Monday 29 January 2018

Monday Mural - Guitar players

This was taken in Lisbon in 2016 after a visit to the Saint George's Castle. When we came down the hill towards the city centre, I spotted this mural on some abandoned buildings.
Don't know any details but it looks like that wall was painted quite a long time ago.
It could be a tribute to "Fado" the Portuguese traditional folk music popular in the Lisbon area, and the characters would be holding the Portuguese guitar used to play Fado.
For other murals from around the world please follow this link.

From February 5th I'll take over the Monday Mural meme from Oakland Daily Photo, hope to see you here with your lovely murals.

Thursday 25 January 2018

The art and history of Azulejos in Portugal

Azulejos (glazed ceramic tiles) are an essential part of Portuguese architecture.
As you wander around Lisbon, Sintra, Porto or any other small village, you will always find older buildings covered in beautiful tiles. 
I became obsessed with tiles (..and doors and windows) during my last two trips to Portugal and noticed that there are so many patterns, colours and designs in azulejos that it's difficult to find another building with the same tiles. Just on my last trip I took close-up photos of nearly 100 tiles in Porto and Lisbon and I don't have a single repetition.

Isn't it funny that when I lived there and didn't blog I noticed them but didn't really pay much attention? Now I do!!

Tile panel at Mercado da Ribeira, (Cais do Sodre), Lisbon
Derived from the Arabic word that means "polished stone", the idea was to imitate Roman mosaics, and most azulejos show the Arab influence in their design. 
Introduced by King Manuel I to Portugal after a visit to Seville in 1503, they were applied on floors, walls and even ceilings. Their colours were then mainly blue and white with sometimes a bit of yellow and green. These were used to tell stories about history, religion and culture.

The 17th and 18th century saw the mass production of azulejos due to internal demand as well as exports to the Portuguese colony of Brazil, when churches, palaces and even houses were covered inside and out with tiles.
After the earthquake of 1755 and the reconstruction of Lisbon, the tiles became more utilitarian and many houses had small devotional panels on their building's facades as protection against future disasters.

Sao Bento Station in Porto has some magnificent panels covering its lobby, consisting of over 20 thousand tiles that convey historical moments.
Traditional blue and white (and some yellow) cover the Sao Bento Station in Porto, Church facades, houses and Pinhao Station (panel w/yellow tiles)

Surrounding doors, fountains, names of town, buildings, and the Pena Palace in Sintra

Town names, street names or even restaurant names in azulejos
Since the 20th century many artists started using the art of the azulejo to design panels for some of Lisbon underground stations, murals, etc., thus bringing about a revival of the art which had gone into decline.

A tiled wall/ mural in Porto
Azulejo mural at Orient underground station, Lisbon

Since August 2017 across the country, (and since 2013 in Lisbon) it's illegal to demolish tile covered facades and interiors to protect the cultural heritage, and an effort is being made to recover and repair old tiles.
Apparently there is a lot of theft of old tiles, and it's estimated that from 1980 to 2000, 25% of artistic tiles have been removed from buildings, with the highest number occurring in Lisbon, tiles which are sometimes sold to tourists on the black market.
There is also a tile protection group - Banco do Azulejo (bank of tiles) - that has collected tiles from buildings that were demolished or are undergoing restoration, so those tiles can be saved and re-used.
If you visit Lisbon, you can always visit the Museu Nacional do Azulejo housed in a 16th century former Monastery, which houses the largest collection of Portuguese tiles in the world. I haven't visited, but it's on the wish list!

And here is a sample of the many fabulous tiles I photographed - blue and white, blue and yellow and various other colours.

In Portugal production of azulejos began in the 18th century, and there are still factories in existence in Lisbon, such as  Viúva Lamego and Sant'Anna and other smaller artisans where you can even order your own design and they'll make it for you.

The Sant'Anna factory in central Lisbon, a panel on side of the shop and blue and white pieces at the window
Hope you enjoyed learning about the art and history of the Azulejo in Portugal.

Monday 22 January 2018

Monday Mural - Fisherman

Titled "Fisherman", this mural was painted for the 2016 Muraliza project in Bairro da Torre (suburb of Torre), Cascais, Portugal by Brazilian artist Utopia 63
The mural has been done in a mix of paint and tile work.

Below the artwork is an electrical box that also got a bit of a colour treatment. From the signature squiggle I presume it was done by the same artist.
For other murals from around the world please follow this link:

The electrical box below the mural:


just testing:

Wednesday 17 January 2018

Thinking about our future citizenship

On the 7th of January we celebrated (we actually forgot) the 11th anniversary of our arrival in Perth, Australia.
We came here under a Business Sponsorship visa (Visa 457) in which my husband was sponsored by his employer.
Due to a few ups and downs and constant changes in the Immigration process, we managed to get Permanent Residency (PR) in March 2016, and then we could apply for Citizenship  one year later as we had resided here for over 4 years.

