Santa Eulalia’s Geese

The day we arrived in Barcelona we were shattered, but determined to hit the streets after a bit of a snooze. Wanting to get out of the Ramblas as soon as possible, seeing a sign for the cathedral seemed a good idea. The Catedral de la Santa Creu i Santa Eulàlia as it’s called in Catalan, was on the must see list.

We soon became distracted by the sights and sounds of the city, but knew we must be heading in the right direction, and once cooled by an ice cream we soon found it.

 But it had just closed, so we had to wait half an hour, which we spent people watching on the steps.

Eventually we were allowed in, to admire the Gothic vaults built between the 13th and 15th centuries.

bac4Remembering to look in all directions.

bac5The Cathedral, which is the seat of the bishop of Barcelona, is known for its rather unusual cloisters and I have to confess that was what particularly drew me. There’s an odd looking fountain, but in the background . . .

Yes, geese, thirteen of them, representing the age of Santa Eulalia when she was martyred in Roman times.

Despite the crowds, the cloister was an extraordinary peaceful place, and it warranted more time than our tiredness would allow. Maybe next time.

bac9In the absence of any food, I think she would have been happy to chat.

I’m leaving you with this beautiful Madonna and Child, there was something about her that touched me, I hope you can see it too.

Companionable

Walking through a field of large black and white Friesian cows can be a little anxiety provoking, if something spooks them and they stampede, it can be very risky, so much as I like them, I tend to keep my distance.

Never mind, my two favourite breeds of cattle are the Belted Galloway and these Highlands, both small breeds and even with horns there’s nothing scary about them. Highlands have been around since the 6th century, hardy little beasties that can tolerate very cold climates, and root around under snow to find food, on sparsely vegetated uplands.

They seem to thrive on Dartmoor, gathering in companionable groups, always with a benign look on their faces.

companionsIf you can find their faces beneath their shaggy overcoats!

Paula has give us five words to choose from as the theme for her Thursday Special, and i rather liked companionable. You can pop over and choose one for yourself if you’d like to join in, you’ll find  warm welcome.

Quest

I’m glad the weekly photo challenge is back this week, does anyone know what happened last week? This weeks theme, Quest, seemed tricky at first but then it fell into place when I remembered meeting this knight.

questWhose particular quest was to get me to take photos of him!

And then a song sprung to mind from my infant school days – yes I can still just about recall those dim and distant times.

When a knight won his spurs, in the stories of old,
He was gentle and brave, he was gallant and bold
With a shield on his arm and a lance in his hand,
For God and for valour he rode through the land.

No charger have I, and no sword by my side,
Yet still to adventure and battle I ride,
Though back into storyland giants have fled,
And the knights are no more and the dragons are dead.

Let faith be my shield and let joy be my steed
‘Gainst the dragons of anger, the ogres of greed;
And let me set free with the sword of my youth,
From the castle of darkness, the power of the truth.

By Jan Struther circa 1931

Anyone else sing that song way back when?

Thursday Special, Deconstruction?

Paula at Lost in Translation has a really difficult challenge this week – for me anyway! She says that the way deconstruction applies to art is

‘Deconstruction is a way of understanding how something was created, usually things like art, books, poems and other writing. It means breaking something down into smaller parts. Deconstruction looks at the smaller parts that were used to create an object. The smaller parts are usually ideas.’

But is this art or science?OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn case you’re as mathematically minded a pea-brain as I am, this is a cryptogram.

Who thinks this ticks the box?

Dorset Buttoned Up

Whenever I go to Bridport Art’s Centre for a craft fair, I meet a lovely lady called Marcia, she makes buttons, Dorset buttons. Here she is concentrating on the tiny stitches.

db1Marcia has been making Dorset buttons for about 8 years, but the craft, known as ‘Buttony’ began in 1669, in a small Shaftesbury workshop, belonging to Abraham Case. The buttons with names like High Tops, and Dorset Knob became the most popular ones in England in the 17th and 18th centuries, spreading to Europe and even to the colonies. I’d be interested to know if anyone in Australia, Canada or the United States have ever come across them, Ruth perhaps?

As demand for buttons increased, so the cottage industry grew, with many farm working families finding that they could earn more money, without the drudge of hard labour on the land.

In 1851, at the Great Exhibition, the Button making machine was introduced. This struck a fatal blow to the workers, some chose to emigrate to the colonies, those that remained suffered dreadful hardship.

The skills of Buttony have not been lost, they are still being skilfully and artfully made by people like Marcia. She makes the Blandford Cartwheel design among others, and has brought their beauty into the 21st century, making them into lovely bracelets, earrings, brooches and cuff-links. She’s also created an ammonite shape alongside the usual round. Here is some of her work.

And what could be nicer than a bold cartwheel brooch adorning a beret?

db3

Marcia says, ‘As a farmer’s daughter myself, the realisation of what these peoples must have suffered, is my inspiration to be part of a growing interest in bringing this beautiful craft to the attention of the modern world.’

Thank you Marcia for your enthusiasm about Buttony and your lovely company!

 

 

Traces of the past

It’s Traces of the Past at Paula’s black and white Sunday this week, so I thought I’d bring this old weaving loom. I believe it’s from the early 1960’s.
totp189
It can be seen at Coldharbour Mill, in Devon.

The Weavers Song
The loom goes click and the loom goes clack
The shuttle flies forward and the shuttle flies back
The weaver’s so bent that he’s like to crack
Such a wearisome trade is the weaver’s

Now that it’s made into cloth at last
The ends of work they all make quite fast
The weaver’s labours for now have passed
Such a wearisome trade is the weavers.

Anon, circa the Industrial Revolution.

The Palau de la Musica Catalana

Architect Domenech Montaner’s stunning concert hall in Barcelona marks the zenith of the Modernista movement in the city. He called it his ‘Garden of Music’, and it is a joy to behold. As soon as you arrive you can tell you’re in for a treat.

When you turn from the narrow street, there’s a new entrance.

With the Good Conductor waiting to take charge.

Just inside there’s a rather elegant bar. On a guided tour we learn that a church beside the Palau was pulled down and the new entrance created, with a small auditorium. Then we get the first dazzling glimpse.

 

A dynamic representation of Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries flies high above our heads.

It’s hard to know which way to look!

But Pegasus is also in flight.

While on the balcony I have to wait to photograph a row of mosaic pillars where too many people had the same idea.

Then we go back inside on the top floor to see what we’ve really been waiting for.

Montaner’s vision was to blur the boundaries between interior and exterior, creating light that would change throughout the day.

You should be able to click on the image to get a closer view. It’s a kind of inverted dome, a stained glass orb skylight, totally entrancing. The tour finished with a short performance of Bach’s Toccata and Fugue, I can’t think of anywhere better to hear it.

This post is for Jo who’s been to the Palau and hopefully will like this little reminder, and for Jude who may like to go there sometime in the future.

I’m sorry, I’m way behind and owe many of you messages!