Minimum Monument

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“Minimum Monument is a poignant and moving display featuring thousands of figures made out of frozen water by the artist, her team of technicians and volunteers – a public intervention artwork which is a powerful reminder of the fragility of our planet and the communities it supports.”

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“Néle Azevedo has be working from a temporary studio in K Village with volunteers and her creative team to make over 3,000 200mm tall icemen.”

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“We’ve been working on the moulds for the past two weeks – getting them filled and frozen, then the sculptures were de-moulded and fettled by hand before being stored in freezers and the process starts over again. ”

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“The icemen and women will be transported to Kendal Castle on Sunday morning.”

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“On Sunday Azevedo will invite members of the public to place the beautifully crafted sculptures on the ruins of Kendal Castle where they can watch as these tiny ice figures melt and return to rain water.”

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I’m not sure if this art is the kind of thing which Michael Gove recently derided as ‘modish crap’. Probably.

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“Is this = to Turner, Ruskin, even Holman Hunt – of course not.”

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Which limited frame of reference suggests that the underlying questions is: is this art Victorian?

Of course, Turner’s own art was controversial in it’s day. Had Twitter existed then, no doubt some self-publisizing, narcissistic, failed politician would have been using it to rail against Turner’s non-conventional vision.

(In a politically bleak year a lone high-spot was watching Gove skewer himself with his own back-stabbing machinations.)

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Anyway, we enjoyed Minimum Monument immensely and there were a lot of other people there who also seemed to be thoroughly engaged and appreciative.

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Naturally, I took a preposterous number of photos.

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It was interesting to see how people had chosen to group the figures.

Almost all of the sculptures were placed on the walls, facing in to the castle. This couple…

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…being a rare exception.

Eventually, we dragged ourselves away and walked down into Kendal…

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…where there were numerous other activities on offer.

We added to a large clay sculpture…

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…donned goggles for a 3D virtual reality flight over the Lake District, watched a three handed show (a mime I seem to remember) and visited St. Thomas’s Church to see this…

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…enormous model of the moon by Luke Jerram.

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A highly enjoyable day!

(The quotes at the top of the post are from the Lakes Alive website.)

Minimum Monument

Barcelona -Sagrada Familia

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You can’t really visit Barcelona without taking a look at the Sagrada Familia.

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It’s another place which TBH and I have visited together before, on our previous flying visit to Barcelona. We certainly didn’t book in advance then, and I don’t think we had to pay either, but these days both are necessary and it’s quite expensive. We’d saved a little by booking an early evening slot for our visit.

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Anyway, it was well worth it – it’s an amazing building. I’m sure my photos don’t come close to doing it justice.

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It’s also a work in progress. I would love to come back when it’s finished (current projection is 2026).

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Serial masochists (i.e. regular readers) will know that I like visiting churches and cathedrals, and that when I’m there I’m particularly fond of stained glass windows.

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The multi-coloured windows of the Sagrada Familia, and the amazing way they lit the space, were the highlight for me.

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I’m not sure if you can get a sense of it from these pictures but it was stunning.

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A magic square! I haven’t made good on my resolve to use it in a lesson yet. I wonder what the significance of the total 33 is – unless it’s the obvious one? I presume that the figures here are Jesus and Judas.

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If you are making a visit, it’s worth factoring in some time to take a look at the small museum within the Basilica which holds many of the scale models, some of them pretty big,  which Gaudi used when he was working on his designs for the building.

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Barcelona – Park Güell

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A lot of photographs in this post. You may want to put the kettle on.

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TBH and I have been to Park Güell before, on our previous fleeting visit to Barcelona. Back then it was free to visit and didn’t need to be booked in advance.

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Now, like almost everywhere we visited in the city, Park Güell has a not inconsiderable fee.  In general, Barcelona seemed pretty expensive to me. Although the beach is free and the transport system very cheap,  Museums and Art Galleries and the like, were far from cheap. I suppose this is one way in which austerity has bitten in Spain.

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You can’t really come to Barcelona, however, without a visit to Park Güell. TBH and I were both very keen to go.

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Count Eusebi Güell bought this land intending to turn it, with the help of Antoni Gaudí into a luxurious housing estate, with  sixty plots.

