Topkapi palace

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The first time I read about the Topkapi Palace I was an eighteen year old doing some rather nervous work experience in a museum, and being asked to look for examples of Chinese porcelain ripped off by western factories and then Indian or Turkish knock offs of the Dutch sort.

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Clueless would be a polite way to describe it, although the curator I was working to firmly gave me a list of Sotheby’s catalogues and monographs – one of which mentioned this unpronounceable Palace that for some reason I decided must be Hungarian – and off I went. A lot of photocopying and post-it noting later I wasn’t much the wiser.

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A few years and some truly bad, trashy historical novels later I couldn’t have you told you anything more except that my mental picture was probably of dark stone, gloomy rooms (had I heard that it’s now empty and been unable to envisage a building without furniture?) and was somewhat sceptical that I was really going to enjoy it.

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So thank you Becca for recommending that it was still least a half day trip. These photos from an afternoon’s wander are pretty much the order in which we came across things, so if you feel eye-crossing set in at the glorious tiles, then I’ve done my job.

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As you can see, the building had a good deal of the Rococo about it, and also elements of chinoiserie – maybe in the sense of outdoor pavilions and also the whimsical names given to them all.

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I’m afraid I can’t any longer remember what room was what: the library, the closet of the sultan’s turbans, the moon light or breakfast divan, the grand council room, but who cares (my inner historian just did a Munch face there) when you can see this?!

All photos March 2018.

Paris opera

Not sure what to feel about this. On the one hand, wonderful dancing that exposes the ultimately martial purpose of the ballets central to the French Court from Louis XIV on, and choreography that makes Rameau’s music feel fresh. On the other, his is music described as the air for the savages and the opera’s decidedly uncomfortable racial imagery – unsurprising for the 1730s – is replicated here in modern-day France’s uneasiness with its colonial history.

Spooky

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Loved this LAIKA exhibition at the Portland Art Gallery that opened last month. Families and solo visitors of all ages were going round, completely absorbed by the magical sets, frame drawings and cases full of props, puppets and special tricks.

all photos October 2017.

Ercola State Park

A fifteen minute walk from my cottage you can be in the foothills of the Ercola State Park and about half an hour later, stopping occasionally to catch my breath but not truthfully breaking a sweat, I reached this.

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And this.

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And this.

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Completely stunning. October 2017.