah Edwards 2009

While Mackennal was the most internationally successful Australian artist of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Rupert Bunny was Australia’s most successful painter in Paris, both men finally eclipsed by Sidney Nolan in the 1950s and 1960s.BlogArtBooksReszd25%Image (692) Arriving in Paris in 1887, just as PostImpressionism and Symbolism were emerging, he was heavily influenced by these movements, as well as the art of the Pre-Raphaelites and French Realism. The book cover features his dreamy oil painting titled Dolce Farniente 1897, seen in full in the photo below from page 60.

BlogArtBooksReszd2017-07-24 17.02.21 This beautiful book, also produced to accompany a wonderful exhibition at the National Gallery Of Victoria, describes his life in France; his successes and his sumptuous paintings from biblical and literary paintings (1889-1905), for example:  his beautiful oil painting A Summer Morning 1897, the photo taken from page 63 of the book;BlogArtBooksReszd2017-07-24 17.02.31 the beautiful women and fashions of the fin-de-siècle (1896-1911);BlogArtBooksReszd2017-07-24 17.03.26 the works for the Ballet Russes; and his later landscapes and mythological paintings in the decorative modern style (1913-1930). I loved his oil  The Sun Bath 1913 (page 105):BlogArtBooksReszd2017-07-24 17.03.40It was wonderful seeing the large artworks closeup and this book is a lovely reminder of his beautiful romantic and sensuous paintings.

On Thursday, I will continue this post on Art Books with more wonderful artworks from the 1900s on.

Architecture Books: Part Two

The second part of this post features six wonderful books for people planning to build their own home, with lots of practical information on materials and building techniques and styles, as well as plenty of inspiration and useful and helpful advice! There is so much to consider and so many decisions to make when building your own home, as well as so much time, physical work and cost, so prior research and planning is essential!

The Natural House Book: Creating a Healthy, Harmonious, and Ecologically Sound Home Environment by David Pearson 1989/ 1992

Given all the effort involved in building your own house, it would be awful if your new home had deleterious effects on your health and this is one of the key tenets of this book, along with the need to be environmentally aware and have as minimal impact on our planet as possible!

The book is divided into three parts:

Part One describes the interaction between you, your home and the environment. It compares the Natural House, defined as providing ‘health for the body, peace for the soul and harmony with the environment’, with dangerous dwellings, full of indoor pollutants and toxic chemicals, and based on wasteful environmental practices.

Part Two examines life systems for comfort and climate (energy efficiency, renewable energy, cooling, insulation, fuel and power, the dangers of radiation and electricity and energy conservation); water (use, pollution and conservation; air (air quality, pollution and air control systems); scent (aromatherapy and herbs); sound (noise pollution and acoustics in the home) and light and colour (daylight, artificial lighting, energy-efficient lighting and colour therapy); and the attributes, costs (health and ecological) and use of a variety of building materials (stone; glass; plaster; metals; earth; timber; reeds and bamboo; canes and grasses; natural fibres, paints and varnishes; and plastics).

Part Three applies all the principles gleaned from the previous parts to the design of spaces within the home: Living Spaces; Sleeping Spaces; Kitchen Spaces; Bathing Spaces; Health Spaces and Green Spaces. It includes a large section on health and ecological hazards in the kitchen, bedrooms and bathroom, as well as lovely illustrations and photographs of  beautiful rooms and spaces.

I loved the window seating area, which doubles for sleeping, in the section on Living Areas; the simplicity of  Japanese and Scandinavian bedrooms; the passive solar greenhouse attached to the kitchen, outdoor sunrooms and pools, as well as the deep Japanese bath or furo, in which you sit and soak with water right up to your neck!

The appendices include charts featuring sustainable timbers; natural fabrics, grasses and canes; natural paints, varnishes and finishes; household cleaners (their personal and environmental risks and alternatives); household waste; rating your home and indoor air pollution. There is also a list of resources, including materials, organizations and architects, and a glossary and bibliography in the back.BlogArchitectureBooksReszd30%Image (651)

Earth to Spirit: In Search of Natural Architecture by David Pearson 1994

Also written by David Pearson, this book features a large number of vernacular and traditional architecture throughout the world and their influence on modern architecture.

It starts by examining Ancestral Archetypes, before exploring Healing Architecture, the Art of Living in Harmony with the Land, Vernacular Wisdom, Cultural Identity and Living the Dream, all supported by beautiful and inspiring photographs of examples.

In Architectural Archetypes, he gives examples of the original human dwellings: Caves, yurts, hogans, pit houses, roundhouses, pueblos, and kivas.

In Healing Architecture, he discusses the growth of movements like Baubiologie, Organic Architecture and Anthroposophic Design (Steiner), with their use of wood and other natural materials, flowing lines and curves and romantic and spiritual emphases.

The chapter on Harmony with the Land stresses the importance of environmental awareness, energy efficiency, recycling and the inter-relatedness of all living things, as propounded by James Lovelock’s Gaia Theory, giving many examples of different architectural projects, including Australia’s Permaculture, designed by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren.

Vernacular buildings also hold many ecological lessons for today’s architects and builders, as they display many ingenious and low-energy-use solutions to living in difficult climates, as well as harmonizing with their local landscapes through their use of local materials.

Authenticity and Cultural Identity are also important concepts in modern architecture, especially with regards to modern developments and finally, in Living the Dream, there are examples of individuals and groups, who are incorporating all the ideas, propounded in this book, into actual practice, like the Centre for Alternative Technology, which we visited in Wales in 1994 and Crystal Waters, Australia’s first intentional permaculture village, in Maleny, Queensland.BlogArchitectureBooksReszd30%Image (654)The Good House Book: A Common-Sense Guide to Alternative Homebuilding by Clarke Snell 2004

An excellent  guide to all the different aspects of alternative home building with chapters devoted to

1.Philosophy and Definitions;

2.Building Materials:

Traditional:

Earth : Stone; Mud (cob, rammed earth, adobe, brick, wattle-and-daub, earth plasters and concrete); Metal and Glass;

Plants: Grasses (straw, bamboo, sod roofs using living grasses) and Wood; and

Animal Products (skins, whalebone,dung, blood, milk and urine)

Modern : Plastics and synthetic polymers

Alternative: Recycled and Waste Materials: Used tyres (earthships), byproduct straw (strawbale houses), wood-based waste (cellulose insulation), and recycled plastics and concrete;

: Local Materials: Earth; and Plants;   and

:  Natural Materials;

3.Structure: Loads; Foundations; Floors; Walls; and Roofs;

4.Temperature: Heating; Cooling; Insulation; Thermal Mass; and Traditional/ Modern and Alternative Approaches to Temperature like masonry stoves;

5.Separation: Forces of Decay (water, sun, wind and life) and House Skins (integrated; applied: walls and roofs), including flashings, breathable walls, stucco and plasters; and green roofs;

6.Connection: Exchange of light and sun, water, air and power, including discussions of rainwater tanks, wells, waste water and compost toilets, septic systems, air quality, and renewable energy;

7.Applications: Examples of six alternative homes: their experiences, decisions and advice. They include: an earthship, a strawbale home; a breathable hot-climate house; a tiny earth-plastered office; a health-conscious home and a conventionally-constructed ‘alternative’ wooden, energy-efficient, passive solar home. Brief notes about all these buildings are detailed in a table at the end of the chapter, according to the previous chapters: their materials, structure, temperature, separation and connection.

8.Reality Check: Cost factors, building codes and considerations and advice for owner-builders.

Throughout the book are countless examples of traditional, modern and alternative approaches with hundreds of photographs, interviews with alternative builders and side bars and detailed drawings, helping to explain concepts.

The final chapter, Going Deeper, lists useful resources (hard copy, internet and buildings) for each chapter.BlogArchitectureBooksReszd30%Image (653)

Building Green: A Complete How-To Guide to Alternative Buiding Methods by Clarke Snell and Tim Callahan 2005

A similar, but much thicker  and even more practical book, with lots of detailed suggestions.

Part One: The Basics covers the reasons behind green building (low construction impact; resource efficiency through the life of the building, durability, nontoxicity and aesthetics); and alternative building fundamentals and building strategies, according to structure, temperature, separation and connection) and design (patterns and pattern language).

Part Two:

Building : Examines siting (in relation to sun, water, wind and earth- soil and contour); site work (required to seat the building and ensure good drainage: clearing land, mapping site contours, excavation, retaining walls, layout and digging foundations) and structure (the basic framework – its foundation, wall and roof structures.)

The latter has a huge amount of practical information, with step-by-step photographs on piers and drains, gravel trenches, stem walls, post-and-beam framework, moving heavy objects, tools, termite barriers, preparing and setting posts, building roof trusses, framing the roof, roof decking, living roofs and porches.

Temperature: Discusses the use of cob and other earth mixes, cordwood, strawbale and modified stick-frame to cocoon the building and maintain a stable indoor temperature. Again, lots of practical information on the advantages, disadvantages green credentials of each, as well as how to determine if your soil is suitable, how to build with cob, shaping niches and shelving and using glass bottles (cob); choosing and processing wood, mixing mortar, laying cordwood and round buildings (cordwood); types of strawbale construction (infill vs. loadbearing), bale dimensions, designing with bales, drainage planes, laying bales, water considerations and  rendering (strawbale); and wall trusses, wooden laths, insulation, prepping for plaster and use of bamboo (stick framing).

Separation: Covering the walls, roof and floor with skins to protect the building from the forces of decay: covers plastering and stucco and finishing the skin or trim (walls); living roofs; lapped or seamless roof skins, finishing the roof skin, gutters, insulation, drainage, rainwater catchment, and shingles (roofs); and raised or on-grade floors, gravel beds, grouting and hydroponic floor heating (floors); and

Connection: Creating connections between indoor and outdoor spaces via doors and windows; transition zones; and systems (plumbing, heating and cooling, power, lighting and waste disposal). of the topics covered include salvaging windows; building doors from scratch, outdoor work spaces, and patios and courtyards.

