Wrought iron gate for the Kisumu’s home

Kisumu’s home away from home

By Frankline Sunday

It is perhaps the best kept secret in Kisumu City yet famous with regulars from as far as Europe who make reservations three months in advance just so they can be guaranteed their favourite cottage.

The property is about five kilometres from Kisumu’s CBD in the leafy Tom Mboya estate. There are no sign posts along the 10 minutes’ drive from the city centre and no customised gateways announcing that you have arrived.

In fact, you’ll be forgiven for mistaking this place for just another plush residence for a well-to- do family with a passion for landscaping.

However, the plain wrought iron gate slides open into a serene one-acre paradise whose thick vegetation insulates the haven from the noisy traffic of the matatus, tuk tuks and boda bodas barely a stone’s throw away.

Swaying lush palm, jacaranda and Camel’s Foot trees form a cool canopy that gives the establishment a microclimate of its own, providing visitors with a welcome relief from the sweltering Kisumu heat.

Welcome to Panda’s Paradise, a small establishment of self-catering and fully-serviced cottages where visitors get to create for themselves an experience of rest and luxury away from home as they deem fit.

“We have guests who come for one day and we also have guests who have been here for more than a year,” explains Redemptor Osano, the manager of the facility.

Panda’s Paradise was once a three-bedroomed maisonette belonging to a wealthy Asian family and when the children grew up and moved out, their parents decided to expand and transform the property into guest cottages.

to be continued


A wrought iron Victorian canal bridge

Nature and industry collide in colour

This photograph of Leicester’s new Summit building, juxtaposed with a wrought iron Victorian canal bridge, has pride of place on Alan Everitt’s kitchen wall.

The 62-year-old amateur photographer, from Burbage, captured the image from the footpath by the Grand Union Canal, near the King Power Stadium.

It is the latest entry in our Old and New photography contest.

Alan, who is retired, said: “I’d just bought a new Nikon 5100 and went for a walk early one Sunday morning to try it out when few people were around.

“I came across this scene thought it would make a great picture.”

The photo, taken six months ago, is actually three photographs, taken with different exposures, merged into one.

“It has the effect of making the foreground and background equally clear, seeing the scene as your eye would,” said Alan.

“I thought the contrast of nature and industry, decline and progress, all captured in the frame, worked.”

The closing date for entries is November 18, with £100 of Jessops vouchers up for grabs for the winner.


Curious wrought iron artwork

The Trick to Selling a 17-Foot-Tall Bronze Hare


How does one sell a sculpted, 16-foot wrought-iron teapot? Christie’s hopes the answer lies on a lawn at a Renaissance-style château 50 miles from London, where it’s wooing lovers of one of the more unusual—but thriving—art categories: monumental sculpture.

These works break all sorts of rules because they present such huge challenges of transport and display—whether it’s the Joana Vasconcelos teapot (“Tea Pavilion”) or “Nijinski Hare,” Barry Flanagan’s 17-foot bronze rabbit in midjump, or a 34-foot horse head by Nic Fiddian-Green unveiled at Parx Casino and Parx Racing in Bensalem, Pa., in August.

$425,000-$2.5 Million: That’s the price range at Sotheby’s selling exhibition in Derbyshire, England, of Barry Flanagan sculptures. Here, his 17-foot-tall ‘Nijinski Hare.’

The Christie’s show is one of at least three “selling exhibitions” running this month. “Monumental sculpture is notoriously difficult to sell at auction,” says Alex Platon of Sotheby’s. So the firm, like Christie’s, has taken over the exterior of a great house. Sotheby’s show is in Derbyshire, England, and contains 15 bronze Flanagan sculptures. The auction house is planning yet another selling exhibition of monumental works, these by London-based Zadok Ben-David in Singapore’s Botanic Garden later this month. Prices for the steel works, up to 20 feet high, will range from $204,000 to $407,000.

The reason for all the effort is what Conor Jordan, senior specialist in Impressionist and Modern art at Christie’s, calls “quite rapid growth and demand” in the category. In 2010, he expected to sell Henri Matisse’s “Back IV,” a large bronze abstract sculpture, for $25 million to $35 million. The work sold for close to $49 million to a collector, setting a record for Matisse that holds today. Last February, a 1951 Henry Moore bronze sculpture sold to a European collector brought in $30 million, or almost four times its high estimate at auction and a record for any Moore piece sold at auction.

Asked why the XL category is doing so well, Mr. Jordan said most buyers today are private collectors, sometimes inspired by public sculpture parks. His colleague Mr. Platon added, “It’s a very aesthetically pleasing area, rather than requiring deep artistic or academic knowledge.”

$204,000-$407,000: That will be the price range at a Sotheby’s show in Singapore by London-based Zadok Ben-David. Above, ‘Sunny Moon.’

At various properties he owns, 75-year-old Joel Schur, based in Boca Raton, Fla., has installed a 10-foot-high owl, a giant frog and a 15-foot-high peregrine falcon, all by the contemporary British sculptor Geoffrey Dashwood. Getting the falcon positioned right was a challenge. “It’s an engineering marvel because if the claws of the falcon were 2 inches forward or backward the thing would topple over,” Mr. Schur says. Maintenance, though, is negligible: “These things develop a patina from the weather outside.”

Everyone in the field seems to have a war story about logistics. In 2010, Storm King Art Center brought the 28-foot-tall copper “Three Legged Buddha” by Zhang Huan in five pieces through London from his studio outside Shanghai. The art center, about 60 miles north of New York City, had to wait while the “Buddha” was held up during shipping on concerns that it wasn’t just art. “It probably raised some eyebrows,” said David Collens, director and curator at Storm King. Maintaining Maya Lin’s 2009 “Storm King Wavefield” has meant battling groundhogs making homes in its four acres of rolling “waves” of gravel and topsoil.

