Art in the Prado

Hello everyone, hope that you have been having a lovely week. I have which was very nice, it is always sad having to go back to work after a great holiday but I have had a really good few days.

I have had fun times with the trainees that came to our Spring Conference, presented at our own Research Conference and then went to see a brilliant Bluegrass band last night.

The sun is shining and washing is on the line! What could be better? Oh and I have the weekend free to craft. An excellent life indeed.

I wanted to share with you some of my favourite paintings from the Prado, photos were not allowed so all of these have come from web sources, one of my favourite sources is the Web Gallery of Art which I use a lot for costume research.

While we were in Florence a couple of years ago we saw some of the work of one of my favourite artists Fra Angelico and there were two more of his works in the Prado.

The Annunciation is stunning, there are many similar paintings which are equally lovely but the detail on this one is so wonderful, the millefiori (million flowers) on the grass outside, the starry ceiling and the gold of the halos and beam just amaze me.

Prado - Annunciation 1

There is a close up here which shows the detail of the beam of light and halos.

Prado - Annunciation 2 detail

The Prado Museum had recently acquired another of his works, ‘The Virgin and the Pomegranate’. This had only arrived in January and you can read the history of the painting at this link here , so we were very lucky in the timing of our visit.

Prado - Virgin 1

I love the look on Jesus’s face reaching for the pomegranate seeds as if he a little unsure what they will be like.

Prado - Virgin detail

One of our favourite pieces was this enormous painting by Bartholomeus Strobel. He was a German painter who was painting in the early 1600s and this is entitled, ‘The Beheading of John the Baptist’.


Again the detail in this is fantastic, the painting is about 10 metres long and every person is painted with such care, the amount of work that has gone into this is staggering and the costumes are wonderful to look at.

Strobel painting detail 1


˜d ˜

There were also these pieces by Reubens and Brueghel  – The Five Senses

These were painted between 1617 and 1618 and not only are the stunning in the wealth of detail in them but the backgrounds are so beautiful.

‘Sight’, shows an archway to a town, wouldn’t you just love to step into the painting and out that arch and explore?

Prado - Five senses - Touch

This is part of the detail from ,’Hearing’, the same castle appears in the background of a couple of the paintings and it looks very similar to the ones we visited in Denmark last year as they had green roofs.

Prado - Five senses - Hearing - detail

Prado - Five senses - sight

This one above, ‘Sight and Smell’,  was also by Brueghel and is a copy of the original done shortly after as the original was destroyed in a fire in the 1700s.

I just love that little glimpse through the doorway and all the landscapes propped up on the floor.

My research paper was on masters and their apprentices and I mentioned the role of the ,’masterpiece’, in that process.

These truly are masterpieces and I am so lucky to have seen them. I would love to go back to the Prado on my next visit to Madrid, so much more to see and wonders to see again.

I hope you have enjoyed your little virtual tour, I am off for a bit of a garden tidy up now since it is still sunny and then an afternoon and knitting and embroidery🙂

Have fun whatever you are doing and thanks for visiting.



Madrid – doors galore!


Hello, hope that you have all been having fun in the last couple of weeks. I have had a wonderful time in Spain, including my first visit to Madrid which was splendid, even by the very high standards of all the other beautiful cities I have visited.

I will have to go back, there was so much to see and I think I could spend at least a week visiting churches.

We did get to see the exterior of a few like these three above and the stunning cathedral, started in the late 1800s it was not completed until 1983 so has a mix of gothic architecture with more modern ceiling painting which was wonderful, such bright colours and patterns.

The exterior was also beautiful.

The visit included lots of time spent just staring up at all the buildings, much of Madrid was built between 1900 and 1930 so there are some wonderful examples of Art Deco and Modernist style architecture as well as the older building like the Palace and the Plaza Mayor at the bottom of these pictures.

I love the detail on these buildings, the plasterwork, turrets and balconies make them all look so special.

We also visited the Palace and the Prado Museum, another fix of medieval art plus some stunning pieces by artists I had not really looked at before, will put those in another post.

The bars were decorated as well as well, with lots of tiling and woodwork, would love to go back and spend more time exploring these and eating some of the food on offer.

Very tempted by all of these different types of gambas, (prawns), on offer here.

Madrid bars - gambas

While exploring and taking pictures of these lovely places we came across a flamenco bar so went back for the show later that evening, what amazing footwork and singing, I would love to go again someday.

