Venice | A trip to the Biennale (All the world’s futures)

Close-up of Venice Canal

 

la Biennale di Venezia

 

Cobblestoned footpaths down dimly lit alleys, crossing quaint little bridges of opaque teal water … Few cliches more aptly describe their subjects than the ones depicting the ancient city of Venice.

 

Late night stroll to the fruit market in Venice
Captivating beauty of Venice at night

 

And the water-bus from the airport only adds to the allure once you finally set foot on the historic island. A trip to the Biennale (All the world’s futures) allowed me this magical visit, and so I was doubly delighted, first by the romance and splendour of the city, and second, by the spectacular displays at the la Biennale di Venezia.

 

Old school lamp in Venice

 

The Biennale

Like Alice I wandered into a land of wonder, of pearls and dragons and critical expressions of our current world state. Karo Akpokiere’s “Zwischen Lagos und Berlin made me humble and homesick through his themes of social inequalities and cultural juxtapositions. The “dead” flags in Ivan Grubanov’s United Dead nations for the Serbian pavilion delivered a beautifully dismal display of the notion of nations. On a brighter–much yellower–note; Great Britain’s Sarah Lucas had me itching for wanting to touch her oh-so-smooth er … could it be penises?

 

Experiencing Antonio Manuel's Occupations/Discoveries at the Venice Bienale
Experiencing Antonio Manuel's Occupations/Discoveries
yellow
Deep Cream Maradona by Sarah Lucas
flags
Ivan Grubanov’s UNITED DEAD NATIONS, Installation at Venice Art Biennale 2015

 

The city

The World Heritage site dating back to the 10th century BC, is actually a group of small islands (118) connected by footbridges. It’s enjoyed wealth through most of it’s history due to it’s maritime power and commerce. The resulting grand and majestic architecture (Venetian Gothic architecture) effectively obscures the fact that their foundations are wooden piles of alder trees, that have been submerged in the ocean for centuries.

 

Venice in the day time
The teal colours of the Venice canal

 

There’s just so much to say about Venice that I’m thinking of doing a follow up post later. But here’s a quick round-up of my experience so you have something to go on should you decide to visit:

Sleeping: I can really recommend the airbnb apartment hosted by Silva Farina. The immaculate and elegantly decorated apartment in Castello is perfectly located, only 5 mins away from the Biennale, but central enough to the rest of the islands so we could do all our exploring on foot.

Eating: Suggested to us by Marie from Stil in Berlin, the Osteria il paradiso perduto at Fondamenta della Misericordia, 2540 – 30100, did not fail to deliver on its promise. Here you’ll experience culinary delight in both their seafood and vegetarian dishes.

Drinking: Vino Vero is a charming wine bar we stumbled across in Cannagerio 2497, that draws you in with its cheerful character and keeps you there with its impeccable selection of wines.

 

Aloe Vera houseplant

Aloe Vera Close-up

 

Aloe Vera

 

It’s speckled tentacles reach and bend like the liquid legs of a giant Octopus and yet this prickly pirate lives far from the sea and don’t swim well at all. The Aloe Vera, a short stemmed succulent, is cultivated throughout the world and widely regarded for its medicinal and cosmetic qualities.

 

Aloe Vera belongs to the largest succulent genus Aloe, which encompasses an elephantine number (450) of species! These are widely distributed across sub saharan Africa in dry climates with little rainfall so it’s no wonder a potted aloe adds instant warmth to indoor spaces.

 

Aloe Vera pot plants
Aloe vera potplant

Aloe vera in Terrakotta pots

 

Common names: Aloe barbadensis, Aloe Vera, Aloe vulgaris, Medicinal Aloe

Care: Plant your Aloe in well draining potting soil with corse grit or sand in a container that drains very well. I prefer keeping succulents in plastic containers inside terra-cotta pots as they drain far better this way. Keep them in sunny, bright areas, but preferably away from direct sunlight.

Water: Give the soil a thorough soak then allow it to dry out completely between watering to assure the roots do not rot. Test if it is dry by sticking your finger deep into the soil (about 4cm). In winter they need less water so be very careful of over-watering your Aloe. It can be anything between 1-4 weeks.

Propagation: Aloe’s produce offsets or baby plants that you’ll see popping up around the parent. Allow them to grow a couple of centimetres to ensure they develop a stable root system of their own. You can easily separate them by holding them closely to their roots and pulling them out gently. Be careful not to tug too roughly, you don’t want the roots to break off. Plant them into a similar potting mix and leave in a bright sunny location.

 

Propagating an Aloe Vera
Propagating an Aloe Vera

 

I’m fond of these nuggets not only because they grow so easily and proliferate so well, but they’re said to be superb air purifiers – releasing oxygen and absorbing CO2 at night. And although they’re not entirely as majestic as the Aloe Ferox, they do bring a little bit of South Africa into my Berlin home.