The four different alternative building methods and many of the concepts in this book are incorporated an actual construction project and the completed energy-efficient green building is shown in the final chapter and is quite delightful.BlogArchitectureBooksReszd30%Image (664)

Small Strawbale: Natural Homes, Projects and Designs by Bill Steen, Athena Swentzell Steen and Wayne J Bingham 2005

Strawbale construction is a particular favourite of mine, because of its energy conservation, insulation, fire retarding qualities, soundproofing, low cost, thick sills, sculptural and recessing potential and the total look and feel!

This lovely book features a collection of small houses, studios, meditation spaces, outbuildings and landscape walls.

While serving primarily as an inspiring showcase of ideas, it also includes many practical suggestions from basic guidelines for small buildings, roof slope and pitch, shading devices, round buildings, greenhouses, plastering hints, and  carving murals to  making window seats, built-in furniture, lofts and mezzanines, dormers and alcoves, earthen baking ovens and pantries, as well as numerous house and room plans. It’s a lovely little book for dreamers!BlogArchitectureBooksReszd30%Image (650)

And finally, one book on interior decoration, which complements many of the buildings described in this post:  simple, organic, natural, imaginative, creative and highly original!

Ethnic Style: From Mexico to the Mediterranean by Miranda Innes 1991

This beautiful book showcases ethnic interiors from around the world from the carved fretwork and richly embroidered fabrics of Eastern Europe, the simple elegance of Scandinavian wooden houses with sod roofs, the whitewashed plaster walls, blue doors and window shutters, terracotta roofs of Greece to the decorative Moorish partitions, colourful mosaic tile work  and the African mud hut walls, painted in abstract patterns with earth and mineral pigments in ochre, brown and black; the decorative arches, cooling courtyards and exquisite brightly coloured textiles of India; the simplicity, harmony, serenity and minimalism of Japanese homes with their paper screens, bamboo matting and sense of order; the Australian bush style and in the Americas:  the Shaker furniture; Native American artefacts; brilliant Haitian shutters; and bright Mexican colours!

The second part of the book explores how to create the ethnic look using wood (natural and  decorative: painted and carved); rattan, wicker, bamboo and rush; plaster; paint, textiles and  ceramics and tiles. There are so many lovely ideas and interiors in this book! It is a real feast for all the eyes alone, though no doubt in practice, it satisfies all the senses and creates a comfortable and highly personal home!!!BlogArchitectureBooksReszd25%Image (665)

Next week, I am exploring some of the beautiful Art Books, which we have in our library…. a visual treat indeed!!!

Architecture Books: Part One

Following on from previous posts on books about our natural environment and the world we live in, as well as our own historical background, it is now time for a post on books about our built environment and the homes people have created.

I have always been interested in architecture, especially vernacular, traditional and alternative owner-built dwellings, so it is not surprising that we own a number of books on this fascinating subject. Here are some of my favourites!

A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction by Christopher Alexander, Sara Ishikawa and Murray Silverstein with Max Jacobsen, Ingrid Fiksdahl-King and Shlomo Angel 1977

Second in a series of books about a totally different approach to architecture, this book is a bible to all those interested in architecture and  town planning, especially those who believe that people should design their own communities, houses and streetscapes.

The book provides a language for building and planning, describing detailed patterns for towns and neighbourhoods, houses, gardens and rooms. Each pattern describes a common widespread problem, as well as the core to the solution of the problem, allowing for a multitude of different responses.

Each pattern has the same format:

Black-and-white photograph, showing an archetypal example of the pattern;

Introductory paragraph setting the context for the pattern and its role in larger patterns, which are numbered;

Three diamonds denoting the start of the problem;

Headline in bold type giving the essence of the problem;

Body of the problem: the empirical background of the pattern; the evidence for its validity;and the range of different ways the pattern can be manifested in a building;

Solution in bold type, describing the field of physical and social relationships required to solve the stated problem in the stated context. The solution is always expressed in the form of an instruction, so you know exactly what you need to build the pattern;

Diagram, showing the solution with labels indicating its main components;

Three diamonds, marking the end of the main body of the pattern;

Final paragraph, linking the pattern to all those smaller patterns in the language, which are needed to complete the pattern.

This format presents each pattern in context to all the 253 other patterns in the language as a whole, so an infinite variety of combinations can be selected. The patterns are presented in a straight linear sequence, ranging from the largest pattern for regions and towns, then concentrating on increasingly smaller elements: the neighbourhood; clusters of buildings; buildings; rooms and alcoves; and finally details of construction. All the patterns are related to and support other patterns, like the web of nature.

While this all sounds rather complex, an example might make it clearer:

When my children were smaller, we lived in a large old house and each child had their own room like conventional Western practice, however we found that the kids never slept in their own beds each night, but moved around, sharing each other’s rooms. They liked being in each other’s company, a natural instinct described in Pattern Number 143: Bed Cluster, which is illustrated with beds, inset into the wall of a shared room.

The introductory paragraph sets the context within the larger patterns: Couple’s Realm (136) and Children’s Realm (137), as well as Sleeping to the East (138). The bold type headline discusses the balance between a need for privacy and the problem of isolation for young children in many cultures if they sleep alone. The body of the problem examines the possible configuration of children’s beds in shared rooms; isolated rooms and a cluster of alcoves, complete with a diagram, and the problems associated with each scenario. The solution in bold type suggests the placement of children’s beds in small individual alcoves around a common playspace, again illustrated by a simple diagram.

The last paragraph looks at smaller patterns, which should be examined to complete the pattern like Communal Sleeping (186); Bed Alcove (188); Children’s Realm (137); Dressing Room (189); Closets Between Rooms (198); Child Caves (203); Light on Two Sides (159); and The Shape of Indoor Space (191).

It is a fascinating book, which looks at basic human needs and how to fulfill them, an approach so different to our materialistic money-driven architecture, where the houses are so large with multiple bathrooms to ensure a good resale value, rather than being a home or taking the environment or our basic needs into account. It’s a lovely book to dip into and really make you think and question.

BlogArchitectureBooksReszd30%Image (649) - Copy

Dwellings: The Vernacular House Worldwide by Paul Oliver 2003/ 2007

This is a terrific book for showing the huge diversity of vernacular buildings throughout the world and the ways indigenous peoples cope with local issues like climate, migratory lifestyles and symbolic and cultural expression.

Vernacular architecture is defined as: Owner-built or community built dwellings, utilising traditional technologies and local resources to meet specific needs and accommodating cultural values, economies and ways of life.

Each chapter examines the environmental considerations and problems and the buildings and method people use to handle these problems.

In addition to discovering different architectural and building styles, I learnt so much from this book about different peoples, their traditions, beliefs, cultures and ways of life, as well as the problems they face and how they have dealt with them. For example, while every child is familiar with Eskimo igloos, I was unaware that the Inuit also have communal clubhouses called karigi, nor that some Inuit built houses with whalebone frames (quarmang) or that there were different types of iglu like the anegiuchak and killegun.

Ancient dwellings, like the longhouses of late Bronze Age farming communities or the stilthouses of lake dwellers, are also described, as well as the wide variety of dwellings created from different building materials like earth (mud and clay), stone, wood, bamboo, and reeds and grasses.

I love the cave dwellings of Saumur, France, and the tufa pinnacles of Cappadocia, Turkey; the adobe abodes of Syria and Turkey with their parabolic corbelled domes; and the stone trulli in Apulia, Italy; the wattle-and-daub houses in England and sod-roofed timber log houses in Norway; the floating reed dwellings of Lake Titicaca, Bolivia, and the whitewashed walls and blue paintwork of the houses of the Greek islands.

In an increasingly urbanised Western world with mass uniformity in modern housing developments with brick venereal disease, it is wonderful to see the creativity, sense of place and attention to detail these traditional houses and settlements display.

In the back is an extensive bibliography and glossary of architectural and building terminology.BlogArchitectureBooksReszd30%Image (652)Home Work: Handbuilt Shelter by Lloyd Kahn 2004

Another wonderful book, which celebrates the creativity and individuality of hand-made shelters, as encapsulated by his introductory quote:

Shelter is more than a roof overhead’.

I also totally relate to Phillip Moffat’s quote on Page 31:

A house is a home when it shelters the body and comforts the soul’.

A sequel to his best-selling book, Shelter, written in 1973, it contains 1 100 photographs and over 300 drawings and includes the homes of builders, photographers, dreamers, farmers, travellers, traditionalists and campers.

The common features of the handmade homes featured include: Good craftsmanship; Practicality, economy and simplicity; Efficient use of resources; Tuned to the landscape; Aesthetically pleasing and radiated good vibes; Integrity in design and execution; and/ or Wild Creativity! The book and these buildings are so inspiring!

There were some really interesting and individual buildings from Louie Fraser’s shop, a Mandan earth lodge with curved white-plastered walls, a curving shingled roof and hand-crafted furniture to his Japanese polehouse, accessible only by riding a bosun’s chair on a 500 feet cable across a river; Ian MacLeod’s circular stone houses with gauze windows in South Africa; Bill Coperthwaite’s yurts; and Jack William’s beautiful simple wooden home to the tiny dwellings of Archilibre in the French Pyrenees (http://www.archilibre.org/) and strawbale houses, made famous by builders, Bill and Anthea Steen (see later) and photographer, Catherine Wanek.

There were also many photos of vernacular dwellings and communities throughout the world, including Native American shelters; American barns; stone buildings in Northern Italy; Tibetan monasteries, shrines and cabins; the Greek monasteries of the Meteora; Hungarian timber framed buildings; the Hallig homes of Northern Germany (a certain casualty of global warming and sea level rises!); Mongolian cloud houses; tropical tree-houses; colourful gypsy wagons and handmade house-trucks and house-buses. Some of the fantasy dwellings were amazing and quite ingenious: Michael Kahn’s Eliphante with windows composed of old car windshields, silicone together with stained glass incorporated on the inside; Ma Page’s Bottle house and Steve Kornher’s lightweight concrete sculptural forms at Timolandia. They are all labours of love, relatively cheap in monetary terms, though costly in time and a wonderful testament to their builder’s creativity and uniqueness.

