Tag Archives: gaugin

Ghosts! (35/365)



Helpful tour guides will lead Ghost Walks in both Canmore and Banff this summer. I’m going to be one of them… For more information, visit the Theatre Canmore website

Whether you are a skeptic or a believer, you have to admit ghost stories are a lot of fun (and, just a wee bit scary!) This evening I learned things about the sleepy town of Canmore that I never knew before… and was reminded of other stories I had vaguely heard of but didn’t know a lot about.


Nikki Tate Banff 2015.jpg

The Banff Springs Hotel (in the background) is said to be one of Canada’s most haunted places… That’s me climbing on the other side of the valley on Tunnel Mountain. 


Spending part of my childhood in Banff, I had heard some of the stories relating to the iconic Banff Springs Hotel. The one about the bride who fell down the stairs (possibly after setting her dress on fire by getting too close to some candles) is one that stuck with me.  But during this evening’s training session, I heard about a whole lot of other mysterious happenings in the Bow Valley.


the-ghost-in-the-lantern utagawa kuniyoshi

The Ghost in the Lantern, by Utagawa Kuniyoshi

Some are said to be benevolent, some spiteful, while others are tricksters through and through. Whatever their flavour, ghosts have intrigued writers and artists since we first began to tell stories and I’m quite looking forward to sharing some ghostly tales over the summer.




Hamlet Sees the Ghost of His Father, by Eugene Delacroix, 1843 – Shakespeare included quite a few apparitions in his work… 


The idea that those we love might not really disappear after they die is one that is certainly appealing. And, there’s no question things happen in the world that science can’t quite explain (yet…) Whether or not apparitions are ‘real,’ sharing stories of our past and the people who have lived in this valley before us is a cool a way to connect with our history and to honour the memories of those who have gone before us. Who knows, perhaps some of those ghosts will join us as we wander the streets of our mountain towns…



The Spirit of the Dead Watches, by Paul Gaugin, 1892

Have you ever had a paranormal experience? If you have a great ghost story to share, I’d love to hear it!



G is for Goya, Guernica, Gaugin and van Gogh (AtoZChallenge)



This portrait of the Spanish painter, Goya by Vicente Lopez Portaña was completed in 1826. Though it’s in the collection of the Prado Museum in Madrid, I don’t remember seeing it… Hardly surprising considering just how overwhelming that museum is. 

It has been said that Goya was the last of the great masters and the first of the modern painters which makes him a transition, of sorts. (If you haven’t been following along this month, my theme for the AtoZ Blogging Challenge is Travel, Transitions, and Transformations… ).



I’m including this painting by Goya because of its title, The Second of May, 1808 (my birthday is on May 2nd… and isn’t a birthday often a time of transition?) The French invaded Spain and the two nations battled during the Peninsular War (1808-1914). The painting is rather gory, gruesome, and grim…

Goya, like a number of Spanish painters, spent time in France (he hung out in Bordeaux for a number of years). Picasso is another with strong ties to both nations.



Picassos’s Guernica (1937)   Guernica is a Basque town in Spain that was bombed on April 26, 1937 by Germany as a means of lending a hand to the Spanish Nationalists.                                                                     (La exposición del Reina-Prado. Guernica is in the collection of Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid.Source page: http://www.picassotradicionyvanguardia.com/08R.php (archive.org), Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1683114)

While I was in Paris I went to a lecture which I thought was going to be about Picasso’s painting, Guernica. I imagined slides that would focus on specific details and then describe how and why Picasso chose the imagery he did.

The talk (in the basement of the Picasso Museum) was all in French, so I only caught bits and pieces, but it seemed to be more about Picasso’s role in the Spanish ex-pat artist community in Paris and his involvement with bringing what was going on during the Spanish Civil War to a broader audience than it was about deconstructing the painting in great detail. Despite the fact I struggled to follow along, it was a pretty cool experience to attend the lecture and doing so made me all the more determined to PRACTICE MY FRENCH between trips.



Jug in the Form of a Head, Self Portrait by Paul Gaugin

I am including this jug by the French artist Gaugin because of the macabre story behind its creation. Gaugin had been visiting with Vincent van Gogh when Vincent lopped off part of his left ear. I’m not sure why, but Vincent left the ear at a brothel both he and Gaugin liked to visit. What does seem to be clear is that all of this ear-lopping upset Gaugin, who left town shortly after the incident. Back in Paris, Gaugin was unfortunate enough to witness the beheading of a criminal. This jug/self-portrait makes reference to both these traumatic incidents and goes to show that no experience in life is wasted when one is an artist. It’s a great example of transforming trauma into something compelling (I was going to say beautiful, but I don’t find the jug to be beautiful… but yes, compelling).



Vincent van Gogh painted this portrait of Gaugin in 1888  ( Man in a Red Beret)



I hadn’t planned to include so many works of art in these posts, but art really is transformative in the way it can make us take another look at pretty much anything we experience (or can imagine). From some initial spark or idea or observation, artists create something worthy of our attention. Then we consumers of art respond and dissect and analyze and are moved by the product of their labours, which is a strange kind of alchemy indeed.