The place was just stunning in the detail so I took lots of pictures of my favourite thing – doors. Lots more content for the book I keep joking to the kids that I am going to publish one day, ‘Doors I have Known’, featuring all my favourite old doors.

And there were beautiful lamps everywhere, outside the Palace and on all of the streets, just lovely!

We stayed at the Hostal Bergantin, a great central location about 10 mins walk from all the main sights like the Prado and Palace and with lots of bars and cafes all around. A very comfy room, helpful staff and a great view from the 4th floor of city life! Another good find from Expedia.

Have been busy since I got back as the lovely kids have been here celebrating Ellie’s 25th birthday. Cannot believe she is so grown up, am going to have to start lying about her age soon lol.

Ellie 25th birthday 1

Here they are while we were out for a meal last night, the ‘crown’ is the band from her Frozen birthday cake as however old she gets she will always be a Disney princess!

So am back to work tomorrow for the start of the summer term, looking forward to lighter nights and lovely times as re-enactment begins in a few weeks and there is definitely Spring in the air.

Hope that you all have a lovely week ahead, take care and thanks for visiting.

Very sunny Spain

Sharon and I really enjoyed our recent trip to Spain, it was between 35 and 40 degrees while we were there, a little bit different to Yorkshire, so we did a lot of staying in the shade.

We did a couple of trips to Cartagena and to Elche, both cities I have been to before but there is always something new to see including the restored Roman amphitheatre and these beautiful Art Deco buildings in the side streets of Cartagena.

Spain July 2015 Cartgena 1

Spain July 2015 Cartgena 2

Spain July 2015 Cartgena 3

Spain July 2015 Cartgena 4

Spain July 2015 Cartgena 5

I went on my first ever Spanish train!

Spain July 2015 Train

Spain July 2015 Market

From the train I could see this lovely Art Deco market hall in one of the little towns that we passed, would love to go back and take some close up shots one day.

We also went on a catamaran trip around the bay, the sea was so gorgeously turquoise.

Spain July 2015 Cartgena 6

Spain July 2015 Cartgena 7

Spain July 2015 Cartgena 8

In Elche we found a new café with a lovely vertical garden and misters spraying out cool water from under the umbrellas – much appreciated!

Spain July 2015 Elche cafe

Spain July 2015 Elche apartment

Spain July 2015 Elche bench tiles

Spain July 2015 Elche cathedral 1

Spain July 2015 Elche cathedral 2

Spain July 2015 Elche door

Spain July 2015 Elche park bench

Spain July 2015 Elche roof

Spain July 2015 Elche square

Spain July 2015 Elche tiles

Spain July 2015 Elche window

One of the clothes shops in Elche, Zara, is built inside the old theatre and they have kept the stage and ceiling décor.

Spain July 2015 Elche Zara 1

Spain July 2015 Elche Zara 2

Sharon was very busy knitting the sample for Sarah, she knitted on the terrace, the beach, bus coach and train.

Spain  July 2015 Sharon knitting

We had lots of gorgeous tapas, tried a few new places out including a traditional bodega in the village where you can buy your wine and sherry on tap, plastic bottles supplied, for a couple of Euros a litre. I do love that country!

Spain July 2015

Sadly am not going back again until Jan as mu Mum is over in October for a family wedding and I am hopefully going to China for work later in October so will have to wait a while for more cheap wine😉

We are away this coming weekend at Peveril Castle, (the one with the very steep climb), for a show with our group. this time we have booked camping at a campsite in a nearby village to save having to take everything up the hill!

Looking forward to some lovely views and hoping for very good weather as it is a little exposed!

Take care, have a good weekend whatever you are doing and thanks for visiting.

Lorca – the final set of wonderful goldwork

The Paso Blanco Museum was in an old chapel which had recently been refurbished. So not only was it the most wonderful collection of robes, cloaks and head dresses but the setting was amazing as well.

Lorca Blanco museum 2

Lorca Blanco museum

These were the first robes we looked at, the head dresses have eyeholes in them and the 3D work on the robes was stunning.

Lorca Blanco

Lorca Blanco 2

Lorca Blanco 3

Lorca Blanco 4

Lorca Blanco 5

Lorca Blanco 6

This is a close up of the wonderful Roman general’s cloak in the centre of the museum.

Lorca Blanco Roman robe

Many of the cloaks were pictorial as in the other museums and these had stunning scenes from the bible, the ones below were two of my favourite.

Lorca Blanco pictorial cloak 1

Lorca Blanco 24

Lorca Blanco 25

The detail of the people on this one must have taken hours of stitching.

