"This blog is not necessarily for lovers of art, it includes a variety of topics and whatever. I'm a painter who likes to know what's really going on in the world today. So you might find anything from Shamrocks to Salmiakki mentioned here on my blog. There will of course be some boring, factual and informational posts, but I'll keep them to a minimum, I promise!

And I might get a bit nostalgic now and then.

So you have been warned!"

- Alan Hogan

Showing posts with label cities. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cities. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Abbey Theatre revisited

'Old Abbey Theatre' 
- illustration Alan Hogan, 1998.

I recently received a request from Freya Smitha MPhil student at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. It concerned my illustration of a famous old building called the Abbey Theatre. The student has been constructing a visualisation of this theatre as a module for one of her college assessments, and chose to use my image as a small backdrop on her presentation blogsite. I gladly agreed for my illustration (above) to be used.

"The Abbey first opened its doors to the public on 27 December 1904 in the former Mechanics’ Hall, also known as the Hibernian Theatre of Varieties. Prior to opening as the Abbey, the interior was remodeled by architect Joseph Holloway. He reused the existing structure of the auditorium and balcony, but he completely remoulded the proscenium arch, created a new entrance on Marlborough Street, introduced a substantially different seating arrangement, and changed every aspect of the décor, fixtures and fittings.

Despite losing its original building to a fire in 1951, the theatre was rebuilt to a design by Michael Scott and reopened in 1966. After the demolition of the Mechanics’ Hall facades, the stonework was rescued by Dublin architect, Daithi Hanley, who intended to preserve it." 

- above text by Archiseek, Computer reconstruction imagery of the interior as it was in 1904, courtesy of Hugh Denard and Noho.

As a Dubliner born and bred, I am very familiar with the location of the Abbey Theatre. My grandfather worked for the Irish Press and my father for the Irish Independent, two newspaper companies situated only a short walk from the Abbey theatre. I myself used to meet friends quite often after work in The Flowing Tide pub which sits facing the Abbey Theatre. At the time it was no surprise to see familiar faces from the theatre occasionally dropping in for a drink. Another pub situated nearby was Sean O'Casey's Bar which was named after the famous Dublin playwright who's name and plays are synonymous with the Abbey Theatre. I used to drop in to this pub occasionally for a chat after college. An annex of the D.I.T. College of Marketing and Design which I attended is conveniently located next door. This small area of Dublin city is full of history and stories that still live on through the people, the shops and the pubs. And when you least expect, some of the best and most theatrical performances can be found right under your nose!

Above is a video by British Pathe featuring Irish President Eamonn de Valera arriving at the site where the new Abbey theatre was built - historic Abbey theatre was destroyed by the fire in 1951.
From an architectural point of view I have never been a fan of what was constructed in place of the old Abbey Theatre. While it was unfortunate that the old building was destroyed by fire, for me it was equally unfortunate to see such an ugly replacement. On the bright side however, there have been welcomed modifications in more recent years making the new building more aesthetically pleasing.

An impression I made showing how the old Abbey theatre (bottom) would have looked in comparison to it's replacement in the 1960's (top).
Click on image to enlarge.

I also created this quick videoclip with my drawings and old photos of the Abbey Theatre through the years. 

'Old Abbey Theatre, Dublin' - Alan Hogan, 1998

The illustration above is the second drawing I made of the theatre. I haven't made any ink illustrations such as these for many years now, but I think I may have another attempt having received some positive feedback. Maybe something from Finland where I now live. 
Here's a few more samples of my old ink illustrations. 

A section of the old George's Street Arcade building
owned by The Grafton Hotel.

'The Four Courts', Dublin - 1988

'John Kehoe's Pub'
- South Anne street, Dublin - 1990

My illustration of the Abbey Theatre can be seen as a background image on Freya Smith's Old Abbey Theatre BlogAlso, don't forgot to check out some of her wonderful 3D digital models.

