© 2019 by Henry Thornton. 

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Barcelona!

August 6, 2017

Estoy muy feliz! 

Finally I have seen the Sagrada Familia, Gaudi’s beyond belief and life-time project and architectural wonder. I believe every art student in the world has studied this work-in-progress.

 

 

 image: Sagrada Familia (I think this is the Passion facade)

 

Apart from its extraordinary beauty ‒ had Aubrey Beardsley been commissioned to create the Ice Queen’s castle in Narnia I am sure it would almost be a doppelganger ‒ one of the magic things about this international treasure is that it is the result of inter-generational crowd-funding.

 

What started off being a project for a wealthy patron (bookseller, Josep Maria Bocabella)  has been progressed purely through private patronage by those who can and those who visit. We humans truly get it right on the very odd occasion!

 image: an inside view, Sagrada Familia

 

Gaudi took over the project from the original commissioned architect  Francisco de Paula del Villar and became Architect Director in 1884. The massive scope and intricate detailing of his vision assured that Gaudi would not see his completed chapel (Gaudi died in 1926) and completion date is estimated between 2026 and 2028. Not a cent of Government or church money has been spent on Gaudi’s evolving masterpiece and it is said that Gaudi declared that his original patron “… is not in a hurry”.

 

Amongst many beautiful touches are the six giant clam shells donated in 2010 by the Philippines to Sagrada Familia that serve as holy water fonts and are so appropriate to Gaudi’s organic design aesthetic. Likewise, the contributions of Japanese artist Etsuro Sotoo, who created the exquisite door at the Nativity Façade ‒ all leaves, lichen, flowers and insects ‒ are also in the spirit of the vision.

 image: door of Nativity Facade (detail) by Japanese artist Etsuro Sotoo 

 

The symbolism used in designing Sagrada Familia has been well documented and is easily investigated, the most conspicuous found by examining the church facades that represent Christ’s birth, glory and passion/death. The symbolism is extensive down to a microscopic level and it is this focus on every detail ‒ and from varied perspectives ‒ that has resulted in the church taking over 140 years to complete.

 image: looking up to nave roof  (detail) 

 

I truly do hope that the subdued hues of Sagrada Familia’s concrete and stone exterior remain unembellished as its elegance is so fitting to both a Holy Family or an imaginary ice queen. It is also the perfect casing for the dizzying array of jeweled detail to be found within.

 

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On hearing I was travelling to Spain, Henry suggested I bring back some bull’s cajones (well he didn’t actually, but I thought it a great way to keep to the Spanish theme and segue into a paragraph about Mr Robot, a television series on which I binged while on the plane).

 

Set in the era when Obama was in leadership, Mr Robot is about a group of young hackers who bring the financial world to a standstill. One of their rather theatrical gesture to Wall Street is to remove the testicles from El Toro.

 

As the banks try desperately to determine who owns and who owes from their crashed systems and corrupted files, a seriously ambitious CEO releases an interim currency not dissimilar to bitcoin as a 'loan' to a public who cannot access their accounts ... and the stakes get higher.

 

Thicken the plot with a dark army of Chinese terrorists who seem able to blast away a New York diner (or similar) than disappear without a trace and you have the majority of  elements that make Mr Robot such engrossing travel filler. Did I mention the surreal dimension?

 

(Warning: extreme violence and extremely trashy dialogue take place with frequency.)

 

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