contact Adrian Fletcher at afletch at paradoxplace dot com
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Medieval History made Interesting, Photographs of Italy, France, Spain and Britain, + Restaurants and Hotels
Paradoxplace is woven around Adrian Fletcher's generously illustrated accounts of the history and present reality of places he has visited on his extensive travels in the past 8 years. The site includes "what it's like to be there" pages about:
Adrian is good at simplistic curiosity - observing, seeing patterns and talking about them in simple and entertaining ways. And he is an impressive down to earth photographer. Paradoxplace is a lot about (re)kindling curiosity and the Renaissance feeling of being in a society of rediscovery and speculation. Sister website Bellatrovata ("good thinking" or "beautiful discovery") is used for new travels before they migrate to Paradoxplace - in 2009 covering extensive exploration of England north, south, east and west. Brother website, Domparadox, was launched to help in this process and it presently contains photographs and descriptive material from Italy (Puglia, Rome, Tuscany and Piemonte) and Burgundy from October - December 2006. For 2007, Ciao Adriano covered the Dom's travels in Britain, France and, of course, Italy.
Nearly all the places described in Paradoxplace have been visited by Adrian Fletcher (aka Dom Paradox, Adriano, et al), so visitors share informed first hand knowledge observation and humour, not regurgitated guide book information, and photos (again mostly taken by Adrian) set out like they were when people like the Dom's grandmother and mother took a lot of time and trouble over their photo albums. In response to several questions, Adrian's photographic tips and gear are shown on a special page.
Sydney Harbour early 2000s Photo: Ros Spencer
Paradoxplace, Bellatrovata, Ciao Adriano, and Domparadox are the creations of Adrian Fletcher - traveller, foodie, photographer, medieval historian and sometime banker, company chairman, university don and physicist. He also authors the family history site Ciao Famiglia.
Adrian was born of a British (army) family in Cairo during the Second World War, then lived and was schooled in Hythe and Sandwich in Kent, in the south east of England. He started his working life with English Electric in Stafford in the UK midlands, after obtaining degrees in Physics and Management from Imperial College, London (where he was an English Electric Scholar and also Student Union President). He came to Australia in 1972 via South Africa, where he had spent three years building up a computer bureau for Rand Mines. During the early seventies he directed the MBA business and public policy courses at the Graduate Business School at NSW University (Sydney), and then moved to head up planning and finance for a large packaging manufacturer in Sydney.
He married in 1974 (the marriage was dissolved in 1994) and has a daughter (Emily) and two sons (James and Nick), now in their thirties.
In 1980 Adrian became (by far) the youngest general manager of Australia's largest private sector bank (the Bank of New South Wales, now Westpac) in the days when the bank had only a handful of General Managers. He was later Westpac Banking Corporation's Chief Financial Officer, putting together strategies, systems and teams to operate in the newly deregulated Australian banking environment in areas as diverse as finance and accounting, capital management, strategy and its implementation, mergers and acquisitions, economics, government relations, management systems and organizational culture and development. He spent the years 1987 - 90 based in the City of London as Head of Westpac’s Global Investment Banking Group, was a member of the bank's Executive Committee, and senior board member of several subsidiaries including stockbroker Ord Minnett.
During the 1990s Adrian was Chairman of several Australian public companies in the Petsec Energy Group, and also undertook a range of advisory and management consulting assignments. In parallel with this and the pursuit of wide ranging reading and music interests, he also set out to learn more about alternative approaches to understanding people in the context of organizations. This was driven by the clear need to do something about the observably large number of unengaged (alienated) people in most large (private and public) organizations, and the number of unsustainable strategies being followed by these organizations.
In 1999 he donated time as a coach to the top management team of The Smith Family (a major Australian not for profit organization), with a particular interest in laying the foundations for a significant expansion in their Learning for Life program. This program gives monetary and coaching / advisory help to Australian children who do not have the resources to, for example, pay for textbooks, computers, clothing, school outings or a number of other things that are not part of the "free" education system. Reliable statistics show that an unbelievable 700,000 plus Australian children (or around a quarter of the school age population) are exposed to various forms of social exclusion as a result of parental poverty.
