10 March 2011

Places I lived - through the eyes of others

Over the past 20 years I have collected prints, paintings and photographs of the places and countries I lived in. I started off with old prints, then branched out to contemporary. My challenge is to find pictures of the actual streets or areas I lived in (not always easy!).  I now have too many to hang on my walls. I am bit of a nomad with my furniture, so the pantings tend to be on the floor. That way I can change them around easily. I will not bore you with all the prints. Here is a selection, ordered chronologically from the place I lived most recently to where I was born.

I lived in Islington for almost three years. Detail of a print (39x26cm), 1811, though based on an early drawing of 1735, showing the Roads and Foot paths in the Parish of Islington. The red lines probably indicate brick buildings. It looks as if Canbury has just been laid out. Colouring of a later date.

Cheers by Frank Kiely, screen print (98x119cm), AP, 2001 (?), showing London's Bloomsbury Square Gardens and the Sicilian Avenue.

On and off I have lived in Brussels for more than 15 years. This is the Place Royale, before it had the statue of Godfrey of Bouillon in the middle. Don't know the date of the print, but probably 19th century (15x19cm). The people are too small, the square is not as big as it looks.

Mises en scènes involontaires Tunel Nord, by Patrick van Roy, 2001 (28x28cm), photo on aluminium. This is a picture of the scary and noisy tunnels under the North Station in Brussels.

In the early nineties I lived in St Petersburg for a while. I have several prints of that time. I particularly like this screen print of a square on Vasilevsky Island, north of the Neva (22x16cm), by A. Nian (?), 7/8, 1979, for me it captures the general mood of Russia, just out of the Soviet Union.

I don't remember whether I bought this oil painting in Moscow or St Petersburg. It is typical of the outskirts of both cities, a bit like the area I lived in near the port. Painted on cardboard (35x50cm), 1962. It has a stamp on the back saying CCCP and more, but the rest I can't read.

Detail of a map of Russia, copper engraving by John Gibson (35x40cm), 1760. St Petersburg is called Petersburg and seems to lie on the border of Russian Finland and Lithuania, Part of Poland according to Gibson.

This is the Dutch Parliament in session: the Vergaderkamer van de Heeren Staten van Holland and West Friesland in The Hague. Copper print by R. Boitet (56x75cm), 1750. I am still looking for prints of the canals I used to live on in The Hague and Amsterdam.

The pride of my collection: a print of the village I was born in: Oude Pekela (23x30cm), 1867, published in Leeuwarden. It states that Oude Pekela has 4750 inhabitants and 1904 bunders (a low countries' unit of measurement of agricultural land). I count 13 wind mills, mainly to manage water levels. When I grew up there was one left.  


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