Trip to Jaen – Baeza – Ubeda
24th-26th April 2018
From the moment we stepped into the coach, the whole trip felt good, and then got better. All the time that Felicity put into the organisation of the coach pick-up points, the coffee stops and the tours with knowledgeable English-speaking guides, restaurants and of course, the Parador hotel, and keeping us informed of what was happening along the way, ensured we had little to complain of. We all are most grateful to Felicity for her diligence but also to Louise who was always on hand when help was needed.
But it was not just a sightseeing tour of three fascinating towns. Felicity built in a few extras, like the visit to the new Museo Ibero in Jaen, the Museo de la Cultura del Olivo, near Jaen, and the relatively newly excavated Sinagoga del Agua in Ubeda. Admittedly, the display of about €2-3m worth of Lamborghinis, Maclarens and Porsches all revving their engines together outside the Ubeda Parador, was perhaps pure chance! Something for the boys!
Baeza and Ubeda share with Jaen their origins and development to the succession of the Moorish, the Jewish and the Christian influences over many centuries, resulting in varied styles of buildings, palaces and of course, places of worship. The grandest in each town were the cathedrals, particularly in Jaen.
All was financed by the vast groves of olive trees that dominate the landscape. The Museo provided definitions of Extra Virgin, Virgin, Olive oil and of the debris from which ingredients of soap, lamp oil and cosmetics are derived. The museum also displayed, amongst many antique tools, a magnificent 19th C olive press some 18 metres long, varieties of living olive trees from around the Mediterranean and how each variety was used. It seems possible to live for ever, with olive oil with your diet.
We are also indebted to José Rios and his partner, Carmen for their company and guidance around the area. José’s workshop was our first stop where we saw his creations in metals, and a catalogue of his murals in Estepona and other towns. ‘Before and After’ photographs presented the true effect of his vision and his skills. This was followed by seeing his work around the town of Jaen, mostly of metal but also one combined with the paintwork of a colleague, of a lizard in stone, metal and a few electric elements.
Perhaps one of the visits we will all remember is the Cathedral in Jaen, where we learned of the ‘Holy Face’ relic and the purpose of the unusual galleries inside and outside the Cathedral walls, and where we used a secret passage from the Sacristy to the site of the relic. And from the interior galleries, reached by 50-odd high-rise steps (not to be repeated!) or a lift, we had a bird’s eye view of the magnificent high stonework and the Cathedral floor layout. Quite stunning!
When such a packed itinerary meets all the expectations AND returns home on time, what can we say, but a big thank you.
Review by Geoff Morgan.
Visit to Malaga
Tuesday 25th January 2018
In the Pompadour Centre, artists such as Robert Delaunay and Vassily Kandinsky, delivered a cerebral stimulus on their theory of “Utopia “ through their images evolved from the Russian Revolution of 1917, the First World War, Spanish Civil War and rise of nationalism and totalitarianism in Europe.
Antonio Saura in his painting entitled “Doughnuts”, which evolved from a picture on a brown paper bag, depicts the spirit of togetherness and power of the individual and social emancipation.
Social integration and modern design, utilising past materials and experiences, is demonstrated in the exhibits by Pierre Huyghe “The Radiant City”. Carlos Arroyo’s image of the future, building a space in which people can think together are works suggesting these artists vision for the new utopia.
One spectacle which shall remain engraved in the minds of the viewers was that of a flock of sheep by Francois-Xavier Lalanne. The sheep were formed from iron covered by sheep skins and could be used for seating either singularly or collectively. Of course we were not able to take advantage of their potential.
A musical interlude was provided by the appearance of Su-Mei Tse playing her cello in a valley in Germany. The picture entitled “The Echo” in which the artist is seen playing her instrument in total isolation while listening to the echo through the valley.
Another notable exhibit, which stimulated much discussion and reminiscence amongst the group, was the open sardine tin in the form a double bed. How many of us could we get into the bed?
Then onto the Picasso Museum.
The displays are designed to examine issues related to important aspects of Pablo Picasso’s life and encompasses almost eight decades of artistic creativity. The themes include the sense of origin, of roots, and of his immediate family.
His historic role as creator of Cubism and classic approach to portraits, still life, nude and landscapes are fruits of his artistic endeavours.