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You can receive my blogposts direct to your email or facebook profile by pressing the follow button at NetworkedBlogs  and you are welcome to visit my art page on Facebook by clicking the 'Like' button under my signature below.

- Alan 


Thursday, February 13, 2014

A Day in Hong Kong, Part 2 - Kowloon 九龍

... continued from 'A Day in Hong Kong Part 1'

After that, it was back on the bus to catch the Star Ferry to Kowloon peninsula. This short boat trip which was included on our bus tour package, is normally quite cheap anyway. It's a great way to see Hong Kong's impressive skyline and the many boats that occupy the waterways.

As soon as I landed in Kowloon it was off for a stroll into it's centre. Well, to be honest I don't think there is an actual centre. As soon as I got off the boat I felt like I had just stepped into the centre, and it was suddenly moving me along! Having walked through more and more people I decided it was time to find the Big Bus again. It hard to take in the atmosphere and sights when you have to watch where you're walking all the time. Kowloon seemed more busy than Hong Kong island, with more shops and markets. The most notable thing I detected was the difference between the executive business class and the normal working class. While on one road during my bus tour I was surrounded by big brand stores, modern high rise company buildings with luxury motor cars parked outside and many jewellery stores packed with young people. Then suddenly my Big Bus then drove me only five minutes around a corner to find stacks upon stacks of run-down and shabby apartment blocks. A sad and confusing sight.

The Chung King Hotel and the Hung Sing Hotel
... and many more easy names too remember!!!

I hopped off my bus again briefly when it passed by a busy street market. It looked like I might find a bargain or two there. To my surprise it wasn't as cheap as I expected, and I became tired of seeing the 'usual suspect' brands found worldwide, Goodbye Doggy etc.!!  Luckily I was saved when I bought a small wireless speaker with Bluetooth for €10, a bargain in my book! With so many people going through this market I became a little uncomfortable and claustrophobic. 'Time to find my Big bus again. But now, with so many people and all the signage looking the same and so unfamiliar, I couldn't quite figure out from where I originally got off my bus. Only for the odd western shop-sign I would probably have missed my bus or even my flight home. Thank you Hennes and Mauritz!!!

There's so much to see in this big city, even a week would be too short I reckon. I consider myself lucky to have had a chance to see just a snippet of it. Here's a good time-lapse video I found on YouTube featuring some amazing imagery of Hong Kong. 

It was good to finally see the Big Bus again, and lucky for me it was on it's last tour of the day. It dropped me off close to the Star ferry terminal, where I had an hour or so to find a toilet and look around at more shops and sights. I also got a chance to see the lights from accross the bay over Hong Kong island. Every evening an event called the 'Symphony of Lights' takes place. I had heard about this previously and wanted to see it. So I waited. And then I waited more. Nothing spectacular was happening. I got the feeling it would begin as soon as I was gone. I couldn't wait around any longer and had to dash for my ferry and train to the airport, it was getting late. I managed to see this lighting spectacle on YouTube when I got to the airport, and to be honest I wasn't impressed. The fact that this show takes place every night and the amount of energy it must use up is sad and a little worrying. The regular city lights were impressive enough for me.


I must say Hong Kong was very interesting and worth the visit, even if for just one day. I would have liked to stay a little longer and perhaps if I had known some local people, I think I would have loved to go out and sample some bars with them, especially a karaoke bar! 

Both Hong Kong and Kowloon were a bit of a culture shock for this easy-going european, but that won't stop me going back again if the chance ever arises again. All the time I spent walking around this city I never once felt intimidated or uneasy. 

I want to finish this blog with a video of my own which captures a small taste of this huge city. Sadly there's no karaoke bars, Big Buddah or even Bruce Lee statues. But it does have exciting escalators and me on the Big Bus!