Lorca Blanco black cloak 1

Lorca Blanco black cloak 2

And then there was the chapel to visit, just a little bit of gold in there!

Lorca Blanco chapel

Lorca Blanco chapel 2

Lorca Blanco chapel 3

Lorca Blanco chapel 4

Lorca Blanco chapel 5

Lorca Blanco chapel 6

Lorca Blanco chapel 7

Lorca Blanco chapel 8

Lorca Blanco chapel 9

Lorca Blanco chapel 10

If you feel like seeing any more goldwork I have done another slideshow for you. So much inspiration will keep me going for a long time!

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Hope that you have all enjoyed the goldwork and have a good week ahead, thanks for visiting.

Lorca part 2 – Goldwork!

We visited the Paso Encardo (Crimson) Museum first, no pictures from this one but we did get to meet the embroiderers working in an upstairs room and in my very poor Spanish I was talking to them about what I had made as well and they were explaining their methods.

It was interesting to see the work in progress, I didn’t realise that so much work is still being done there, not realising the scale of the event. The majority of the work that we saw in the museums was from the 20th century and a lot of it was very recent.

The designs are drawn onto white cloth which was then laid over velvet, the design was then overlaid with strips of fluffy white cotton wadding which was couched down with tightly packed stitches, then the excess cloth was cut away.

I was surprised that they weren’t using gold for padding as I have previously seen it done with gold coloured felt as the gold threads are put straight on top of the white cotton.

They told us that it took 3000 hours to finish one of the capes and that includes the beautiful lifelike embroidered pictures that are surrounded by the goldwork.

The Paso Morado (Purple) museum was next which started off with the sort of things that we were expecting to see, beautiful clothes for the icons.

Lorca morado

Lorca morado 2

Lorca morado detail

What we weren’t expecting was this a whole gallery of beautiful and amazing goldwork.

Lorca morado museum 1

Lorca Morado banner 2

This piece was my favourite from that museum, not just the intricacy of the goldwork but the overall shape of the banner.

Lorca morado banner

I have put some more pictures from this museum into the slideshow below.

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We then went to the Paso Azul (Blue) Museum a couple of minutes away which was housed in an Art Deco style house very similar to Casa Modernista in Novelda that we have visited a couple of times.

Not only was the display of capes fabulous but the building was beautiful, I loved all the newel post baubles which were all of a different style on the first two floors.

Lorca Azul museum

Lorca Azul museum 2

Lorca Azul museum 3

This museum was very different as they had a lot more of the horse rider’s cloaks and a lot more emphasis on the pictorial side of the work, still amazing goldwork but also Roman and Egyptian pictures and biblical scenes like this one in silk shaded embroidery.

If the first cloaks the women were making took 3000 hours I estimate about 8000 for this one looking at the size of it, just incredible.

Lorca Azul horse cloak

This robe was also beautiful.

Lorca Azul Robe

Again I have put more pictures into the slideshow below, apologies as some of the photos are not brilliant as all of it was obviously behind glass but you can get a sense of the amazing work.

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Will love you and leave you now as stitching is calling but will be back later in the week with the mind-blowing last museum, Thanks for visiting.

Lorca Part 1

Is it sad that it gives me great pleasure to sit on a Saturday morning (looks like it is going to be a bit sunny as well – yippee!) and write blog posts?

Hope not as blogging does make me happy and I have been looking forward to sorting out my embroidery pictures from Lorca all week.

Am splitting them into two, maybe even 3 posts, as there are so many and the amount of work that has gone into these pieces I feel they need sharing with the stitchy bloggy world.

First some of the gorgeousness of the city itself. It is sadly famous for having a very bad earthquake in 2011 and they are still repairing a lot of the damage. What has been restored is gorgeous and those that are not beautiful old stone are painted mainly in white with a deep yellow trim.

These are some of the old mansions, the Casino and the town hall.

Lorca  houses

Lorca  houses 7

Lorca  houses 8

Lorca houses 1

Lorca houses 2

Lorca houses 3

Lorca houses 4

Lorca houses 5

We spent some time wandering around and visiting churches and the castle as well. This picture from Google is a great aerial shot of the castle.

Lorca Castle

Lorca was important in the medieval period as it was on the border between Moorish and Christian Spain being halfway between Murcia (the city that I visited on the last trip to Spain) and Granada so this was a very well used castle – great views of the surrounding countryside as you can imagine.

It was a long walk up (and we got lost a bit) but a short one down as we found the way back through the very poor area just below the walls.

