18 September 2012

Poblenou rising

Have been writing alot about Poblenou recently - an article for miniguide (my first published, full length feature article!) and another text for lecool, translated online into spanish but here is the original version:

Until recently, Poblenou was Barcelona’s forgotten neighbourhood, only rarely called upon for the odd okupa rave or rock gig. But being on the very fringes of the city’s cultural scene has had its advantages – unlike the oversaturated city centre, the non-descript facades of Poblenou’s industrial buildings offer miles of space to think, breathe and create. 

This weekend, hundreds of artists, sculptors, designers, photographers, illustrators and graffitists throw open their studio doors for the annual Tallers Oberts del Poblenou (open workshops of Poblenou), offering us a glimpse into the creative freedom bubbling beneath the surface of this underrated district. 

The studios themselves are architectural gems in their own right, with many having achieved protected status. And there is certainly a gamut of activity for everyone to enjoy - be it open graffiti at La Escocesa, a lesson in art and gastronomy at La Plataforma or experimental dance at renowned arts center Hangar - among countless others. A must for nosy art lovers. See website for details. http://topbcn.org/

As you can see, there is so much talent to be found there. I've really enjoyed investigating it all and meeting the inspiring people who beaver away behind closed doors. I can only hope that the public continues to support artists in the neighbourhood; it hasn't been an easy ride.

21 August 2012

a list

In the spirit of my dear friend Hazel Pel Igrosa, I present you with a concise list of recent activity.

Fish caught (collectively): 7
Barbecues: 6
Fish-hook injuries: 1
Outdoor fim screenings: 3
Articles: 4
Super-yacht parties: 1
Music festivals: 2
Street festivals: 3
Gay foam-parties: 1
Dance-related injuries: 4
Bruises: 18+
Galleries/art studios visited: 6
Country walks: 3
Midnight graveyard crossings: 1
Wasp stings: 1
Mosquito bites: 10+
Sunburn: 2
Windburn: 3
Packets of pork-scratchings: 5

10 August 2012

August blues

July; crisp. August; fresh.

Have been back in the homeland getting my fill of English essence. Went back down to Falmouth for a reunion. A time of sailing the high seas, sticking my oar in (what's new?) and pressing reset. Emotional to see wholesome old friends in our dearly beloved Cornwall.

Falmouth: We swam and sailed and fished and buffered our cheeks and barbecued and drank like fish and danced and laughed and pretended we were all 21 again. It was so cheesy but we'd needed it badly as our lungs are smothered by thick webs of city smog most of the time these days.

We promised that we're going to do it every year, but I don't know.....we're getting on a bit now. I know this because when we hit the floor in Falmouth's newest jive-joint, "Mamma Africa" (which we misread as "Granny Africa" - that says it all really, doesn't it?), various whippersnappers struggled to contain their awe (or was it shock...?) as we laid down some seriously bold rave shapes. I'm talking The Cottage, circa 2006.

Anyway, onto the Instagram photos.....through my intrepid explorations of Instagram on the high seas, I discovered around 750 new shades of blue this year. That's right. This is another way of saying I had absolutely no desire to regiment the various available Instagram filters (or ability to remember which one I'd used previously, perhaps...?!). I am an INSTAGRAM MAVERICK.

.........Notice how the blue looks completely different in each picture - in some images the ocean looks positively mediterranean, in others you could be mistaken for thinking we were somewhere near Iceland. Isn't it magical??

Note to self: Get. a. grip. Here they are.

14 June 2012

Matthew Hawtin: Dimensions

[This piece was published in the July 2012 issue of Barcelona Connect magazine.]

In collaboration with Sónar Festival of Advanced Music and New Media art, last night MUTT inaugurated “Dimensions,” a solo exhibition showcasing the work of Canadian artist Matthew Hawtin.

MUTT gallery has already gained a solid reputation in Barcelona for hosting a diverse array of events in support of both local and International talent.

Hawtin’s art focuses on the concept of creating a 3D space using minimalistic shapes, bold colours and elements of repetition to bring a sense of symmetry and depth to the canvas, a 2D surface.

Matthew’s brother Richie Hawtin, the owner of record labels Plus 8 Records and Minus Records, produced music accompanying the exhibition.

Matthew has looked to interpret the simplicity of electronic music since he first designed the artwork for Richie’s “Dimension Intrusion” album in 1993. Their working collaboration since then has also served as a visual record of the development of electronic music.

“My work has slowly been minimalised and reduced,” he says. “I think that’s what any artist wants to do, whatever medium they work with. They want their work to be refined until it’s down to its pure essence; achieve an idea in its purest form, in a way.”

There is an undeniable sense of synesthesia in Matthew’s work; rhythms become symmetrical lines, pulsing beats are rendered as blurred edges. It is the exploration of these parallels between visual and audio art that have brought “Dimensions” to Sónar.