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- Alan



A Day in Hong Kong, Part 1 香港

Last month I spent a day in the city of Hong Kong. It was primarily a stopover period of over 17 hours at Hong Kong airport which I decided to turn into a city day-trip. Luckily there is a good train link direct from the airport which only take 30 minutes. The airport itself is huge with plenty of places to grab a snooze if necessary. There's even a private area to rest and have a shower after your long flight for a payment. A range of packages are on offer, the cheapest being €18 for the use of a shower for an hour (there was no half-hour for €9 option available. I mean,who spends an hour in a shower anyway?)  The main feature at the airport for me was the long travelator or moving walkway which stretches from one end of the airport to the other!

After a 30-minute train journey into Hong Kong city  I immediately went for an early morning stroll outside. The first thing I noticed was the poor air quality. Having walked for a short while (30 minutes) I could feel a caustic-like irritation down my throat and I needed to cough a little. There wasn't a lot to see either as an early curtin of smog blocked any of the nearby views. This was not an early morning mist!

Early morning haze at Hong Kong airport

The air quality may not have bothered me so much a few years ago, but now that I have been living in a small rural town in Finland for a while this was a big change. I do recall experiencing days of poor air quality while living back in Dublin and visiting London, but this was different.

Anyway enough of the moaning, the Big Bus Tour awaited...Yayy!!! :D ... (said the hypocrite...)

I fully recommend this bus tour as it offers good package deals which can include tickets for the Star Ferry to Kowloon, Bus tour of Kowloon, Tram to Victoria's Peak including admission to the Peak viewing platform and lots of other attractions!  It's a chance to enjoy the city and relax in between long walks, especially if you're a daytripper like myself on this occasion. 
'Still early morning and having passed through the modern financial part of town (boring!) the first stop I got off at was for the tram to Victoria's Peak. My brother recommended this to me after he visited here a year or two ago. I wasn't disappointed either. I was even more surprised on discovering a multi-storey shopping mall was waiting to greet me when I got off the tram at the top. This was special, and the views were something else! ... Amazing! (luckily the smog had blown away just enough so not to hinder my view)

Impressive view from Victoria's Peak

On arriving back down from the Peak I noticed a massive queue for the next tram up. I felt slightly relieved that I had made this little excursion earlier in the day.
'Back onto the Big Bus tour and into the old part of Hong Kong city this time. Having stepped off the bus and strolled around briefly the sheer population density of this great city was becoming more and more evident to me. It's population of 7,184,000 is greater than the whole of Finland (5,454,444). It didn't bother me at all though as I quickly found the Central-Mid-Levels escalator, so I didn't have to hustle my way through any crowds. This is the longest escalator in the world covering over 800 metres in distance and elevating over 135 metres from bottom to top. At times it seemed like it would never end!  On the way up and down I noticed a variety of shops and restaurants, the air odour changing rapidly to one of delicious food and spices. I decided to stop and try out some food at a small Indonesian place called 'So Bali Bali'. The food wasn't cheap like some may think, but it tasted delicious and got two beers for the price of one during Happy hour. So a reasonable result!

A tower of marinated chicken at the So Bali Bali
Indonesian restaurant in Hong Kong.

During our stroll around Hong Kong I stumbled upon an interesting exhibition of photography called The Portfolios 10 Exhibition. Here I saw a fine collection of contemporary imagery, some quite unique and inspirational. There's a selection of images from this exhibition on a previous blog of mine called Hong Kong Hot Shots

After that, it was back on the bus to catch the Star Ferry to Kowloon peninsula. This short boat trip which was included on our bus tour package, is normally quite cheap anyway. It's a great way to see Hong Kong's impressive skyline and the many boats that occupy the waterways.

Read Part 2 of this blog in my next post HERE

Thank you for visiting my blog!!!


You can receive my blogposts direct to your email or facebook profile by pressing the follow button at NetworkedBlogs  and you are welcome to visit my art page on Facebook by clicking the 'Like' button under my signature below.

