Archive for the ‘art’ Category

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We approach Fluctuart from under the Pont des Invalides in Paris


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Fluctuart: a floating Art Museum

Paris: Crochet and Other Fabric Crafts as Art

Many people I know, including family and friends, love to knit and crochet or do other crafts with yarn or fabric. One big favorite is to make crochet squares to use for cushion covers, blankets, lap throws etc. So, it was with great interest that we found these crafts as art in a different setting.

As I mentioned in another post (see here https://vivsfrenchadventures.wordpress.com/2019/08/24/fluctuart-a-floating-art-museum/), we were recently in Paris and visited a new floating art museum moored on the River Seine. It’s called Fluctuart and focuses on street and urban art.


Decorated rails




Fluctuart also spelled out around the tree

As we approached the boat we saw colorful strips of fabric, knitted strips and crochet squares wrapped around the quay railings. On the quay in front of the boat, various poles, lampposts and trees were also decorated with these colorful creations. One tree has the name Fluctuart spelled out in fabric and yarn.

It’s colorful, pretty, and unusual and really struck me as a great different way to decorate, using these (supposedly) mundane materials. It definitely fits in with the urban art idea, I think, which often also approaches the subject in a different, or unusual, way.

What a lot of fun!



Love and lips






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posterMore Oor Wullie statues in Glasgow

As I said in the previous post,  we went around Glasgow a few weeks ago and noticed colorful young boy fiber-glass statues dotted around in front of main sights or on squares. Each of the boys is sitting in the same pose on an upturned bucket, but each is painted and decorated very differently.

We learn that this is Oor Wullie’s Bucket Trail of Oor Wee Wullie sculptures and each one has a sign explaining what/who that one is and who is sponsoring it. One of the guides on a City Sightseeing bus explained further. “Oor Wullie”means “Our Willie“  (and “wee” means “small”) and he was/is a beloved comic strip character from the Sunday Postfrom the 1930s until fairly recently. He always used to carry a big bucket around so that he could sit on it. Oor Wullie has a broad smile, cheery face and spikey hair and is one of the most famous images in Scotland.


George Square in Glasgow has a number of Oor Wullie statues

This Oor Wullie Bucket Trail is to raise money for children’s hospitals in Scotland. Another goal of the trail is to highlight Scotland’s diverse culture and heritage.

There are 201 statues around Scotland, 58 of them in Glasgow, and we had a lot of fun randomly finding quite a lot of them. We didn’t have the app or a Wullie map, so we didn’t plan a particular route. But, most of the main sights and buildings in the city have an Oor Wullie statue, and it was interesting to read the plaques to find out the story behind each one.

Here are three more.

steelThe Metal Wullie is on the main George Square. Jason Paterson, a well-known Glasgow artist, wanted to make a different kind of Wullie statue that wasn’t painted. So, he chose steel instead. It was forged with 450 “Oor Wullie” steel stencils, 200 “Bucket Trail” steel stencils and 2,000 pieces of rectangular steel, all welded together to recreate the iconic features of Oor Wullie. The light inside the sculpture projects Oor Wullie across the area, meant to represent a shining beacon of support for the Glasgow Children’s Hospital Charity.

Metal Wullie is sponsored by DC Thompson Media, the home of Oor Wullie. One of the leading media creators in the UK, the company is headquartered in Dundee with offices in Glasgow, London and other UK cities. They publish newspapers, including the Sunday Post (which published the comic strip), as well as a number of magazines and comics.


O’er the Heathery Braes (above) is outside one of the entrances to Glasgow University.  The creator is Erin Michele O’Shaughnessy, who was inspired by the beauty of Scottish landscapes—the beautiful colors, the heather, the wildlife and the amazing forests. The colors on this Oor Wullie were mostly inspired by breathtaking sunrises. It was sponsored by the Reid-Timoney Charitable Foundation, established by the Timoney family to assist charities that support treatment and care of sick children.


dealThe Scout Oor Wullie (above) is outside the Radisson Red Hotel near the Glasgow Events Campus. Created by David J Mitchell, this is Wullie in his scouting days—in his kilt and neckerchief he’s ready for adventure. It is sponsored by Radisson Red, which has walls covered in comic book characters and a hero team of its own, so Wullie in his red will fit in just fine. The hotel’s bar is also getting into the spirit of the Wullie Trail with a special offer.


