Tuesday, 30 November 2010

The coldest place on Earth?

A friend told me that on Sunday, the Uk 
was the coldest place on Earth! 
Hard to believe, but I can handle it if it continues 
to provide such spectacular scenes.
 Glancing out my window, whilst very hard at 
work for the last 3 weeks, 
the views have been one of the few things keeping me going!

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Oh my Dali!

Eye of the time brooch - Salvador Dali
Taken at an exhibition currently showing at MNAC Gallery in Barcelona
The other night I was watching, 'Turn Back Time - The High Street' , a program about a study of  Britain's high street and how, over the eras, the face, style and needs of the high street have changed. Essentially there is a 'cast' of everyday people who, for a week, must embrace the way of life of a particular time period and stock their shops  with the wares of that time.
This week it was about the 1930's experience and showed how quickly, patrons of the high street were starting to embrace the notion of mass produced products that were beginning to be sold in most shops.
At the end of the program, the shop owners are judged on how much money  they make and the methods they use to make that money. Naturally, the shops selling products that are readily available were the ones who not only sold the most stock, but were also the ones who worked less hours and therefore enjoyed a better quality of life. 
The toy maker, bakers and dress maker, who all relied on their skills in producing labour intensive goods were the ones who fared less well. At the end of the program, the dress maker who had spent countless hours producing 3 bespoke dresses for her customers, was slightly criticised for having not sold one, 'off the peg ' dress in the whole week. She had though, as one presenter pointed out, shown that there was a demand for a dressmaker who would and could make special, one-off pieces for her clients.
After watching I was left with the sense that as Artists, Makers and Designers we could  so often be tempted and encouraged to take the easy route by buying mass produced components and reassembling them and selling them as our own work; but thankfully there is a drive and strong sense of individuality that prevents many of us from doing just that. 
Dali, with his extraordinary imagination and skill (although he was the Designer but not Artisan of these jewellery pieces), reminds me that it is so important to have people who are willing to push the boundaries and produce bespoke, original, inspiring and sometimes totally, 'over the top' pieces of work.

Ruby lips and teeth like pearls brooch - Salvador Dali
Taken at an exhibition currently showing at MNAC Gallery in Barcelona

Thursday, 11 November 2010

View from the top

looking down on one of the mosaic tower tops

While salivating over all the glorious fresh produce at the 
La Boqueria Market in Barcelona, I could not help but draw comparisons 
between the perfectly ordered displays of fruit, veg and seafood 
and the crazy, bizarre mosaiced turrets on the pillars of La Sagrada Familia. 
La Sagrada Familia turrets
fresh produce in La Boqueria market, Barcelona

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Splendour in the Columns

Looking up into the ceiling of the Sagrada Familia
Stainglass light
Scaling an external tower
10 years ago I first laid eyes on Antoni Gaudi's, Temple of the Sagrada Familia, Barcelona, Spain.
I remember being totally blown away by the Gothic strangeness of the exterior and by the unbelievable scale of the interior. Climbing one of the towers was like being on a strange roller coaster, where tiny, precise views opened out onto religious motifs, strange and queerly mosaiced turrets, sculptured snails and creatures crawling down the facade, all combined with a giddy 100 metre or so view.
 At that time the interior was very much a work site and still very hollow containing the lower half of the mighty internal columns, which just had bundles of reinforced steel bars spewing from their open, ragged tops.
These columns, which branch and curve like majestic forest trees, are now complete and walking into the almost finished interior was like transcending to another dimension. 
To me the space is breathtaking and totally moving, because it seems so incredible that these columns could have been designed  over 125 years ago and  following  Gaudi's specifications have actually been constructed.
Looking up you almost don't know where to focus because they are so tall and so precisely decorated with mosaics, glass and soft forms that they seem to move and sway gently, as if disturbed by a soft Mediterranean  breeze.

View from rooftop of La Pedrera
Workmen clearing the dust
Side windows letting in natural light