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.

Walking Barcelona

 

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The part of Barcelona we were staying in was full of quirky details – carved gargoyles, tiled walls, flower shops.

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Nearby in the Gothic quarter were chocolate shops, churros and frites takeaway stops and pen shops tucked down little side alleys.

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Hat shops next to saints’ plaques.

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And of course La Boqueria.

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And far away in Montjuic, the grand exhibition halls and galleries were backed by a hillside of parks.

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Definitely a city made for wandering. All photos November 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.

Blue rays

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Baltic herring market in Helsinki as shot for FARE magazine; irises by Ohara Koson; photo by @poshpedlar

At this time of year I always think of Wilfred Owen’s poems, that we studied in school, and that refer to the air growing bluer as dusk falls.

Gibbes

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The Gibbes Museum of Art in Charleston is set in a fairly grand building, with mosaic floors and a grand hall that would give Tate Britain  run for its money.

 

The collection spans from the portraits of the wealthy 18th century settlers to recent art installations,

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from miniatures to traditional rush baskets,

and from artists of the Charleston Renaissance to those capturing the south today.

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From top to bottom:

Betwixt and Between, Patrick Dougherty; Mary Whyte, Jill Hooper; The Wreck of the Rose in Bloom, John Devaere; Still-Life with Watermelon, Thomas Wightman; basket by Mary Jackson; Emma Doughty, Samuel Morse; General Pinckney, James Earl; John Moultrie III and family, Rigaud; Sarah Middleton, Henry Benbridge; Charlie’s at night, West Fraser; Line Street Railroad Crossing, William McCullough; It Needs Louise, Kate Gilmore; Lauren Fensterstock; wisteria and peonies, Caroline Petigru Carson; April, Childe Hassan; Girl in Toledo, Robert Hein; The Sisters, Charles Edmund Tarbell; basket by Mary Jackson; still life by Charles Fraser; Barbard Elliott, Jeremiah Theus; Joseph Hinson, Geslain; Mrs R V Hartel, John Robinson; Morning Light south Carolina, Anthony Thieme.

All photos October 2018.

Rainbow Row

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East Bay Street in Charleston has a series of painted houses known as “rainbow row”.

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The colonial era houses are generally stuccoed and painted, their window boxes and shutters offering contrasting splashed against the main colour. As you can imagine, it’s an Instagrammer’s dream.

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photos, October 2018