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Malta

Malta is the perfect combination of culture, sun and atmosphere, as I discovered on my recent holiday there in June. Being such a small island I was able to easily visit places such as Valletta, the capital, with its quirky, colourful streets full of colonial style buildings decorated with jutting balconies and verandas leading down to the sea and Medina, the silent city, full of bright sandstone buildings contrasting with myriad small winding streets. If you are in to clear, dazzling blue waters a trip to the Blue Lagoon is a must, but don’t make the mistake of taking a 9 hour boat-trip as part of the package, like we did! Once there you can swim and snorkel to your heart’s content in the crystal clear waters. It’s quite touristy but worth it for the incredible views. Where we stayed, in St Julian’s, there were many rocks which proved ideal sunbathing spots away from the busier beaches, although beware of sea urchins; I had a nasty surprise and returned home with a spine lodged in my foot!

As for evenings and nightlife, everything is extremely cheap yet good quality and quite stylish. There are lots of young people about but hardly any English, which is quite refreshing! You can get a really good main course for 6 euros and drinks are fairly cheap too. Bars are lively and fun – it’s the ideal place for a short break in a destination which is a bit different to the normal holiday scene such as Malia or Magaluf!

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MEAM Gallery

Tucked away deep in the back streets of Barcelona is the MEAM, a contemporary figurative art gallery housing work from up and coming European artists. The gallery represents experimentation and abstraction and reflects the culture and charm of the city, avoiding the heavy stream of tourists which the nearby Picasso Gallery receives.

If you are a fan of figurative art like me, this is the place for you. Through paint, pencil, sculpture and photography, the human form is explored, challenged and admired. Each room is full of thought provoking and skilfully executed portraits, yet it never feels monotonous or one dimensional; the artworks are expertly curated with a concise flow and constantly evolving themes. Classical music plays throughout to add to the inspiring atmosphere. The building itself seamlessly mixes tradition and modernity and is almost like an artist’s studio with chipped paint walls, old wooden shutters and a labyrinth of rooms, centred round a grand neoclassical hall and leafy courtyard. Sculptures pop up in unusual places, bunched together in the middle of a room or standing alone in a door frame. Its accessible manner enables you to fully immerse yourself in the work, getting up close and walking in between and around it.

What makes this gallery stand out is not just the exceptional quality of the art or beauty of the building but the way it deals with 21st century issues and experiments with different techniques without neglecting the importance of traditional practices and styles. On the MEAM website their aim is stated as finding ‘a new contemporary language without denying tradition by progressing into the new Century’. This aim is reinforced by the use of quotes scattered around the building from the gallery’s director J M Infiesta, and to end, I will leave you with one:

‘What modern man has completely lost is the desire for permanence. His works no longer aspire to last eternally, but simply to fulfil their small, limited, momentary vision of the instant. Modern man does not understand- too obsessed with himself- the meaning of the word eternity. He wants it to be himself, personally, who wants to exhaust all the creative possibilities that were previously conceived in centuries, he wants it to be himself who enjoys the applause which before only arrived death.’

THE BUILDING

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ARTWORKS

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Alessio Bogani- Fuori e sera (zoomed-in section)

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Golucho (Miguel Angel Mayo)- Retrato de insomnios

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Maria Jose Cortes- La paleta del olvido (zoomed-in section)

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Eloy Morales Ramiro- La pintura en mi cabeza

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Sacris- Educacion religiosa

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Jose Manuel Belmonte Cortes- Hombre Pajaro

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Andres Lasanta Jimeno- Nonato

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Elena Petreva- Mom in transition

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Sergi Oliva Torres- Synthesis (sculpture)

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Barcelona

Barcelona is often described as the city that has everything; the beach, the shopping, the food, the culture… It goes without saying it’s a popular destination which attracts people from all over the world to take part in its lively atmosphere. I was lucky enough to spend 3 days exploring the city and managed to squeeze in enough to give me a real taste of Barcelona. Below are my highlights and snapshots of the trip.

My Top Spots

Visit The 4 Gats for a jug of sangria, The Quinze Nits for an evening meal overlooking the beautiful Plaça Reiale, the MEAM gallery for modern figurative art (separate post coming soon), La Boqueria food market for delicious fruit smoothies and Park Guell for Gaudi architecture and amazing views of Barcelona (if you can bear the masses of tourists and steep climb).