I started uploading our mountain of documents and as luck would have it, the day I finished submitting our last document (an affidavit from a teacher (or Doctor) that knew us for over 1 year) the Immigration Minister announced that he was introducing new laws from that day on, so that people could only apply for citizenship once they had their PR for 4 years and not just 1 year if you had lived here for more than 4 as in our case. 
Plus the Minister wanted to introduce another English Exam to the process.  

Generally to achieve PR you have to write a not too easy 4 part English exam (IELTS) so I can't figure out why you would need another exam to prove that you could still speak English 4 years on?  For example my son wrote two IELTS exams - one before entering University here in Perth, because he hadn't studied in English, even though he spoke English fluently, and the second when he applied for PR.

Many protests and petitions ensued, but this Bill would have to be wait for approval by Parliament. It took a while, but finally in November we heard that that the Immigration Minister's proposal had failed approval by Parliament. 
But by then Immigration had received 120,000 applications, so they were heavily backlogged and we received an email saying to expect a 10 month wait.

Last week we received an email to say that our Citizenship exam was booked for the 20th of February, a lot less than the 10 months we expected which is good news. 

I've downloaded a few training tests, and I've been practicing. The test consists of 20 questions about Australia, which have to be answered within 45 minutes (I've done the practice ones in 5 minutes) and we need  75%  to pass. 
Apparently the test can be repeated as many times as needed until you pass, but this will change for all new citizenship applications made from 1 July 2018, so that after 3 test failures you have to wait 2 years to retake the test.

And talking about citizenship, on the 13th of November 2017, friends of ours that arrived 5 years ago invited me to attend their Citizenship ceremony at the South Perth council.

This couple had stayed at our house with their little girl when they first arrived from Portugal, so it was wonderful to see them achieve their dream.
It was a lovely ceremony, where we were first welcomed by an Aboriginal elder who spoke in English and said a few words in Noongar too, then the vice-mayor spoke and then the Mayor of South Perth - Sue Doherty - conducted the rest of the ceremony.
Over 40 people of about 12 different nationalities took the pledge, and then we were all invited to go into the hall and get something to eat and drink.
The mayor and vice-mayor congratulated all the New Australians, issued them their certificates and took photos with them.
A small pot with a native plant was given to all the new citizens.

The Mayor, Vice-mayor and the Aboriginal elder at the ceremony

My friends with the Vice-Mayor, their certificates and their gifts, top left with me
A very original cake

One of their friends had made them a very original cake shaped like Australia, including Tasmania too :)
After the ceremony, another couple invited us all to their house where a bottle of bubbly was opened and we had some snacks in the back yard. It was already dark by the time we all left.

Can't wait for our turn, it should take another 6 months after the exam apparently!
                                                             * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

In November the streets of the southern suburbs of South Perth, Mount Pleasant and Applecross were awash with jacaranda's purple blooms.
They are mistakenly thought to be an Australian native, but they are in fact native to Brazil and Argentina. 
They can be found in many parts of the world - I remember we had lots of jacarandas in Mozambique where I grew up, and in South Africa, the city of Pretoria is known as the "Jacaranda city". 
I love that time of the year!

Jacarandas in bloom in Applecross - an Ibis in one of the gardens
You might enjoy this song - Jacarandas in November sung by "Junior" a group from Adelaide:

Monday 15 January 2018

Monday Mural - Triangular house mural

On my first day of the Open Home Perth I visited the Triangular house  in Mount Lawley, that had a mural embellishing it's triangular boundary wall. 
The artist was Robert Jenkins a Welsh artist who now lives in Perth, and it was painted in 2015.

For other murals from around the world please follow this link.

From the 5th of February 2018 I'll be taking over the Monday Murals Meme from Oakland Daily Photo.

Thursday 11 January 2018

Open House Perth 2017 - Day 2

On the outskirts of the city centre and northwest of Perth's beautiful Kings Park is the leafy suburb of Subiaco or Subi. On the second day of the Open House Perth, this was where I first headed to for my first visit of the day.

1) The Sustainability House was designed and built by a couple, she being a University architecture teacher and he being a lawyer in the area of construction and building law as well as being an architect, both having a passion for sustainable living and low maintenance materials.

Sustainable House and gardens

I loved the picture gallery in the lounge/kitchen area, where the art hung from a metal rack that could be pushed from one side to another thus showing different art.
The house had a basement where there was a laundry, study and an ingenious library where the units were sideways on a track rail, so as not to occupy much space. Another great idea!
The materials were all industrial like but used very effectively.
I asked the owner about constructions costs if building that way, and she said they were comparable to the building of a normal brick house but in the long term the upkeep and running costs are a lot lower. They had solar panels on the roof but no air-conditioning as the way the windows, blinds, and roof overhangs were placed meant the house didn't need cooling in our hot Summers.
The house has won a number of commendations from the Institute of Architects in 2011 including an award for sustainability.

2) Subiaco Mural Walk - in Subiaco I joined the tour guide at the designated meeting point and she took us around a few of the murals being painted as part of the "Paint Subi" initiative. A couple of international artists present were Okuda San Miguel from Spain who painted two big walls (right of photo) and the American Evoca 1, who painted the post office building (left of photo). I had a chance to speak to Okuda who was quite impressed with Perth and the beaches and said I was lucky to live here.

Evoca 1 on left and the Okuda San Miguel who painted two colourful walls (that's him on bottom photo)

3) The Nature Inspired Eco House was just outside the Perth Central Business district. It was a simple house built behind another one with reclaimed materials, cement floors, unfinished walls. It would have been a cheap house to build and to furnish with vintage second hand pieces. The narrow lane leading to the house was beautiful with bougainvillea leaves on the pavers.

4) Perth Town Hall is an elegant heritage building in central Perth on the corner of Hay street and Barrack street.
Along with a group of people I very much enjoyed a guided tour of most of the building and  memorabilia. The guide was very entertaining and knowledgeable.

The building was finished in 1870, having taken 3 years to be built as part of a public works program using convict labour.  It's built in a Victorian Gothic style, with a market place beneath the hall and a watch tower at one end.
The clay bricks used in the building came from East Perth clay pits in what is now Queen's Gardens.
The market hall which until 1924 housed various tenants such as the fire brigade, insurance brokers and the tram office is now a space sometimes used for craft markets on weekends.
The imposing hall can be hired for wedding receptions, gala functions and meetings.
The lower foyer houses a model of the World War II warship HMAS Perth, as well as the ship's bells of the Perth I and II, while historic portraits and items of memorabilia are on display in the upper foyer.
The building underwent a complete restoration which was completed in 2005.

5) Museum of Perth housed in the beautiful Atlas building located at The Esplanade in the city centre is a initiative of the Perth History Association, a not for profit organization founded in 2015. The Museum chronicles the social, cultural, architectural and political history of Perth, and it was actually the first time that I had come across this museum.

The four-storey Atlas building on The Esplanade, was inaugurated in April 1931, built in the Art Deco style.
Until 1969, there was a life sized figure of Atlas supporting a glob atop the building, which due to maintenance issues was permanently removed, although the Atlas emblem can still be seen in some of the door hardware throughout the building.
The marble walls, leaded windows, letter box, first lift in Perth, etc make it a very interesting building.

And so ended my weekend tour of the chosen venues for that weekend of the Open House Perth.
I thoroughly enjoyed seeing bits of Perth I don't usually see, and look forward to next year's choice. Hope you too enjoyed the other side of Perth.

Wednesday 10 January 2018

Open House Perth 2017 - Day 1

Still catching up on 2017, today I show you a few of the locations I visited during 6th Open House Perth which was held on the weekend of the 11th and 12th of November.
This year there were 105 locations to visit, with 40 of them being new.

This year I decided that I would like to visit some fancy designer houses with beautiful landscaping, and others that used reclaimed materials or passive design to make the houses more environment friendly.
It's always nice to have a peep how other people live and I find it amazing that some people open up their homes to people they don't know and are available to explain how they built their homes and what materials they have used to save money in the long term.

Because these houses were in the suburbs I had to use my car to travel to these destinations on the first day of the Open House.

 1) The first visit was to the Aria apartment building in the northern Perth suburb of Swanbourne.
A nice top of the market complex, but all that were there were disappointed that all we got to see were the outside zones of the pool, entertainment lounge, etc.
So that was a quick visit!

2) Next stop was a very beautiful architect designed house also in Swanbourne.
The house was in a narrow block, but had 3 levels with underground garages. The tiny garden at the entrance was attention grabbing with a beautiful sculpture.
The small back garden was cosy and full of succulents, my kind of garden.

Left - front garden, right - back garden

Inside the rooms were generous, with a floor dedicated to the family living with a dining room and living room surrounded by bookshelves. The top floor included bedrooms and the formal lounge/dining and a very well designed kitchen with space for all the kitchen machinery and cookbooks that was hidden from the lounge. After the garden the kitchen was my favourite place! 


3) In the coastal suburb of Scarborough, the next house was modern, built to be easy to care for with polished concrete floors. Also on a small block, it had two levels with an courtyard on the side of the house and another small garden/kids play area by the living room complete with a sandpit and outdoor shower.

 4) The Triangle House in the suburb of Mount Lawley is proof that a tiny block          can be the inspiration needed to design an out of the box house. Also built in 
    two levels, at the bottom is the open garage, study and a bedroom and at the top
    another bedroom, and a huge open kitchen/lounge/dining room leading to a              triangular balcony. A very cute house.  The V wall of the house has a mural that 
    I will show on Monday.

More interesting visits in the next post.
Hope you enjoyed visiting these houses with me.