The Triana Ceramics Museum ………..

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During our recent trip to Seville we set out one morning to just wander down the side of the river (on the west side) starting at Pasarela de la Cartuja bridge. After a while we came to the area known as Triana, once one of the less salubrious areas of the city and indeed was known as the “red light distrct” but all of that has changed now.

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It is being redeveloped and rapidly moving upmarket (not dissimilar to Uzupis in Vilnius). It was here that we stumbled on the Triana Ceramicas Museum and decided to explore it. But first a little back ground history.

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The Triana Ceramics Museum is the most recent chapter in the long history of the Fábrica de Cerámica Santa Ana (Ceramics Factory of Santa Ana), which has lent itself to the design, production, exhibition, and sale of ceramics for a long time. The new centre offers a space for interpretation in the heart of the historic quarter of Triana.

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The workshop was in production up until the end of the 20th century, which permitted the preservation of many of the elements including: seven firing kilns, a well, pigment mills, workshops, and storerooms. An archaeological survey uncovered remains of another 8 kilns, the oldest of which were in use until end of the 16th Century.

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The project develops on an old pottery complex, an exhibition centre of ceramics, an interpretative centre on different tourist routes in the quarter of Triana, as well as different areas for the commercial and productive activities of the Santa Ana Pottery Factory.

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As you wander through the various rooms you get a real feel of the extent of the industry and many of the artefacts on display are stunningly beautiful, and if you are the least interested in tiles and how they were used to create artistic masterpieces, then this is a place you must visit.

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I realise that many would shake their head at the idea of visiting a tile museum, but this place is about history, industry and the creative arts and has excellent and tasteful displays. The video showing the work of the hand painters is worth the entrance fee alone, the skill factor is amazing and shows what a lost art it has become.

Photographs (C) Kindadukish 2018

 

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Flamenco, Street Style in Seville…………………………….

On my recent visit to Seville in Southern Spain I spent many happy hours wandering the streets of the city as well as those in Cadiz, Cordoba and Jerez de la Frontera. With trusty Pentax K50 camera (with 18 – 250 Sigma lens) in hand I set about shooting all the things that interested me.

My favourite photographs from my visit were the ones I took late one afternoon in Seville and near the cathedral. In a square there was a camera crew shooting a video featuring a young woman who was dancing traditional flamenco. It was a bit of a stop, start affair as the cameraman kept asking for certain moves to be repeated.

The young lady in question looked absolutely stunning in her long black dress as she practiced her dance moves. I tried to get up close to try and take some photographs but was warned off by one of the “minders” for the shoot. However, as more and more people got out their phones to take photographs I think he just gave up, so I was able to get reasonably close to get some shots.

I have no idea what the video was about but it did feature quite a number of Japanese participants, so perhaps it was to advertise something back in Japan e.g. more tourism, although I have to say there was no shortage of Japanese tourists in the city whilst I was there.

I hope the photographs posted capture the spectacular dancing and also the stunning dress.

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Photographs (C) Kindadukish 2018

 

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The Greatest Jazz Pianist……………………….

I have been listening to jazz music for the best part of fifty odd years and have developed a love of most genres of the music from early New Orleans to the Avant Garde, although I have to confess that I still cannot get to grips with Be Bop, despite spending many hours trying.

During my listening lifetime I have developed a love of pianists and my favourites are wide and varied. I think the first real jazz pianist I heard was Oscar Peterson playing “Night Train” on a Verve LP I bought back in the 1960s. I loved how Peterson took a melody then created a whole new musical world with his improvisations, often displaying phenomenal technique that was reminiscent of Art Tatum at his finest.

In more recent years I have become a Keith Jarrett acolyte, even forgiving (partly) his outrageous and intolerant behaviour towards audiences. In the early part of his career Jarrett played with Miles Davis and was part of the jazz / rock scene of the late 60s and early 70s. Much later he moved towards playing solo concerts of which the iconic “The Koln Concert” is probably the best known. My own personal favourite is the “Vienna Concert” which contains improvised melodies that Rachmaninoff or Tchaikovsky would have been proud of.

