Take to the Streets

Down by the Luas Lines in Dublin
Down by the Luas Lines in Dublin

Latimer: Recently I’ve been taking a lot of notice of street art. To the point where, as I walk down the street and come face-to-face with an empty wall, I start to daydream about what maybe I could put there…

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I imagine images weaving across the concrete. And I start to think, leaning back and getting some perspective on the wall – ‘That would be fun!’

My daydream then takes me to the street at night-time, wearing dark clothes and carrying a bag of spray-paint cans. I’m going to unfold my masterpiece image. I’m going to fix it to the wall, by climbing a steep rickety old ladder that stretches up six floors to the roof. And I’m not afraid to do it (this would never happen, I’d be crying if I had to climb a ladder).

I spray-paint the stencil. I scramble down the ladder and race across the road.

Girl in an egg, Barcelona
Girl in an egg, Barcelona

No police catch me.

I admire my mural, and then, I fade into the darkness like a thief in the night. A wispy shadowy creature of the witching hour; in the morning people will pass the image, wondering – who did that? How’d they do that? And I’ll pass by, smile a secret smile, and walk on.

Then my daydream ends with the harsh whack from the reality stick. I don’t go down that street at night-time, because it’s too dark and could be full of people baying for my blood; like gangs of New York.

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I don’t dress in all black, because if I remember correctly I don’t have a black hat and I threw out those black jeans the other day. Where would I find the stencil? That’s a big wall, the perspective would be too much; I mean drawing on an A3 page is the most I’ve ever done. And I’ve never made a stencil…

No. I’d get caught! Definitely; if anyone would I would. The police would catch me. I’d get in trouble.

It's too risky!!
It’s too risky!!

Where do you get the spray paint anyway… is it expensive… etc. etc.

Yup, the dream fades pretty fast.

So, I’m left as a voyeur on the street art of others. I like the secret pictures and I like the mysterious people that flit in the night, spicing up the streets with quirky images. Their work waves at me as I pass the streets, from time-to-time, and I smile thinking, “Well, hello there piece of art!” Like it’s a secret discovery, belonging to just me and the street.

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After you see one, as with all things, a door opens and suddenly they’re everywhere. It used to be a Dublin thing, now it’s a world thing. The images from people I’ll never know, waving across countries at me, a little Latimer they’ll never know.

Here are some I found in Barcelona.

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Keep an eye out on whatever streets you’re walking! There are cool secret artists out there! Thank you for sharing your art!

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I’m not sure who the artists are, so if anyone knows, drop us a message and we’ll tag the photos etc!

God’s Architect

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Latimer: I got to go to Barcelona last week.

My stupidity started when I neglected to pack sunscreen. Oh yes, I brought sunscreen to England and Scotland… but to Spain? No. Why? I don’t know! “Latimer you fool! You complete fool!”

It was so hot over there. I touched down, stepped off the plane and my insides began to melt! I didn’t actually burn like I thought I would – nope. I boiled, from the inside out!

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My second lot of stupidity was my continued disregard for one Antoni Gaudí. Yup; I was more or less content to let my exploration of the man’s work end at a fly-by visit to Sagrada Família and a hellish, blistering walk around Parc Güell .

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WOW!! @_@

I flew by Sagrada Família for two reasons; 1) I thought I didn’t like it (but actually I was in awe like everyone else when I saw it) and, 2) the queue to get inside stretched around the entire building, in the harsh glare of the sun.

I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t queue (not after a summer of queuing in London, and the heat of the Barcelona supernova sky @_@).

Parc Güell was a-trip-and-a-half.

A view of Barcelona from the climb!
A view of Barcelona from the climb!

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It was the height of the midday heat, a harsh, steep upward climb to the top of the park, and 30 minutes spent traipsing around looking for the damn Gaudí lizard fountain! I didn’t come into the park through the entrance, but rather the end; so I really faded fast walking around in the heat.

I don’t know what feeling Gaudí was looking to create, but to me, it was like I was in hell; walking through the dried out skeletal carcasses of vast beasts that had perished in the desert sands of Güell/Hell.

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Whoooh, are those two peeps snogging? I think so!! HA!

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I nearly gave up looking for the entrance, but I steeled myself and plodded on, thinking of Bear Grylls and how I must have learned something that could save me, should the moment arise (which on a few occasions I thought, yup, it’s time to go Grylls!).