Like the previous book, it has an excellent list of recommended reading matter.BlogArchitectureBooksReszd25%Image (658)Homemade Houses: Traditional Homes From Many Lands by John Nicholson 1993

This is a lovely little book about architecture and regional building styles for children.

It covers:  Mobile homes (Moroccan tents; Afghan yurts; and Inuit igloos;) and a wide variety of dwellings built from :

Reeds, grass and bamboo: Madan Mudhif; Sulawesi Tongkonan; Samoan fales; and Venezuelan huts;

Earth and clay: Dogon village; Cappadocian cave; New Mexican pueblo; and Syrian mud domes;

Wood: Australian Queenslander; Japanese minka; timberframed houses in England; and

Stone: Cotswold cottage; Apulian trullo and Irish thatched farmhouse.

Like all children’s books, it is a great way to get a quick condensed and simplified view of an unfamiliar subject. It has a simple glossary and a world map marking the locations of featured buildings at the back.BlogArchitectureBooksReszd25%Image (657)

The next two books concentrate on the vernacular architecture of the United Kigdom.

The Illustrated Handbook of Vernacular Architecture by RW Brunskill 1971/ 1978

A simple, yet comprehensive guidebook to all the different vernacular building styles in Britain, though there is a small section on the English influence in North America. There are detailed chapters on :

Walling : Frame and cladding: Construction and materials, including stone, cobbles and pebbles, flint, brick, earth and clay, timber, wattle-and-daub, shingles, weatherboard and plaster;

Roofing : Shape, construction and materials, including thatch, slate, stone flags and tiles, clay tiles and pantiles; as well as notes on dormers, eaves and chimneys;

Plans and sections, including notes on halls, hearths and fireplaces, storeys and staircases;

Architectural details : All the different styles and shapes of windows and doors throughout time; and external (bay windows, porches, wrought iron, barge boards, plaques and sundials) and internal ornament (partitions, built-in cupboards and moulded ceiling beams);

Farm buildings : Haysheds, stables, pigstys, threshing barns, cow-houses, granaries, dovecots and oast houses; and

Urban vernacular and minor industrial buildings, including the terrace houses of the Industrial  Revolution; windmills and watermills; and smithies, kilns and textile mills.

In the back are distribution maps and notes on all the different types of building materials: stone; flint, pebble and cobble; brick; clay; timber; thatch; stone flags and tiles; plain tiles and pantiles; and building techniques: cruck timber frame construction;  fireplace type; as well as time scales showing the different styles of windows, doors and roofing over time.

There are black-and-white photographs and diagrams illustrating patterns, forms and floor plans, as well as appendices on the different methods of studying  vernacular architecture; glossary notes; and suggestions for further reading.

BlogArchitectureBooksReszd30%Image (649)

Village Buildings of Britain by Matthew Rice 1991/ 1992

While the black-and-white photographs of the previous book lend an historical feel to the vernacular architecture, the delightful watercolour renditions of this lovely book are equally suitable.

This book also has a different format. Whereas the previous book was divided into sections according to the elements of the building (roofing, walling, decoration etc), this book is divided geographically with chapters devoted to the typical style of building and building materials in the West Country (Cornwall Somerset and Devon), Wessex (Dorset, Wiltshire, Hampshire, Oxfordshire), the Weald (Surrey, East and West Sussex and Kent), East Anglia (Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire), the Shires (Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire, Warwickshire, Staffordshire), the Cotswolds (Gloucestershire and parts of Wiltshire and Oxfordshire), the West Midlands (Shropshire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire, Staffordshire, Cheshire and Warwick), Wales, the North of England (Northumberland, Cumbria, Durham and Yorkshire), the Borders, and the Highlands and Islands.

There is a regional map on page 15 and a resource distribution map on page 9 (random rubble, granite, sandstone, brick, limestone and chalk or flint), which determines the building materials used.

I loved the paintings of the individual houses, particular features like doorways and windows or brick patterns; regional maps and general landscapes, complete with chooks, turkeys and sheep. There are also interesting notes on the Arts and Crafts movement, Norfolk churches and Welsh chapels, and model villages and farms, as well as an illustrated glossary in the back.BlogArchitectureBooksReszd30%Image (656)A Home in Provence: Interiors, Gardens, Inspiration by Noëlle Duck 2014

A sumptuous book showcasing the beautiful stone houses- the bastides, mas and mazets, bories and cabanons and townhouses of Provence on the Mediterranean coast. I love the blue wooden shutters, the terracotta tiled roofs and  the ochre and burnt sienna walls. The interiors are so beautiful from the terracotta tiled floors and stone staircases with wrought-iron railings to the  ornate plasterwork, rustic exposed wooden ceiling beams and distempered walls in ochre, sienna and azure.

The shady paved terraces, outdoor furniture, water features, earthenware pots and vases and gardens full of lavender and roses are also discussed, as well as the decorative features of Provencal style: the polished and painted wood furniture;; gilded mirrors; rush-bottomed chairs; Provencal fabrics like Souleïado (http://provence.souleiado.com/souleiado-story/ and https://www.french-nc.com/shop/Fabrics/French-Fabrics/Souleiado-Fabric.htm; boutis and matelassage quilts; ceramics and glassware; and tableware and kitchenware.  This is a beautiful dreamy book for francophiles and homemakers alike.BlogArchitectureBooksReszd30%Image (661)Planning the Australian Homestead by Kenneth McConnel 1947

Written the year my husband was born, this book belonged to his mother and I am including it in this post, as I love the old black-and-white photographs of the houses and gardens of famous old Australian properties like Camden Park and Harben Vale in New South Wales and Cardross and Cressbrook in Queensland.

After a brief discussion of Australia’s early bush tradition, the book follows a logical order with chapters on:

Site and Setting: Water; Access; Aspect and Prospect; Wind Protection; Associated Features; Slope; and Soil;

Plans: Verandahs; Site Placement according to sun, wind and aesthetics;  and

Plan Types: Simple Rectangle; L or T Plan; U Plan; Courtyard Plan (which I particularly liked!); and Open Plan, all accompanied by scaled house plans, like the example of the courtyard plan, shown in the photo, taken from page 30, seen below;BlogArchitectureBooksReszd30%Image (668)

Planning the Parts:

Front Entrance: Porch, Verandah, Driveway and Front Door;

Living Room: Fireplace, Ingle Nooks, Windows, Verandah; and Ceiling;

Dining Room: Placement and Lighting;

Kitchen, Pantry and Servery;

Laundry;

Sleeping Wing; and

Bathrooms.

It is so interesting reading this section, as it represents a time capsule. Many of the essential items mentioned are now obsolete in modern homes. How many contemporary entrance halls, if indeed they still exist, contain a hall cupboard for coats and hats, a sofa, an occasional table, telephone and grandfather clock? There are also many references to the beliefs of the time, making for some amusing reading like:

‘ There is, however, something to be said for being able to shut young children out of the living room in the daytime, provided there is somewhere else for them to carry on their activities’!

How times have changed! The contents of the living room have also changed. While we still have sofas or armchairs and possibly a table in our contemporary living rooms, many modern houses no longer have bookcases, desks, wireless sets or pianos. And how many people these days know what an ingle nook is? See photo from pages 50 to 51 below.BlogArchitectureBooksReszd20%Image (669)BlogArchitectureBooksReszd50%Image (670)

I love the idea of a two-way cutlery drawers (see dining room photo above, from page 61) and kitchen dresser, built into the wall between the kitchen and dining room, accessible to both rooms, which can also take the form of a drying rack, a ‘real boon to the lady of the house, if she is also the cook and dishwasher’, as seen in the photo below, from pages 68 to 69, though most kitchens and dining rooms are open plan these days and the dishwasher has replaced washing dishes by hand!BlogArchitectureBooksReszd25%Image (671)I also laughed at the assertion that: ‘a bath is almost as out of date and insanitary as an antimacassar’, whatever the latter is (!), but that ‘being a conservative people, I suppose that we shall stick to it for quite a long time’, written 70 years ago by an obviously non-bath lover!!!

The book then discusses Associated Features and Services: The garden; water and drainage; rain water tanks; sanitation and septic systems; stables and horse yards; and milking sheds, all of which could still be relevant to country homesteads, though more really an indication of the age of this book!

There is a separate chapter, written by Rex Hazlewood, on Garden Design, followed by chapters on heating and cooling; lighting; building materials: stone and brick; pise; timber; concrete and cement; wrought iron; and paint; and the use of these materials in walling, posts and columns, verandahs, roofs, ceilings, floors, paving, gates and railings.BlogArchitectureBooksReszd30%Image (659)The Australian House: Homes of the Tropical North by Balwant Saini and Ray Joyce 1982/1993

The traditional timber Queenslander house of tropical Northern Australia is a classic example of vernacular domestic architecture in Australia during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The author examines the origins and influences upon the development of the tropical timber house and its components: verandahs, stumps, roofs, interiors and fences. He discusses their renovation and restoration, the pitfalls and things to look out for.

There are over 200 photos of houses from large wealthy city mansions to the humble cottages of factory workers and miners. Having lived in Toowong, Queensland, I was familiar with many of the houses and streetscapes photographed in this book.

