Monthly Archives: September 2017

Yucca the Spanish Dagger

The bell-shaped flowers of a Yucca

  • Last month August was definitely the Yucca month in Marseille. Everywhere in the city and on its outskirts you could see the plant flowering, mostly in private gardens and public parks. Although I admire the creamy-white bell-shaped flowers as they are, I find the plant comes out well in black&white photos.

A flowering Yucca in the midst of a private garden

  • When I tried to take a more close-up view of a blossom, I found out why the Yucca’s nickname is Spanish dagger, or bayonet. My belly got pierced by one of the spiky leaves, and it hurt. But the Yucca is not poisonous, on the contrary, its fruits, flowers and roots are edible, although those pointed daggers can give a good sting.

The ornamental Yucca can stand pretty tall, sometimes up to 8 meters

  • Yuccas are more known as shrubs, but here in south France I have seen Yucca species as tall as a house with multiple trunks and they can take quite some real estate to make their presence. Originally the Yucca comes from the hot and dry areas of the Americas and covers some 40+ species. Highly ornamental, not dangerous, but don’t accidentally bump into one.

Art in Arles

View of Arles from the terrace of Fondation Vincent van Gogh Arles

  • Arles found its fame in Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh who lived here for an extended period during which he produced his major works. The cozy town along the river the Rhône attracts many visitors annually as Arles has developed into an art centre for particularly painting and photography.

Olive Orchard, 1889 (cropped version); Vincent van Gogh

  • I went there to visit the 48th ‘Les Rencontres de la Photographie’, Meetings of Photography, an international photo festival held since 1970, where photographers can expose their work. The exhibition is divided over many locations in the town, giving the opportunity to see almost all of Arles during your exhibit tour.

The Family, 1970 (cropped version); Alice Neel

  • However, not realising that there was an exhibition of eight paintings by van Gogh and many by American painter Alice Neel, at the Fondation Vincent van Gogh Arles, it was the first exhibition that came my way, and made my day, as I am a lover of the art of painting, especially of Impressionism. Alice Neel, 1900-1984, did mainly portraiture in the style of realism and expressionism, as she described it herself, and was inspired by especially Van Gogh’s portrait work. Hence, both painters were presented together. 

Untitled, 1978; Ramon Grandal, Argentine

  • Since the photo exhibition was spread out all over the town I missed a few as I visited only a day. The untitled photo by Ramon Grandal, a small b/w image in a white matted frame, stayed in my mind. Seeing hundreds of photos in such a short time span makes you filter things out, and one should represent them all, in this case in the category of street photography.

A wedding party happening at the Town Hall, Place de la République; Arles

  • Arles was probably a quiet town in the past but is today a bustling international place of attraction for young and old and especially for those creative types. It surely inspires me to keep an eye on what is happening on its art scene.

A place for all, taking it easy at the Obélisque, La Place de la République; Arles