All I could think was; “Drink my own wee? Güell no…”

I found it in the end, and the lizard was being held hostage by the mob. I couldn’t get to see him much.

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Back away from the lizard… pluz-leezz? No? Damnit…

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I was feeling nauseous at this point, so I fled almost straightaway for a lie down in the hotel.

After that I thought, no more Gaudí.

BUT! An accidental walk over to Palau Güell changed that.

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It was the mansion of the Güell family, the patrons of Gaudí, who commissioned Parc Güell . This family was super-rich, by today’s standards they’d be on the Forbes list and worth 70 billion euro. Their mansion was, actually very small, but the Gaudí -ness of it was astounding. I came to appreciate that he was in fact a genius architect and his mind was a wave of pure inspiration.

No one built like Gaudí before or afterward. The buildings are wacky and over the top; but its more how he built, his attention to ventilation or the way natural light could be brought into buildings. He put so much thought into the building itself, how it should and would function.

Palau Güell doesn’t have doors as such. It has two massive ornate wrought-iron gates, with curling metal.

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When you stand in the entrance hall you can see right out onto the street, but the metal is deceptively thinner and thicker in parts that means the people on the outside can’t see in. That’s all Gaudí.

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The halls curve and arch like waves; it’s like stepping onto a movie set, something from the imagination of a fantasy, or sci-fi writer.

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Shakespeare-inspired stained glass! The Bard is everywhere!!
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That is a Gaudi designed toilet!

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When Gaudí was awarded his degree one of his teachers remarked that; “We have given this degree to a madman or a genius, only time will tell.”

The most famous of the Gaudí buildings is probably Casa Batlló.

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The interior is inspired by the sea, the ceilings are like ripples of water and there are whorls and eddies all over the house.  

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People have lots of thoughts of what the façade looks like. Some say it looks like bones (the spine of a fish); so they call it the House of Bones. They also say that Gaudí was inspired by Monet’s lilies painting and that the façade looks like that; or the balconies look like the masks worn in the parades that used to walk down the street outside the house. And the roof is supposed to look like a dragon resting.

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Many people in Gaudí’s life died in the first decade of the 1900s – including his close collaborator and his patron Eusebi Güell. He took refuge in his work on Sagrada Família. By this point Gaudí didn’t have much money and confessed:

My good friends are dead; I have no family and no clients, no fortune nor anything. Now I can dedicate myself entirely to the Church.”

He had to take alms to continue his work on the church.

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One day, aged 73, Gaudí walked away from Sagrada Família and was knocked over by a tram. He was dressed in tatty clothes so people thought he was a beggar. He did not receive immediate aid and by the time he got to hospital, and was recognised, his condition was critical.

He died of his injuries and was buried in his Sagrada Família.

His story ended on a sad note. But we can look at it like this; his work survives to inspire people in big ways and little ways, and even though he passed away in poverty, the inspirational wealth he left behind will always be far greater than the money he might have had 🙂

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Ridley also went to Barcelona a year ago! Check out her thoughts here!

Also, just a quick note: if you want to see any more of our photos we’re up and running on instagram, pretty regularly now 🙂

If you are on it too, drop us a line! Or if you haven’t joined yet, do!, it’s a great fun way to share your photos!

Recharging Batteries in Barcelona

So many sweets&so small a mouth

Ridley: I was in Barcelona for the bank holiday weekend. It was three days away, but it felt like a full week. Sometimes what you really need is to get away from the drone of your everyday existence and see new, distant lands! You come back all the better for it. And also sunburnt, in my case!

While I love the sun, my pasty Irish skin might as well belong to a vampire it burns so easily. My arms, neck and chest looked like I’d dumped a bucketful of pink blusher powder on them. Thankfully it didn’t hurt, the holiday snaps are just a bit dire.

The food stretched for miles

Also on this trip, apart from the cooking of my skin, I took the always worthwhile open-top red bus tour, ate loads of ice cream (blue bubble gum flavour from a sprawling market place, yummy!) and faced one of my fears: heights!

We went up along the side of the mountain to the fortress of Montjuic via a gondola box thing that trundled along a rope and swayed with the breeze. Once at the top, I got these lovely photographs of the view. Worth it? Perhaps…. 😛

Barcelona in all its sprawling splendor

Throughout the trip, I took quite a number of pictures of all the artistic elements of Barcelona. I thought I’d share some of them with you.

