January & February 2014

  / February 28, 2014

We begun the beginning of January by taking a quick hop across the pond to the wonderful world that is Cuba. A couple of weeks was more than enough to fall in love with the Island.

One of the first places we saw upon arriving was the railway station, it was beautiful yet quite quiet considering it was the main station in Havana.

P1020995

[Havana train station]

 

P1020994

[Havana train station information booth]

In Havana, they go for massive old American cars, that must date back to before the 1952 revolution. Incredibly the people of Cuba have found the secret to longevity in a car, and these old beautiful gas guzzlers are repainted regularly.

IMG_0960
[Beautiful green Havana car]
IMG_1122
[Havana cars]
Thrillingly this pink car was to be ours for one brilliant afternoon.

IMG_0968
[Helen & Colin David sitting in the classic pink car]
A great thing about the city was that no sooner had you sat down to lunch or dinner a really good band would turn up and do you a little set. The thing is this isn’t like your average London busker… these guys are really high quality¬†musicians.
IMG_0914
[Live music in Havana]
IMG_1087
[Live music in Havana]
IMG_1188
[Live music in Havana]
P1020355
[Live music in the sunset]
Besides the musicians the people of the island are all vibrant and full of their own character, some of whom you can see below.
P1020764
[Fantastic smoking woman in Havana]
P1030617a
[Havana outfit]
P1030620
[Smoking woman in Havana]
To get a good idea of the faded grandeur of the city walk down the Prado. You see lovley vintage signs, old buildings in unlikely colours, school children and new Santaria converts dressed all in white. It’s a very surreal place, partly locked in time and partly on the cusp of the modern world.
IMG_1063
[Building on the Prado]
IMG_1075
[Faded grandeur]
IMG_1128
[Faded grandeur]
IMG_1066
[Children on the Prado]
IMG_1074
[New Santaria convert]
Whilst we were there we had to visit Floridita, the supposed birthplace of the Daquiri cocktail. This is also famously where Ernest Hemingway used to visit when he was on the island.
P1020860
[Floridita waiters]
P1020861
[Colin David drinking a Daquiri]
Another place Hemingway would have visited is the Hotel Nanional De Cuba. Originally set up by mobsters it became a stop off for a multitude of well known names over the years, from Nat King Cole to Winston Churchill they all stayed there. Inside there is a room of fame with pictures of all of them.
P1020613
[Hall of fame in the Hotel Nanional De Cuba]
Other clubs in the city include the world famous Tropicana, which while being very touristy, was also a fascinating blast of the past. You could almost imagine the mobsters and politicians of the 30’s with their cigars watching the show with you.
P1020688
[The show at the Tropicana]
P1020678
[The show at the Tropicana]
Whilst in another club we saw an original member of a Buena Vista Social club, Amadito Valdes.
P1030207
[Amadito Valdes]
Back in the day time, while out and about in Havana, we discovered this peculiar and quite beautiful tree.
P1020609
[Fascinating tree in Havana park]
There was also a beautiful graveyard with many interesting design styles all mixed together.
P1020837
[Pyramid shaped crypt in Havana Cemetery]
P1020856
[Beautiful grave in Havana graveyard]
Also while looking around the island we found that there is quite a vivid art scene, which can be seen almost anywhere, from the streets…
P1020917
[Street art in Havana]
P1030602
[Street art in Havana]
P1030603
[Street art in Havana]
P1020913
[Street art in Havana]
IMG_0995
[Street art in Havana]
To interiors…
P1020571
[Havana interior]
To art galleries…
P1030224
[Art in Havana]
P1030226
[Art in Havana]
There are also constant reminders of the socialist leaders all about, some more recognisable than others. As there are generally no advertisements these political images take their place, the cult built up around some of these leaders is quite astounding when compared with many of our own, modern day or otherwise, political figures.
IMG_1146
[Political mural in Havana]
P1030367
[Political billboard in Havana]
P1030609
[Political poster]
There are also a couple of reminders of Cuba’s historically troubled relationship with the USA still around. This is a park dedicated to the chilling memory of the Cuban Missile crisis (1962), it stands as a stark reminder of how close we all came to nuclear war.
P1020975
[Cuban Missile Crisis park]
P1020979
[Cuban Missile Crisis park]
After a week in Havana we went for a visit in the town of Trinidad, which is celebrating its five hundredth birthday. Here there were more signs of the communist rule as there were horses used in place of cars by a large number of residents.
IMG_1295
[Horses in the streets]
P1030360
[Horses in the streets]
While out and around we also found this live Iguana, which Colin sports beautifully along with his stripy shirt.
P1030427
[Colin David carrying an Iguana]
Upon returning to London we were invited by Matthew Flowers to a Gala at the National Portrait Gallery that was attended by the Duchess of Cambridge.
P1030666
[The Duchess of Cambridge at the National Portrait Gallery]
The gala also included a beautiful sit down dinner amongst the paintings of the gallery, which was very special indeed.
P1030657
[Colin David at the National Portrait Gallery dinner]
Finally one of the projects we’re working on at the moment is for the Folkestone ¬†Tricentennial Fringe Festival that will take place at the end of August. A couple of images that strike out from the Folkestone art scene at the moment are from Wendy Poole’s guerilla crochet on the Road of Remembrance, a pertinent piece considering the Anniversary of the First World War this year.
P1030779
[The Road of Remembrance]
P1030776
[Crochet poppy on the Road of Remembrance]