I love these old houses: their old verandahs, the decorative awnings and brackets, cast-iron work, roof ventilators and finials, roof lookouts and curved corrugated iron bullnose verandah roofs, as well as their internal features: fretwork door panels, pressed metal ceilings and stained glass window panes. The photographs are delightful and the book provides plenty of inspiration for renovators. It finishes with a bibliography and glossary of terms.BlogArchitectureBooksReszd25%Image (660)

Islam: Art and Architecture Edited by Markus Hattstein and Peter Delius 2004

Islamic architecture is also highly distinctive and recognizable and another one of my favourite architectural styles. This book is a wonderful guide to the fundamentals of Islamic architecture and showcases many beautiful examples throughout the world, their locations depicted in the introductory world map, as well as different historical time periods

Introductory chapters cover:

World Religion and Cultural Power: History; Beliefs; the Koran; the Five Pillars of Islam: the public profession of faith (shahada); the obligatory liturgical prayer (salat) five times a day at fixed times; the giving of alms (zakat); ritual fasting (saum) in the holy month of Ramadan; and the pilgrimage to Mecca and its surroundings (the hajj); and Islamic Law;

Art and Culture in the Islamic World: Early Arabian art; Islamic attitudes to art; Mosques; Philosophy and Science (astronomy, physics and medicine); and Literature.

The book continues with a discussion of the different time periods and places: their history, trade and trading routes; architecture and architectural ornament;  and decorative arts, including mosaics and  tile work; sculptural ornamentation, reliefs and frescoes; textiles and carpets, ceramics and glassware, woodwork and metalwork; artifacts made from ivory and rock crystals; calligraphy, book illustration and miniature painting; and garden design. Comprehensive chapters, complete with timelines, maps, diagrams, architectural plans and wonderful photographs, are devoted to:

Syria and Palestine: the Umayyad Caliphate

Iraq, Iran and Egypt: the Abbasids of Tunisia and Egypt: the Aghlabids and Fatimids;

Syria, Palestine and Egypt: the Ayyubids, Mamluks and Crusaders;

Spain and Morocco: Spanish Umayyads; Almoravids and Almohads; and the Nasrids of Granada;

The Maghreb: Morocco to Tunisia, including the Berbers;

Early Empires of the East: Ghaznavids and Ghurids;

Central Asia and Asia Minor: the Great Seljuks, the Anatolian Seljuks and the Khwarazm-Shahs;

Islamic Mongols: From the Mongol Invasions to the Ilkhanids;

Central Asia: the Timurids; the Shaybanids and the Khan Princedoms;

India: From Sultanate to Mughal Empire; Iran: Safavids and Qajars;

The Ottoman Empire;  and

Islam in the Modern Age.

It is a really lovely book, with so much information and so many beautiful buildings and artworks!BlogArchitectureBooksReszd25%Image (666)

On Thursday, I will be discussing Part Two of this discussion of Architectural Books.

Travel Books: Part Three: Practicalities

These days, there is so much information online, that it is worth planning the practicalities of your travel by consulting the internet for the most up-to-date information on prices, opening times etc. I still like to travel with the odd hard copy though, so long as it’s not too heavy and bulky, but do try to get the most recent publication!

Lonely Planet Guides are the ultimate guides and are also available online: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/.  In fact, my daughter Jenny, who writes a travel blog: https://traveladventurediscover.com had three of her articles selected for the Lonely Planet Pathfinders monthly roundups (March, April and June, 2016), moving her to the next level of Lonely Planet Assignment Pathfinder. See: https://traveladventurediscover.com/2016/03/08/best-things-about-travelling-in-your-van/;  https://traveladventurediscover.com/2016/04/12/23-ways-to-travel-south-east-asia/ and https://traveladventurediscover.com/2016/06/14/favourite-feasts-of-south-east-asia/. Also, check out: https://www.lonelyplanet.com/pathfinders/signup.

Lonely Planet Guides generally all follow a similar format, so I will describe the Lonely Planet guide we used for France. It starts with:

Quick Reference Guide on the inside cover: Symbols and Price Ranges used; Exchange Rates; Rough Costs; Useful Phrases; Business Hours; Telephone Codes; Emergency Numbers; and Conversions.

Colour Map with key points of interest highlighted and a reference page number, followed by :

Glossy colour plates featuring Classic Destinations; Food and Wine; Festivals and Events; Activities; and Arts and Architecture;

Contents;

List of Contributors;

Getting Started :When to Go; Costs and Money; Travel Literature; Internet Resources; and the Top 10 (Adventures/ Culinary Experiences and Shopping Sprees);

Variety of Itineraries (Classic Routes/ Roads Less Travelled/ Tailored Trips);

Snapshot of Contemporary France;

French History;

French Culture: National Psyche; Lifestyle; Blogosphere; Economy; Averages; Do’s and Don’ts; Population; Sport: Football, Rugby, Cycling and Tennis; Multiculturalism; Media; Religion; Women in France; the Arts: Classic and Modern Literature, Top 10 Literary sights, Cinema, Music, Architecture and Painting;

Environment : the Land; Flora and fauna; National Parks; Environmental Issues and Conservation Organizations;

Food and Drink: Staples, Regional Specialties, Drinks, Celebrations, Where to Eat, Vegetarians and Vegans, Dining with Children, Habits and Customs, Cooking Courses and Vocabulary.

The majority of the book is devoted to a detailed description of each different area of France, including:

Introduction and Highlights;

Black-and-White Regional Map;

Geography and Climate;

Orientation;

Information Sources;

Sights and Activities;

Accommodation ;

Food and Drink;

Entertainment;

Getting There and Away: Air; Bus; Train; car and Motorcycle; Bicycle Hire; and

Feature Boxes on relevant history, festival, food, people, crafts etc

The directory at the back covers all the practical information required:

Accommodation; Activities; Business Hours; Children; Climate Charts; Courses; Customs; dangers and Annoyances; Discount Cards; Embassies and Consulates; Festivals and Events; Food; Gay and Lesbian Travellers; Holidays; Insurance; Internet Access; Legal Matters; Local Government; Maps; Money; Photography and Video; Post; Shopping; Solo Travellers; Telephone; Time; Tourist Information; Travellers with Disabilities; Visas; Volunteering; Women Travellers; and Work; as well as a detailed section on:

Transport:

Getting There and Away:

Air: Airports; Airlines; Tickets; Climate Change and Flying; Carbon Offset Schemes

Land:

Bus: Discount Passes; Eurolines; Intercars

Cars and Motorcycle: Eurotunnel;

Train: Rail Services; Train Passes; Eurostar

Sea: Ferry Travel

Getting Around: Air; Bicycle; Canal Boating; Bus; Car Hire and Distances; Autoroutes; Licences; Insurance; and Road Rules; Hitching; Taxis; Train; and Tours.

Health: Insurance; Vaccinations; Deep Vein Thrombosis; Jet Lag; Health Car; Environmental Hazards; Sexual Health; Womens’ Health and Travelling with Children.

Language: Pronunciation; Etiquette; Gender and Essential Vocabulary for: Accommodation; Conversation; Directions; Signs; Emergencies; Health; Numbers, Paperwork; Question Words; Shopping and Services; Time and Dates; Transport; and Travel with Children.

Finally, there is a Glossary; a few blank pages for notes; the Index; a Map of World Time Zones, and a Map Legend.

BlogTravelBooksReszd30%Image (625) - Copy

Alastair Sawday’s Special Places to Stay: British Bed & Breakfast for Garden Lovers 2007

https://www.sawdays.co.uk/

Sawdays is another well-known travel company from Bristol, England, which searches out special places to stay in Britain, Ireland; France; Italy; Spain and Portugal. It was founded by Alistair Sawday, a keen environmentalist and sustainability advocate. He was a Green Party candidate, founded the Avon Friends of the Earth and was Vice-­Chair of the Soil Association. His company was honoured with a Queen’s Award for Sustainability, as well as being voted Independent Environmental Publisher of the Year twice.

This delightful book starts with an introduction explaining the Sawday philosophy and how to use the book and general and regional maps.

There are detailed descriptions of over 60 Bed-and-Breakfast establishments with beautiful gardens with contact details, addresses and websites; directions; number and type of rooms; price; meals; closed times and coded symbols (Wheelchair accessibility; Children, Dogs, Smoking, Credit cards; Vegetarian meals; Licensed; Working farm; Swimming pool, Bicycles; Tennis court; Local walks and Fine Breakfast Scheme).

In the back is a Bird Calendar; a list of Garden Organisations; a Brief History of Garden Styles; Lists of Garden Books and Gardens to Visit and a Map of the National Cycle Network.

BlogTravelBooksReszd30%Image (625)

It is well worth reading their blog: http://journal.sawdays.co.uk/ and looking at their Collections: Garden Lovers; Ethical; Family Friendly; Good for Groups; Cosy Boltholes; Coastal; and New to Sawdays. See:  https://www.sawdays.co.uk/collections. I also like the look of Go Slow England: Special Local Places to Eat, Stay and Savor by Alastair Sawday. See: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/5153994-go-slow-england.

Here are some more local guides.

Twenty Best Walks in Australia by Tyrone T Thomas 1989

Tyrone Thomas has written a number of guides to bushwalks throughout Australia and this particular book covers 20 hikes, which he considers to be the best in Australia, a number of which we have done, including Sydney Harbour; walks around Blackheath in the Blue Mountains; Mount Gower and Malabar Hill on Lord Howe Island; Mt Kootaloo circuit on Dunk Island; Green Island, near Cairns; Mt Warning on the NSW-Qld border; Katherine Gorge, Northern Territory; the Grampians; the High Country and Wilson’s Promontory in Victoria; Mt. Kosciusko; and Cradle Mountain, Lake St. Clair and Tasman Peninsula in Tasmania.

Each walk is graded as one day/ overnight and easy/medium and hard. The book contains comprehensive track notes; maps; and distance, time, weather, transport and access details, as well as points of interest, warnings and navigational advice. The walks selected give an excellent overall view of the huge  diversity of walks and environments in our vast continent and is particularly aimed at international visitors with limited time, though is still very useful for locals, and its light weight compact format makes it very portable for bushwalkers.

BlogTravelBooksReszd30%Image (626) - Copy

Seventy Walks in Southern New South Wales and A.C.T by Tyrone Thomas 1998/ 2004

A recent addition to our library, now that we live in this area and are keen to explore this new area.