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Hidden Valley Winery from up on the hill walk


Some of Hidden valley’s vineyards


Some of the olive trees

On our last trip to South Africa we were lucky enough to visit a number of wineries we’d never been to before (see Idiom Winery here https://viviennemackie.wordpress.com/2019/04/01/idiom-lunch-with-a-stunning-view/).

Hidden Valley was another one. We’d driven past the entrance many times before on our way up to the end of the road at Uva Mira Winery, but never got around to stopping. Thank goodness our sister-in-law, who lives in the area, decided this was a good lunch place, as it’s another gem, in a stunning location.


Winery buildings from The Deck


The lake


Path along the lake to The Deck


The Deck from the path

This winery is high up on the Stellenbosch Helderberg, just below Uva Mira Winery. After driving up the steep entrance road, you park and then can choose to either walk up the ramp to the large modern tasting room and the fancy Overture Restaurant (reservations and many $$ required!), or take the path along the edge of a small lake, surrounded by lovely indigenous gardens, to The Deck. We chose the latter.

The Deck, a casual eating place, is a floating deck on the lake. The view up to the mountains and the vineyards is spectacular, and it’s an unusual experience to eat and enjoy a bottle of wine while rocking ever so slightly on the water. We had a burger and wine—seems like a strange combination but it worked.


Us on The Deck


The Deck and lake from hill walk


Classic Fragment (Face)

Along the path we passed two large bronze outdoor sculptures; one a face (called Classic Fragment) that has become the icon of Hidden Valley and is now on most of the wine labels; the other is called Ramona, an attractive young female figure. These pieces are only some of the “hidden” gems that one can find around the farm. The same bronze face, just smaller, greets visitors as they walk up the ramp to the tasting room. We also found a gorgeous big cat in a slivery metal (we think a Cape leopard, but there was no identifying plaque) near a parking lot above Overture Restaurant.






Wine label (stuck in my travel notebook)


I pose with a smaller Classic Fragment

You can take a walk on a circular loop from The Deck up the hill behind, winding through the fynbos, past some of the estate’s vineyards and olive groves, getting a great overview of the estate and across to the mountains. Rod did it while I sat with our sisters-in-law and just enjoyed being on the deck.

In 2015, banker Riaan Stassen (who has been involved with wine for many years) became the new owner of Hidden Valley and oversaw numerous new projects and upgrades. The cellar is still surrounded by vineyards, olive groves, almond orchards, and gorgeous fynbos gardens, but there is now a sculpture studio run by sculptor local Willie Botha


What we think is a Cape leopard

(1958-), and some luxury accommodation next to the Overture Restaurant.

To get to Hidden Valley, take the R44 towards Stellenbosch. At Mooiberg Farm, turn right into Annandale Road, which is quite narrow. It splits after a little bit, so follow the road up, past Guardian Peak, towards Uva Mira. An even narrower road turns off that, and winds upwards.



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By the Light of the Moon, by Cynthia Archer, in Chicago Children’s Museum



Money Bench, by Hedda Salz and Ray Pawley, in Chicago Children’s Museum

Chicago: We’ve often seen some painted benches in Terminal 5 at O’Hare airport; they line some of the passageways as people walk towards immigration. They are colorful and many have a Chicago theme, so they fit in well with the banners that greet arrivals, “We’re glad you’re here”. But, we never took photos, as photography is not permitted there.

Then we found some more benches at the Chicago Children’s Museum, each with the name of the artist who painted it. The descriptions are very interesting and the paintings on the benches really colorful and innovative.




Secrets Bench, by Cynthia Weiss, in Chicago Children’s Museum



In Chicago Culture Center, artists Lorna Hymen, Cathryn Mann and judy O’Connor

And recently, I found two more at the Chicago Culture Center in the Renaissance Room. So, I decided to try and find out more about them. I asked at the Information desk at the Chicago Culture Center, but they didn’t really know much, except they thought the benches series had been organized by an art gallery just over the road from the Center. Was it Chicago Public Schools Gallery 37, 66 E. Randolph?

