Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Barcelona, day seven

It is our last full day in Barcelona. We are truly sad and sorry that we did not book to stay at least two weeks here. But we are already talking and planning to come back, perhaps in the summer months (that is; their summer months). But what to do on the last day?
Myles was prepard to use force to get us all out of bed before ten so that we could really enjoy the day. So we found ourselves outside our front door and walking to Paral-lel to catch the funicular tram to the Joan Miro museum. I have never heard of the world funicular before this, and now it is every second kind of transport we catch. The things that you are blind to ...
Miro, perhaps after Chagall, is my favourite artist. But after the reception that the Picasson museum got from the kids, I was less than really thrilled to be spending long hours looking at painting and sculpture with them. Too bad.
This museum, like the Picasso one, is an amazing collection of work that track Miro's life from his first works to his last. And the museum (again like Picasso) has a really readable and interesting narrative that connects each room and tells you in detail about his life and the influences throughout the years (and, let's face it, the wars). I was so excited to see The Farm in the first room. Not that I had ever seen it, and I didn't really love it when I did, but it was the painting that Hemingway and Hadley had bought by borrowing money from everyone they knew and then, after they had bought it, found that it didn't fit into the taxi and they had to hold it out of the roof (?) from memory - like a sail. This was when Hemingway was optomistic about the world, before the evil pilot fish of John Dos Passos guided him away from his 'innocent' life with Hadley and into the corrupt world of 'others'. That's Hem's story anyway. Approach with caution.
The painting are so wonderful in the museum, angry and funny - some of them surprisingly like Leunig stuff. Some so sad; huge canvases with one black and drifting line through it. And, in my defence, the kids liked this one much more. Paris quite likes the narrative of the Spanish Civil War so that interested him, the others quite liked looking at the paintings and trying to guess what was in them - Niccolo was amazingly successful at this. We would look at a painting together and I would say: 'what do you see?' He would say: 'a bird' (which I didn't see at all) and then I'd look at the title of the painting and it would say something like 'Bird in Flight'. Kids get this stuff so much more than adults. We are too busy worrying about what me might miss. They just respond. There was this tiny kid in one of the rooms sitting in front of one of the paintings, and drawing in his own book. So sweet.
We then went into the historical gift shop and bought some stuff. Zelda finally decided on a Christmas present in the shop; hooray! Something for under the tree at last ...
Joan Miro, by the way, changed the spelling of his name (or embraced the spelling of his name) from Juan to Joan which is the Catalan spelling. The subversive nature of the Catalan language was one of his inspirations and it made me think very much about how language can be subversive, particularly one that is in direct competition with the 'official' language - Spanish. Everything in Barcelona is written in both Spanish and Catalan and all announcements are also done in both languages. And here is a fun fact. Christmas in Spanish is Navidad. But Christmas in Catalan is Nadal. So many cute jokes to be made now.
Anyway, to the subversive nature of language. So important for identity, language is - this is what I teach my students in English Language. How language both constructs us, but allows us to construct. Having a whole alternative language that runs counter to official language is a powerful weapon. I'd like to read more about the history of the Catalan language. It was banned at stages, and then revived. Miro, by making his name a marker within this identity war, kept a candle alive in the language even through the bad times. He, by the way, chose to return to Spain during the Second World War when, by all accounts, he probably should have fled to the US. I think he was very brave.
There is a series of paintings that he did late in his life that were burned and then exhibited. The effect is amazing because you look at these paintings (which are quite in tact) but then you see through them, into something else; a wall, someone walking behind them. And they throw shadows that are both creepy and compelling.
All in all, a great couple of hours.
After we left, we walked to the old Olympic stadium that was used in 1992. Apparently, it was initially built for the games of 1936 but the Civil War had put the brakes on that. So they revived it for 1992. Myles did some nice posing with a bow and arrow (imaginary) for the camera.
We wandered back to the city, around some incredible buildings and fountains. I was looking for another museum that was exhibiting costumes and props from the Ballet Russes. We think we found the place, but we couldn't find a door. (True story.) By this time, Myles and I were enjoying telling Paris all the stories about the Olympic games we could remember - particularly about East German athletes and the scary East German judges. Niccolo and Zelda played sword fighting around us.
I haven't written properly about the market in Barcelona that is just off La Ramblas. It is one of the best food markets I have ever seen, not just that the food is good, but everything looks so beautiful. We bought supplies for lunch and went home to cook them. What a feast for our last day. Paris made tomato relish, we had chorizo (hot) and hamburgers, and salads, and garlic mushrooms, and excellent bread and red wine, and to finish; raspberries and chocolate. It was time for a nap.
After our nap, we caught the metro to the beach (funny, we hadn't done the beach yet) and it was here that we made up our minds to come back some hot summer and lounge here for some time. Then we walked right around the waterfont and back to La Ramblas. Niccolo was in tears by this point (over tired) so we ice-creamed them up and took them home.
Myles and I went out for our last drinks. We went to a bar called Mirinda which has excellent chairs and is right next to a crazy series of drawings of cats. There I had beer and he had some kind of vodka drink with lots of lime juice and ice. In our desire to stay longer and enjoy it, we drank way too much.
We were on our way to suffering acutely on the worst possible day; moving day.

No comments:

Post a Comment