Anna Belleforte

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final thoughts in Vietnam

Posted by Anna Belleforte on February 14, 2019 at 4:45 AM Comments comments (0)

This trip was an opportunity to observe a country in development towards urbanism and a culture rich in symbolism and artistic expression. And one that celebrates this. I saw turtles (symbolic of longevity) everywhere in sculpture form, often as feet to support important things. In Hue I witnessed amazing technical skill in ‘painting’ with silk threads. In an exhibition in HCMC the sale of an artwork is celebrated with a big red bow (instead of a tiny red dot) – how lovely i...

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pious places

Posted by Anna Belleforte on February 12, 2019 at 7:40 AM Comments comments (0)

The one place to find peace and calm in the cities is in the religious structures dotted throughout the country. The temples, pagodas, churches, Buddha shrines and Imperial tombs all have clear and symbolic shapes. I think it’s also a deliberate feature of the Vietnamese places of worship to have very high steps up: by having to make an effort to reach them, you are showing respect. What I’ve been most impressed with is the decoration. The temples and, south of Hue, the tombs of ...

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no mud, no lotus

Posted by Anna Belleforte on February 10, 2019 at 5:45 AM Comments comments (0)

The lotus plays a big part in urban decorative features in all the places I’ve visited in Vietnam – in particular as light sculptures. HCMC has a whole variety of lotus lanterns, Can Tho has the pedestrian bridge with a huge lotus defined in pink neon, serving as kind of pavilion on the bridge, and Hue has simple yellow lotus shapes on a (beer-sponsored) arch over the main street (Le Loi). It’s interesting to me that ornamental lights, most often linear in nature, seem impor...

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Hue Vietnam, Imperial city

Posted by Anna Belleforte on February 8, 2019 at 4:50 AM Comments comments (0)

Hue has a nice balance. The imperial city, on the Perfume River – so named because of the smell of sweet grasses from upriver – has a citadel/city on one bank and an urbanized core on the other. Buildings on the citadel side are regulated to not exceed the heights of the citadel walls (originally by a French building ordinance, I believe), while modern high-rises are permitted on the other side. What typifies both sides is a kind of civilized feel and spacious planning I’ve ...

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Vietnamese contemporary art and TVs

Posted by Anna Belleforte on February 6, 2019 at 9:45 AM Comments comments (0)

I’m happy to see that there are active studios and art training going on. Much of the art for sale is strongly based on a realistic portrayal of the Vietnamese environment: boat and sea scenes, jumbled towns, agrarian fields, local plants and flowers, culturally inspired portraits… And many have real painterly quality: lots of texture, expressive brushstrokes and palette-knife use, bold colour choices, calligraphic marks, etc. What I’m seeing is only the commercial end of t...

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cable car views of island living

Posted by Anna Belleforte on February 5, 2019 at 5:45 AM Comments comments (0)

One minute I think I’m converted to art that represents natural architecture (or at least a new series), and then I view my photographs taken from the cable car and I’m back to aerial views! The rooftops, the floating boats, the angles and shapes, the light and shade, the colours… While I have a sense of discomfort about the opportunity this newly completed cable car ride has provided for ‘picturesque poverty’, as an artist I can’t help but focus on the app...

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resort to resort, local becomes generic

Posted by Anna Belleforte on February 4, 2019 at 8:45 AM Comments comments (0)

PhuQuoc is ringed by white sandy beaches and endowed with lush green hills – features that make it an obvious vacation destination. Only 10 years ago it was still predominantly a fishing island, but property developers have moved in and built resorts next to resorts. Not necessarily a bad thing (it does provide employment and economic growth), though there’s the danger of overdevelopment. For a basically Communist country, there’s a lot of unbridled capitalism, from street v...

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jungle walk

Posted by Anna Belleforte on February 3, 2019 at 7:50 AM Comments comments (0)

Though it wasn’t an unmarked trail through the wilderness, it was a proper walk in the jungle up to a nice waterfall and pool. Since it’s my habit to keep my eye out for interesting architecture and urban patterns and geometries, I found myself unexpectedly drawn to the irregular lines and wild shapes of the forest. Do the number of photographs I took attest to a turning point? Am I to move away from the straight rigid lines of defined structures to the more fluid and unexpected o...

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urban planning on a tropical island

Posted by Anna Belleforte on February 2, 2019 at 11:45 AM Comments comments (0)

From an urban design (and undoubtedly Western) perspective, my hands are itching to get started and plan some spaces for pedestrian ease. There’s little concept of public space here. Perhaps the spaces for public gathering are the temples, but outside of these, areas like sidewalks normally given to public use are almost always taken over by adjacent property owners for displaying of wares, café seating, parking, etc. and walkers are forced to diverge onto the busy road. (Why not r...

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Phu Quoc island

Posted by Anna Belleforte on February 1, 2019 at 2:10 PM Comments comments (0)

Phu Quoc has a few main roads that ribbon through the landscape and nearly all buildings face and commercially interact with these roads. So like HCMC and Can Tho – even though I was expecting looser ‘island planning’ forms – there are long and narrow plots that stretch out from the, about 3, primary roads. This is also true for the super wide thoroughfares. These roads typically feature well-manicured topiary in the median strip – tropical bushes, grass and palm...

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