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India

I don’t normally do personal updates, but this time it’s a big one! I am currently living in India for six months whilst working at a girls boarding school in Rajasthan. As with every country India has its positive and negative points but for fear of making this post too heavy for a Sunday morning, I’m going to focus on the things that have made me fall in love with this beautiful country.

Rajasthan is known for its architecture and I am lucky enough to be based in the rather unexplored Shekhawati region, home to many havelis. Inside these traditional residences can be found beautiful painted murals and ornate artworks. Whilst many of these beautifully preserved artworks are in private homes it is possible to see some of them and it is nice to get away from the main Rajasthani tourist sites.

My architectural highlights to date include the Amber Fort in Jaipur, the Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur, Safdarjang’s Tomb in Delhi and the Tomb of Etimad ud Doulah (Baby Taj) in Agra. The forts tower above their respective cities and are as imposing as they are beautiful. The views are definitely worth the long climb up but I would suggest avoiding the midday heat and visiting about 4pm to see the rooftops bathed in dramatic evening light. The tombs in contrast are intimate and peaceful, boasting intricate marble carving in the Mughal style. Baby Taj in particular was stunning both inside and out with the orange blue and yellow highlights against the brilliant white marble.

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Co-ords at Zara

As a lover of all things grey and baggy I was pleasantly surprised when I stumbled into the coord section of the Zara website. They’re low-key, simple yet effortlessly stylish. Sometimes on the high street the importance of texture and shape in clothing gets left behind but it’s so refreshing to see them being brought back to the forefront. A subtle flick of a hem or a tactile fabric can really make all the difference, the adjacent pictures emphasising this. Their baggy style makes it look like they’ve just been thrown on and the monochrome palette makes them easy to work into your wardrobe as individual pieces. I’m all about not overthinking outfits and with these two-pieces, all the work has been done for you.

Shop the collection here.

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Transition Collab

Ella and I love to collaborate and work with bloggers from all around the world. Recently we did a guest post for Menellia at nothingbutvelvet.com. We discuss layering up your look to fight those cold autumn winds and give you a few tips to help transition into the new season.

This was a bit of a whirlwind project with a turn around of a week but we had great fun doing it and are really happy with the outcome. This just shows that launching straight into something and stepping a bit outside your comfort zone really does pay off. This post is a bit different to our usual format but that’s what I love about collaborations – the opportunity to try something new, share ideas and inspiration. We were also slightly apprehensive about shooting the looks as I am currently working in India for six months (India post coming soon) and Ella has moved to Birmingham. We have been very fortunate to have supportive friends and family that are willing to stand in as photographers when we can’t physically work together. Although I’m looking forward to getting back into the swing of shooting in January, I’m also looking forward to the challenges of blogging abroad and the change that comes with that.

These are my four favourite photos from the short shoot showcasing my light Zara knit. Make sure to check out the full post on nothingbutvelvet.com. I would love to hear your feedback from this post, engaging with the blogger community is really important to me and I love hearing your thoughts . Equally if you would like to collaborate in the future or have a work proposal then I’d love to hear from you!

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MASC/FEM

As a woman I am interested in the other meaning of sexy, not bodycon dresses but wide-leg trousers and structured blazers, the appeal of ‘not trying too hard’. In search of this alternative uniform I will occasionally dip my toes into men’s clothing, finding sometimes that I prefer the fit of a ‘male’ piece to a ‘female’ piece. Is this because menswear is more functional therefore more easy-going? Masculine tailoring has been drifting over into womenswear more and more and now designers have started blurring the lines by showcasing both collections together (Prada, Loewe) and sending men and women down the runway together. This gender-neutral take on clothing gives us more freedom in choosing how we dress, and lets us explore different definitions of words such as ‘sexy’. Designer Jonathan Anderson claims ‘it’s more about garments for garments’ sake. T-shirts, jeans, duffel coats, biker jackets – it all means the same thing, no matter if it’s a man or woman wearing it. They are a neutral zone.’ At the end of the day clothing has to make you feel good as well as be functional, and if women borrowing from men and men borrowing from women widens our options, then what’s stopping us?

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