The hands, heads and hearts that make up the Reliquary Collection of the Igreja of São Roque in Lisbon must surely be one of the most impressive in existence. The sculpted heads and hands housing the relics of the saints have a powerful and Surreal presence in the church. The collection is divided into male and female martyrs on each side of the chancel in one of the earliest Jesuit churches in the Portugese world. It was formed and donated in the 16th century by João de Borja, the second son of St Francis Borgia, in return for burial rights in the church, and it includes important relics from Hungary, Cologne, Bohemia and Rome. The majority have pontifical certificates and letters which make them of great historical significance, but beyond that - on a purely visual basis - it is wondrous in its utter strangeness: a remarkable sculptural assemblage.

Unexpected colour on the streets: there is something really life affirming about encountering sudden bursts of colour as you walk around a city, whether it’s bunting in the sunlight, a flea market stall of lampshades or buckets hung up in the entrance to a market. These are a few of the things I saw around Lisbon last week.

Usually the buildings in a city make you look up all the time, but do this in Lisbon & you’d miss not only the patterned floorings, but the decorative shadows created by the railings. Here are some of my favourites from around the city.

Walls and shop fronts in Lisbon: one of my friends said you could close your eyes, spin and head in any direction and there would be something beautiful to photograph. Such an understated beauty of peeling paint, chipped tiled facades and unexpected bursts of colour…

Street Art in Lisbon

Harvest Festival: to celebrate the arrival of autumn & the traditional moment of giving thanks for the crops the painted chapel at Wimpole Hall in Cambridge has been adorned with traditional corn dollies and harvest produce. The chapel is decorated with remarkable wall paintings by Sir James Thornhill, but this year’s bumper crops of apples and marrows, together with the corn sculptures brings the space alive, whilst marking an old folk art tradition.

Pillar to Post, or The Pocket-Lamp of Architecture by Osbert Lancaster, a humorous take on the history of architectural styles, was first published in 1938. In the introduction Lancaster states that the object of the book was ‘to induce an attitude towards architecture less reverent and of greater awareness, and to encourage the reader, when driving down the by-pass or riding on the tops of buses or just walking down the street, to take another look at the fantastic collection of buildings on either side which hitherto, maybe, he has been accustomed to accept without question on the grounds that “that’s architecture that was”and therefore not a matter on which he could possibly be expected to hold any views.’

These pictures of modern architecture reproduced here are (in order) as follows: Public-House Classic, Art Nouveau, Stockbrokers Tudor, By-Pass Varigated, Pseudish, Modernistic, Twentieth-Century Functional, Marxist Non-Aryan and Third Empire.

In the footsteps of Stanley Spencer in Cookham: This weekend by a happy accident I found myself in the Berkshire village where the painter Stanley Spencer was born, and spent most of his adult life painting extraordinary biblical narratives set within familiar settings. After seeing his paintings in the Stanley Spencer Gallery I walked around doing a spot of compare and contrast: down by the river Thames which was the location for his famous ‘Swan Upping at Cookham’ (amongst others), the churchyard which formed the basis of his extraordinary ‘Resurrection at Cookham’ and the War Memorial which features in the Giottoesque composition of his painting of its unveiling. It’s oddly satisfying to find the house with the distinctive windows that he painted, but really the village albeit quintessentially English and charming is unremarkable - it’s in the paintings where he takes this raw material and creates a sense of magic and let loose his powerful imagination.

CCA Andratx is a very special place: a Kunsthalle, collection gallery, café and artist studio complex in the West of Mallorca. I was fortunate to stay there for a week whilst my friend the artist Clare Woods was doing a residency in one of the studios this summer. It’s an inspiring place to stay and to create work: it even has a perfect pool in the olive grove - what a great example of artistic patronage by Patricia Asbaek and her family to have the foresight to create such a place.

The Lovelace Tomb in Hurley Church in Berkshire is like a piece of fairground folk art rather than a funerary monument. The painted figures recall ship’s mastheads, but have a moving directness as they kneel facing towards the high altar.

Good food in Mallorca

When I saw the wall drawings in Joan Miró’s home/studio I couldn’t avoid thinking of the shocked reaction of parents when they discover that their child has been drawing all over the living room walls. The drawings, executed directly onto the plaster walls of the old house, have a child-like directness and intensity. Of course, they are far more sophisticated than first impressions might suggest, and in several cases relate directly to sculptures or paintings on which Miró was working. It’s like a kind of thinking out loud - only on the walls.

On 15 August it was the Festival of the Dormition of the Virgin Mary, known in Spain as the Mare de Déu d’Agost, marking her death and assumption to heaven. In the churches of Mallorca lifelike carved statues of Mary were laid on intricate carved throne-like beds towards the rear of the church. Some of these are carried in processions as part of the festival celebrations. I took these photographs in Sóller, La Seu Cathedral in Palma, and the Church of Santa Clara in Palma.

The Castell de Bellver is a remarkable example of a round castle. This 14th-century royal fortress & prison is surrounded by fragrant pine woods and overlooks the city of Palma in a Mallorca (Bellver means ‘lovely view’ in Catalan). The central courtyard has 21 Catalan Romanesque arches in the lower tier, above which are 42 octagonal columns supporting 21 Gothic arches. It’s incredibly satisfying as a piece of architecture: particularly in the layering of graceful curves, and the views both within and without.

Me getting into the spirit of Josep Lluis Sert’s colourful architecture for Joan Miró’s studio in Palma. Like De Stijl or a Mondrian.

Me getting into the spirit of Josep Lluis Sert’s colourful architecture for Joan Miró’s studio in Palma. Like De Stijl or a Mondrian.