Santa Maria Del Mar

After a steady diet of Gaudi, it was such sweet respite to find this church. Yes, I found another gothic church to sit in – it’s an excellent place to rest weary feet and souls. There are plenty of cafe chairs to occupy in Barcelona, but they require the purchase of a drink or some tapas, and city benches are sparse. So church it is!

As you can no doubt tell, I love to see gothic arches. There is something about the rhythm of them that just makes me happy. And this church, Saint Mary of the Ocean, is a fine example of 14thC Catalan Gothic. Its architecture has a lot of harmony because it was built in 60 short years. Eight euros got me a lovely guided tour, and a chance to climb one of the towers. I was able to walk along the rooftops, feet away from all the pretty windows. What a thrill!

A side aisle:image

The nave and rose window from the choir behind the altar:image

Over the altar:

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Some stained glass, up close:

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Main view of the nave:image

One of the reasons the nave is so simply adorned is that during the Spanish Civil War, the church was one of many set on fire. All of the wooden ornamentation inside burned, and some of the windows melted. The wood has never been restored, alowing the clean lines of the Catalan Gothic to be seen.

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The windows, from the roof!

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A more recent bell tower:

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The facade – it’s on a tiny square, so hard to fit into a camera frame!image

This church was built for the sailors and merchants of the area, and the stones were carried from Montjuic, nearby, by the port stevedores. I think this might be my favorite in Barcelona.

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Park Guell, part two – the mosaics

The top of the park is a great plaza, which was designed by Gaudi and Guell for community gathering. The entire area was supposed to be a planned community for the upper classes, but was unsuccessful at the time as the movers and shakers wanted to be downtown, where the moving and shaking was going on. A hundred years later, the area has become one of richer housing – yet another example of Gaudi being a bit ahead of his time.

Around the plaza is a massive, undulating bench, covered in mosaic. COVERED. Gaudi used the same teams of artisans for his projects, so some of these motifs appear in his other buildings. The bench isn’t just decoration, either. It was carefully designed to channel rain runoff, and curves to your back in an ergonomic way.

Here are some of the areas of tile work I found interesting and inspiring. I can’t imagine the amount of raw materials needed on hand to play like this… I assume the tilers had access to the cast offs from every tilemaker in the district!

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Back curve and runoff channel:

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I liked the positive/negative space play in this section:

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A rare 3D element:

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This is the BACK of the seats:

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A rare animal head in the designs:

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A lot of han-shaped elements: (modeled by Dione, a fab British gal I met on a walking tour!)image image image image

In some places it looked like full tiles were just flattened into curves to fit the shape:

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Lots of motifs we’ve used in quilting:

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Many different shades of white and cream and pale tones of blues and pinks on the columns:image

Gaudi’s Park Guell

I braved two Gaudi sites yesterday, and it will take more than a couple of posts to share all the pictures. To be in Barcelona is to be surrounded by Gaudi, it seems – if not the buildings, then the souveneirs, all done in his style. I feel sorry for anyone who was trying to work during the same period, or since, for that matter, as they will always be eclipsed by the fanciful shapes that Gaudi created.

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His style is incredibly unique, to the point that anything that has a bit of curve in it will probably always be considered some type of derivation. The only architect I can think of (with my sadly limited knowledge) who has played with curves in a way that feels fresh is Frank Gehry. And I would have to say with both of these men, having seen one building full of their moves sort of numbs your sense of awe to seeing more of it. I say this knowing that, while in Barcelona it would be nuts to miss seeing the inside of the Sagrada Familia, yet not quite up to the task after the thorough dousing of Gaudi yesterday!

I think what makes any art truly brave is a total commitment to the concept, dectractors be damned. And Gaudi managed this in spades. He loved his curves, his religious symbology, his fanciful shapes, and his mosaic surfaces. He was a huge student of nature, using those lessons to inform the structures of his buildings. He paid attention to the precious commodities of light and space, and interiors were just as important as exteriors.

He was very, very fortunate to have a patron in Guell, who paid for Gaudi to play. While I might be a bit oversaturated in it all today, I can honestly say I’m so grateful that a committee didn’t get the chance to dilute his visions. Those buildings rarely stand the test of time well enough to create a tourism industry.

Here are a few shots from Park Guell – just the major structures and such. I’ll cover some details of the mosaic work in the next post.

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Look at the interplay between the trees and the structure (and the umbrellas!):image image image

The outer ring of columns lean in:

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I love how the nails are delineated in mosaic:

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Fanciful, like gingerbread houses!

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Heart shaped window whimsy:

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St. Denis, for Quilters

I’m always in awe of how much detail can be packed into architecture. I am especially thrilled when I discover the seldom-seen back of something is as intricately carved as the front, or I note that a series of repeated forms have all received different treatments.

As evidence of the latter, I offer these images of the columns on the front of St. Denis – just the front… this could have gone on for ever! Every column and base is uniquely carved:

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And a little stained glass:

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And even a floor in the crypt:

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They even put a birdie on it!

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La Drougerie – a DRUG store

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To people who love fabric and fiber, it’s a drug. We are utterly addicted to it, and just can’t stop playing with it, petting it, and acquiring it. When people ask me about quilting, I often tell them it’s really two activities… one is buying the fabric, the other is actually using it.

So now that you have a little insight for the plight of the fabric addicted, you can see why, with tongue obviously planted in cheek, this particular haven of fiber heaven is named “The Drug Store.”

It’s full of the most amazing and comprehensive selection of fiber related stuff, and it’s laid out in a way that is almost obscenely enticing. Take a look:

People were waiting outside for it open:

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The first gauntlet is through skeins and skeins of wool and silk fibers:

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Another side full of jars of everything from beads to kilt pins:

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Swoon! Vintage wooden drawers and boxes everywhere:

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A well curated selection of fabrics (but fabric is insanely expensive here, so I passed):image

The back wall… more fiber:

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Pre-made bindings, a lot of them in Liberty of London prints:

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Ribbons, and strings, and cords:

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And one more wall of fiber:

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The beauty of the place was absolutely worth the trip. And I maybe could have smoked a cigarette when I left 😉