I’ve just got home after a week in Barcelona. Earlier in the week I wrote about how the city feels like a place where art is part of the everyday life, and have been reflecting a bit on what that may mean. One of the main reasons I wanted to go to Barcelona was that I am particularly taken with art nouveau and that the city is famous for the work of Antoni Gaudi, a major contributor to the movement. I’m particularly drawn to his work as he used the traditional Catalonian skills and methods to create a new, radical, kind of building aesthetic.
I’m a big fan of making time to feed your creativity, in particular by immersing yourself for a few hours in the work of other creatives. I think it’s important to get a sense of what your creative influences are, as this helps you to find your creative community. We spent most of our trip visiting the buildings that were designed and built by Gaudi and the crafts men he worked with. On the Magpie Gaudi hit-list were:
- Palua Guell
- La Sagrada Familia
- Parc Guell
- Casa Batllo
- La Pedrera
Because of the rather brilliant organisational skills of my boyfriend we managed to see all of them (woop). Gaudi’s work is thrilling. In the more mature works he almost completely abandon’s the straight line and the the right angle. Some of the buildings do not look so much like they were built, but that they were somehow grown. He had a quite magical understanding of light, and used light wells, glass roofing and stained glass to illuminate interior rooms. He is completely unafraid of using bright colour on the smooth fluid surfaces. I was particularly taken by his use of bold ceramics (both solid, purpose made tiles, and shards of broken pottery and glass) in the elaborate decorative elements on the older buildings and in the monumental sweeping terrace he created at Parc Guell.
I didn’t actually take many photographs of his work while away. The works have been photographed again and again, and frankly any photograph I took just didn’t do credit to the scale and intricacy of the works. On of the photos I did take (above) is a photo of one of the iron doors at La Sagrada Familia. I found our visit to La Sagrada Familia to be particularly affecting and inspirational. The work is an enormous religious shrine, and at the time of writing is still incomplete. Work continues on it to this day. Inside the building is constructed of an elaborate arrangement of slender columns, and the outer skin on the building is littered with huge multicoloured stained glass windows. The scale of the building is breathtaking. The work is an enormous act of creative devotion. As you walk inside the building you are bathed in multi-coloured light. Over the week I’ve tried to think about how it is possible to explain the experience, but I cannot find a way to describe the sheer quality of the light. I think this is only something that can be experienced in person.