- Alan


Monday, September 16, 2013

Living next door to Alice

ALICE by Mick Minogue

Kieran Street, Kilkenny

This is an extension to an earlier post I wrote about a short visit I made to Kilkenny in July 2013. While I was walking around the city's streets I discovered an impressive piece of street-art. Situated at an empty building plot on Kieran street, this large art project entitled 'Alice' by Kilkenny artist Mick Minogue depicted images of a woman called Dame Alice Kyteler

Mick Minogue and Alice

My first thoughts when I saw the artwork was 'I like that, nice work...and something to do with witchcraft!!!'  I also wondered to myself how long will this artwork be here? I realised it was presented in an empty building space with a main part painted on the area's hoarding. I assumed it was perhaps a temporary addition to the city's art scene and would in time be replaced by a new property or business. With that thought in mind I had to enjoy the painting all the more in that moment, as it will most likely be out of sight before I get back to Ireland again. 

ALICE by Mick Minogue

Detail from the hoarding

I've never been much of a historical buff, but I sometimes like an interesting story or character. So after seeing the 'Alice' painting I read up a little more about this Kyteler woman. I discovered that "she was the first woman in all of Europe to be tried by the Church for crimes of witch craft". Now witches as part of Irish history or folklore never really seemed to register in my head as being interesting or popular until now. It was always Tír na nÓg, Queen Maeve, Setanta and banshees for me, and leprechauns for the tourists! 

Detail from Mick Minogue's ALICE

So leaving legends, myths and the little people aside, this old witch story seems to be somewhat documented with names, dates and occurances in time from 13th century Ireland and thus worth a little attention. A mild browse over Alice Kytelar's history and activities kindled up an image to me of a beautiful woman who apparently had a wicked way with men but in time befell to certain forces of evil and witchcraft (or maybe not?). There's some relevant reading about this woman on Mick Minogue's Blog and also Scandalous Women: Dame Alice Kyteler (1280 - 1324?)

Mick Minogue Made This!

The 'Alice' project was a special commission by The Keep Kilkenny Beautiful Committee as part of Tidy Towns 2013 and the artist has integrated this theme cleverly into his designs. Close evidence of this can be seen here in this short video. I particularly liked the witch themed anti-litter signs.

Seeing Mick Minogue's 'Alice' project made me check out more of his work, which I found to be both interesting and a little quirky. I don't get to travel back to Ireland as often as I would like, so I feel lucky to have had the chance to see this example of Mick Minogue's work and the Kilkenny art scene. More of Mick's work can be found at his website here or on his Facebook page.

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Check out these six 'Ireland' travel posts here on my blog. Click on the destinations below to read the rest!

Thanks for reading my blog and please feel free to share it with any of your friends.

You can receive my blogposts direct to your email or facebook profile by pressing the follow button at NetworkedBlogs  and you are welcome to visit my art page on Facebook by clicking the 'Like' button under my signature below.

- Alan 


Tervetuloa Kilkenny!!!

This is the sixth and final blogpost looking back at my holiday adventures in Ireland, and this time it's all about Kilkenny
It's probably a name known to a lot of people worldwide for being a distinctive red-coloured beer of the same name. But there's a lot more to Kilkenny than just beer. For example, when I hear the name Kilkenny I immediately think of the black and amber colours of the county and the great history Kilkenny has in the sport of hurling. If you are not familiar with this sport here's a short video clip to give you an idea.

Not forgetting also that Kilkenny refers not only to a city in Ireland but also to an entire county. It was here that we set as our next destination having said farewell to beautiful Kinvara and the west of Ireland. It was also a chance for me to meet up with my brother and his young family who made the trip down from Dublin. We all arranged to stay at the same hotel for a night in Kilkenny. 

Before we reached Kilkenny city we decided to stop somewhere for dinner. A popular place to go eat in Ireland is the pub, where the food is usually very good and value for money. We had been sampling several pubs for their food during our trip and our next pub was one of the best we found. It was called Delaneys Bar in Clomantagh, County Kilkenny. The owner was very friendly and the food was fantastic!

(Click all photos to enlarge!)

Delaney's Bar and Restaurant, Clomantagh, County Kilkenny

Great food at Delaney's Bar!