Produced in a similar format to all his books with introductory brief notes on distance; time required; best time to visit; grade; environment, map reference and last date reviewed; followed by comprehensive track notes, accompanied by maps, diagrams; ink sketches of native flora and a few colour plates.

There are also notes on safety precautions, first aid in the bush; and equipment and food suggestions for bushwalking. While we have already visited the National Botanic Garden in Canberra, Big Hole in Deua National Park; Mt Bushwalker; and local areas like North Head; Bournda National Park; Mt Imlay and Merrica River, we look forward to using this guide to plan walks like Mt Dromedary near Tilba Tilba; the Nadgee Wilderness; Bendethera Caves; Pigeon House Mountain; the Monolith Valley; the Castle and the Kosciusko region. It’s good to know we have so many wonderful spots to explore!

BlogTravelBooksReszd30%Image (501) - Copy

Walking Round in Circles: Twenty-seven Circular Walks in the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park by Jane Scott and Patricia Negus 2007

A beautiful book, which we bought after our trip to Western Australia, after visiting the home and art studio ‘Swallows Welcome’ of the artist Patricia Negus (https://www.mrros.com.au/member/patricia-negus/)  in Margaret River in April 2011. She and her husband Tim built a mud-brick Chapel of the Flowers to house all of her 102 beautiful wildflower paintings. Dawn Klok designed the leadlight windows and the porch mosaic was made by  local artist, Jenny Hunt.BlogTravelBooksReszd50%wa visit 503BlogTravelBooksReszd50%wa visit 501

Patricia teamed up with Jane Scott, the author of this book, and Ray Forma to form Cape to Cape Publishing and they have produced a number of books about the Margaret River region.

BlogTravelBooksReszd25%Image (627)

I love this particular book as it has such beautiful illustrations and photos and holds fond memories of the walks we enjoyed in this beautiful national park, using this book as a guide. Below are some of her illustrated pages in this book.

The great thing about this area is that while you can do the entire walk from Cape Naturaliste to Cape Leeuwin, it is also possible to walk small sections and this book is an excellent guide to the 27 walks available.The following photos are from our wonderful beach walk at Cosy Corner:

BlogTravelBooksReszd50%wa visit 413BlogTravelBooksReszd50%wa visit 423BlogTravelBooksReszd50%wa visit 433BlogTravelBooksReszd50%wa visit 245Accompanied by clear maps, each walk is described in great detail and is broken up into smaller sections with details on access, distance and time, warnings where necessary and interesting notes on points of interest like whale watching; bush tucker; plants of granite outcrops or the limestone coast; historic settlements; the timber industry; fungi and orchids; caves; butterflies and moths; and  creatures of the open ocean or intertidal zones.

There are also notes on bush safety; first aid; geology; springs and tufa deposits; tides and currents; weather and climate; and native vegetation in the front and a bird list and bibliography in the back.

It is such a beautiful area, especially when the wildflowers are in full bloom! We loved our walks at Cosy Corner (photos above) and Cape Clairault (photos below), where we saw 6 rock parrots amongst the boulders on the beach. The sand was pure white; the waters aqua; and the coastline so unspoilt and natural!  I could not recommend a visit to this incredible area nor this beautiful book highly enough!BlogTravelBooksReszd50%wa visit 675BlogTravelBooksReszd50%wa visit 601BlogTravelBooksReszd50%wa visit 580BlogTravelBooksReszd50%wa visit 666Random Thoughts on Travel

And for those of us, who may not be able to travel at the moment, some consoling thoughts! Often the experience may not necessarily match up with the expectations! The next two books which explore this theme.

 Slow Travel : Sell the House, Buy the Yacht and Sail Away..  by Mari Rhydwen 2004

For all those people, who dream of getting a yacht and sailing away, it is well worth reading this book for the realities of life on the open sea, especially if you are satisfying a spouse’s desire! I feel a bit guilty because I lent it to a friend, who was then totally put off the idea!!!

Despite the downsides of petty officialdom, bribery and corruption,the threat of piracy and rollercoasting from boredom and total exhaustion to moments of sheer terror, it’s also a journey of discovery about life on water, learning to sail, visiting isolated natural spots, diving in the world’s best reefs and letting go of notions of  personal identity like work, material possessions and personal space. A very amusing and interesting read!

BlogTravelBooksReszd30%Image (624)

The Art of Travel by Alain de Bouton 2002

In this thoughtful collection of essays, Alain examines the reasons for this paradox, as well as the ‘how and why’ of travel.

He starts with a discussion of anticipation and why it may sometimes be better or certainly different to the real thing!  As he says on page 15:

‘Anticipatory and artistic imaginations omit and compress, they cut away periods of boredom and direct our attention to critical moments and, without either lying or embellishing, thus lend to life a vividness and a coherence that it may lack in the distracting woolliness of the present…. (as does) memory (which is) an instrument of simplification and selection’.

These comments about anticipation and memory rang very true for me.

He supports his observations with the thoughts of well-known writers: J.-K. Huysmans on the anticipation and rejection of travel, as well as Baudelaire on ambivalence toward places, Flaubert on the attractions of the Orient, Wordsworth on the benevolent moral effects of nature, Burke on the sublime, and Ruskin on the importance of careful observation.

BlogTravelBooksReszd40%Image (623) - Copy

Other essays look at the reasons for travel: a mode of escape from current circumstances; a chance to make a fresh start and see things with fresh eyes; a time to contemplate (‘Journeys are the midwives of thought’ p57); the appeal and allure of the different or exotic; or just pure curiosity.

All these reasons ensure the success of this final book on a very different type of travel.

The Lonely Planet Guide to Experimental Travel by Rachael Antony and Joël Henry 2005

I loved this book! It’s quirky and fun and enables a fulfilment of all the above reasons for travel with a series of unusual challenges without the expense of conventional travel! Some of the suggestions include:

Alternating Travel: Discover your own home town by alternating your direction- first road on the right, then next on the left, ad infinitum!

Anachronistic Adventure: Travelling by an outmoded form of transport or explore your city with a vintage guidebook.

Fly By Night: Explore a destination by night until the sun rises.

Voyage to the End of the Line: the end of the railway line; bus route or ferry trip and

Ariadne’s Thread or any other name for that matter! Get a friend to make a list of their 10 favourite or personally meaningful places in the city  (eg the first time …), plot these places on a map and draw a line (the thread) between them and follow it.

BlogTravelBooksReszd30%Image (624) - Copy

And of course, for we armchair travellers, the internet is a wonderful source for information, dreaming and inspiration. Now that our appetite for travel has been stimulated, I am exploring some of my favourite bucket-list gardens overseas for the next fortnight!

 

Travel Books: Part Two: Dreamy Travel Books

Here are some of our favourite travel books to inspire your next adventure! The world certainly is a wonderful place!!!

The Traveller’s Atlas: A Global Guide to the Places You Must See in Your Lifetime by John Man and Chris Schüler 2004

This is a lovely book and a comprehensive  guide to some of the wonderful places our world has to offer. They are organized into different geographical areas:

North America: Banff National Park; Grand Canyon; Cliffs of Yosemite; San Francisco and the West Coast; the Adirondack wilderness; and Florida;

Central and South America: Mexico; La Ruta Maya; Costa Rican wildlife; an Amazon riverboat; and the Inca Trail;

Africa: Marrakech and the Atlas Mountains, Morocco; a Steamer trip to Timbuktoo; Egypt and the Nile; the East African Rift Valley, the birthplace of mankind; and Zambesi and the Okavango, both rich in wildlife;

Mediterranean and Near East: Moorish Spain; Provence; Chamonix and the Alps; Renaissance Italy; Venice; the Meteora, Greece; Crusader castles in Syria, probably since obliterated by the Syrian War, and Istanbul, where East meets West;

Northern Europe: Western Isles of Scotland; West Coast of Ireland, which we have already visited; the Norwegian coastline; and the elegant cities of the Middle European countries of Austria, Czechoslovakia and Poland;

Northern Asia: The Trans-Siberian railway; the Great Wall of China; and the cliffs of the Gobi Desert;

Central Asia: the Karakoram Highway and the Silk Road; the Roof of the World at Kathmandu in the Himalayas; the Gorges of the Yangtze River; and Kyoto, the cultural centre of Japan;

India and South-East Asia: the Princely States of Rajasthan and  the Sacred City of Varanasi in India; the jungle temples of Cambodia at Angkor Wat; and the tropical island of Bali;

Australia: Dreamtime in the Northern Territory; the Great Barrier Reef; Cradle Mountain, Tasmania;

New Zealand: Rotorua, the geothermal hotspot; and Queenstown, the Adventure Capital;

And the Pacific: Hawaii; Tahiti; Easter Island and Cruising the Galapagos.

Each entry has a Fact File with details, which vary from access/ transport; the best time to visit; dimensions/ population; climate; currency; food and drink; and language; to  information centres (addresses also listed in the back of the book); permits/ equipment required; and warnings and health precautions; with comprehensive maps, beautiful photographs and lots of information about each area, including inset boxes of historical interest. This book definitely gives you itchy feet!!BlogTravelBooksReszd25%Image (632)

The Marshall Travel Atlas of Dream Places: A Guide to the World’s Most Romantic Locations 1995

This lovely book provides a grand tour of the world’s best loved romantic destinations and trips, which are divided into the following chapters:

Cities of Romance and Creation: St Petersburg; Venice; the Orient Express; Damascus; Vieux Carré; Montmatre; Paris by the Seine; Seville; and Prague;

Entangled in History: Gripsholm; Charleston; Dürnstein; the Romantic Road; Holyrood House; Wawel Cathedral; and Versailles;

Paradise Found: Grasmere; Victoria Falls; Livingstone’s Travels; Mount Kailas; Bay of Naples; the Grand Tour; and Fingal’s Cave;

From the Mists of the Past: Petra; Soúnion; Cuzco; the Inca Trail; Borobodur; Luxor; the Nile; and Chichén Itzá;

and Outposts of the Beyond: Kathmandu; Samarkand; the Silk Road; Bangkok; Kyoto; the Trans-Siberian Railway; Shanghai; and Havana, Cuba.

