my IKEA wine rack

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For this Michelangelo commission I had great fun yesterday trying to convey the sound of metal ladders being pulled up from the damned as pictured in The Last Judgment and that of angels’ long-stemmed trumpets knocking the heads of the elect. I found the right sound for this latter action by bouncing the bowl of a ladle against the top of my IKEA wine rack…

Attrib. from “Attrib. and other stories” by Eley Williams. The Angel isn’t not Michelangelo at all, but I imagine the sound of trumpets knocking would be quite golden so I decided this angel might be a better fit.

Radiant

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“We walked across the Brooklyn Bridge on our wedding day. We’re both former basketball players and collegiate coaches, so basketball is near and dear to our hearts. Then we went on a “Volunteer Honeymoon”, where we joined Jumpball Programme to help run free basketball clinics for kids in Kingston, Jamaica. It was a great way for us to share our love of the sport with the world.”

Erica and Julie, redefining love on the A Cup of Jo blog. What a beautiful picture – their love and happiness really shines out in it.

Joan Miro Fondacion

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Faced with one last day in Barcelona, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to spend it inside an art gallery.

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It felt like what I’d do in London and therefore maybe a waste of time in Barcelona where I was meant to be doing something different.

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But in the end, the fact that tickets for the Sagrada Família were sold out freed up the time and a trip to Montjuic meant I could follow up on the numerous recommendations to take in the Joan Miro Fondacion.

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I’d never been a huge Miro fan, but seeing his works in the flesh was a revelation.

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The variety, the fact that he changed tack from painting to textiles to sculpture and back again, constantly innovating was impressive, and the works themselves are housed in a fittingly distinctive building.

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The fondacion also has temporary exhibitions and when I was there it was one on Lee Miller and Surrealism, a pleasant reminder of my Farley Farm visit years ago.

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All photos Nov 2018.

La Catedral

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Everyone talks about the Sagrada Família, and for some reason I’d assumed before going that that would be Barcelona’s cathedral, but of course as the royal capital of Catalonia it has its own genuine Gothic cathedral,

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warm and golden inside, pillars splaying out across the ceilings from a central point like ropes in a circus tent,

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side chapels with stone steps and shelves for placing candles on,

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steps carved into walls, dynastic tombs and a giant organ on one side of the nave

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Most amazing of all was the carved wooden choir, so like the carvings in German cathedrals of the same era and entered through a very stern neo-classical version of Christ’s house at Bethlehem.

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Finally, the exit took you out to the old cloisters where palm trees and a pool with noisy geese greeted you before you rejoined the city.

All photos November 2018.

Villas

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I’d gone to Barcelona expecting to see but not particularly admire Gaudí (all the mosaics! why the bulging lines?), but of course I was blown away.

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I’m still not sure I can keep up with the reverential tone of the audio guides at La Predrera and Casa Battlo and their sheer excitement about spines of mystic creatures, but I do like the imagination mixed with practicality in these spaces.

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A tiled courtyard where the colour of the tiles graduated from cream to dark blue to respond to the sunlight and window sizes change floor by floor to filter out the fierce summer light.

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A ventilation system copied from the gills of fish, or deliberations of different zones by using different flooring.

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Even the roofs and terraces were calming rather than creepy when you’re in them, and the facade of Casa Battlo is really mesmerising – even if not every visitor is that interested in them!

All photos November 2018.

Familiar comforts

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Barcelona, November 2018. Of course I feel comfortable here – these 19th century neighbourhoods were literally made for people like me to walk around and buy a cake before going back home to our comfortable apartments. It’s the same reason I enjoy Berlin or recognise certain neighbourhoods in London. Mental familiarity plus beauty. I wonder how others experience these streets.