The man who shook the piano world up was Cecil Taylor; he was classically trained and was one of the pioneers of free jazz.  His music is characterized by an energetic, physical approach, resulting in complex improvisations often involving ne clusters and intricate polyrhythms. His technique has been compared to percussion.  I remember buying the LPs “Conquistador” and “Unit Structures” back in the 60s and being assaulted by music that I found difficult to comprehend. Extensive listening (and perseverance) enabled me to work out what Taylor was trying to do with his music. An undeniable genius but not easy listening.

I must also mention the godfather, namely Duke Ellington, who I still believe is extremely under rated as a pianist, primarily because he focused on composing and arranging for his band but would play the occasional solo with the band. The LP Money Jungle made by Ellington with a rhythm section of Max Roach and Charlie Mingus gives some indication of what he was capable of. Moreover, there is a video on YouTube of him playing a solo concert, which is simply magical.

Other pianists I would throw in for consideration are Bill Evans, Thelonius Monk, Stan Tracy, John Taylor, Michael Garrick, Kenny Barron, Brad Mehldau, Hank Jones and Count Basie. My own personal choice is quite easy and here is the reason why. During the late 60s I was a regular visitor to the old Free Trade Hall in Manchester where I saw a number of great jazz artists, Basie, Gillespie, MJQ, Earl Hines, Budd Johnson amongst others. I became inspired hearing such good music that I had serious thoughts about learning to play the piano.

Shortly after this I went to another concert in Manchester and managed to get a seat a few rows from the front of the stage so I could see the performers up close. For close on two hours I sat and watched Oscar Peterson give a performance of such technical virtuosity and musical creativity it was difficult to comprehend at times.

I came out of the concert hall shaking my head and thinking “forget the piano lessons, you aren’t ever going to get close to playing like that.” So for me Oscar Peterson is the finest jazz pianist and I have posted a video of him playing one of his own compositions from the Canadiana Suite.

 

 

 

 

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“China’s First Emperor and the Terracotta Warriors”- Liverpool

 

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Last week I went to view the exhibition currently in situ at the World Museum in Liverpool, namely “China’s First Emperor and the Terracotta Warriors”. I wasn’t really sure what to expect so went with an open mind, fully cognizant that the exhibition had been sold out for some considerable time and thus extremely popular.

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So a little background to the exhibition:- “For over 2,000 years, an underground army of life-sized terracotta warriors secretly guarded the tomb of China’s First Emperor, Qin Shi Huang, until a chance discovery in 1974 unlocked the mysteries of a vanished empire.

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Showcasing objects from one of the world’s greatest archaeological discoveries, this exhibition spans almost 1,000 years of Chinese history; from the conflicts and chaos of the Warring States period, to the achievements and legacy of the Qin and Han dynasties.

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The exhibition includes a number of objects that have never been on show in the UK before including material from museums and institutes from across Shaanxi Province, excavated over the last 40 years from the Imperial Mausoleum and selected tombs.

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These spectacular artifacts shed light on the Emperor’s pursuit of immortality and show how he prepared for the afterlife, as well as help us to understand more about everyday life in China more than two thousand years ago.

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This exhibition was organised by National Museums Liverpool, United Kingdom and the Shaanxi Provincial Cultural Relics Bureau and Shaanxi History Museum (Shaanxi Cultural Heritage Promotion Centre), People’s Republic of China.”

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I have visited many museums in many countries and one thing many seem to get wrong is the idea that they should “bung as many exhibits on display as possible”. What impresses about this exhibition was the limited amount on display, and I have to say it is one of the most beautiful exhibitions I have ever been to.

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The rooms are tastefully lit, not ideal for us photographers but one can understand the need for this, some of the images are breathtaking. The warriors on display are utterly magnificent and you can only stand back and admire the incredible workmanship that went into creating the figures.

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Additionally there are other artifacts e.g. a golden horse, coins with Greek script, cooking pots and my personal favourite, the utterly magnificent wine jar.

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What are incredibly helpful to the viewer are the various explanations and maps relating to the history and background of the Emperor and the creation of the warriors.

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After about two hours I emerged into daylight from the exhibition, still trying to take in the full beauty of what I had just seen.

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So, well done to the organisers and in particular those who designed and created the exhibition………..simply stunning.

