America Latina by bike….. el Caribe to Santiago

This is the second part of a trip I started a couple of years ago when I flew to Santiago and biked from Villarica  (about 1000km south) to Ushuaia. That was my first cycle touring mission but I immediately took to it. The scenery was amazing, the encounters with the people sublime and what a great way to travel. After having traversed the southern tip of the Andes it was only naturally that I now ‘needed’ to traverse the rest of the Andes, to complete the trip….a plan was made.

At the end of April I flew to Cartagena on the Caribbean Coast of Colombia. It’s a beautiful well preserved Colonial town, an architectural gem. It was founded in 1533 and grew to the most important port in the ‘New World’. The core of the city was built on an island and completely walled in for defense purposes. This very thick impressive wall one can stroll along on top today. The city itself has spread onto the mainland and has over a million inhabitants today and makes for a busy place. It’s nice just to stroll through the streets and hang out on the plazas of the old town, drink cafe and take in the atmosphere. I stayed for a few days, just enough to get over the culture shock and the jet lag. I did a trip out to Playa Blanca for some beach time and than headed south east to a small town called Mompox, a Unesco World heritage Site on the eastern arm of the Rio Magdalena. Founded in 1540, Mompox is now one of Colombia’s most beautiful colonial towns. Rows of well preserved white one story buildings have served as a backdrop in many Colombian films.

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I decided to start my trip here in Mompox, and not in  Cartagena as there was too much traffic and it seemed too hot and too far away from the mountains. I now am a couple of hundred kilometers closer to the hills, but Mompox lies 15m below sea level and therefore is hotter than Cartagena! I also just realized that now is the start of the rainy season and most rain falls in May and June. I finally decided on my route and will head east to El Banco tomorrow, a 85km dirt road ride to start me off….I guess there is no easy way!! At least it will be a flat ride and hopefully it wont rain over night, nor tomorrow?!

And here she is mi MARIPOSA…..out of the box and ready to go!!!

Mi Mariposa

HOOPDANCE in Bali

Time has been getting away on me….AGAIN! The exhibition went well and produced some good sales and lots of interest in follow ups. Once the exhibition was over I concentrated on my next project which was a trip to Bali for a Hoop Dance workshop. A friend sold me a Hulla Hoop a while ago and I was immediately intrigued. Dance and yoga is as much part of me as art and architecture, and what a great way to combine the two. Also it wasn’t as easy as I remembered from when I was a little girl, but luckily the size and weight of a beginner Hoop has increased quite a lot since and therefore I was soon able to spin it round the waist and bring it up to the chest….all looking a bit uncoordinated to start of!

I found quite a few tutorials on you tube which helped me to get going and than came across a web site which offered a Hoop Dance retreat in Bali: Sacred Circularities. I didn’t have to think twice and signed up…..and I managed to get a free flight through my air points collected for many years! I love how that works:) It was ment to BE! I had the best time! We first went to the Gili Islands for some tropical beach time, than rented a couple of scooters to explore the south coast of Lombok Island and than we headed to Ubud, Bali for a week of movement meditation and Hoop Dance. It was love on first sight…..with my hoop. The retreat accommodation and surroundings were absolutely stunning, the teachers sublime, the teachings fantastic and the group super enthusiastic, which all lead to an amazing energy being created. What a pleasure, how fun and what a great experience to have….I feel blessed!

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                                            Why Hooping?

Hoop dance workshop

‘We use the hoop to create spin; a circular force in the universe and in our lives, that produces energy. With the power of our hearts, we channel that energy into pure joy and creativity. The channeling process is fueled less by the mind and more by the heart. Indeed, hooping is part of an alchemical recipe that alters and transforms our bodies, minds, and spirits toward positive projection/expression whether we are mentally aware of it or not. All we have to do is commit to the practice. Get in the Hoop. Step on the Mat. Open your heart. Stillness. Movement. Breath. This is one of the ways that hula hooping relates to other mind-body-spirit practices like yoga, ecstatic dance, and tai-chi. When you feel this force, and it begins to work on you, the impossible becomes possible.’ Excerpt from the Sacred Circularities Newsletter 12.20.11

And I finally got a dance partner……my HOOP!

And the Hoop will also come onto my next trip…..America Latina by bike! Well…. I’m already there, in Cartagena, Colombia. I will catch up in a few days. Hasta pronto!

AMISFIELD Winery Exhibition FEB 2013

It’s been a while… Christmas and New Year celebrations are a distant memory and summer has unfolded in its full array of colors. Days are long and warm, but I still can’t manage to fit in all the things I want to do. Beside the summer distractions I have been working hard on a new exhibition which opened at the Amisfield Winery, lake Hayes, Queenstown last Monday, 4th of February 2013.

The title of the exhibition ‘An architectural journey through Vineyards and Mountains’ refers to my passion for architecture and nature – the human touch on the natural world. It features historic cottages in the hills, architectural designed houses in vineyards, and emergency recovery after the earthquake…..three recurring themes in my life.

an architectural journey in the mountains

 

The Exhibition will run till beginning of March 2013 and is a joint exhibition with local artist Lola Lagoon. The space is managed by the Artbay Gallery, Queenstown which also represents me as an artist and has some of my work on display. The Amisfield Winery is a great space, excellent food and has a nice ambiance…..a great dining experience all round and complemented by some fine visual arts of the local creative crowd:)

 

Last years show of my work at Amisfield Winery was a great success. I hope for a similar result this year and would like to invite you to come and have a look for yourself. To give you an idea of the works shown I will list them below, but bare in mind that because of their textural quality they need to be seen in flesh to unravel their magic.Cottage with Red Roof in the Vineyards, 1200x770Liquefaction, Powercut and Red Roof, 1200x300Liquefaction and Gaps 1220x300

 

 

‘Ready Salted’ and other delights

The Wanaka Wearable Arts Creations Show 2012 was a huge success. With great enthusiasm, energy and effort many local artist created some amazing acts and wearable creations. ‘Wearable’ stands for any garment that can be worn, suitable for wear or able to be worn. ‘Creation’ is the act or process of creating, something that has been brought into existence or created, especially a product of human intelligence or imagination. It’s also the whole universe, including the world an all things in it, or simply an unusual or striking garment or hat.

It’s truly astonishing what materials people choose to use to create garments:

Our performance act called ‘Ready salted’, made of milk bottles, plastic cups, kebab sticks, emergency blanket and chip packs by Lorraine and Anne-Marie was mesmerizing the way it caught the light. This creation was influenced by last centuries low tech Sci-Fi movies. The music was compiled by Lorraine and was a lot of fun to move through space.

SPACE and TIME….. designed by architecture, art and dance

There has always been an enriching and inspiring exchange between the two disciplines of art and architecture. However, conflict and tension often arise when artists take on tasks in the sphere of the built world, something frequently perceived as interference within a profession, which architects all too readily claim for themselves. One of my favorite artist/architects is Maya Lin, somehow what I would call an ARTITECT, has succeeded in both disciplines and in amalgamating the two in space and time.

Architecture and art consist in space and time, while dance moves through space and time and therefor can be described as a collaborative method for an art in ‘space and time’. Now I was somewhat exited to have come across an innovative young office from Germany working with space and time in architecture and dance. Poolplay is the creative process in which the Pool Players will present their research in form of a performance in the empty swimming pool of the Hotel Sole Paradiso. What they show with the dance of time and the architecture of light and material, will be crystallized on the interface of the swimming pool and the unknown – designed through their creativity!

WEARABLE CREATIONS are big in New Zealand, with the famous show in Wellington, a Wearable Art Museum in Nelson and the local Wanaka Show:

A project I am currently involved in deals with SPACE-TIME. I will be the performer of an act in the Wanaka Wearable Arts, showing the 1st, 2nd and 3rd of November 2012. Two local artists designed an art piece called ‘Ready Salted’, a spaceship, which I will move through space-time, ……..being a Spaceship, an Alien and an Astronaut all at once. Plastic milk bottles, potato crisp packages ‘ready salted’, emergency blankets, plastic cups and kebab sticks have been used to create this piece. The Wearable Arts Wanaka will show at the Wanaka Hall and tickets are selling fast! This is Kate & Theresa’s last show with 24 acts on stage…… it will be AMAZING!!

 

Featured Artist in the ‘ON Magazine’ Wanaka

The Wanaka ‘On Magazine‘ is printed quarterly and taps into the cultural heartbeat of our community: events, profiles, stories, photos, art, sport, food, wine, travel and local knowledge, all wrapped up in one slick stylish and eco-friendly street zine. Best of all – it’s free! This spring edition features four local artists and I am one of them. I feel quite honored as there are so many talented people in the area. Check out: www.onmag.co.nz

Since I’m back in NZ I have been busy setting up my new studio at home, now working from my sleep out. It’s a great place, only a few kilometres from town in a small rural community with lots of inspiring people around me. It’s got great views….and I am so easy distracted!  It’s bigger but more delicate and I wont be able to splash around paint….though have to come up with a different medium and technique. I also have my property for sale……should you not be interested in art, but a beautiful place to live! It’s often the artist seeking out the beautiful places and than other people follow….and eventually it gets unaffordable for us to live! Now is a good time to buy with the market kicking back into action and properties selling fast….even in Hawea Flat! Check out my Trade Me listing now.

Please come and visit any time if you interested in viewing my art or my property. I currently have got quite a few paintings at home and offer great discounts to make some room for new creations. Nothing better than buying direct from the artist!!

And just to show you some of the great distractions of the area….collecting visual inspirations for my next series of work:

My favorite companions:

 

Italian Mountains, Art and Architecture

Tessin, the Italian part of Switzerland functions like a Swiss clockwork in Italian style. We entered via the Gotthard Pass and checked out the newly renovated Hospice, now a modern Hiker’s Hotel. The Tessin region has some beautiful valleys to explore, mountains to be climbed, lakes and rivers to swim in. The Verzasca Valley is a stunning place offering a multi day high mountain trek along a ridge line. We were amazed to find the huts empty and stocked with beer, wine and food, all based on a honesty system. It was like walking into someone’s home! Hard to believe this works in a place so well populated like Europe and what an example to the world!

After this little warm up we crossed the border into Italy, the region of Valtellina, and went to Valmasino and Val di Mello, ‘Butterfly valley’. Just the name would want me to go there. I love butterflies, paint them, called my bike Mariposa, and am generally fond of them, as they are a symbol for passion. What else does one need to know! It’s a valley well known to climbers for its shear granite walls, but otherwise mainly very popular for day trippers from Milan. Yet it has a lot to offer: luxurious hot thermal springs with healing attributes, a crystal clear river to swim in, a cute little village, the best Pizzaria, day walks and a multi day high alpine trek called ‘Sentiero Roma‘. I attempted it a few years ago, but too much snow had stopped me and I made a vow to come back one day.

Mission completed and we carried on to the Dolomites, visiting the Basilica della Madonna de Tirano on the way. She is known for healing many sick people, so I lit a candle for a friend. We than drove over the Passo de Stelvio with great views to the Ortler Mountains and visited the Messner Mountain Museum Ortles in Sulden, which is all about snow and ice. I have been twice before to his MMM Firmian Museum in Bolzano and love the synthesis of modern and old architecture, art and culture. He’s as much an artist/architect as a mountaineer and a businessman. We made a point of also visiting the MMM Ripa at the Bruneck Castle, dedicated to the mountain people of the world.

And of course in the Dolomites there are plenty of via ferratas to climb and blessed with a week of fine weather we managed quite a few of the harder ones…not without a few coffee and beer stops, as well as some culture and history thrown in.

Bolzano is a great place to stay, a lovely town to explore and centrally placed to access the different regions of the Dolomites. Only a short distance away we visited the Plattner Bee Museum and I learned a lot about these little creatures: the bee can sense the magnetic field of the earth and from there determine the time of the day. They have a dance floor of about 100cm2 at the entrance of the hive to communicate via vibrations the destination of the food source, etc… Humans only would survive about 4 years should the bee disappear. Another place worth visiting in Bolzano is the new Salewa Headquarters and climbing wall.

We left Italy via the Timmelsjoch, once a smugglers road and a mule track, linking the Passeiertal valley and the Ötztal valley. Architectural sculptures located at several stopping places along the road, enlighten travellers about the natural surroundings, the history, the culture, the communities and the economy of the region….expanding our horizon. I also learned that the substances deep embedded in Swiss pine (Zirbel) wood, typical for this area, reduce our heart frequency. That in turn increases our physical and mental abilities. If we sleep in a bed made of Swiss pine, our heart is saved some 3500 beats, the equivalent of an hours work, every single night. It also has antibacterial properties and fights of mould.

Chalets, Refugios and Alpine Architecture

As always my favorite subject – in art and architecture – are mountain huts and architecture in the alpine region. They are the inspiration for my latest series of paintings and I hope to one day get the opportunity to build or renovating one. I have been keeping an eye out for derelict chalets and buildings in the Alps during my visits over the last few years.

After leaving the coast we traveled north, following the french Alps up, we visited Alexandra David-Neel’s House in Digne. She was the most famous french explorer and first woman visiting Lhasa, an inspiration of one in a kind. We than explored some valleys in France, paid a visit to Chamonix with its new state of the art Gouter Hut, and drove over many passes before we took a turn east and arrived in Switzerland.

After visiting the Matterhorn and the new state of the art Monte Rosa Hut, we discovered another kind of mountain hut, the Anen Hut in the Loetschen Valley, probably the most exclusive hut in the Alps. It’s a privately owned and designed hut by a local mountain guide, and takes hiking, ski touring and mountaineering to yet another level. The hut is located just below the glacier and has access to 4000m peaks all around. After a nice day out one can than enjoy a spa, a sauna, a delicious meal and sleep in luxurious bedding…. all for a reasonable price. And last I have to mention the Baeregg Hut in Grindelwald, also privately owned by a trust, and offering a fantastic view and great service in a more traditional style.

By now I was looking forward to my second visit to Ballenberg, a Swiss open air museum with more than 100 century-old buildings from all over Switzerland. It’s a stroll through the past but for one building, my favorite one, the House Matten from 1570, which has been modernized with style inside and sustainable technology has been introduced. This is an example to show case to the visitors of the museum how tradition and innovation come together in the renovation of a historic building. Ballenberg also has presentations of old trades such as cheese making, charcoal burning, shingle making, etc….and many more throughout the day.

 

Next destination Italy……

La vie en rose….LA PROVENCE en Cote d’Azur

Well… it’s been a while since my last update and I will try to catch up and fill you in on what’s been happening: A LOT!! I’ve seen so much inspiring things and had some fantastic adventures, that after returning home I needed a wee while to settle back in and digest it all. I must admit that Wanaka felt a little small to start with…., but soon the lovely vibe of a wonderful place with a fantastic community had me enchanted again.

But lets look back where I left off:…..FRANCE, la Provence. We first visited my sailing friends. Once upon a time I sailed from NZ to New Caledonia with them in their 34ft boat ….and I was hooked. After living on a boat for more than a decade they now live on land, close to Aix-en-Provence, and renovate what they call a vertical boat, a 20m2 ‘Cabanon’ for their family of four. They are masters of the Tiny House Movement, the simple but good life.

We than visited my family’s luxury retreat in St Tropez. Two houses, one a modern renovation of a ‘Provencal’ stone house, the other a contemporary modern lodge, style ‘provencal’.  My father has done a fantastic job with the design and development of this place. He has a very good eye for design, uses only the best materials and enriches the spaces with his favorite artists work. I’m happy to spot a few of my works too! This place is a culmination of his experiences gained while building Art/Design Hotels in Germany. The gardens also need a special mentioning for their beauty. Both places are available for rent untill sold.

And France wouldn’t be France if not for the foods…., the choice of cheese, the markets and the pleasure of eating, etc…..yummy!!

St Tropez itself is famous for its fancy launches and yachts, as much as for the well known ‘Pamplona’ Beach, which Brigitte Bardot and many other famous people used to frequent and still do.

After a few days of indulgence we had to tear ourselves away from such luxury. We drove through the  ‘Gorge de Verdon’, a famous rock climbing area with stunning dramatic scenery and than entered the french Alpes….not before camping the last night in a lavender field!

More will follow soon……

Romanesque Churches, Pyrenees Ridges and Roman Ruins

Finally I made it back to the Pyrenees, a place I visited about 8 years ago to climb my first mountain with snow and ice. I was seduced by the name at the time and made it my mission: ‘Monte Perdido’ or ‘Lost Mountain’ in the Odessa National Park. How could one not want to climb a peak called that name? After the circumnavigation and climb I returned the rental gear and bought a set of crampons and an ice axe in the same shop. Revisiting the Pyrenees was a long time anticipated for all the beautiful old stone villages and old houses, as much as for the mountains, national parks and as always my longing for the Spanish lifestyle and language. The Pyrenees are also the less visited mountain chain in Europe which makes them even more appealing. While on our way to the National Park Aiguestortes a bakery owner took all his time, neglecting other customers, to tell us to go and visit the Boi valley, a UNESCO protected site for its many Romanesques churches. This picturesque valley with about a dozen of these beautiful simple stone churches made our imagination flower and we started our exploration of the park from this end.

We left from ‘Caldes de Boi’  for a multi day trip in the Aiguestortes Park National. The  famous circuit of several days is called ‘Carro de Foc’ http://www.carrosdefoc.com/en and takes you through an amazing landscape of granite, hundreds of lakes, rivers and waterfalls. The passes are up to 2750m high and were holding some snow. The higher lakes were still semi frozen while the lower ones invited for a quick refreshing dip at the heat of the day.

 
After this little warm up we moved on to Pico Aneto, which is with his 3404m the highest mountain of the Pyrenees, and is a nice day trip from the car park. Benasques is the get away town for Aneto climbs and a bustling hub at main season, but was quiet at this time of the year. It also has a lovely historic center and great outdoor shopping. Next stop was Ainsi, which has a fortress, a Romanesque church and is at the entrance to the Bielsa Valley to access the Odessa National Park.
We attempted the ‘Extreme Circuito de Monte Perdido’ this time round, which is a slight variation taking a higher route, on the circuit I did 8 years earlier. We also did it in half the time…yeah! It was great to come back to this special place, where you cross from Spain to France and back. The Refugio Tucarroya sits in a very precarious spot right in a steep little notch with barely enough room for the two stone vaults. It’s right on the border and the vaults used to be separated volumes, one belonging to Spain and one to France. These are now connected with a door inside. It’s the oldest shelter in the Pyrenees, finished in 1890 and sits at 2661m, with a great view to the north face of Monte Perdido. This hut left a lasting impression with me on my first visit for its construction on such an extreme site. From there we dropped down to the Circle de Gavarnie which is famous for its waterfalls, one the height of five times the Eiffel Tour. We had a spectacular route up the face of these waterfalls and back across to Spain via a gap in the mountain called the ‘Breca Roland’ and on to the famous Odessa Canyon.

We were sad to leave Spain, but it was time to carry on to France and we aimed for the beach at the famous Cote d’Azur, but mad a few stops en route: first in Carcassone, where we visited the biggest fortress of Europe, another fortress in Aigues Mortes, than through the Carmarque  – land of the gypsies – and on to Arles, where the Romans left some ruins behind, a theater, an amphitheaters, thermes, etc…