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The two buildings at the top of the post were the porter’s lodges at the entrance.

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There was one other building already on the site, which Güell moved into. Two more houses were built. When it couldn’t be sold, Gaudí bought one of them and moved his family into it.

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Gaudi made alterations to the house which was already on the site, but neither of the other  houses were designed by Gaudí.

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Eventually, the Park became a Municipal Garden.

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So in a way, it’s a giant folly. A failed commercial enterprise, now designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Gaudí had some pretty radical ideas…

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…this was going to be the marketplace. Our kids found it adapted well for hide and seek.

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The Porter’s Lodges. The right-hand one is a shop. The left-hand a museum. But the queue was 45 minutes, so we didn’t go in.

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The famous serpentine seating on the terrace (the only clear memory I had from our previous visit) is the work of Gaudí’s regular collaborator, Josep Maris Jujol.

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The (mostly) hidden house behind the trees, is the Gaudí House Museum, the house where Gaudí and his family lived for twenty years.

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This is the ‘other’ house built in the park, the one which Gaudí didn’t buy. It’s in the free part of Park Güell, which is well worth a visit. There are lots of buskers…

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…this harp player was amazing.

And stunning views over the city, including views of Gaudí’s incomplete cathedral, the Sagrada Família.

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Our next port of call…

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Barcelona – Park Güell

Barcelona – Castell de Montjuic

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When we first arrived in Barcelona our taxi from the airport took us along the coast and beneath this hill, with it’s surmounting fort. Later we had good views of it again, when we boarded the Norwegian Epic for our cruise.

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Obviously, we had to visit when we returned to Barcelona.

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It’s quite a modern fortification, compared to most we see in Britain. It was completed in 1799, although there has been a fort here since 1640. It’s had quite a chequered past, having be captured by the British in 1705 and by the French during the Napoleonic wars.

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Situated as it is, overlooking both the city and the port, it would seem to be ideally sited to defend Barcelona, but it seems that more often than not its guns have been used to bombard the city itself to suppress unrest in the region.

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During the civil war both sides imprisoned and tortured captives here. Most infamously, Lluis Companys, President of Catalonia, was executed here in 1940 on the orders of Franco.

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Not a happy story then.

But the views are magnificent, both near and far…

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We’d been concerned about just how hot it would be in Barcelona in the middle of the summer. In fact, aside from on the Metro, where it could be rather sweaty, it was mostly very pleasant. There generally seemed to be a cooling sea breeze and in the Gothic Quarter at least, the high buildings and narrow streets combined to make a deep, cool shade. On Montjuic hill however, it was very hot.

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So much so that many people were tempted to paddle in the pool above the mirador (waterfall).

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We were wandering down the hill…

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…through pleasant parks…

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…and a sculpture garden…

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…to our next destination…

More to follow!

Barcelona – Castell de Montjuic

Another Place

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The Easter hols are just coming to an end (what a sad sentence that is) and so I have quite a bit to report on. We spent the first couple of days, when the weather was pretty vile, decorating our daughter’s bedroom (she had been deeply cutting, as she is wont to be, about the fact that we had, to her eyes, neglected this task whilst completing other, much less pressing, DIY tasks). Then we headed off for, in Travel Agents’ parlance, a City Break; TBH had booked us a couple of nights in Liverpool. We both did a bit of research before we set-off, but maybe weren’t thorough enough: our planned lunch stop at Rufford Old Hall was perfect aside from the fact that it was closed when we got there. We diverted to Formby, for the sand dunes and the pine woods, which I’ve long wanted to visit, but that was closed too. (‘For your safety’ the notice on the National Trust car park said.)

So then we drove to Crosby for Antony Gormley’s ‘Another Place’.

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It wasn’t closed, but it was exceptionally windy; even before we reached the seafront, we could see sand drifting across the road. There were lots of couples sitting in their cars eating ice-creams, but nobody else was on the beach; it was almost as if they didn’t fancy being sand-blasted. It was really quite fierce – after a short stroll we found that we had sand in all of our pockets and in every other nook and cranny in our clothing.

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Another Place

Andy Goldsworthy Sculpture, Clougha Pike

Goldsworthy sculpture, Clougha Pike

When I was up on Clougha last year with my friend Tony, we passed close by these three regular stone constructions and I wondered what they were (but not enough to walk over and take a look). Back at home, a bit of searching revealed that they are in fact an Andy Goldsworthy Sculpture and I resolved to come back at some point to have a proper look.