 

Photographs © Kindadukish 2018

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The Creation, CBSO/Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla

For the last few years I have followed the career of the Lithuanian conductor Mirga Grazinyte-Tyla with considerable interest. She was the “shock” appointment as Musical Director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra after Andris Nelsons departed for the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Having established her credentials in her first season with the orchestra she has now embarked upon her second season and kicked off with a performance of the The Creation by Haydn (it should be remembered that much of her early career was conducting choirs). Below is a the Daily Telegraphs music critics review of the performance. The CBSO seem to have chosen wisely in their appointment.

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The Creation CBSO/Gražinytė-Tyla Symphony Hall, Birmingham ★★★★★

As links go between the most unloved English towns and greatest composers, there is nothing more unlikely than Haydn’s visit to Slough in the 1790s. He went there to see the astronomer William Herschel and his celebrated observatory, and it would be nice to think that the experience gave him inspiration (“The heavens are telling the glory of God”) for The Creation, set to an anonymous libretto based on Milton’s Paradise Lost. The famous symphonist certainly returned to Vienna with the idea of writing a work in the form English audiences venerated most: the oratorio.

Still known as everything from “father of the symphony” to “Papa Haydn”, the composer may be venerated as a musicians’ musician, but too many orchestras and conductors today pay lip service rather than make him central to their programming. Not so the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra: its former music director Simon Rattle has long been something of a Haydn specialist, and conducted The Creation in Birmingham many times and recorded it with the CBSO. Having already stamped her mark on Haydn symphonies in Birmingham, the CBSO’s exciting new music director Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla has now opened her second season with this choral masterpiece.

Right from the opening “Representation of Chaos”, Gražinytė-Tyla coaxed urgent detail from the score with mercurial flicks of the baton. Taking consistent delight in the music, she was an energising force in a period-conscious performance where the strings played without vibrato and the orchestra included natural trumpets and a fortepiano. Hearing this was like seeing an old Biblical painting restored, its layers of accrued varnish removed by a loving curator; there was nothing of the traditional piety here, just the freshness of the Creation story. But then this truly is music that breathes the spirit of the Enlightenment, and Gražinytė-Tyla showed how much it has in common with Mozart’s almost contemporaneous opera The Magic Flute.

The CBSO had a fine line-up of singers. Lydia Teuscher sounded dewy-fresh in the soprano solos, Thomas Hobbs’s gleaming tenor had natural delivery, and Matthew Brooks brought story-telling warmth to the bass-baritone roles. Best of all, I have never heard the choruses sound better. Simon Halsey had drilled the CBSO Chorus to sing with incisive power, and Gražinytė-Tyla’s own background in choral conducting was felt too. Let’s hope she adds The Magic Flute to her plans for operas in concert in Birmingham. John Allison

  • I am indebted to the Daily Telegraph for the above review.
Posted in Cklassical music. Female Conductors, Classical Music, Equality, Uncategorized, women in society | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The Mushroom (las setas) in Seville…….weird and wonderful

On our third day in Seville we decided to take a “free walking tour” of the city and were told to meet our guide outside “The Mushroom”. We arrived at the due time and were quite taken aback by this very contemporary building in the centre of a very old city. It seemed a little incongruous and out of place.

Since opening in 2011, the opinion-dividing Metropol Parasol, known locally as las setas (the mushrooms), has become something of a city icon. Designed as a giant sunshade by German architect Jürgen Mayer-Hermann, it’s said to be the world’s largest wooden structure, and it’s certainly a formidable sight with its 30m-high mushroom-like pillars and undulating honeycombed roof. Lifts run up from the basement to the top where you can enjoy killer city views from a winding walkway.

The building, six years in the making, covers a former dead zone in Seville’s central district once filled with an ugly car park. Roman ruins discovered during its construction have been cleverly incorporated into its foundations and are now on show at the Museo Antiquarium in the basement below the plaza. The structure also houses the local neighbourhood market, a panoramic cafe and a concert space.

Our guide said that the natives of Seville had not reacted very positively when it was opened and quickly christened the building “las setas” which is Spanish for mushroom. Since then they seemed to have embraced this oddball building as it is so uniquely different to anything else in the city.

