The good, the bad, and Barcelona – Gaudi on Sunday (Catalonia, Spain)

June 15, 2015

In the crowded hotel lobby, my daypack zipper sounds conspicuously loud. I poke a hand inside: a woollen vest, an apple and a light rain jacket – nothing more. I rummage about. Still nothing. Everyone looks when I tip the contents out. A euro coin rolls across the tiled floor, hits the dark timber architrave […]

Snow Monkeys – and absent friends (Yudanaka, Japan)

May 14, 2015

The Tokyo bar is a circle, Teppanyaki hotel chefs in tall hats and shirtsleeves in the centre; their shiny cleavers deftly dealing with slabs of beef, cabbage, prawns and abalone.The air smells of garlic and warm vegetable oil. I sip a Sapporo, the man across the way more intent on his mobile; beside him a […]

The Flower Girl and The Lizard King – Père Lachaise (Paris, France)

February 8, 2015

There’s a raspy laugh, parted purple lips, a toothy gap and shining silver orb perched on a pierced tongue. “French? Me?” Mascared eyes shine from an impossibly pallid face. “Like…God no.” There’s a slight lisp, the word ‘God’ stretched for effect, the intonation classic Celtic.  Layla is barely 120cm tall in patent platform boots shining […]

A Darkside Downunder – MONA magic (Hobart, Australia)

February 1, 2015

I’m in Tasmania drinking with Dave; a giant of a man with broad shoulders and no neck. He’s lived alone all his adult life, and sits at his normal spot at the bar, in  brown flannelette shirt and singlet, jeans and mudcaked Blundy boots. “Changed? Yeah, sure has mate.” He looks around. “Mmm…not sure what […]

Jigsaw Days – secret pieces (Picardy, France)

April 28, 2014

From Berlin I’ve flown to Paris late winter, driving north for 2hrs and overnighting in the hamlet of Behen, a classic French Chateau with stately entry paved for WW2 German tanks, towers and walls from 15th and 18th centuries, the stables once bombed by American war planes. Graceful shapes glide on a Monet pond; a […]

Calling on Kittelsen – demons, ghosts and ghouls (Norway)

February 16, 2014

4m waves batter our ferry on the fiercest piece of water in the world. We’re 100km west of the Norwegian mainland and this is the Maelstrom, first mentioned by the Greeks 3000 years ago and immortalized in the iconic writings of Edgar Allen Poe and Jules Verne. But it’s the artist and poet Theodor Severin […]

Something from Nothing – mystic gifts (New York, USA)

November 10, 2013

There’s something about these multi-coloured cocoons, the plaque on the wall `Judith Scott: 1943-2005’. I adjust my glasses and lean closer, scratching my head and struggling with the notion of an artist not only deaf and mute, but also stricken with the effects of Down Syndrome. I’m in the New Museum of Modern Art (or […]

A Tale of Three Cities – once upon a town (Soweto, South Africa)

November 3, 2013

It’s early morning, The Healer a tall woman with the short-cropped, knotted hair of her people. I lean closer to hear her words, those bloodshot eyes blurred but vacant. She talks of `home’ – and the importance of family – before suddenly falling silent. We’re standing on an elevated ancient seabed: the rocky ridge of […]