Having had a good feed we drove straight towards our hotel in Kilkenny city and checked in. The hotel we stayed at was called the Kilkenny Ormonde Hotel and we were not disappointed.
We had a wonderful stay with a very comfortable and spacious room. Our Finnish friends were upgraded to a superior executive suite which was a nice surprise and we also received a big discount on parking. The hotel itself and it's facilities are without fault, and the cavery breakfast was delicious. What impressed me the most however was the way the staff treated us having arrived back late after a long day's stroll around the city. With the hotel's restaurant closed and their chef gone home for the evening, the manager and some staff prepared an inexpensive platter of pizza/chicken goujons/salad and chips for all of us (six adults and three children). Good customer service!

Kilkenny Ormonde Hotel

As I mentioned, we all had a nice stroll around the city. This isn't too difficult to do in that Kilkenny city feels more like a small town and most of what needs to be seen is condensed in a small area of space.
The main attraction and most famous landmark in the city has to be Kilkenny Castle, with it's wide open lawn and impressive gardens. The weather was fabulous yet again, so we had a nice walk around the castle grounds. It was a perfect escape from the noise and traffic outside the castle walls. My brother's kids were happy to find a kids play area nearby also. On our second day a few of us took a tour inside the castle. As we walked around inside, apart from all the wonderful art and interior features we were oddly impressed that they had free Wifi available, especially given the fact that the castle walls are extremely thick inside. A Finnish friend was also impressed by the greeting he received as we walked through one of the castle hallways. An old woman working as a guide kindly said hello and asked my friend where he was from. On his reply of "Finland" she then replied by saying "Tervetuloa!"(the Finnish for Welcome!). This was a bit special I thought. With so many tourists coming through this building every day, I only expected the lady to perhaps know greetings for the more common visitor languages, eg. French, German or Italian.   

Kilkenny Castle gardens

Entrance to Kilkenny Castle

Kilkenny Castle

Kilkenny Castle and lawn

Kilkenny Castle

Kilkenny Castle

Walls of Kilkenny Castle overlooking the River Nore

The River Nore and John's Bridge in Kilkenny

Another way to get around Kilkenny is to take one of the small train tours like the one in the photo below. It's a fun way of getting around to see areas outside the city centre. On our little train trip we found more examples of Kilkenny's fine churches and we also got to catch a glimpse of the famous St.Francis Abbey Brewery.  

The Castle Express, Kilkenny

St.Mary's Cathedral, Kilkenny

St.Canice's Cathedral, Kilkenny

Kilkenny City Town Hall

After our trip around the city it was time for ice-cream and sweets from Kitty's Cabin sweet shop. This is an old style sweet shop which isn't something I frequent everyday. They had a huge selection of sweets, some old favorites and some new ones with crazy flavours! I decided I had to fill up my pockets with a few bags to take back to Finland. Let's just call it a bad case of Wonkavision!

Kieran Street, Kilkenny

One last thing I must mention about my short visit to Kilkenny was a piece of street-art I discovered. It was situated at an empty building plot on Kieran street in the heart of the city. The title of the artwork was 'Alice', but it featured images of a woman called Dame Alice Kyteler, the first woman in all of Europe to be tried by the Church for crimes of witch craft. The whole piece created by artist Mick Minogue was cleverly presented and very eye-catching to passers by. To view the full artwork and read some more about Mick Minogue, simply go to my next blogpost by clicking here or the image below.

Mick Minogue Made This!

Dame Alice Kyteler by Mick Minogue

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This is part 6 of a set of 'Ireland' travel posts here on my blog. Click on the destinations below to read the rest!

Thanks for reading my blog and please feel free to share it with any of your friends.

You can receive my blogposts direct to your email or facebook profile by pressing the follow button at NetworkedBlogs  and you are welcome to visit my art page on Facebook by clicking the 'Like' button under my signature below.

- Alan 


The Art Garage, Finland

The Art Garage, Finland
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