"Twisted Realism" A visual artist, creating moody black and white tonal drawings in charcoal, pastel and graphite. Inspired by the human figure, story telling and Europe.


Now For Something Truly Beautiful.

On the shores of Lake Geneva in Lausanne 
stands the newly constructed Rolex Learning Centre.
It is the library for the local university. It is a place of contemplative study.
But above all, it is stunning to move around and under. It flows up and down and has no corridors, but general areas of movement.

You stroll around and have an overwhelming urge to be part of it and study.

It's Our First Morning in Lausanne...

...and this is the view that greets us from Rob and Jodie's apartment. The Swiss Alps in the distance, and the French Alps on the opposite bank of Lake Geneva. There was a light dusting of snow on their peaks.

We jump in the Alfa 147 and head up the distant pass into Italy and France. 

The old Vespa shop in Martigny. Reconditioned and returned to their rightful place in the shopfront window.

The Italian town of Aoste. The difference between Italy and Switzerland is palpable and we arrive on a drizzly, slow Sunday afternoon, when most things are winding down. 
The old and grimy meets the new and sleek in the town centre.

We have lunch in a lovely little Italian cafe in the town centre, and I try my first 
Cafe Creme Fredda. A rich cold cream coffee.
A joy!


Later That Same Day.

It's late afternoon. We unpack and head down to Lake Geneva. Old stone buildings, lichen encrusted walls and rows of perfectly aligned vineyards, line the narrow walkways. 
Then there's that lake.

It's Thursday Morning...

...and the TGV rolls out of Gare de Lyon right to the minute. In fact it doesn't roll, it slides out. 
It slips through the French countryside at 200 km/h plus, heading for Dijon, and onto Lausanne in Switzerland. It does 200 km/h because the French tell you it does. It does 200 km/h because cars on the adjacent freeways are doing 130 km/h, and appear to be going backwards.
High speed train travel is smooth and silky, pure joy.

After three and a half hours, we roll into Gare Lausanne and there's Swalesy, standing on the platform in board shorts and thongs. A big cheery Oz greeting in a sea of unintelligible babble.

His little red Alfa negotiates the maze of roads and signage to deliver us safely to the nearby village of  Pully (Poo-ee). In the loft of a steep alpine roofline, is Rob and Jodie's spacious apartment. And from the balcony, a view to die for.


Last Days In Paris

'We head back to the hotel for a baguette, croissant and quite good brewed coffee.The old gentleman behind the counter is energetic and fun. Ponytailed silver hair and large white moustache. Dressed in crisp white shirt and smart fitted jeans, he smokes cigars, coughs his heart out each morning and loves my moustache. 
I ask him if he is an artist and did he paint the mural in the stairwell leading up to our room? No, he had been a French airforce pilot who now loves to dabble in paint and words, "but I'm not professional"

Breakfast over, we strike out for Boulevard St. Germein, on the famous Left Bank. 
Tree lined and ritzy, tall elegant French architecture, with rows of cutting edge design shopfront windows.

On a busy corner in Montparnasse, 
we indulge in two caffe cremes and watch the world go by.

Parisians have laced the fencing of the bridge leading to Notre Dame with thousands of padlocks, each one inscribed with the names of the two lovers, locked together for eternity.

Each day from our cafe on Rue Richer, we sit and watch. 


It's about 8.30am when we head out into Paris....

...and strike a route to the Champs Elysee, which is slow and still unwinding at this hour. We enter the boulevard from the Place de Concord, in the very heart of Paris, where vast acres of cobblestoned roads, that seem to have no rhyme or reason, are negotiated by motorists with ease and speed, who amazingly appear to arrive at the other side with little stress. 

The pavements are wet from overnight cleaning and the shops along the boulevard slow to react to a new day. The who's who of haute couture purveyors line what surely must be one of the most expensive pieces of real estate in the world. And the show rooms of car makers project you into the 22nd century with their sparkling high tech displays and futuristic concept vehicles.

When reworking an old building, the French surround it with scaffolding and an image of what will be.
(Double click on this image and marvel at the torn corrugated cardboard)

Beautiful window at the Luis Vuitton shop, Champs Elysee.

Citroen concept car at a most remarkable showroom, 
where a five story vertical spindle rotates displaying their cars on platforms along it's length.

Movement past ancient ruins in the Louvre.

Late afternoon sun in the Jardin des Tuileries, 
the spacious gardens at the entrance to the Louvre.
People recline on green garden chairs...

...around grassy tree lined parks with bronze sculptures...

...and stroll amidst magnificent buildings.
Paris is magnificent from every angle.


Early Days In Paris.

We wander out into Paris....

We stumble upon the Cimetiere de Montmartre, full of grand tombs holding the remains of eminent Parisians. The rich, the famous, artists, poets, writers and eminent public figures dating back hundreds of years. Leafy cobbled stoned walkways protecting the dead.

Every other street corner is bestowed with a cafe straight out of some bygone era. The imagination races with thoughts of the past, when vibrant conversations over coffee and absinthe were held, and manifestoes were the beginning of new ways of seeing. 

Above the surface, gold encrusted statues on the Pont Alexandre....

....and below, 
the draughtsman's equally beautiful considerations.
Such is Paris.

Some live the dream, a studio in Montmartre. 

The view from our little apartment in the 
Hotel Peletier Haussmann Opera. 
The central void, not spectacular, but a window into the lives of those who live here.

"This morning is a slower start. The bedroom window left open to collect cool night air. The first noise of the morning from the void is an echoey 'click click'. From below a phlegmy cough and the old man lights up in the half dark. The smell of cigarette smoke smartly finds our window and I get out of bed to close it.
The light in the void is still dark at 7.00 am. The small breakfast area in the hotel has been readying itself below our room for maybe half an hour. The sliding of tables on tiles, the occasional voice and the smell of baguettes being warmed, wafts into our room, and prepares us for another day." 


The hotel stands minutes from the heart of Paris, and although small, it is clean, welcoming and charming. It is the perfect location from which to set out each day.


Late One Night In Paris...

                            Time exposure photos I took from the Pont Alexandre that night.

     It's a balmy evening in Paris and the sun begins to dim in the sky. Twilight suggests we should wander from our small hotel just off Boulevard Haussmann down to the Seine, and watch the Eiffel Tower sparkle into life. 
     No matter how many times you've seen her in magazines, at the movies or on TV, no matter how much you think you know her, you will always remember that first moment you saw the Eiffel Tower in Paris. 
     No one tells you about the fine filigreed curved metal that weaves patterns of lightness between the towers brutish main frame. I'm enthralled how something so large could touch the earth so lightly. She is massive but gentle, she thrills and delights. 
     So we sit on the steps leading down from Pont Alexandre to the waters edge and embrace the night. The river comes alive after dark. It's black surface reflecting golden light, which plays off the wash caused by long coal laden barges and glass topped dinner boats.   
     At nine o'clock it happens. Around the river's edge, up at Montmartre, wherever people can see her, the magic is revealed and there is an audible sigh. The tower's genteel warm glow bursts into life as thousands of lights pulse and sparkle over her metallic frame creating mayhem and magic, and clutching at the romantic in the very heart of us all.