Recycle, upcycle

I am a sucker for collecting stuff. All kinds of useless stuff most people just throw away. I am sure that sooner or later I might need it. The result was a gararge so full that there was no place for a motor vehicle.

Then I decided to start making things, using all the useless stuff. Fortunately a very appreciative niece was there to encourage me. It started off with an extra piece of leather left over from furniture that was re-upholstered.

I used the leather in combination with pieces of wood. The first one as a backpack. As it was for my daughter, studying as a winemaker, using parts of an small wine barrel as sides to the bag. An old soft rope was used as back pack carriers.

Backpack
Backpack

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The deportation memorial, Paris

On the end of the island behind the Notre Dame cathedral in the small garden is a memorial to the 200 000 people, mostly Jews, that was deported by Nazi’s to concentration camps in the second world war. Most of these people never returned.

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From the walkway behind the cathedral the memorial is not visible. You need to descend the steep concrete steps to enter the memorial. A stark triangular space confront you with a view of the river trough a barbed wire sculpture.

 

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Museum of Architecture, Paris

If you stand in front of the Eiffel tower and look across the Seine you see a monumental building, the Trocadero. The wing on your right houses the museum of Architecture of Paris.

Replicas of parts of some of the finest cathedrals and monuments of France is housed inside. Yes, this is a museum of replicas. Detail of parts of buildings is painstakingly reproduced for research and restoration purposes. The end results ends up here. On first reading this I decided against visiting the museum. Who wants to see replicas if Europe is filled with the real thing?

Image to demonstrate loss of detail in a real (beautiful) cathedral.
Image to demonstrate loss of detail in a real (beautiful) cathedral.

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Le Corbusier Foundation.

I am a fan of modern Architecture. Well, lets say most of the well designed buildings. One of the greatest architects of the twentieth century must be Charles-Edouart Jeanneret-Gris, or better known as le Corbusier.

Le Corbusier summed up his approach architecture in five points.

1. Lift the whole structure of the ground. He used pilotis or reinforced concrete stilts to do this. Because the stilts carried the weight of the building it allowed the next two points

2. A facade free of support elements.

3. No interior support walls witch allows for open plan spaces.

4. Ribben windows that span the length of the building that allows in lots of light and uninterrupted garden views.

5. Roof space used as garden and outdoor entertainment area.

 

On a recent visit to Paris I could not wait to visit the Le Corbusier Foundation that is housed in the Maison la Roche, built to house the art collectors collection of modern paintings. The site of the building is a challenge to any architect, but the ingenious rethinking of use of space make this house something special

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One enters the house into a foyer that extends upward over three floors. With stairs and passages one is linked to the rest of the house.

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Making Books

Ever since I can remember, I had a love for books. Especially empty ones, like note books, books for drawing or painting in. If it had a nice hard cover it is even better. I can spend a whole morning in a bookshop in front of a bookshelf with Moleskin books in them.

The books that I do buy I usually use as Travel Journals. A5 size that will fit in my pocket or backpack. I draw whatever presents itself to me. Usually buildings. I love architecture. But even on visiting an art  museum I will take out my pen and draw what is in front of me. You may say it is easier to take a photo, (and a lot quicker) but if I draw something, it is as if I really see it. And remember it better!

 

Eiffel Tower with travel notes.
Eiffel Tower with travel notes.
Visit to the Picasso museum
Visit to the Picasso museum
Coffee in the square
Coffee in the square

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Insect hotel

We are often lead to believe that, for a gardener, insects are your prime enemy. We create gardens sterile from insects. If we can create gardens closer to nature, where insects and their predators can balance each other out, the instances where pests take over will happen less often.

Secondly , there are many useful insects to a gardener. Predators that will keep pests in control. Parasites , like wasps that  use other insects to use as living food for their small ones. Bugs to help with pollinating flowers and fruit trees. They also serve as food for larger predators like birds and small reptiles.

Neat gardens and lawns have less and less space to accommodate  insects. Lately I saw several insect hotels. This is man made structures that can provide shelter for a variety of insects. They are east to build and can give an interesting focal point to a garden. All you need is a framework filled with hiding space and potential food. Mostly stuff we will throw away on a daily basis. Bark, twigs, pieces of wood and gardening left overs.

Your hotel will be as pretty as you can be creative and will gives lots of joy!

Insect hotel in the Luxemburgh Gardens in Paris
  Insect hotel in the Luxemburgh Gardens in Paris
Insect Hotel in the historic gardens of Babylonstoren
Insect Hotel in the historic gardens of Babylonstoren
Small Boutique hotel on Manefeldt property
Small Boutique hotel on Manefeldt property

 

The Notre Dame of Paris

Notre Dame, a History in stone.

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Ever since I read the romantic novel, Notre Dame, by Victor Hugo as a student, I dreamt of visiting the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris. I still remember how my heart skipped a beat at the sight of this great building as I crossed the bridge over the Seine to the Ile de Cite for the first time. The Cathedral, probably the best loved in Europe, with its facade decorated by the central rose window and flanked by square twin towers, seem to beckon you inside.

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Museum Chagall, Nice, France

On a hillside in Nice, surrounded by a lush mediterranean garden lies the museum dedicated to the painter Marc Chagall. This is the first museum built in France to permanently display art of a living artist. The museum was built with the cooperation and involvement of the artist.

The permanent art works on display depicts images from the bible. The twentieth century art as a rule is overshadowed by a lack of religion and spirituality. Therefore this museum  is like a breath of fresh air  as it is permeated by Chagall’s childlike faith and spirituality.

 

Twelve huge paintings from Genesis and Exodus form the major part of the gallery, beautifully exhibited in a well laid out gallery where every wall was designed to display a specific painting. The artists vibrant use of colour  in his paintings come to life in the good lighting of the museum.

 

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