Friday 17 April 2020

Mini Curios

As 2019 drew to a close I began to reflect on my artwork of the past year and most importantly what I wanted 2020 to hold.
For a while I have been thinking about doing a long running series which highlights some of the amazing sights I have seen in museums and on my travels, specifically curiosities and the weird and wonderful little exhibits which can be easily overlooked by a passer by. I made notes in my 2019 diary about an idea for a ‘Mini Curios’ series, but the idea was in its infancy. As time has marched on I’ve been able to think the idea over in more depth and ultimately decided I wanted to run this series alongside my main artworks throughout 2020. Honestly, largely as an exercise of appreciation and celebration of the amazing inspiration I’ve been lucky enough to be constantly exposed to.

When I reflect on some of the amazing items I’ve seen over the years I feel very fortunate indeed. Pitt Rivers itself is a treasure trove of these amazing curios ranging from Amulets, charms and Wands, to pierced animal hearts, ex Voto and magical bottles. These items rich in folklore, superstition and magic speak of a little known past which through drawing I hope to uncover and delve into further. The Victor Wynd Cabinet of Curiosities is also a great source of the weird and wonderful in many forms. Many museums I have visited such as; The Ashmolean, The Fitzwilliam, The peatrie Museum, Grants Museum of Zoology, Museu Frederic Mares, The Natural History Museum and many others will likely feature in the series in some way, as will others which I am planning to visit in 2020, including the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic which has been on my hit list for a number of years now.

For many these small items may seem easy to miss, especially alongside larger, more visually impressive and imposing items. But through this project I hope to raise the profile of these smaller exhibits and shine a much deserved light on their fascinating history and unique place in culture.

Sunday 5 April 2020

Parc Guell

Over the years during my time in Barcelona I have made it my mission to see as much of Gaudi’s legacy as possible. As a lover of architecture and all things a little strange, Gaudi and his style has long fascinated me. Weirdness is always bound to appeal to weirdos!

In previous years (and blogs) I’ve been lucky enough to see the Sagrada Familia, Casa Batllo and Casa Mila. But somewhere I’d hoped to go for the longest time was somewhere quite different; Parc Guell.

Sitting outside the hustle and bustle of the city, shuttle buses take you to the park, which it’s totally essential to pre-book to stand any chance of visiting. What I had envisaged being a tranquil place to catch a breather outside of the sprawling metropolis of this city was actually full of hoards of the most dreaded kinds, yes, tourists. Selfie sticks were out in force as girls posed as if they were being shot for vogue, not taking a second to truly look at the beauty around them, rather than that on their phone.

Luckily entry to certain parts of the park are timed, so this limited numbers to a certain degree at least and made things a little less cramped. As everyone trouped off ready to see the next ‘grammable’ spot I hung back to look at all the different tile fragments in the seats which were being restored, watch the workman with his angle grinder, and soak up a few rays.

Gaudi guarantees there’s always something to be seen. Nothing is ever mundane or plain, everything is so deliberate and detailed. The great stilt like columns leading up to support a beautiful mosaic ceiling, with every ‘crown’ section totally unique. Emerging from this shade one of the busiest places in the Park is heaving as people pose for photos with the famous mosaic iguana which is the star of every postcard stand in Catalunya. As ever getting a photo of him without the masses pouting was a challenge. But I was far more interested in a pigeon having a drink from the fountain anyway!

My favourite part of the park was incredible on many levels. It felt like I was walking through a location for Jurassic Park with curved cliffs enclosing the area and vegetation hanging down giving a prehistoric vibe to the area. The columns supporting this cliff, some of which were men and woman holding it aloft made it seem as though I was discovering an ancient Inca city. I felt so excited and curious, maybe that’s my lifelong love of Indiana Jones coming out! Other parts of Guell echoed this vibe with stunning wisteria hanging from curving rock faces while lizards darted around.

The buildings at the park, like the rest of the complex, were quite fun. It really feels like Gaudi let himself go with the designs here and had fun, which is an interesting contrast to buildings such as the Sagrada Familia which feel of such epic importance and seriousness to this mans legend.
The roofs spiral in colours and I feel like I’m in a sweet shop with all this amazing Mediterranean vibrancy and excitement.

Parc Guell was more than worth baring with the crowds to enjoy this beautiful slice of Gaudi's vision. Every so often you would find yourself alone in this paradise, grabbing a tranquil moment to breathe and relax in this wonderland. In some shady spot stumbling upon a busker, whose exotic rhythms transport you a world away from the busy city of Barcelona and to Gaudi's spring sunshine drenched dreamland.