Later in the week we took a trip to the top of the building to get some wonderful panoramic views of the city in the late afternoon / early evening light. It is possible to walk around the building whist on top with walkways winding around the building. The building is very popular with tourists and whilst we were outside a film crew were shooting a video.

If you visit Seville (a must see city) then take time out to visit this oddball building as it costs a pittance to get in.

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Photographs (C) Kindadukish 2018

 

 

 

 

Posted in Architecture, Art, Art and Sculpture, Photography, Seville, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Taller Andaluz de Cocina – cookery school in Seville

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On my recent visit to Seville I had a day to myself as my wife had gone on a trip to Granada and I couldn’t face the 6 hours of travelling, no matter how beautiful the sights of Granada are! So I decided to enrol at the Taller Andaluz de Cocina – Cooking School (Taller Andaluz de Cocina – Cooking School is one of the few cooking schools in the world located within a traditional food market, where you can find the best fresh and seasonal products) to learn how to cook some authentic Spanish dishes namely Salmorejo soup, Spinach with Chickpeas and authentic Valencian Paella (no Jamie Oliver rubbish here!).

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The neighborhood of Triana is one of the most vibrant and spectacular of the whole city, where it is easy to find the essence of everything inherent in Seville and that characterizes its inhabitants. It is a neighborhood of baroque spirit in which sailors, potters, bullfighters and flamenco artists have lived for generations.

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Today, the market looks to regain the splendor of another era with the opening of new lines of business that complement the traditional stalls of fish, meat, fruits and vegetables, cheeses, olives and pickles, etc. So nowadays within the market you would be able to find everything from a theater to a craft beer factory, and numerous places where you can enjoy tapas, pinchos, live music, freshly cooked seafood, pies, etc.

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Our group for the day consisted of three Americans, four Australians with myself flying the flag for GB. We started the course around 10.30am with a tour of Triana market (led by the wonderfully knowledgeable and informative Maria) to learn about the history of the market and view the stunning displays of fruit, veg and meats, particularly Iberico hams……….what a pity this type of market has virtually disappeared in the UK.

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On our return we worked in pairs preparing the Salmorejo cold soup, which was then put in the fridge to chill, and then proceeded to construct the Spinach and Chickpeas dish, very simple but looked delicious in the pan. It was at this juncture two very large Jugs of Sangria were placed on the table to ensure our cooking performance was not affected  by dehydration, obligingly we followed instructions to “keep drinking”.

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Finally under the strict tutelage of our chef Domenico we learned how to put together a Paella. It was stressed that this was the AUTHENTIc paella that originated in Valencia and contained the following ingredients:-

Ingredients (6 people): 450 g (15 oz) round grain rice (approx 70 g/ 2.5 oz per person), the legs and wings of one chicken, 4-5 green beans, 2 artichokes (if in season), 200 g (7 oz) tomato puree/chopped tomatoes, 6 garlic cloves, chicken stock, saffron, sweet smoked paprika, salt and olive oil. Optionally, rabbit meat can be added.

 

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You will note that there is no sea food or chorizo, apparently Jamie Oliver is “persona non grata” in Spain for putting chorizo in a paella in one of his latest recipe books.

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One important lesson I learned was that once you have put the rice into the dish (as the last ingredient) you do not stir it but leave it to cook for eighteen minutes, after which you should be able to lift the pan and hold it vertically and the paella will not drop out of the pan!!! The chef demonstrated this and we were all suitably impressed. It then came to light that our chef was born in Bari in Italy……….and we all smiled.

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The day ended when we sat down to eat the food we had prepared accompanied by some very nice red wine. Although not a great soup fan, the Salmorejo cold soup was simply stunning………..we rounded off with a Lemon Sorbet with Cava in a very tall glass, absolutely gorgeous.

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It is fair to say that the school is more of a demonstration of the dishes with limited input from participants, but if you want to learn about authentic recipes, enjoy good company in lovely surroundings then give it a go.

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My thanks for such an enjoyable day go to my fellow participants and Maria, Alberto and Domenico from the school who were a delight to work with.

Photographs (c) Kindadukish 2018

 

Posted in Culture, Food, Seville, Teachings, Tourism, Tradition, Travel, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment