Sometimes you come across things in the most unexpected ways and in the most unlikely places.
We had started to think that either there was a dearth of contemporary pottery in Spain, or that more likely we were looking in the wrong places. When practical we have made a point of finding the ‘arty’ quarters of the cities and villages we pass through, and have tapped into the usual sources of intelligence, talking to other travellers, grilling the Tourist Office staff as well as drinking interminable cups of indifferent coffee in either Starbucks or McD’s in order to use the free WiFi! Getting reliable access to the Internet while traveling is another story in itself!
On one or two occasions when we have tracked down an interesting museum or gallery, after making an effort to get there we have found the damn things closed! Checking out the opening times in advance is no guarantee either; the Museu de Ceramica in Barcelona was a good example of this. We trekked across town, and it’s not a particularly small city, allowing plenty of time for the two hour lunch break, to find that when we arrived at 2.30pm they were shooing everyone out. It’s possible that this could have been linked to a demonstration in the city centre, but none the less it was frustrating. Would the rioting hordes vent their anger on a Museum of Ceramics? Perhaps.
This particular exhibition of work we came across completely by accident. On a long straight section of road heading towards Barcelona, there are pockets of industry, some of which revolve around ceramics. There are suppliers, warehouses and occasionally show rooms, mostly specialising in run of-the-mill terracotta garden ornaments and bathroom ware. We were induced to pull over into a convenient parking lane parallel to the main road by the promise of a coffee and relief from the traffic. We parked outside a supplier and noticed that attached to the warehouse was a small but nicely appointed little gallery. It was also beautifully cool inside, which is always a welcome relief, regardless of what the exhibition is!!
The work on display was by ceramics artist Maria Romani, Barcelona.
Subsequently, I have done a quick search and didn’t come up with much background. She’s referred to in this link http://www.charmainehaines.co.za/terrArt.pdf but it’s in Spanish and I couldn’t find where she is mentioned but it does include some interesting images of other Spanish ceramicists. There’s also a video that has a few more pieces of her work. I quite like some of the work that features in the middle of the video, particularly the figurative/architectural ones in pastel colours, but less so the installation piece at the end that seems a bit contrived. It would have been interesting to have found a little more background on her approach though.
The mini exhibition we came across was literally good solid stuff with rich surface textures and details that relived the otherwise chunky forms. All had a solidity about them that in the case of the ‘lidded’ pots defied their actual size, which was relatively small. The large bowls were about 500mm across, but with wall thicknesses of several centimeters. I was less sure about the bound sculptural works; I enjoyed the earthy tones and clay like qualities of the forms, but the clean white bindings seemed slightly at odds…too new, purchased rather than created; but then perhaps that was what she had intended. Like bundles of fire wood, these clay logs were gathered, bound and neatly presented on white wooden tables, something natural or utilitarian presented for our consideration.
It was an enjoyable pause along the way and a pleasure to find in this unexpected location some less than ordinary ceramics.
- Nick C