Matthew Hawtin: Dimensions
MUTT gallery, Carrer Comerç 15, Barcelona
13th June – 31st July 2012

30 April 2012

La Tomaquera - rude catalan cuisine at its best

"come any closer and the bread gets it"

However you look at it, La Tomaquera is “special”. There’s no telephone, they don’t accept reservations and if you ask to see the wine list, the waiter will march off chuckling to himself, only to return (much) later with a carafe of house wine – you’ll drink what they drink. And that’s after he’s served the locals at the table next to you first, even though they arrived ten minutes later.

What may be brusque to some is charming to others, but lets be honest - you’re here for the food and that's what will get you hooked.  They know that as well as you do, and as they casually slide an appetizer of delicately boiled ous de guatlla (boiled quail eggs) onto the chequered tablecloth, you may just catch a proud glimpse in the waiter’s eye. Of course, Catalan cuisine wouldn’t be complete without the classic pan amb tomaquet (bread with tomato), in this place a Do It Yourself version, rubbing whole tomatoes onto the toast followed by a generous glug of olive oil and sprinkle of crunchy sea-salt. 

Then it comes to the grill, a banquet of juicy, grilled conejo (rabbit, a catalan delicacy), botifarra (typical Spanish sausage) and porc. In most cases a parillada is the best option for larger groups, a selection of mouth-wateringly tender, locally sourced cuts. The caracoles (snails) and alcachofas (artichokes) are other catalan specialities well worth a try. And that’s before you’ve even considered the famous crema catalana or rice pudding.

10 March 2012

CAELUM - temptation from the monastery.....?

Another little something I have written about one of my favourite hidden spots in Barcelona.

CAELUM, translated from Latin as heaven, is a place well within reach for visitors to this calorific café in the echelons of Barcelona's gothic quarter. Devoted nuns send their sponge-cakes, biscuits and meringues from across the length and breadth of Spain to grace the window displays - celestial altars of frothy icing sugar and bijou, lace doilies.

The ground floor café, a sanctuary of calming music, fragrant tea and candles, is shared by a shop selling their famous Temptations from the Monastery. Those nuns know a thing or two about marketing ungodly calories. Delectable caramels, marzipan, pillowy biscuits, turrón, truffles and traditionally packaged, “medicinal” liqcuors (translated as "highly alcoholic" - but if the nuns approve....) all make superb gifts....especially with playful names such as pets de monja, or nuns’ farts.

But it would seem that these nuns also know a thing or two about sorting the wheat from the chaff. It was my third visit before I even made it to the stairs past the shop, which I later discovered serves as a sort of limbo. Only those strong enough to ignore the sirens of sugar make it beyond, to the real CAELUM.

Walking down a narrow, winding staircase, the space opens into a vaulted cavern of medieval brick and stone. Spectacular Roman arches hang high above wooden tables, and the candelight casts a soft, flickering glow. It is impossible to feel guilty whilst indulging in such graceful, almost monastic surroundings.

This hidden subterranean world was once home to women's Jewish thermal baths in the fourteenth century. To me, CAELUM is another testament to Barcelona's ability to continually refresh its image whilst respecting its complex heritage. It really is another world down there.

C/ Palla, 8

09 January 2012

The Impossible Project - Barcelona

A little something I've just written for Shopikon about the opening of a marvellous new photography shop in Born, Barcelona. (This version is unedited - some parts have been changed since publication).

Suitably nestled in the elegant yet hip Born district and barely a block from the city’s Photographic archive, The Impossible Project threw open its doors in December 2011, with other shops already enjoying cult status in Berlin, Vienna and New York. The managers of this branch, Isabel and Jorge, also own Chandal - the Raval-based home of kitsch photography paraphernalia - so are perfectly positioned to understand the venture that has led to a cult renaissance in Instant Photography.

The Impossible Project began in 2008 with Polaroid’s announcement that production would be ceased at its Netherlands-based factory, in the (mistaken) belief that there was simply no space for them as our world shifted towards a digital future. Panic swept through the Polaroid community in the realisation that over 300 million cameras were destined to become nothing more than unusable and obsolete relics from the dusty past of our analog ancestors.

Thank heavens that the factory manager André Bosman and Austrian entrepreneur Florian Kaps saw the potential for a solution to enable the survival of tangible instant film. Looking to mirror Polaroid’s passion for creativity yet going far beyond in terms of innovation, The Impossible Project was born with a mission to produce pioneering chemical formulas, pushing fresh instant film onto the market for its hungry underground following. The shop is a haven of retro photography with its feet firmly in the twenty-first century, housing a gallery for new talent, original Polaroid cameras and of course, fresh cassettes of Impossible Project-made film. The rest is instant history.

See published article here

Text © Natasha Drewnicki 2011.
Photography © Shopikon. All Rights Reserved.