The temporary exhibition at the Picasso Museum “We Are Completely Free Women Arts and Surrealism”, presented the work of a group of women artists from 1920’s onwards who became involved in the surrealism movement historically associated with men.,
We saw works by Leonora Carrington, Dorothea Tanning, Frida Kahlo and Lee Miller plus 14 other female artists. Afterwards over coffee in the Museum Café several of us agreed that it was a great exhibition and that we would like to learn more about the women surrealist artists.
Everyone enjoyed the Tapas and drinks at La Plaza restaurant before joining the coach for the drive back to Sotogrande.
Thank you Lizzie for organising a thought provoking trip.
Review by Lynne Price
Walking Tour of the Murals and ‘Orchidarium’, Estepona
Friday 27th October 2017
We all met in the beautiful Plaza de las Flores for a guided walking tour of just some of the 42 enormous wall murals in Estepona, followed by a visit to the orchid house.
In 2013 Estepona Town Council started commissioning works of art/murals, by way of competitions, to brighten up some of the rather drab facades of ‘typical’ apartment blocks. The artists came from abroad and all around Spain and it only took two to three weeks to complete their gigantic masterpieces.
It was a beautiful day as we walked along the charming flower and tree-lined streets of the old town and we were more than surprised as we came across the eye-catching and impressive murals, painted on three to ten storey-high buildings. On some of the lower buildings incredibly realistic looking plants, such as bougainvillea, were painted climbing up walls and around windows and doors.
We then moved on to the ‘Orchidarium’ – amazingly the largest orchid house in Europe – built in 2014/15 in a modern three domed building set in beautiful gardens. Inside the spectacular building are thousands of different species of plants from around the world and three waterfalls! One of these is 30 meters high and is environmentally controlled so works intermittently. There were some beautiful orchids in flower. Apparently, however, the best time to visit is in the spring time.
We ended the morning in a lovely and highly recommended tapas bar, El Rinconcito de Sensi, where we mulled over the brilliant and beautiful changes to Estepona. If the Art Society plan another Mural Walk, don’t miss it! Our thanks to Felicity, Sue and Gisselle for a wonderful experience and a fun day.
Review Of The Arts Society Trip To Sevilla
Thursday 7 September 2017
After an early morning start on a warm, sunny morning The Arts Society group headed for Seville, via Medina Sedonia and a welcome coffee stop between Jerez and Sevilla.
After our morning coffee, we were ready for our first stop at the Palacio Las Dueñas which was the home of the late Duchess of Alba. As a socialite, the duchess met famous VIPs from Spain and abroad. Jackie Kennedy visited her Seville palace, as did Wallis Simpson, Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier of Monaco.
The Duchess died in the Palacio de las Dueñas in 2014 at the age of 88. She was succeeded by her son Carlos Fitz-James Stuart, 14th Duke of Huéscar, who thus became the 19th Duke of Alba.
The Palace was filled with lots of interesting artefacts, paintings, clocks and family photos. It really felt as though the Duchess had just popped out to lunch and would be back later in time to practice her flamenco in a room behind the library.
From the Palacio we walked to the restaurant ‘Eslava’ where we had an excellent lunch before boarding the minibus for the short trip to our hotel – Fernando III.
The Fernando III is a very comfortable hotel in the old town, not far from the Alcazar, so in our free time we were within walking distance of many of the sites that Seville had to offer
The following morning we headed to the Monasterio de San Isidora del Campo, which is at the southern end of Santiponce, just outside Sevilla.
This exquisite, two-church former monastery was founded in 1301 by Guzmán El Bueno (hero of the 1294 battle at Tarifa). Over the centuries it hosted a succession of different religious orders. It was here that the Bible was first translated into Castilian (1569).
Just around the corner from the monastery are the ruins of the Roman city of Italica with its amphitheatre and mosaics.
In view of the heat, most of us did a very quick circuit of the site and headed for the shade of a nearby Venta for a cooling drink before heading to our lunch at Arte y Solera. The food was fantastic, consisting of a tapas style meal.
Lizzie did an amazing job of organising the trip as well as finding interesting places for lunch. This was our final stop before boarding the bus for our return journey, full of food, wine and history, but nevertheless very happy after another extremely good trip.
Thank you Lizzie!
Review by Luciana O’Brien