Already widely travelled and dined as a senior banker in Europe, North America and Asia, Adrian decided to spend the year 2000 on a "sea change" sabbatical in Central Tuscany in Italy (amongst other things working with Australian Greg Page's well known real estate company - Alfaimmobiliare di Gregory Page - in Castellina-in-Chianti). During this time he became known as Adriano, produced (after intensive research) a guide to Restaurants, Food and Festivals in Chianti, Siena, Florence and Umbria, got into digital photography, and started work on "The World of the Middle Ages, Italian Renaissance and Central Tuscany" - easy to read histories / chronologies (especially useful to visitors to Florence, Siena, etc), all of which morphed later into a website called Paradoxplace.
It did not take long for these new interests to munch and click their way to Rome, Southern Italy, Northern Italy then Spain and Portugal and finally France (with a growing awareness of Britain on visits "home" each time). Having set sail into the Italian Renaissance years, the focus shifted to also embrace the fascinating years between the end of the Roman Empire and the Renaissance, particularly the times which saw the building of the great Romanesque and Gothic Cathedrals, Abbeys and Churches of Western Europe between 1000 and the Black Death in 1348.
All of this new life is driven by the enjoyment of the author, who has discovered a fascinating world of insights and stories which somehow passed by unnoticed during his schooling, university, banking and corporate board career. Hopefully the work will be enjoyably useful to learners, foodies, vicarious travellers and real visitors to Italy, Spain, Portugal, France and Britain, and indeed anyone interested in present day beauty and food, where our present world and ideas came from, and what living several hundred years ago felt and looked like. The site has also proved a valuable source of photographs for books, posters, calendars and other stuff.
Adrian now divides his time between Australia and Europe, spending much of it developing Paradoxplace and its associated websites and activities. Paradoxplace itself continues to grow in content, coverage and visitor numbers (1000 pages, 8000 photos and a million plus unique visitors in 2009), and to kindle the author's curiosity - which is learning for fun and a driver for future travels.
LINKS TO THE MAIN PAGES ......
All original material on this site © Adrian Fletcher 2000-2013 - The contents may not be hotlinked, or reproduced without permission
Paradoxplace and the Study of Opposites
The name Paradoxplace emerged initially through work on the use of paradoxes and opposites as discussion catalysts for groups trying to understand better who they were (and ahet they were not) and what they stood for - their reality. In business this and other approaches were used by Adrian Fletcher to develop more effective management teams and implement successful strategies and projects. More generally, our everyday lives, both in and out of work, are lived in the tension of many paradoxes and opposites, and yet the language of understanding reality is usually couched as an "or" rather than an "and" - threat or (rather than and) opportunity, success or (/and?) failure, dangerous or (/and?) safe, matters or (/and?) does not matter, etc.
In visual terms imagine two equal sized circles representing opposites moving towards each other and then starting to overlap ............ the overlap area is the "and" where great energy and creativity can be waiting to be released. The shape of the overlap (the fish of ancient Christian symbolism) was also called a vesica piscis (also mandorla - Italian for almond) when halos around the heads of saints were shaped in this way by medieval painters and stained glass artists. Some of the most striking examples of this mechanism at work are to be seen in the richly creative societies of Toledo in the 8th Century, Sicily in the 12th Century and India in the late 18th Century.
Another interesting (though unconnected) use of circles is to be found in Borromean Rings, so called because of their presence in the arms of the Italian Borromeo Family. Amongst other things they were used by the church to explain the puzzling monotheistic concept of the trinity, by Cosimo il Vecchio de'Medici as a Medici device, and by the Sforza family of Milan (they got it from Cremona - below right). Remove any one ring and the others are not linked! What an eclectic place this is! And for bonus points spot the set of rings below which is not Borromean.
All of which is interesting but has little to do with Paradoxplace in today's "Mediterranean and European Phase", though this is another way of looking at reality .... through history (and more generally insights into people's values, which leads to why people do what they do and what matters to them) and through the emotions and senses (see, hear, feel, smell, taste) of personal experiences. It was these that led to Paradoxplace Chronologies, Art Galleries, Book Galleries and Insight Pages, covering a broad range of projects intended to be rich in visual imagery and embracing the present (including restaurant guides, Photo Galleries) and the past of Italy, Spain, Portugal, France and Britain and interesting people and events in Asia from the end of the Western Roman Empire in 476 through to the Renaissance and Early Modern Europe - roughly to 1600.
" 'Emingway in Siena on Palio day - July 2005" , Photo: James Fletcher