Lots more sleuthing hasn’t helped. There was a chairs-on-parade in Chicago, two years after the famous cows-on-parade in 1999. But, no-one seems sure if the benches were part of that.

https://www.jaehakim.com/lifestyles/style-lifestyles/chairs-on-parade-city-is-furnishing-them-as-street-art/I followed this link and it seems that parade was about sofas, chairs,


The other bench in Chicago Culture Center, by the same artists as above

ottomans, and televisions, but it did not actually mention benches.

Any ideas?


A wildlife bench, by Joe Hindley


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Rush More on west wall of Chicago Culture Center


One side of Rush More

Chicago is famous for wonderful public art of all kinds, including murals. I’ve written about some of the murals before (see here https://viviennemackie.wordpress.com/2018/10/23/butterfly-mural-chicago/And here https://viviennemackie.wordpress.com/2018/10/17/chicago-murals/).

On our last trip two weeks ago I was excited to find a couple more.


The other side of Rush More

The Chicago Culture Center commissioned a huge mural on the west wall of the building by Kerry James Marshall.It occupies a 132-foot-wide by 100-foot-high  space along Garland Court, one block west of Michigan Ave. Marshall is an American artist, born in Alabama, who now lives in Chicago. He completed the mural, called Rush More,in 2017 featuring 20 influential Chicago women in arts and culture. It’s a lovely mural and I love the play on words for the title: not Mt Rushmore, but Rush More, with the women’s faces painted in a similar way to the sculpted heads.

Here is a list of the 20 women:


The other one is a mural I found listed in the Concierge Preferred Social Media Issue under “Most ‘grammable street art in Chicago.”According to them, this is one of the 8 most Instagram-worthy  shots of street art (murals) in the city. So interesting how Social Media has “invaded” even tourist brochures!

It is the Flamingo Rum Club Mural,by JC Rivera@jcrivera, at 601 N Wells Street. It’s also a lovely mural and does brighten up that wall.



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IMG_4824We Will

By sculptor Richard Hunt, 2005, welded stainless steel

As people know, I love public art of all kinds and Chicago is famous for its outdoor public art. So, whenever we are in the city I try to find a few more pieces. This sculpture is on Randolph Street, very close to the Culture Center. The form is interesting, both angular and rounded, with the suggestion of reaching up to the sky. The name is a teaser: “We Will” makes one wonder what it is we will do.

Richard Howard Hunt (born 1925) in Chicago has over 125 sculptures on display in the USA, some in Chicago. He studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and still lives and works in Chicago. He has received many awards.



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long walk


Replica of Mandela’s cell on Robben Island



Mandela exhibit

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (1918-2013), also known as Madiba

We were very recently in Cape Town Airport a couple of times and noticed that there is a rather nice pictorial exhibit, stretching along the upper wall, about Nelson Mandela and his life, work and achievements in the long passage way after you exit the international arrival hall. There’s also a replica of his cell on Robben Island, and one of a shebeen (local African bar) from the time before he went to prison.


The cell, and a space for you to sit and think about this man


Details in shebeen


The collage/mural starts here and flows from right to left , roughly chronologically, as you head for the airport exit

There are many other pictures and information about other parts of the Cape and South Africa too—all very nicely done—but the Mandela one really caught our eyes. Why?

Many people, both in South Africa and around the world, regard Mandela as a great man and a wonderful human being. He wrote a couple of books that are well known, (for example, Long Walk to Freedom, Conversations with Myself, Dare Not Linger) and there are a number of books and movies about him, his life, and his legacy. He was the first truly democratically-elected leader in South Africa in 1994 and approached that role in a way that tried to calm some of the troubled waters there were South African politics at the time, even though he himself had suffered terribly under the previous regime—Apartheid, the Nationalist Party, his incarceration on Robben Island (for 18 of the 27 years he was imprisoned), etc.



collage4We moved from South Africa before he was elected, but we visit as often as we can. It seems to us that lots of South Africans today miss Mandela and what he stood for, especially when compared to all the corruption that is rampant in politics these days. He was a decent man, who tried to do the best for his country, and he is honored around the country in many different ways—statues of him, squares and schools named after him, and even the UN Nelson Mandela International Day, on July 18 (his birthday) each year. On this day people honor Mandela through volunteering and community service. It started in 2009 in South Africa, on Mandela’s 91stbirthday, but was declared international by the UN in 2010, so he lived to see some of the ways that his values were appreciated. I, and I’m sure millions of others, am very glad about that.


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