Lorca castle 1

Stark contrast between the crumbling houses in the barrio and this church and seminary at the bottom of the hill. I am going to frame this photo and add it to my ‘beautiful buildings and blue sky’ collection of Spanish pictures!

Lorca church

We got the idea of going to Lorca from my brother and his partner who stayed there overnight on the way back from a trip to the mountains. They went to the tourist information and picked up a brochure that said four embroidery museums in the city and kindly thought of me🙂

It was also a very exciting trip as we did it all by bus from La Marina, these are the sort of things like I love doing and it made Mum and I feel very adventurous!

We also had some lovely food in cute little tapas bars like this one in a converted house where due to my poor Spanish I inadvertently ordered off the menu (luckily what I ordered was lovely and mostly non meat for Mum).

Lorca bar

Lorca bar 2

Lorca bar 3

I thought he was just explaining what was available and so was nodding to say that I understood and he obviously thought I wanted it all – we had to stop him after the first two dishes and say we had enough!

Mum and I were expecting to see loveliness and knew that the embroidery was connected with the Easter festivals(Semana Santa – Holy Week) and we have seen a few of these before so were looking forward to some lovely robes for icons etc.

However we didn’t realise that the parades are four days of spectacle that includes chariots, Romans and their Gods, Egyptians and the Devil  as well as usual icons of Jesus and the Virgin Mary.

Mum has lived in Spain for 11 years now and her sister for 24 and neither of them had heard of the event there so obviously a well-kept secret. So we know where we are going next Easter!

Here is a taster of the parade from some of local tourism web sites.

Semana Santa Lorca

Semana Santa Lorca 3

Semana Santa Lorca 4

Semana Santa Lorca 5

Semana Santa Lorca

The four museums represent the four brotherhoods – Paso Encarnado (Crimson), Paso Morado (Purple), Paso Azul (Blue) and Paso Blanco (White).

The last two are the biggest and the ones with the most spectacular embroidery as they are the groups with horses as well as icons and robes for participants. This tourism web site gives details of locations of all four and the other attractions if you ever fancy a trip.

Since this is a very long post now I will finish (and go and have brunch, my other favourite thing about the weekend!) and be back tomorrow for goldwork loveliness the like of which I have never seen before.

Thanks for visiting.

Marvellous Murcia

Hope everyone has had a good week. Here in the UK we have had our twice yearly, ‘oh my God it has snowed, panic, panic do not travel’, buses stopped and everyone suddenly appears dressed for the slopes at Klosters.

Other countries with real snow all winter must really laugh to see the reaction here and there have been lots of pictures on Facebook of people managing perfectly well on roads with 20 feet of snow either side.However they do have it more than we do and have the right equipment.

It has been very pretty though and this photo from the local news shows you the loveliness of it all. It has nearly all melted now leaving my garden looking worse for wear so will have to get out and give it a good tidy up.

Marsden snow

I wanted to show you some of my pictures from our recent trip to the city of Murcia in Spain. Mum, my Aunt Maureen and I went on a coach trip there, it is about 40 km inland from where Mum lives and the drive alone was very lovely.

Spain New Year Murcia

We often go on these coach trips as it is a great way to see the country, they are good value at about 10 to 15 euros each and it is a lovely day out with no hassle driving or parking.

I have been to Murcia twice before but never managed to get inside the cathedral. This time we did make it and to the cathedral museum, also the museum that houses the large statues that are paraded at Easter and to the Casino, which is the gentlemen’s club built in the late 1800s.

I have put together a slideshow of some of the best bits here.

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As always there was beautiful goldwork, some dating from the 1700s, in the cathedral and museum.

Spain New Year Murcia

Spain New Year Murcia

Spain New Year Murcia

I have another trip to Spain planned in a couple of weeks and we are off to the city of Lorca where they have not one but FOUR religious embroidery museums – excited MOI – just a little bit🙂

As well as tapas in a very lovely bar that dated from the 1920s full of old pictures and posters of bullfights and a couple of stops for coffee and a little retail therapy (two very cute Moroccan style tea light holders – I know I don’t need any more candle holders but they are lovely!) we amused ourselves very nicely.

We also found these very cute little chocolate hedgehogs and had one each!

Spain New Year hedgehog chocs

I am planning to hand stitch for the rest of the day, still working on the hexi cars, have changed my mind about the design so yesterday took apart all the stitching I have done this week so am starting again!

Have a lovely week ahead and thanks for visiting.