The book discusses the history and special features of each area, supported by maps and beautiful photographs and a more extensive gazetteer including further sights in the back. The book itself is a wonderful trip into the romantic past!BlogTravelBooksReszd25%Image (633)

Silk, Scents and Spice: Retracing the World’s Great Trade Routes: The Silk Road, the Spice Route and the Incense Trail  by John Lawton 2004

I have always been fascinated and entranced by the Silk Road, a network of overland trade routes  12 000 km long over the mountains, deserts and steppes of Central Asia between the Orient and the markets of Europe and the Middle East 2000 years ago.

Originating in Xian, the ancient capital of China, one route was 6 400 km long and followed the Great Wall of China westward, skirting the Taklamakan Desert and passing through the Fergana Valley to the caravan cities of Samarkand and Bukhara, then across the Caspian Sea to Constantinople in Turkey, while other routes climbed the Pamir Mountains and crossed Afghanistan and Iran to the ports of the Eastern Mediterranean,  or crossed the Great Wall to Mongolia, crossing the steppes of Kazakstan and Southern Russia to Europe.

Camel caravans carried Chinese silk, tea, porcelain and lacquerware west, in exchange for European amber, silk and gold, travelling eastward. Other trade goods included indigo dyes, glassware and frankincense from the Middle East; pepper, cotton and sandalwood from India; furs from Siberia and war horses from Central Asia. It was also the conduit for the dissemination of ideas and cultural traditions in all directions, including the spread of religions, as well as the latest science and technology like papermaking, printing and gunpowder from China; and mathematics, medicine and astronomy from the West.

The authors follow the different sections of the Silk Road and their fascinating historical background and current political situation (post Cold War and the disintegration of the Soviet Union) are discussed in detail:

The Royal Road: This route is 2 500 Km long and runs from Susa, Iran, across Mesopotamia and Anatolia, to the Ankara, Turkey and Aegean Sea;

The Golden Road: Linking Central Asia with the metropolises of Mesopotamia: Samarkand and Bukhara;

The Mountain Passage: Traversing the roof of the world and some of the world’s mightiest mountain ranges: the Pamir, Tien Shan, Karakorum, Himalaya and Hindu Kush and providing lines of communication between Central Asia, China and India since ancient times;

The Steppe Route: Followed by the nomadic horsemen, the Scythians, Huns, Turks and Mongols from Mongolia across China, Southern Russia and Central Asia, through the Ukraine to Hungary; and

The Imperial Highway: from Xian to Lanzhou and Anxi, across the Gobi and Taklamakan Deserts, to the oasis of Turpan and the ancient jade market of Khotan and thence, the magical city of Kashgar.

I learnt so much about the different peoples, rulers and empires: the Assyrians and Hittites; the Scythians; Alexander the Great and the Ancient Greeks, the Parthians, Kushans and Sassanians; the Ancient Romans; the Seljuk Turks and the Ottomans; the Ghaznavids and  Ghurid conquests; Genghis Khan and the Golden Horde; Tamerlane (Timur) and the Mongols; the Huns; the Khorezmshahs; Babur, the first of the Moghul emperors; Kublai Khan and the centenarian Hunzacuts (Ismaili Muslims), as well as the  history of Constantinople (also called Byzantium and now Istanbul); the fairy chimneys of Cappadocia, which hold 200 early Christian churches; the Arab conquest of Central Asia; the beautiful architecture of Bukhara and Samarkand; the formation of the six Central Asian republics in 1927: Azerbaijan and the five ‘stans’: Kazakstan; Kyrgystan; Turkmenistan; Uzbekistan and the Persian-speaking Tajikstan; the celestial horses of the Fergana valley, stolen by the 60 000 strong Han army; the origins of Buddhism; the petroglyphs of Gandhara; the kurgans and grave goods of the Pazyryk nomads in the Altai region of Siberia; and finally, the secret of sericulture (silk).BlogTravelBooksReszd25%Image (631)

The section on the Spice Route, a network of sea lanes plied by Arab dhows, Chinese junks and Spanish galleons between the Mediterranean and the Far East, including India, China and the Spice Islands of Indonesia and the history of spices is equally fascinating!

Apparently, the Ancient Mesopotamians used 3 to 10 condiments in their recipes, as recorded on Akkadian cuneiform clay tablets from 1700 BC. I also learnt that cinnamon was the most prized spice in antiquity and was used in embalming by the Ancient Egyptians; in a sacred anointing oil by Hebrew priests and as a flavouring oil by Ancient Greeks, Herodotus writing in 5BC that cinnamon came from remote swamps guarded by huge bat-like creatures.

The authors describe the different parts of the route: the Red Sea, the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean; the ports of Muscat, Suhar (the legendary home of Sinbad the Sailor and the source of copper, the backbone of the Sumerians’ wealth), Malacca, Goa and Galle; Cochin (the present-day centre of the spice trade), the Maldives and Sri Lanka; the Spice Islands of Indonesia; and the history and source of the different spices involved: cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg and pepper.

Finally, the Incense Trail, the oldest caravan route in the world delivering frankincense and myrrh from the aromatic growing regions of Arabia to the incense-hungry empires of the Ancient World, including Egypt, Babylon and Rome.

This is a beautiful book with stunning photographs of the landscapes, peoples, architecture and artefacts and an excellent map showing all these important trading routes and cities at the front. It is also supported by a DVD based on the book and co-produced by UNESCO and Arté in 2008, with interactive menus, animated maps and related UNESCO projects. I would love to get a copy one day! See: http://www.unesco.org/archives/multimedia/?pg=33&s=films_details&id=603.

Discovering the Wonders of Our World: A Guide to Nature’s Scenic Marvels Reader’s Digest 1993

Readers’ Digest always produce excellent guides and this one is no exception. While discussing some of the places already mentioned, it also covers so much more, particularly those places with amazing natural features and attributes, like Tassili N’Ajjer in the Sahara Desert with its ancient rock art and pinnacles, carved out by the old, now non-existent, rivers; the Ruwenzori Mountains between Uganda and Zaire; East Africa’s Soda Lakes, frequented by millions of pink flamingos each year; the Ngorongoro Crater, Northern Tanzania, home to one of the highest concentration of wildlife in Africa; the stunning Blyde River Canyon of South Africa and the limestone razors of the Ankarana Plateau at the northern tip of Madagascar, with its amazing biodiversity and unusual animals. And that’s just a sample of the African entries!

There are so many other places described in this book, which  I would love to visit like the Ritten Earth Pillars of South Tyrol; the Cappadocian Cones with their troglodyte cities in Turkey; the Heavenly Mountains of the Tien Shan in Central Asia; the Lunan Stone Forest in China’s Yunnan Province and the Guilan Hills in South China; and The Olgas and Lake Eyre in full flood here in Australia.  In fact, in this book, there are 138 natural wonders described, accompanied by lovely photos, clear maps and diagrams and pages featuring early explorers, geologists and geographers; farming practices; early mountaineers; landscape in film and art; and monuments of lost empires.

In the back of the book is a 38 page section explaining how natural forces (heat from the Earth’s interior; heat from the sun; and gravity) have shaped our world, along with the mechanisms of continental drift; volcanoes and earthquakes; the birth of mountains; limestone formations; the coastal fringe; river erosion and the brief life of lakes; the sculpting glaciers; and sandblasted deserts, including inset boxes of key facts like the world’s deepest caves or ocean trenches; the worst eruptions or earthquakes; the longest rivers; highest waterfalls; the longest glaciers and the highest mountains.BlogTravelBooksReszd25%Image (634)

Try this quiz WITHOUT looking at a map!:

1.Which is the world’s biggest lake?

2.Which is the largest hot desert in the world and how large is it?

3.Where is the lowest land point on earth?

4.What is a doline?

5.How long and wide is the world’s longest glacier and what is it’s name?

This wonderful book holds all the answers (though I will take pity on you and provide the answers at the end of the post to save you time googling!! Though having said that, I did check Google in the interests of accuracy, given this book was published almost 25 years ago and landscapes (and knowledge!) do evolve and change over time!

501 Must-Visit Natural Wonders Bounty Books 2007

A more recent guide and a lovely book to dip into at random, this enticing book is a great taster to some of the world’s amazing natural wonders, listing 501 places, plants and animals, each with its own page (with the occasional double page spread) and an inset box of quick details: What It Is; How to Get There; When to Go; Nearest Town; Don’t Miss; and You Should Know!

While many are well-known, for obvious reasons, there are many many places, of which I had never even heard like: the Laurentian Mountains in Quebec, with their incredible Autumn colour; the stunningly beautiful Gros Morne National Park in Newfoundland; and the Cerrado, Central Brazil, one of the oldest and most diverse tropical ecosystems in the world, as well as the richest savanna area on earth, with over 10 000 plant species (half of which is endemic), 900 bird species and 300 mammals. And that’s just the Americas!

The pages on American flora and fauna include : the ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest and the Giant Redwoods (Sequoias) , the largest trees in the world, both in California; in Canada, the Caribou Migration, Orcas and the Polar Bears of Churchill, under dire threat by global warming; the Penguins of South Georgia and the Hummingbirds of Trinidad; the Horseshoe Crabs of Delaware Bay; and the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuaries in Mexico.

The section on Australasia and Oceania is very comprehensive with 65 entries, 27 of which are in Australia and 16 of which we have visited! It’s good to know there are still many more places to explore and even if we never get to visit all of these beautiful places (and really in the interests of preservation, its better that we don’t!), this book is a great record of the amazing natural wonders and biodiversity of our very special planet!BlogTravelBooksReszd25%Image (628)

Paradise on Earth: The Natural World Heritage List: A Journey Through the World’s Most Outstanding Natural Places IUCN 1995

Given the huge environmental pressures, due to increasing human population and development, it is fortunate that many of these places are protected by World Heritage listing and the next book describes 113 of the 100 natural and 300 cultural areas mentioned in the 1995 book, though now there are 1052 sites listed by UNESCO. See: http://www.worldheritagesite.org/worldheritagelist.html and  http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/stat. IUCN stands for the International Union for Conservation of Nature (https://www.iucn.org), the scientific advisor to the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, which identifies areas worthy of nomination to the World Heritage List.

