This colonial house was built in 1872 and is now a museum at the start of the Tea Route in Forest Side, near Curepipe. Yes, there is tea produced on the island.
The house was the home of the Aubineaux family and originally built in wood.
The guide sends you into the attic via a circular staircase. There is a very casual display of, well, things you would find in an attic in the 1950’s including camera equipment and wind-up gramophone.
On the ground floor, you can explore the main parts of the house.
It was extended and refurbished years ago adding, amongst other things, a wide central corridor by taking space away from the main rooms; this was very unusual at the time. The house was also the first in Mauritius to have electricity installed which must have been a shock.
The house and its contents give you a very good idea of what life was like in those times on the island.
Some of the wood used in the decoration and construction of the house came from shipwrecks.
The stables have been transformed and include an essential oil distillery.
The Floral Park has many trees endemic to the island and some exotic plants too; well worth a stroll around. These palms looked amazing, the trunks so neat and tidy.
I will continue the Tea Route at a later date: it may be a bit of a rum do.
This was originally a bird sanctuary and has gradually developed to become a major tourist attraction on the West Coast between Cascavelles and Tamarin.
With over 250 hectares, Casela is home to 1,500 birds as well as white lions, Bengal tigers, cheetahs, hyenas, camels, pygmy hippos, white rhinos and giant tortoises amongst others. There are also zip wires, mud karting and other activities.
Having enjoyed African safaris I was only really interested in the giant tortoises and the birds.
It is amazing how fast these tortoises move when there is food around.
The birds have so much colour, it comes from the most unbelievable paintbox.
It was enjoyable to see the birds at close quarters with such amazing colours.
A very successful enterprise but give me a game park, everytime.
Everyday I find myself looking at the sky and the sea and appreciating the various shades of blue. Blue is the colour, of course. The mountains and sugar cane seem to be in almost every view of the island and look stunning illuminated by the Indian Ocean sunshine.
I drove to Grand Baie in the North for an early meeting; the sea is a very special of shade of blue there, almost metallic, it always surprises me.
The second photo was taken a few minutes later, having turned to the West.
This is a fishing area and the hull of the one behind was being worked on by five men, it had been damaged by coral.
The next morning I was up at dawn to go dolphin watching.
Early morning winter sunlight is not so spectacular on the West coast.
Many more boats started to appear with tourists eager to go swimming and snorkelling among the dolphins.
It was getting crowded and so we decided to head for home.
Returning to Black River an hour after sunrise, I was stunned by the blue of the sky, the green of the vegetation and the reflection of both in the lagoon.
The title of this art exhibition unsurprisingly piqued my interest. I remember this was the name of the ‘dumb blonde’ character that Marilyn Monroe played in the film ‘Some Like It Hot” but it was the reference to sugar as well as a painting in an advert that made me walk to the gallery in Port Louis.
The entrance was almost prison like with shutters and padlocks covering some windows and doors. Not knowing quite what to expect, I went in, was given a handout guide and was warmly welcomed to the free exhibition.
“No form of violence can ever be excused in a society that wishes to call itself decent”
The curator’s written introduction wiped the smile off my face, this was more serious than I had expected. She wrote in the notes,
“Violence spoken, and violence underneath the skin are two themes around which the exhibition turns”.
I am not a student of art but know what I like and don’t like, (boats and ships I hear some say!) It does interest me to a degree to know the deeper meanings of a painting or what an artist is trying to represent but here, without the curator’s notes, I would have been completely lost amongst the 23 exhibits.
The first exhibit. Now what is all this about? I came here to see paintings! Confused? Oui! Now what do we have here? Music stands, the score from Prokofiev’s ‘Peter and the Wolf’ and some rope. In Prokofiev’s 1936 musical fable, the wolf is represented by the horn section and swallows Peter’s friend the duck. He is caught bravely by Peter who also, despite warnings, catches the wolf with a noose made of rope.
The wolf is seen as a threat in Mauritius and so relates to the shape-shifting werewolf, ‘loup-garou’, which has been sighted on the island after a devastating cyclone.
This may represent stress and violence erupting from a surface of domestic calm? Others will have their own views as to whether it is art or not. I did actually want to wash my hands before realising it was an exhibit but now I was starting to take this all seriously.
This was the artwork used in the advert for the exhibition. It was textured with cow dung and oil paints. Really. It reminded me of the film, “12 years a slave”. Shocking.
The shades of red and orange in the faces that make up this hand stamped print have layers and layers that are not obvious in the photograph above. The word ‘shame’ is spelt out over 100 times in the lower right hand corner.
This stunning, blackly veiled self-portrait made me stop and look for many minutes. The white of the eyes and the vertical stripe, the contrasting textures. The image stayed with me for days. It commanded my attention, even now as I type this blog. I wanted to know the story behind the photograph and even more about the photographer who I researched later. Maybe you will too.
Walking back to my car whilst pondering ‘what is Art’, I realised how little graffiti there is anywhere in Mauritius. I had hardly seen any and then by chance I came across a small area that had been painted for last year’s PORLWI by light festival.
The black and white painting of Mauritian structures on the right hand wall is so clever, amazing street art. Look closely how the bricks and windows blend into the painting.
Time to drive home. Wait a minute, there is street art everywhere!
Some of the best advertisements are on buildings; posters don’t survive long in the sun, heat and humidity.
This building gives a clue to what is in the nearby forest, over 60,000 deer.
Driving past the turning for Tamarin beach I spotted this on the side of a convenience store wall.
And finally, this is the art that nature exhibited just a few minutes walk from home.
Art is everywhere, you just have to open your eyes.