SOUL SEARCHING… FINDING HOPE IN THE DARKNESS

When you’re afraid of the dark its hard to be brave,

Hard to see life when digging you’re own grave.

in the depths of darkness,fear and despair,

its hard to remind yourself that you are there.

She feels she’s the monster that everyone fears,

she’s the reason for everyone’s tears.

In order to make a change you have to want to try,

But how do you resuscitate a rose, that’s  beginning to die.

The map is torn into a million parts,

She has no clear direction, or path to start.

Yet creativity can thrive in the darkest of places,

Flowers survive in the muddiest spaces.

Deep in the earth a light shines bright,

hope is living no matter how slight.

In the flash of a second your perspective can change,

All your thoughts can rearrange.

The hole she was digging was not a grave after all,

she plants a new seed in the ground so her flower grows tall.

Letting Go Of Thoughts…. The Art Of Mindfulness

A penny for my thoughts….

Just as clouds glide in and amongst the constant sky, our thoughts come and go from our minds. Our thoughts are what we are thinking at a certain moment, so why is it often so hard to just accept and acknowledge them? why can we not let them pass without becoming consumed and overwhelmed? As a train arrives and shortly leaves from a station, to be replaced by another one our many thoughts appear and then disappear. Yet as a train breaks down and becomes stuck, often we let our thoughts become trapped in the passageways of our minds, ruminating and brewing to boiling point until we have catastrophized a situation so much, that it takes over every cell, controls every feeling and often paralyses us with such overpowering emotions.

Mindfulness allows us to become aware of these thoughts, enabling us to accept and analyse where they have come from,  so we don’t internalise them in a harmful way. It is interesting yet saddening to notice that, often  as an insect that crawls into the tiniest of spaces, That harsh voice sneaks its way into in our mind, blurring our judgement so that we may see thoughts as if they are facts. For example: “I am a failure”, “I am not worthy” or it takes a situation, blows it way out of proportion and condenses into a belief; “I did this so that must mean I am a horrible person”. In this way, these heartbreaking core beliefs that we have led ourselves to see as cold hard facts, can be thoughts that have manifested negatively over time. When we start to pay attention to our thoughts, in a gentle way, we can use mindfulness to think about the way we are thinking, so that slowly we become unconsciously able to allow them to be without using them as ammunition to wound ourselves.

I am seldom able to watch my thoughts wander ‘lonely as a cloud’. Instead I stew in a thought which in a flash creates a feeling, that in turn leads to a behaviour, that develops physical sensations. Suddenly before I know it I am waking up from a powerless trance having self harmed because I wasn’t able to let the thought gently float away like a lily downstream. A gnarly weed has now grown from the murky water, latching itself onto the side of the bank, creating a sticky quagmire. The key to resulting in a different outcome would have been to notice the thought, be aware of its presence, but allow it to delicately slip away, and be joined by something new.

Life is a rich tapestry, woven together by the roads we take, the choices we make, and the challenges we face. The magic in these threads, is that they can be undone, allowing a second chance to create a new pattern, and a new work of art. I believe that with every outcome a lesson can be learned, and with every thought, is a new possibility. I am in the process of weaving new threads, and carving a beautiful new path.

One of my favourite poems by William Wordsworth. For me the daffodils in the poem emanate hope and represent my wellness.

I wandered lonely as a cloud

That floats on high o’er vales and hills,

When all at once I saw a crowd,

A host, of golden daffodils;

Beside the lake, beneath the trees,

Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine

And twinkle on the milky way,

They stretched in never-ending line

Along the margin of a bay:

 Ten thousand saw I at a glance,

Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced;

but they Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:

A poet could not but be gay,

In such a jocund company:

I gazed–and gazed–but little thought

What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie In vacant or in pensive mood,

 They flash upon that inward eye

Which is the bliss of solitude;

And then my heart with pleasure fills,

And dances with the daffodils.  

ABOUT ME….

My name is Georgia Barnett, I’m a free lance features writer, copywriter and editor from London UK, currently living in Tel Aviv, Israel. I have written for and contributed to both print and online outlets in New York, Shanghai and Tel Aviv. Previously as Contributing Writer and Assistant Online Editor for China’s biggest English Lifestyle Magazine ‘City Weekend’ and Contributing Writer for Time Out Magazine in Tel Aviv. Working in such vibrant cities has enhanced my cultural perspectives and furthered my passion  exploring and embracing new cultures. My favourite city to date has to be Melbourne, Australia. Synonymous for its coffee and food culture, the city has a vibrant pulse like no other, an energy that cannot be compared and a laid back attitude that Brits will sadly never be able to adopt.

Some other interests of mine are: photography, art (particularly French Impressionism), theatre, mindfulness practice, skiing, cooking shows, raw baking, singer songwriters especially the tallest man on earth and John Mayer, horse-riding and people watching. I also love to read, write, create and work with inspiring (and inspired) people.

 

Exploring Summer in Israel….

The unique combination of fascinating history, breathtaking scenery and glorious weather makes summer in Israel the perfect tourist destination. With so much to see and do it is impossible to get bored. Though tiny in size, Israel offers a plethora of exhilarating adventures, outdoor activities, and a wealth of history and culture, that welcomes all religions and beliefs.

Here are some thrilling adventure ideas, contrary to the usual tourist spots away from the masses.

Bedouin Hospitality:

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If you are looking for the cultural opportunity of a lifetime, then a Bedouin experience is for you. An overnight adventure deep in the heart of the desert is truly unique and memorable and the perfect escape from reality. Fall asleep under the stars Bedouin style in a large luxurious tent of soft cushions and blankets surrounded by the tranquillity of the desert air. In Bedouin culture, primary importance is placed on receiving guests with warm, openhearted hospitality, so enjoy an exotic and delicious home cooked feast of home- made pitta, salads and traditional ‘Matfuna’ whole stuffed chicken, and kebabs served, in an authentic manner by sunset, followed by an evening of enjoyable Bedouin entertainment. Wake up to the beauty of sunrise with traditional Bedouin tea and breakfast. Many Bedouin experiences also include camel rides and desert trips.

*Mattresses will be provided but it is recommended to bring a pillow and sheet.

Recommended:

Kfar Hanokdim: In the Judean desert, between the city of Arad and ancient Masada. A green oasis, that provides a truly unforgettable stay for its guests. For those who prefer more traditional lodgings, Kfar Hanokdim also supports a Bedouin-style desert resort on the outskirts of the village, with small cottages providing more modern comforts while still allowing for a serene desert experience.  413 NIS per person. Package includes camel ride, bedouin hospitality, dinner and a hearty home cooked breakfast. hanokdim.com/08-9950097

Chan Shayarot: Located in the Negev, close to Sde Boker, this desert haven offers an enjoyable Bedouin experience along with many other activities and workshops for its visitors. Hear Bedouin stories and learn real life desert customs during a traditional Bedouin coffee ceremony by campfire, and enjoy a typical ‘hafla’ (eating ceremony) before retiring to a traditional goats wool tent to gaze at the night sky before falling asleep . With many hikes accessible from this area, it is a great base to explore the desert the following day. (*All meals offered here are kosher.) For a night’s stay in tents+sleeping bags with dinner and breakfast is 225 NIS per adult,175 NIS per child

Accommodation in tents+sleeping begs with just breakfast costs 145 NIS for adults and children aged 3-12 is 115 NIS
Their tents are large and they are divided five partitions.shayarot.com/08-6535777

Dan River adventures:

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Located in the Golan Heights at the base of Mount Hermon, the Dan River is a wonderful destination for nature lovers with abundance of outdoor activities to enjoy. For those in the mood to relax rent a tube and float along the cool waters. If you have a thrill for excitement kayaking or white water rafting provide a great adrenaline- boost. Whichever you choose, a trip down the river makes for a lovely summer’s afternoon. A true highlight of the area is the famous Dag al HaDan (fish from the Dan) restaurant, which is nestled amidst the trees on the river serving freshly caught fish and a delectable array of refreshing Israeli salads. Nearby, located on the ruins of the biblical city of Dan, the Tel Dan National Park is a remarkable place to experience nature and archaeology all in one place. Visitors are offered a glimpse into ancient life through ruins and artifacts. In addition, the reserve also offers dozens of streams and hiking trails.
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Hikes: 

With an abundance of trails crisscrossing the country, a water hike is the perfect way to cool off this summer away from the city heat. Here are some fantastic routes to take you exploring through Israel’s spectacular deserts, enchanting forests and magical river beds. So put on your walking boots, and make a splash.

Yam L’Yam is a unique hike spanning from the Mediterranean Sea to the Sea of Galilee. It is a total of 89km starting at sea level, climbing to 1,200 meters, and then descending to -400 meters. The journey begins on the coast of the Mediterranean, north of Nahariya, and concludes at the shores of the Kinneret, north of Teveria, usually taking 3-4 days. The route will take you exploring through nature reserves, archeological remains, some of Israel’s best vantage points and arguably the most beautiful section of the trans-Israel trail, passing fresh springs every day. This trek, rated easy/moderate, is ideal for families, with trails easily marked. Most people are comfortable hiking the trail alone, but a guide can also be handy for leading the way and explaining the history and geography of the region.

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Golan

Trekking the Golan can be an exhilarating experience in the summer.  With panoramic views overlooking Syria, and ancient ruins hidden among the wildlife that give a sense of its history.

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Nahal Yehudiah  

There’s probably no better hike in the heat of summer than Nahal Yehudiah, where the water is so deep, you have no choice but to swim to get to the other side. The path starts by passing a deserted Syrian village that was built on top of an earlier town from the Roman-Byzantine period, as it leads its way towards the highlight of the day, the  stunning 20-meter high Yehudiah Falls. This is where the fun begins. There are two cliffs to climb down, using rungs and ladders drilled into the side of the rock – one is four meters long, the second nine meters, which ends in the cool waters of a refreshing pool perfect for a swim. (Make sure your belongings are wrapped up in waterproof bags and remember your water shoes) (4-5 hours)

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The Yehudia Forest reserve is off Highway 87 just northeast of the Sea of Galilee on the Golan. There is parking, bathrooms, drinking water, a snack bar, place for camping (additional fee) and an information center; the entrance fee is 20 NIS

The Banias Nature Reserve contains an abundance of natural and historical beauty, from the ruins of ancient cities to the roaring Banias Waterfall – the biggest waterfall in Israel. Found in the Upper Golan between the fertile Hula Valley and the Mount Hermon mountain area, the Banias is a favorite for those visiting the Golan. Hours can be spent here; walking the trails, exploring the ruins and picnicking in the plush green woodlands. The Falls and the Springs are what makes this reserve so exceptional. The Banias Spring emerges at the foot of Mount Hermon and flows powerfully through a canyon for 3.5 km, eventually leading to the waterfall, the most impressive cascade in Israel. This is quite a site and makes this hike truly worthwhile. A stepped path near the spring leads to the Banias Cave where visitors will find the remains of a temple built by Herod the Great.

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Other worthwhile hikes:

Named by national Geographic as one of the world’s best hikes, The Israel National Trail is a footpath that winds its way nearly 1000 kilometers across the country, zig zagging its way from the Lebanese border in the north to the Red Sea in the south. The longest hiking route in Israel, it takes about 40 to 60 days to complete. Along the way hikers get a chance to really experience the unique landscape that the country has to offer. It is divided into 11 sections, and many hikers choose to cross only one segment at a time. There are places to reload and purchase food and water on the way. Crossing many villages and towns, the INT is full of choices and possibilities. (israeltrail.net)

Jerusalem area

The Burma Road is a route that is steeped with history. During the War of Independence, the Jordanians blocked the main route into Jerusalem, attempting to starve the city into surrender. Under the cover of night, Israeli soldiers built a bypass road, which succeeded in breaking the boycott. You can now hike this road in two parts. Both segments follow the Israel Trail for some of the way. The western part of the trail goes along the Burma Road in the direction of Latrun, taking you through a stunning pine forest known as Park Rabin. (There is also a bike rental shop here with the option of riding). The eastern flank of the trail across the road kicks off with a very steep ascent until reaching the village of Beit Meir. At this point the views of the famous highway below are excellent. (approximately 3 hours).

The Negev

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The Negev desert covers over half of the total land area of Israel. Its beautiful landscape and rich history is just waiting to be explored.

Ein Avdat is undoubtedly one of Israel’s most striking and beautiful sites. Set within the incredible landscape of the Zin Valley in the center of Israel’s Negev Desert, Ein Avdat National Park offers spectacular panoramas and enchanted hikes through its desert scenery. Its spring, covering all of Southern Israel, is an oasis amid the barren and rocky landscape that has carved a deep, narrow canyon through the rock. The remarkable canyon stretches over 60km and attracts visitors from across the country. Enjoy arriving at a stunning waterfall, and pools below it that provide a source of life to many animals and plants that inhabit there. Whilst in the area if you haven’t already been, it is worth taking a trip to Ben Gurion’s grave, very close to the lower entrance to Ein Avdat. Ein Avdat is located on Road 40 between Mitzpe Ramon and Beer Sheva

The beautiful and varied landscapes of Israel make it the perfect location for seasoned hikers. When hiking any trail in Israel, remember to bring plenty of water. Start hikes early so you have plenty of time to finish before the sun sets. Happy hiking.

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Informative and helpful websites for hiking Israel: 

Myhikeisrael.com 

tiuli.com 

Biking:

Israel has a diverse a set of biking trails that snake their way across its wide spectrum of landscape. From breath-taking green mountains up North to sunset-colored deserts in the South, cycling is a great way to experience the country that is so alive. So feel the summer breeze whipping through your hair and get up close and personal with nature along these recommended bike routes.

Biking in the Negev:

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Over the past few years, bike trails in the Negev have been developed at an unprecedented rate, making it easy and safe for bikers of all levels of experience to enjoy the varied terrain, magnificent landscapes, and striking peace and tranquility which biking in the desert provides. Along all trails visitors can find bike centers for equipment and various accommodations where tours and guides can be booked. (negevland.co.il)

The Sculpture Park Biking Trail at the Ramon Crater:

The Ramon Crater is 40 kilometers long and 500 m. deep. High and impressive mountains rise at the borders of the crater that formed millions of years ago when the ocean that covered the Negev began to move north. ‘The Sculpture Park’ is a short biking trail through the beautiful sculptures in the midst of the Desert, with picturesque views of the Makhtesh Ramon. The 4km trail is designed for an informal family riding route and makes for an extremely pleasant day out. The ibike hotel located in Mitzpe Ramon is the perfect base to start your adventure, especially if you are looking to spend the night. They have everything from bikes and accessories, to guided bike tours with experienced guides, and many other action packed opportunities in the area. ibike.co.il/ 052-4367878

The Hula Valley

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The Hula Valley located in the north of the country is another scenic cycling area particularly suitable for family cycling tours, since it is completely flat. Visitors to the Park will be able to hire bikes at the Visitors Center and use them to cross the area of Lake Agmon. The most popular riding route is the round-lake path of nearly 11km. The trail includes several small bridges passing over water channels. On these trails cyclists will have a fantastic opportunity to reach a truly special part of the country. The Hula Valley is home to one of the world’s major migration routes, and a bird lover’s paradise. With over half a billion birds passing through these lands twice a year, the chance to experience this definitely makes an unforgettable trip.

(kkl.org.il)

Bike, Wine & dine in the rolling hills…

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The Judean hills are an idyllic place to ride through its historic crossroads and ancient Roman ruins. As the central wine hub of the region, the vineyards and olive groves makes for a particularly enjoyable part of the route, and one must stop at local wineries for a taste of real Israeli wine. Close by and worth a visit is Beit Guvrin- Maresha National park. Bet Guvrin was an important city in the Crusader era, and its columbarium caves carved into the rock are extremely fascinating, aswell as the stunning outdoor Roman Amphitheater that was originally hosted gladiator fights to entertain the masses. Visitors can follow the marked trail through the park. This day out is a great combination of biking, fine wine, archeology and breath taking views.

 Park Hours:April-September 8 A.M.-5 P.M Entrance fee:Adult NIS 29; child NIS 15 Israeli senior citizen: NIS 15 Group (over 30 people): Adult: NIS 23: child NIS 14

If you are visiting Israel for the first time, or are looking for a truly unique biking experience try ‘Israel in a nutshell’ by Gordon active bike tours. This weeklong program will take you traveling through the true gems of the country side roads, villages and farms. The tour includes Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Cesarea, Mt Carmel, Nazareth, the Sea of Galilee and the Judean Hills. The tour is suitable for an un-experienced cyclist and a family/individual looking to immerse themselves in culture, nature, and the true beauty of this small country. This company also offers single day cycle tours all over Israel. gordonactive.com/03-7659000

 

Travel Review- Skiing in CourMayeur

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Exuding character and charm, the stylish Italian resort of Courmayer is a popular destination for skiers of all abilities, not to mention a favourite of designer clad Milanese, flocking for long weekends on the slopes #spot the fur. Situated in Italy’s Valle d’Aosta region at the foot of Europe’s highest mountain; Mont Blanc, the town provides a wealth of both on piste and off piste terrain and is a great base for skiing the famous and exhilarating Valle Blanche run which can be skied from either the Italian or French side of the mountain, starting in nearby Chamonix.

Traditional cobbled streets lined with fashionable boutiques showcase the latest Italian designs; while foodies will delight in speciality wine, cheese and meat shops and a plethora of restaurants to suit even the most discerning customer. Tucked away on a quiet corner, Le Petit Bistrot; a quaint eatery serves simple yet delicious local dishes boasting with the flavours of fresh Italian ingredients. The winning feature of this cosy establishment, alongside its ambience and friendly staff, is the enticing choice of sweet crepes on the dessert menu, the perfect choice for those with a penchant to taste of the real Italy.

 While the après-ski scene is not quite comparable to resorts such as St Anton or Val d’s ere, a lot can be said for a late afternoon aperol spritz at the lively Bar Roma, centrally located on the main street, which offers a complimentary shmorgas board of Italian antipasti delights.

 For a truly relaxing experience, the Grand Hotel Royal Golf located in the heart of the idyllic village, features a heated patio serving après-ski hot chocolate, which is quite literally melted chocolate in your cup.910-370-CC-wedding-venue-italy-valle-d'aosta-aosta-hotel-royale-veues-15-locations

The inside scoop: Words of advice from the one and only Kayla Itsines……

Three words to live by…..

‘Consistency. Dedication. Confidence’

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At just 24 years old, and admired by thousands of women worldwide, Australian personal trainer Kayla Itsines has become a squatting sensation. With over one million instagram followers, and a dedicated army of fans known as #kaylas army, this fitness guru is taking over the work -out world one box jump at a time. An alternative to slogging in the gym; her revolutionary Bikini Body Guides, and 28 minute fuss-free workouts have helped females worldwide to not only transform their bodies in 12 weeks or less, but she also sends the firm message that self love really is possible. Through dedication, patience and confidence, she insists you really can achieve the body of your dreams.

Recently completing a whirlwind tour, the beauty brought her bikini body bible to life, inviting thousands of women to join her bootcamp sessions at venues in different cities across the globe. I caught up with Kayla in London, to get some top tips from the source, and find out more about a day in the life of such an inspiration……………

1. You are such a role model for thousands of women all over the world, how does that feel?

It feels amazing! I had no idea that I would be ever be in this position, but I feel honored and blessed

to have the opportunity to educate and motivate women from all across the world. I have loved

watching BBG girls become role models to each other because they are all REAL women with REAL

stories achieving REAL results. I am truly blessed to be part of such a supportive and inspirational

community of women. I have, and always will be 100% honest with my followers. My social media

accounts, blog and website are platforms women can always visit and know that the advice I’m giving is genuine and true.

2. What do you do to relax and have down time to focus on yourself?

I cannot emphasis how important it is to listen to your body, particularly when you are unwell or

feeling run down. To relax and rest, I run a hot bath with muscle relaxing salts or sometimes get a

massage to reduce tension in my muscles. I also try and go to bed a little earlier. Having said that,

when it comes to taking a break from exercise, it is important to remember the difference between

needing to rest and saying that you “can’t be bothered”!

3. What is your daily routine?

My daily routine is not that different to anyone else. I run my bootcamp session twice a day, and then

take Ace and TJ (my two Siberian Huskies) for a walk. I then fit my 28-minute resistance training

session whenever I have spare time throughout the day. Depending on my commitments, this may be

early in the day, midday or at night. As my training method only takes up 2% of my day, it is very easy

for me to fit it into my busy schedule. When it comes to training, I personally believe that less is more.

Overtraining can put your body under lots of stress, which potentially makes it more difficult to

achieve the results you aspire for. Girls should know that they don’t need to spend hours in the gym

every day. Listen to your body and remain active with a realistic routine that you can maintain long

term.

4. What do you have on a cheat day?

I don’t have a ‘cheat’ day, I stand by and encourage a wholesome diet incorporating foods from all 5

food groups as shown in my H.E.L.P also known as my Healthy Eating Lifestyle Plan. Eating many

different foods from all these food groups, plus the occasional treat, helps maintain a healthy, well

balanced diet, providing your body with adequate nutrition. I believe the reason your body craves

certain foods is because you are not giving your body the nutrients and fuel it needed to begin with.

Listen to your bodies natural appetite signals and if you feel like something sweet, don’t deprive

yourself of it, enjoy portion controlled quantities and when you eat it, sit down and thoroughly enjoy.

5. How do you bounce back after a bad day, and what advice would you give to to picking yourself up?    

Don’t think of it as a “bad” day and remember you’re not the only one – it can happen to everyone!

Living a healthy balanced life isnt about being on a ‘diet’ or taking a ‘quick fix’, it’s about being active,

healthy and realistic. A realistic healthy lifestyle doesn’t have an end date, so its completely normal to

have a day where you indulge a little. All women deserve to feel confident and fit all year around – not

just for a special occasion or a month or two over summer. Feeling fit and healthy is a lifestyle choice,

so it is important to establish a routine that works for YOU and one that you can maintain all 12

months of the year. A tip would be to remind yourself why you have started, take progress photos

and remember that you are doing this to be a healthier version of YOU.

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6. What are your favourite beauty essentials?

I don’t really have a long list of beauty essentials but my personal favourite would be Cetaphil Skin

Cleanser followed by Olay Complete Defence Daily UV moisturising lotion.

7. We are nut butter crazy in England what is your nut butter of choice?

I love using nut butters when cooking or as an addition to a snack during the day, as they boost the

nutrient content of my meals. My favourite would have to be almond butter as it is packed with

healthy fats, good protein and dietary fibre.

8.  which is your favourite City you have toured so far and why?

I couldn’t pick a favourite! The last 12 months have included so many exciting moments during both

my Australian Tour and World Tour. I will never forget walking on stage at Basketball City in New York

City in front of 4,000 girls. I was completely blown away that so many girls had travelled from all over

New York and the USA to come and train with me! It was a very overwhelming experience and I feel

extremely lucky to be able to not only train, but meet all these beautiful girls in person.

9. What’s your next step career wise?

I have just translated my Bikini Body Guide to German and there are multiple languages to come

during the next few months. So this is a really exciting time for me! Also my online store is becoming

bigger with some new products coming soon! Keep an eye on http://www.kaylaitsines.com for all the

exciting things to come.

10. Three words to live by…..

Consistency. Dedication. Confidence

Art Review- Vincent Van Gogh, Painting in the open air.

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Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings exist today as spontaneous outpourings of his creative energy, and his Starry Night is certainly no exception. I was fortunate enough to view this painting firsthand, whilst on a trip to Amsterdam, and can truly say was left mesmerised by the way the artist looked at nature. I was fascinated at how brilliantly he juxtaposed loud and vibrant shades of orange, yellow and red with cold whites and blues, resulting in his paintings displaying great intensity.

Vincent  began painting subdued landscapes in the mid-1880s under the influence of the Barbizon School; the group of plein air painters who are sometimes seen as the precursors to the Impressionists. The viewer is immedietly drawn to the work as the sky and stars pulsate with aureoles of white, green or blue scrolling from left to right across the canvas, moving as the swells of ocean waves towards the crescent moon in its halo of yellow in the corner. The moon and stars hit you as un earthly balls glowing in an orange-yellow light, meanwhile the clouds have begun to whirl into a backdrop of night excitement. Between hills and the sky a band of light green brushstrokes may represent mist rising from the earth after the heat of the day, marking the movement of the picture that is ineffectually checked only by the tip of the church steeple just breaching the line of blue hills, and by the mass of deep green cypresses in the foreground that writhe upward ‘like tongues of fire.’ All nature is in turmoil but still the village sleeps unawares below. [1]

‘Starry Night’ proclaimes its status as a forerunner of both the Fauve and Expressionist movements in 20th-century art. As you arrive at the strange yet hypnotic masterpiece it feels like a summation, as though the whole exhibition has been building up to the climactic moment when we catch our first glimpse of it hanging in the distance. Every millimetre of the canvas is given equal visual weight in terms of the intensity of the colour, dynamic movement, and paint texture. The things of the earth (fields, trees and buildings) merge with those of the sky (clouds, sun, moon and stars). Yet, it still remains unclear whether Van Gogh intended the picture to be read as a pantheistic celebration of the natural world, a wild vision of a universe in chaos, or a bitter reflection on the indifference of nature to man and all his works. ‘Not only is there nothing else quite like it within Van Gogh’s own work, there is nothing else like it in art.’

Another painting I found myself drawn to ‘Cypresses’ had been cleverly placed beside ‘Starry Sky’ proving as a poignant comparison. It is tempting to see these pictures (one at daytime, the other night) as a reflection of the artist’s lighter and darker moods. “Cypresses” suggests joy and living in the moment whereas “The Starry Night” tends to reinforce the feeling that for him life was somewhere else. The two paintings set together in this intimate setting invites viewers to slow down, and look closely at the artworks.

One leaves the exhibition not only fascinated but also intrigued into the extremely complex mind of such a lost soul. As I found myself wandering amongst the views of Arles countryside, to the gardens of the asylum at St Remy where he spent his final days, I felt a sense of longing to transcend back to his time and tell him what a phenomenon he has now become. It is incredible to think that he only sold one painting during his lifetime, if only he knew what his works were to become, perhaps this tortured genius would have hung on a little longer.

[1] Richard Dorment