 

Aloes from the top 

STORY + PHOTOS: BARBARA CILLIERS

 
 

Home-made christmas

DIY Christmas wreath

These days the spirit of christmas is captured in mass produced tinsel and coca-cola smiles. Malls are hanging baubles in October and countdowns to xmas-delivery prompt us to spend spend spend! It will probably not surprise you that an estimated 60% of the world Christmas decorations are made in China (Yiwu), with some workers putting in 12 hour shifts for as little as 45p per hour! So in this post let’s celebrate a hand-made christmas. Let’s go back to nature and use what we have.

Green Christmas Cheat 01: Make your own wreaths 

It’s actually so simple. Use a piece of wire that you can easily bend into a circle (like a wire hanger). Get a bunch of holly and a nice long Eucalyptus branch (or any type of long leafy branch) and wrap them around the wire. I found it easier to first make the wire into a circle and then adding the plants. The girls from Treasures and Travels have excellent step-by-step images of how how to make one.

Christmas wreath by Treasures & Travels
Christmas wreath by Treasures & Travels

Step-by-step diy xmas wreath

Green Christmas Cheat 02: Branches in a pot

This is probably the easiest way you can bring christmas into your home. Use a beautiful pot with an interesting branch. It can be any branch, even dead ones you find in the park!

Christmas Branches in beautiful pots
Branches in beautiful pots. Find more beautiful examples like the ones on the left on trendspanarna.nu
branches in pots
More bottled inspiration

branch in a potGreen Christmas Cheat 03: Use what you have

When you decorate your table, use the plates you have. Don’t worry if they don’t all match. Combine different colours to add interest, but follow a pattern so that it looks deliberate. Candles are perfect center pieces; put them on upside-down side plates to catch dripping wax and tie a branch or ribbon around it to make it christmassy.

Christmas table settingsChristmas table 2015

simple_tablesetting
I really love this simple table setting by bestdayever

Green Christmas Cheat 04: Never buy wrapping paper again

I love beautifully wrapped gifts, and even more so, wrapping them! But sadly, wrapping paper is such a waste of money and resources. If you don’t re-use it (and most people probably don’t) it just ends up in the dust bin, and often one that doesn’t go to the recycling depot. It’s actually far more fun to just create your own. Plus, its SO simple. I never buy wrapping paper. I save the brown paper that amazon uses when they ship large things (like cat litter) to my house or I just use scrap paper from the printer drawer or old magazines. Let me show you how easy it is:

Beautifully wrapped giftDIY wrapping paper tutorial

Wishing you a very merry christmas everybody!!

Delicious Monsters aka Monstera deliciosa

Close-up of monstera deliciosa

 

Monstera deliciosa

 

I am quite obsessed with houseplants, and there’s one particular guy that I simply cannot get enough of; with it’s massive leaves and funny tentacles the Monstera Deliciosa or Philodendron Pertusum is quite a character.

 

Monstera deliciosa
Close-up of Monstera deliciosa

 

There’s something about them that’s simply captivating. Perhaps it’s their allusion to the tropics or the sense of humour they embodythat swiss cheese smile and goofy elegance. Paradoxes aside though, this hardy philly will liven up any room, even if you forget to water it sometimes.

Description: The monstera is a member for the arum family Araceae. This climbing plant is native to the tropical rainforests from southern Mexico to southern Colombia and has large leathery green heart shaped leaves. Adult leaves develop holes and split edges that protect them from strong tropical winds (in their native environment) and can measure up to 45cm when grown indoors, giving them a beautiful sculptural quality.

Common Names: monstera deliciosa, splitleaf philodendron, philodendron pertusum, swiss cheese plant, monster fruit (to name a few)

 

Swiss cheese plant also known as  a monsteria
Monstera deliciosa in the home
Home with pretty Monstera
The home of Christopher Bastin for Åhléns Magazine from petrabindel.com

Location: Medium brightness. Bright location away from direct sunlight. Your plants will quickly show you when they’re happy or not with their location. A happy plant will grow big and look healthy. A sad one will look dull and remain small. Watch your plants closely to judge wether they’re comfortable in their spot, but be careful not to move it around too often, the monstera doesn’t like to travel.

Water: Once a week to once every 10 days.

Notes: Super poisonous! Best to keep them away from children and pets.

I absolutely cannot imagine a house without plants. However, if you cannot seem to keep plants alive no matter how hard you try, try adding some tropical greenery with illustrated artwork, fabrics or wallpaper.

Botanical wallpaper on etsy with tropical split leaf philodendron and monstera delisciosa
Botanical wallpaper on etsy