It’s-a-me, Mario! Er…Toad I mean

I travelled with people who were more interested in the city’s fine cuisine and shopping opportunities than the art it holds. Despite this, they were good enough to let me drag them round to one or two places I wanted to visit. I, unfortunately, didn’t insist on visiting the various museums though, one glance at their bored faces was enough of a deterrent! I’m certain they thought I was strange taking pictures of the graffiti on the walls, but I thought the pictures were unbelievable.

Whose hand is that though?
It’s cooler than my actual name

Another strange picture I took was of my empty coffee cup-guess who probably won’t be invited on any further holidays!! Haha.

Here’s where I was asked to give my name in Starbucks so they’d know it was my order. Though I’ve never had to do this at home, not that I minded but I think it confused matters. When he kept saying my ‘name’ with the cup in his hand. I kept telling him ‘No no, I ordered a frappuccino café, not a Reg-whatever.’ Eventually we battered down the language barrier between us and I realised it was my order. And he was repeating some weird version of my name. Oops.

Now while I know there is a Picasso museum in Barcelona, for me the one man that really represents Barcelona and kept reappearing during our time there in all sorts of places was Antoni Gaudi.

He was a Catalan architect and artist in his own way. He seems to have had the most influence on the buildings, parks and even the lampposts of Barcelona. He drew a lot of his ideas and designs from nature to create beautiful organic pieces.

Casa Batlló

Front of the building

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the buildings he designed and built, that we saw, was Casa Batlló. It is located on a main street, Passeig de Gracia. It was absolutely magnificent and really arresting. There were flowing lines and vibrant colours throughout the building, he took a lot of inspiration from the ocean.

The loft/ribcage

The roof alone is beautiful, the glossy colourful tiles covering it are meant to represent the scales of a dragon.

The roof

Nothing is conventional or boring about the house, there’s something unusual to see everywhere- in the windows, doors, handrails and the ceilings.

Even it’s roof space-the loft or attic- whatever you want to call it, was also different. With the whole house filled with colour, it’s a surprise to reach the top room and find it’s completely white and sparse. The joists jut out, enclosing the small space. They are meant to represent the bones, possibly the ribcage, of a large animal.

Their website is here, you’ll be able to see better pictures then mine.

Lamp posts

Impressive lighting

He also designed many of lamp posts that line the street. He was commissioned in 1878 by the city to create them. They are really quite stunning; though sometimes street lights are so a part of the background, they can go unnoticed. It would be a shame to miss them, don’t let them hide in plain sight if you ever visit Barcelona!

A close up on the swirls

The Park Guell

Looks like it lifted its head from drinking

The other major attraction we visited was The Park Guell. It was originally meant to have 60 luxurious houses build on the large expansive land for the rich to live in and enjoy the amazing views over the city. In the end only two houses were built and Gaudi lived in one of them with his family.

Gaudi’s work fills the park with all the mosaics and ceramic work lining the walls. There’s even a beautiful green mosaic dragon fountain, where we had to wait a good ten minutes to be able to take a picture of it. The place was swamped with other tourists.
The two buildings at the entrance to the park really reminded me of a gingerbread house, like something straight out of a fairy tale by the Grimm Brothers. They were really different.
There were also numerous colonnaded pathways in the park. They supported the road above with sloping columns, many of which were designed to look like pine trees. Really unique. It was the attention to detail that was so impressive.

The tree of rocks
Hansel&Gretel anyone?

Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família

More pretty lamp posts

The other place that Gaudi designed was the magnificent Basilica. It’s construction was started in 1882 and it’s still ongoing.Gaudi devoted his last years to it, when he died it was only a quarter of the way to completion. Now donations and the visitor entrance fees are what are used to build it.

I’m ashamed to say we ran out of time for visiting here. I would have loved to go inside, but we left it too late. I saw the façade at least and it was impressive. It was almost like something out of Mordor or Isengard really!

I will build an army! Mwhaa…

Anyone else been to Barcelona recently? I’m sure I missed out on a few fantastic places. The ones I did see though were pretty spectacular, so I’m not complaining! I also, of course, had to get the picture of this giant book on my camera:

Pretty, but with blank pages.

I wish I had a giant book in my garden…..*sigh*