Areas are chosen following a rigorous assessment process, which compares them to other similar sites to determine their uniqueness and evaluates five factors (distinctiveness; integrity; naturalness; dependency and diversity) to ascertain their conservation importance.

The guidelines are very strict and all must be adhered to for inclusion in the list. For example, the Burrup Peninsula on the Dampier Peninsula, which has the world’s largest and most important collection of petroglyphs (ancient rock art engravings 30 000 years old) has not been given World Heritage Status because of the risk of polluting emissions from current and proposed heavy industry nearby. See: http://www.smh.com.au/technology/sci-tech/australias-most-significant-site-kept-off-unescos-world-heritage-list-20170209-gu9sr9.html.

The following sites give some idea of the criteria used to select sites: http://whc.unesco.org/en/criteria/;

http://www.environment.gov.au/heritage/about/world/world-heritage-criteria and

https://www.environment.gov.au/system/files/resources/70d3290e-be32-4efa-93da-594948f5df9e/files/outstanding-values-factsheet.pdf.

Unfortunately, as pointed out in the book, their inclusion on the list does not necessarily protect them (see the current furore over the Adani Coal mine in the Galilee Basin in North Queensland, posing enormous risks to the Great Barrier Reef, which obtained World Heritage Listing in 1981), and it is only through political commitment, pushed by widespread public support, that ensures their survival. This book was produced to increase public awareness and appreciation to achieve this aim.

It certainly is an incredibly beautiful and very important book! Divided into continents, each entry is 2 to 4 pages long with side inset panels, detailing its location; area; features; flora and fauna; and facilities. The main text describes these special areas, along with risks and pressures they face. As can be expected, the photographs of the landscapes and flora and fauna are superb!

There are also individual essays on Trees and Global Warming; Rainforest Riches;  Biodiversity; Climate Change and How World Heritage Can Help; the World Heritage Convention; the Oceans: Our Lifeblood Threatened; and the Importance of Environmental Protection.

This book is essential for every natural history library, in fact I believe everyone should read it! We certainly have a stunningly beautiful and fragile planet!BlogTravelBooksReszd20%Image (636)

A Journey Through Ancient Kingdoms and Natural Wonders: The World Heritage Sites of Australia, New Zealand and South-East Asia by Leonard Cronin 1995

Produced in the same year, this book is more specific to our part of the world, focusing on 11 World Heritage sites in Australia, two in New Zealand; and nine in South-east Asia. There are now 19 sites in Australia (See: http://www.environment.gov.au/heritage/places/world-heritage-list and http://www.australiangeographic.com.au/travel/destinations/2015/05/world-heritage-sites-of-australia), three in New Zealand and 37 in South-East Asia. See: https://aseanup.com/world-heritage-sites-in-southeast-asia/.

In this book, each site has an entire chapter devoted to it, with an in-depth discussion of its landscapes and habitats; characteristics; formation; history; diversity of species; their importance to the world community; and threats and preservation.

The Australian sites discussed include: Great Barrier Reef; the Wet Tropics of Queensland; Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park (Ayers Rock and the Olgas); Kakadu National Park; Australian Fossil Mammal Sites (Riversleigh, Queensland and Naracoorte, South Australia); the Central Eastern Rainforest Reserves; Fraser Island; Shark Bay; Willandra Lakes; the Tasmanian Wilderness; and Lord Howe Island.

The New Zealand entries include Tongariro National Park and Te Wahipounamu (South-West New Zealand). The latest inclusion is the Subantarctic Islands (the Snares, Bounty Islands, Antipodes Islands, Auckland Islands and Campbell Island). See: http://www.fourcorners.co.nz/new-zealand/world-heritage-areas/.

Having visited many of the Australian and New Zealand sites personally, I can confirm the book does an excellent job of portraying them!

The South East Asian entries include:

Indonesia: Komodo National Park; Ujung Kulon National Park, Java, refuge of the last Javan Rhinoceri and the Prambanan and Borobodur Temple Compounds;

Thailand: the Ancient Kingdom of Ayutthaya; the Old City of Sukhothai; the Bronze Age settlement of Ban Chiang; and the Thung yai-Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary, the last true wilderness area left in Thailand;

And Angkor in Cambodia, the largest complex of temples and monuments in the world, covering almost 200 square kilometres.

This is an excellent book, which I can highly recommend!BlogTravelBooksReszd25%Image (629)

World Travel: A Guide to International Ecojourneys  Edited by Dwight Holing 1996

Ecotravel is a growing branch of tourism and essential for the continued survival of our fragile ecosystems. Not only is it important that we have as small an impact on these areas as possible, but the tourist dollar is often the reason these areas are able to survive the threats of over-exploitation and habitat destruction.

In the first chapter, this book defines ecotourism and discusses early nature travellers, modern ecotourism and conservation organizations and management.

In Chapter Two: Planning an Ecotour, the authors discuss trip research, timing according to the Wildlife Calendar (see photo below), choosing a tour operator, health, money and security issues, packing essentials and ecotravel equipment.BlogTravelBooksReszd30%Image (642)Chapter Three: Responsible Travelling covers: Ethical considerations and culturally sensitive travel; Means of ecotravel: Hiking, camping, cycling, kayaking and rafting, scuba diving and animal-supported travel; and Different Types of Ecotravel: Naturalist-Led Tours and Volunteer Vacations (research surveys and habitat restoration).

The main bulk of the book features 68 ecojourneys, arranged under six geographical headings: North America; Central and South America; Europe; Africa; Asia; and Oceania and Antarctica.

Each section begins with an introduction to the overall area; a map and a list of the featured destinations. Each individual entry has a coloured background identifying the location of the region; beautiful photographs of the scenery, habitats and flora and fauna; colour illustrations of the latter; maps showing location and major roads and towns; an inset box with keyed symbols and traveller’s notes on access; visiting time; information centres and accommodation; and precautions; and feature boxes on specific information like local environmental issues; signification conservation projects; indigenous lifestyles and flora and fauna.

The Resources Directory in the back contains suggestions for further reading (books, magazines and internet sites); organizations (ecotravel; conservation; medical and security; and volunteer vacations); an index and glossary and a list of contributors to the book.

BlogTravelBooksReszd25%Image (635)

Ecotouring: The Ultimate Guide by Magnus Elander and Staffan Widstrand 1993

Another book on ecotourism, describing 30 key nature destinations in detail, as well as brief descriptions of a further 130 nearby locations.  We have visited some of the sites described:

The steep bird cliffs of the North Atlantic (The Puffins of the Fair Isles; the Bonxies of Hermaness and the Bird City of Noss in the Shetlands);

The pink flamingos and white horses of the Camargue, France;

The crocodiles and birds of Kakadu National Park and the koalas and kangaroos (not to mention the odd wombat and seal!) at Wilson’s Promontary National Park, but that’s only four of the entries!

In each entry, the main text and stunning photographs are followed by a detailed description of the area and notes on access and transport; accommodation; climate and seasons; and flora and fauna of interest, as well as a brief description of nearby areas. It includes many areas, not covered in the previous books, and finishes with a list of key whale watching sites and coral reefs around the world.BlogTravelBooksReszd25%Image (630)

Classic Treks: The Most Spectacular Treks of a Lifetime: The 30 Most Spectacular Walks in the World Edited by Bill Birkett 2000

A beautiful book with stunning photographs of thirty  spectacular walks through incredibly beautiful natural areas in North America (7); South America (3); Europe (7); Asia (5); Africa (4) and Australasia (4).

It describes the unique qualities of each route, as well as providing essential facts and figures to help with trip planning, though obviously, you will need to check these on the internet for more up-to-date information.

There is a short introductory section on preparation and planning; safety; photography; and environmental awareness and responsibilities, followed by a guide to using the book and understanding the symbols like the degree of difficulty logo.

Each walk has a detailed itinerary, divided into days of set distances; detailed keyed maps and walk profiles; a monthly diagram of temperature and precipitation; photos and illustrations and a fact file containing an overview with start and finish points; walk difficulty and altitude; and details on access ( airports; transport; passports and visas; and permits and restrictions); local information sources (maps; guidebooks; background reading; accommodation and supplies; currency and language; photography; and area information); timing and seasonality (best months to visit; and climate); health and safety (vaccinations; general health risks; special considerations; politics and religion; crime risks; and food and drink); and highlights (scenic and wildlife and flora).

A list of contributors and travel information sites are listed in the back of the book.BlogTravelBooksReszd20%Image (637)

We bought this book after our trip to England and France with the kids in 1994, where we unknowingly walked parts of the  Pyreneean High Route on the French/ Spanish border, described in this book. We walked up to the snowline at Lescun (Day 1 and the start of the walk), where 6 year old Jenny fell in the icy melt-water stream and we saw giant snails and had a brief glimpse of an isard.

The next day, we walked the 11 km Tour des Lacs to the Refuge d’Ayous (Day 4) at 5 pm, 4 year old Caroline managing the whole walk on her own unassisted, discovering that the back of Pic Midi d’Ossau increasingly resembled a map of Australia the higher we went.

And on the final day, we called in briefly to the Cirque de Gavarnie (Day 12), the endpoint of the walk and an enormous shock to the system, given its total capitulation to the ravages of mass tourism with lots of highly madeup elderly ladies, riding staggering donkeys up to the cirque with its masses of postcard stands!

While I would love to explore some of the other overseas walks described, the probability is low, but the Overland Track from Cradle Mountain to Lake St. Clair (with a detour to the Walls of Jerusalem) in Tasmania and the Thorsborne Trail on Hinchinbrook Island off the North Queensland coast are still possibilities!