Then there are the challenges presented by Mr. Fiddian-Green’s horse-head sculptures and the other monumental sculptures that pass through London’s Sladmore Gallery. Sladmore’s Gerry Farrell recalls taking down a foundry wall because one of the works didn’t fit through the door, as well as frightening neighboring herds of llamas and using cranes, giant trucks, a cherry picker and even a helicopter. “The sight of huge disembodied horse’s heads traveling along motorways and through the center of London always draws crowds,” he says.


Wrought iron and the “Casa del Agua”

‘House of Water’ taps market for designer agua

By Lauren Villagran

This could scare away a customer or two, given that this is Mexico City, where even the rain isn’t clean and tap water is best avoided. But the capital’s newest watering hole takes its water very seriously and purports to offer the purest drink around.

Owner Bosco Quinzanos envisions the Casa del Agua as an answer, however incomplete, to Mexico City’s fraught relationship with water: In this often rainy metropolis of more than 20 million, there always seems to be either too much or too little.

Employing an elaborate purification system, which includes a period of “harmonization” in the final stage, Casa del Agua bottles rainwater. But the month-old business sells something more conceptual: ecology, sustainability, harmony.

“We deliver the highest quality water in Mexico,” Quinzanos said while relaxing in a wrought iron chair on the shop’s roof garden, which is designed to capture what it can of the capital’s average 34 inches of rain annually – just slightly less precipitation than soggy Seattle.

The rainwater filters through a teak patio and garden of cherry, orange and lime trees and carpets of lavender, mint and thyme into storage tanks. The water then passes through increasingly fine filtration systems and distillation machines. After that, the water is pure. Bent on adding value, the Casa del Agua runs the purified water through a process to restore minerals and ionize it.

Then comes “harmonization,” based on Japanese author Masaru Emoto’s unproved hypothesis which holds that the environment – including music and prayer – can affect water on a structural level.

Quinzanos professes his faith in the “harmonization” process. Before bottling, the purified water runs over stones engraved with the words “love,” “respect” and “gratitude” and is exposed, in bottles, to soothing classical music playing in the store. Whatever its benefits (or not) to the consumer, the concept resonates with a Mexican market’s preoccupation with buena onda – good vibes – offering a promotional plus to what is essentially an ecological project.

Laura Casanova listened to the store manager’s explanation of the process, from purification to harmonization, and became convinced to buy a returnable glass bottle for 30 pesos, or $2.30. A refill costs 10 pesos, or 77 cents.

“It’s an incredibly novel concept,” she said in flawless English. “Using rainwater — it’s unheard of. It’s like designer water, taken another notch up.”

The bottles, branding and design of the shop itself come from the team that created the typography and interior of Mexico’s fast-expanding, homegrown coffee chain, Cielito Querido. In the Casa del Agua, a palette of black, white and cream and the branding on bottles seems to echo the ink-on-paper sketches of bizarre 19th century inventions.

Graphic designer Nacho Cadena describes the design as “transparent … clean and salubrious.”

“It’s inspired by artisan processes, a brand that evokes nostalgia,” he said.

On the rooftop, Quinzanos took a swig from one of the swing-top water bottles.

“It has no taste because it is very pure,” he said.

Parts of Mexico City flood with nearly every storm as a perennially clogged drainage system fills up and runoff spills into ground floors and down subway stairs. Other days, turning on the faucet yields only the gurgle and hiccup of pipes that have run dry as the city periodically shuts off water to one or another neighborhood.

When the rain runs out, the Casa del Agua taps water from the city system, but the goal is to rely on nature, Quinzanos said.

The clouds overhead grew dark blue and heavy, and a line of laundry on a nearby building flapped in the sudden wind. It appeared the sky would deliver.


Wrought iron for a “medieval castle” in Washington

Become king of the castle: The Washington home that lets you live out your medieval dream for $2,500-a-month

By Snejana Farberov

Hardwood floors, central heating and other tropes of modern living may be nice, but who of us hasn’t dreamed of dwelling like a 13th century duke, surrounded by rough-hewn stone, wrought iron finishes and turrets?

Those of us who still fantasize about King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table may now live out their medieval fantasies for the relatively modest price of $2,500 a month.

If you have a taste for the Dark Ages, but you happen to live in a country that was only settled in the 17th century, than the Gate Keeper’s Castle in Gardiner, Washington is the place for you.

The faux-medieval chateau is only one of the many unusual homes in the aptly named Troll Haven development sprawled out on 150 acres of land.

‘Designed and built from a dream,’ the home’s website proclaims, adding:

‘Looking upon the structure, flights of pure fantasy and imagination dazzle the mind. Dungeons, feastings, daring lovers, sieges, bards, mystery and wonder are grown when stepping into this magical world.

‘An age of bygone kings, magicians, giants, dwarfs, sorceresses, elves and trolls. Through the doors, chivalry is born and romance has its origins in this magical world.’

The extensive castle, whose architectural style could be described as medieval-chic, has five lavishly appointed bedrooms, whimsical detailing heavy on dragons and trolls, stained glass windows and vertiginous staircases.

The quirky home also comes with a four-car (or horse) garage and breathtaking views of Discovery Bay and the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

Like any medieval castle worth its name, the rental property comes with a dungeon, complete with some naughty features sure to make maidens blush.

The décor is heavy on swords, mace and shackles reminiscent of S&M paraphernalia which could be found throughout the underground space, including in the three bedrooms, Jacuzzi and steam shower.


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