Goldsworthy Sculpture, Clougha Pike II 

Another pleasant day frittered away at work had clouded over slightly now that I was free to enjoy it. The the wind had picked-up too. Through the walk, the hills of the Dales and the Lakes would disappear from view behind some sullen black clouds, and when I a was just a few hundred yards short of getting back to the car, a little light rain fell.

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But I’m getting ahead of myself. I’d parked in the car park off the Littledale Road, took the path past the sizable Skelbow Barn and then the permission path which follows Sweet Beck and leads to the intake wall and access land. The OS map shows one of those hesitant black dotted lines which indicate a path rather then a right-of-way. I’d tried to find the top of the same path last year, but missed it. It turned out to be a nice route up the hill – a small path following a line of grouse shooter’s butts. (They’re simply ‘Grouse Butts’ on the map of course, but that’s pretty useless as a name – makes it sound like they might be somewhere for the Grouse to live, or possibly to hide whilst they take pot shots at startled tweedy types.)

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I was impressed with the sculptures. Nice to think that they were paid for by the Duke of Westminster who, in the past, has so jealously guarded his privacy on this land, and that the Right to Roam legislation makes it available to us all.

In the photo above you can see that below the hollow space…

Looking into a 'hollow'

…in each sculpture there’s a sturdy step. Rather inviting I thought, so I stepped into one of them. I know, I know, I’m a Big Kid at heart.

Looking out from a 'hollow'. 

I think our kids would appreciate this – another walk I shall have to share with them, maybe when there’s some snow on the fells.

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The sculptures sit in an area of spoil heaps from former quarrying, some of which are so regular that I wondered if there had been buildings here at one time too.

Quarry....remains, Clougha Pike 

There’s a small circular enclosure which I sheltered behind to enjoy the view and take a drink and a snack.

Goldsworthy Sculpture and Caton Moor Wind Farm 

I continued up on to Grit Fell and contemplated heading on to Ward’s Stone, the highest point in the Bowland Fells, but after finishing virtually in the dark last year when doing that, I decided against it this time.

Lancaster, The Lune and Morecambe from Clougha Pike 

So I ambled down to Clougha Pike ‘summit’ and found a sheltered spot amongst the rocks of the edge there for another drink and snack and contemplative pause. The fast moving clouds were providing a bit of a light show – crepuscular rays sweeping silvery patterns across Morecambe Bay, or picking out the Lune as it snakes through Lancaster, or Langthwaite and Blea Tarn reservoirs on the south-western edge of the city.

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It’s a particularly fine place to sit.

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I returned by the large bulldozed track which drops down to the Littledale Road, but then skirted the top edge of Cragg Wood to rejoin my outward route. It had been a great walk for birds, nothing too unusual, but lots of them. From Cragg Wood I saw surprisingly large flocks of wood pigeon – it seemed almost exotic, from my elevated position, to see so many flying above the tree-canopy, like something from a wildlife programme about distant jungles.

Having spotted a nicely patterned feather on the path early in the walk, I’d kept my eyes peeled and had managed to gather a fine collection, including one of around two feet in length with beautiful bands of colour.

Andy Goldsworthy Sculpture, Clougha Pike

High Head Sculpture Park

Flying Inside

Another half-term beano. We visited High Head Sculpture Park.

Swans In Flight by Kenny Heptonstall 

Looked at some sculptures!

The Bird Hide 

As well as the sculptures outside in the park there’s a gallery inside with more sculpture, paintings, and other art and crafts.

There’s a small but well designed playground which was a big hit with the kids despite the icy wind. And there are walks to be had on the dairy farm which contains the park. We chose to climb the hill..

A brief rest 

..to the High Head stone circle, a recent (2006) example of its kind.

High Head Stone Circle by Brain Cowper, with added children 

The distant hills are Blencathra and its neighbours.

Distant Blencathra

We had lunch in the excellent tearoom which looks out over a garden crammed with well-attended bird-feeders.

House sparrows 

Recommended, if you’re ever in the Penrith area.

A big seat

High Head Sculpture Park