Top Treks of the World Edited by Steve Razzetti 2001

While the Pyrennean Haute Route and Overland Track also described in this book, most of the entries are about different walks to those described in the previous walk, as is the approach and format.

There is a general introduction to each continent with a general map of the area showing the walk locations, followed by a description of each walk, a more detailed map and an inset box of information including: Location; When to Go; Start; Finish; Duration; Maximum Altitude; Technical Considerations; Equipment; Trekking style; and Permits and Restrictions.

Again, the photos are superb! The Eden to Mallacoota Walk (Nadgee Wilderness) is on our immediate radar, being so close, but I still hanker after the Alta Via II Walk through the Dolomites in Northern Italy ; the Lycian way in Turkey; the Tsitsikamma Otter Trail Circuit in South Africa; and the Himalayan treks on the Roof of the World, seven of which are described in this truly beautiful book!BlogTravelBooksReszd20%Image (638)

Lonely Planet’s 1000 Ultimate Adventures 2013

We have always enjoyed bushwalking and kayaking in the great outdoors, but there is also a huge market in adventure tourism these days, especially for the young and active, as well as adrenaline junkies and thrill-seekers!

This book is for them, though there is still plenty of relevant information for us like: the Best Birding Sites or Marine Encounters; the Most Stellar Star-lit Adventures; Famous Footsteps and Legendary Odysseys; and Rousing Reads for Armchair Travellers!

We might give the Wildest Flights; the Most Dangerous Places to Travel; the Most Dangerous Adventures; the Most Hair-Raising Road Trips;  the Scariest Animal Encounters; the Hottest Volcano Ventures; the Most Vertiginous ventures; and the Best Adventures in the Buff  a miss, but they are fun to read about!!!!BlogTravelBooksReszd30%Image (626)

Tomorrow, I will post the third and final selection of  travel books in our library. These books cover the practicalities of travel! Here are the answers to the quiz:

Quiz Answers

1.According to the book, the world’s biggest lake is the Caspian Sea, SW Asia 393 900 sq km (152 000 sq miles), though Google says 370 886 square kilometers (143 200 square miles), but it still is the lake with the largest surface area in the world!

2. The Sahara Desert, North Africa is 9.1 sq km (3.5 Million sq miles).

3. The lowest land point on Earth is the Dead Sea at 396 metres (Google says 414 metres) below sea level. The lowest natural point underwater is Challenger Deep at the bottom of the Mariana Trench 11 034 metres below sea level.

4. A doline is a hole on the surface, after a limestone cave roof has collapsed or dissolved.

5. According to this book, the Lambert Glacier in the Australian Antarctic Territory is the largest glacier in the world at 402 km (250 miles) and up to 64 km (40 miles) wide. Given climate change, I was expecting very different dimensions on Googling, but happily, it is still the largest glacier in the world and the Google figures were actually larger: 435 km (270 miles) long and more than 96 km wide (60 miles).

The World’s Your Oyster: Travel Books Part One: Travellers

Having just had a feast of time travel through the history and prehistory books of our library, it is now time to explore our own world in the physical sense with some of our lovely travel books! In these days of cheap mass-travel, organised tours and party tourism, it is easy to forget that travel was once much more difficult and at times quite dangerous. The early plant hunters endured many perils, diseases and discomforts, as did early visitors to Australia, as discussed in some of the books in my previous post. So, I thought I would start this post with personal travel accounts and writers (Tuesday), followed by a slew of travel books for dreamy contemplation and inspiration (Wednesday), and finally, travel books about the practicalities (Thursday)!

Travellers

Wayward Women: A Guide to Women Travellers by Jane Robinson 1990

I loved this book. If you love history and travel like me, this is the perfect book for you! It’s a fascinating account of 400 remarkable women travellers and writers over 16 centuries. Jane has organized the women into broad groups: those who travelled voluntarily : the pioneers; explorers and adventurers; the financially independent sportswomen; the escapees and wanderers; the sight-seeing tourists; the travel writers; the missionaries; and those to whom travel was a means to an end (scientists; artists; and governesses); and those travelling by default: the wives of diplomats, explorers, military men and those dragged kicking and screaming; as well as the stories of emigrants and life in the bush, though many of the resourceful women described could fit into a number of categories.

Each section is organized alphabetically by surname, while a geographical index in the back lists the women by area. The literary achievements of each woman are listed at the beginning of each entry, followed by fascinating details of their life histories. These short passages make you want to know more about these amazing women, so there is a useful bibliography in the back, as well as contemporary and historical maps of the areas they visited. The stories are so interesting, inspiring, amusing, harrowing and very addictive. It’s hard to put this book down!

BlogTravelBooksReszd30%Image (621) - Copy

Dervla Murphy is one of the women described and we own a number of her books. These are two of them:

Wheels Within Wheels by Dervla Murphy 1979

Essential reading for Dervla Murphy fans, who want to know more about her childhood and formative influences. Dervla was born in 1931 in County Waterford, Ireland, the only child of a country librarian and an invalid mother, who was crippled with rheumatoid arthritis.

While growing up in poverty, Dervla was surrounded by books. I loved the description of her paternal grand-parents’ home, where every flat surface, including the floors, was covered in tottering piles of seemingly disordered books from a wide eclectic range of subject areas from the Birds of Patagonia, the History of Printing in North Africa or the Bogotrid Sect of Tenth Century Bulgaria!

BlogTravelBooksReszd30%Image (622) - Copy

The gift of a second-hand bicycle and a secondhand atlas for her 10th birthday whetted her ambition for a lifetime of travel after her parents died in 1960 and 1962. She cycled to India in 1962, the subject of her first book:

Full Tilt: Ireland to India With a Bicycle by Dervla Murphy 1986

While she was cycling through France, Italy, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Persia, Afghanistan, and over the Himalayas to  Pakistan and India in 1963, Dervla kept a detailed diary of all her experiences, which formed the basis of this wonderful account of her travels.

She writes so well and has a keen eye for detail and appreciation of the countries through which she cycled and the locals, who befriended this solo woman traveller. It was such an amazing trip, followed by a stint working with Tibetan refugee children, which she writes about in her second book: Tibetan Foothold.

BlogTravelBooksReszd30%Image (622)

Her next trip was to Nepal, followed by trekking with a mule through the Ethiopian Highlands. Dervla gave birth to her daughter Rachel in 1968, and as a single mother, introduced her to India, Baltistan, Peru and Madagascar during her childhood. When Rachel was 18 years old, they travelled together to Cameroon and in 2005, the pair took Rachel’s three daughters with them to Cuba. For more on this truly amazing traveller, see: https://www.travelbooks.co.uk/dervla-murphy/ and  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eKFO597-bdw, as well as a link to the trailer for the 2016 documentary on Dervla Murphy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_4HiIpyQHdM.

Another wonderful and entertaining travel writer is William Dalrymple and while I have yet to read more of his books about India, I do own this next one:

In Xanadu: A Quest by William Dalrymple 1989/ 2010

Born in 1965 and studying history at Cambridge, William set off during his studies, aged 22 years old, to retrace the steps (literally!) of Marco Polo from Jerusalem to Xanadu, the Summer palace of Kubla Khan in Mongolia.

He travelled over 12,000 miles on land (road/train) through Israel, Syria, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan and China at a time of great conflict. The Iran-Iraq War had just finished the previous year, but the Palestine-Israel conflict was still raging, Afghanistan was under Soviet occupation and China still very much closed to outside world and foreign travellers.

BlogTravelBooksReszd30%Image (621)

He wrote about this amazing journey in his first book, which was received with much acclaim, winning the 1990 Yorkshire Post Best First Work Award and a Scottish Arts Council Spring Book Award and shortlisted for the John Llewellyn Rhys Memorial Prize. His other books have also won numerous awards and in  2002, he was awarded the Mungo Park Medal by the Royal Scottish Geographical Society for his ‘outstanding contribution to travel literature.’ For more information about this interesting author and his books, see: http://www.williamdalrymple.uk.com/.

Another historian traveller, who bases his travels on historical journeys is Tim Severin, about whom I have already written in my post of our prehistory library, but his books fit equally well into the travel category.

Tim has had such an amazing and interesting life and holds the Gold Medal of the Royal Geographical Society and the Livingstone Medal of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society. You can read more about him on : http://www.timseverin.net/. Here is an example of one of his books:

The Spice Islands Voyage: In Search of Wallace by Tim Severin 1997

We have always been fascinated by Alfred Wallace, the Victorian naturalist, who simultaneously proposed the theory of natural selection and evolution, for which Darwin received most of the credit. Wallace is also known as the father of biogeography, his name commemorated in the Wallace Line, which is the boundary between the Australasian and Asian ecozones, occurring in the 25 km wide straits between Bali and Lombok. For more on Wallace and the Wallace Line, see: http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2013/11/07/3885420.htm and http://discovermagazine.com/1997/aug/mrwallacesline1198.

In 1996, Tim Severin retraced Wallace’s explorations of these East Indonesian islands, using Wallace’s famous book, The Malay Archipelago, and a replica traditional Moluccan square-rigger sailboat, the prahu. He visited the harbors, the nature reserves and the rainforests that Wallace visited, photographing the many wonderful butterflies and birds, checking out the environmental record and interviewing local officials.

In this book, Tim writes about destructive environmental practices, including rainforest clearing and the smuggling of rare species, as well as the importance of the survival of ancient ways of life and the preservation of environmental diversity.

BlogTravelBooksReszd30%Image (623)

We would love to visit this area one day to see all the amazing flora and fauna: the turtles, gibbons and orangutangs, Komodo dragons, birds-of-paradise and tropical butterflies, and may well use this website in the future: http://ecosafariindonesia.com/tours/on-either-side-of-the-wallace-line/.

But, in the mean time, we dream and browse our beautiful travel books, the subject of my next post tomorrow…!!!