Heat has a strange effect on some humans. When temperatures hit a high, as they did this August in many parts of Europe and the Mediterranean, confusion and dizziness set in, common effects of too much exposure to extreme heat because of increased blood flow to dilated blood vessels and fluid loss through sweating. This sometimes happens to belatrova when the kiln is going full blast and ceramic production is in full flow as we try to feed the insatiable appetite for our products – on the other hand a cold Dry Martini often wards off any lasting effects.
This August was an excuse to go abroad for a break before moving into the new workshop in Ledbury (about which more in the next blog).
Mallorca is a beautiful island that has lured many foreigners over the years, from Chopin to Robert Graves, and, this year, belatrova. But mass tourism is affecting it much as it is elsewhere. Barcelona, Venice, Edinburgh, Lisbon, Dubrovnik, Skye are all examples of unmanageable jam-packed destinations filled with visitors on holiday. ” Tourist: your luxury trip / my daily misery“, says a placard in the Parque Guell (Barcelona). “Tourists go home. Refugees welcome” was the graffiti that greeted us as we drove to Felanitx for our week in Mallorca.
And who can blame residents when all anyone can do on the beautiful beaches and calas is to stand waist-deep in the water surrounded on all sides by others similarly engaged in staring at the horizon with arms folded and wondering how to escape – we did find a great spot though, as you can see from the first image.
Go inland and the atmosphere changes and the landscape is an engaging mixture of the agricultural and dramatic, from fertile farmland and Aleppo pine forests to the limestone mountains of the Serra de Tramuntana and the summer flowering of oleander, hibiscus, marigolds and orchids.
If you really want to get away from any crowds, we recommend a visit to Botanicactus, a cactus sanctuary (though belatrova believes they are quite capable of defending themselves) where the cacti flourish in the dry and sunny climate and the landscape has been specifically designed to protect the plants, with the creation of the artificial lake and raised terraces protecting the plants from the wind. While everyone is at the beach you can wander about in perfect solitude surrounded by these giant prickly beings.
Among the many artists associated with the island is Joan Miró, painter, sculptor and ceramicist born in Barcelona, but resident in the latter part of his long life in Palma where he bequeathed a collection that is the basis for his Fundació Joan Miró which we visited one morning.
It is a purpose-built exhibition space that uses thinly cut alabaster as a source of light into the rooms and has pools of water outside in the gardens that reflect their own light through low cut openings at floor level – and the whole complex stands on a hill overlooking the bay of Palma. We watched white sails racing each other in the distance, the ferry from Barcelona ploughing its way to the docks, and three giant cruise ships blocking part of the harbour architecture as they disgorged their passengers into the city for the day.
But back to Miró; tiny forms in huge empty spaces, deep blue cerulean sky-like canvases, crescent moons, birds, meandering shapes, his work is captivating and has inevitably inspired belatrova, back in Herefordshire, to make a few ceramics in his style.
If you’d like to see them come and pay us a visit at our old workshop at No9 Bankside Studios during hArt, which runs from Saturday 9th to Sunday 17th (open daily 10 – 5pm), just follow the red hArt signs in Ledbury, or use the postcode: HR8 2DR. You are most welcome. As the hArt website says: “Meet hundreds of individual artists, see an array of artwork across the county in the city and countryside, in fabulous locations such as manor houses, historic barns, farms, churches and beautiful gardens.”
Finally, belatrova shed a tear on learning of the death of Walter Becker, guitarist and composer, who with Donald Fagen was one half of the unforgettable Steely Dan. We invite you to click here and listen to one of their middle period songs (skip the ad): subtle player that he was, technically dexterous, meticulous master of the instrumental gesture and never a grand-stander, “some of his most intriguing work is embedded in the background – the architectural arpeggios of “Aja,” or the wry, blues-tinged asides that dot the margins of “Hey Nineteen.” (Tom Moon / NPR Music)
Many a bowl was made listening to Walter on his guitar.
When all the dime dancing is through, I run to you..