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An impromptu three day trip to Barcelona has left my head in a spin.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 9 June 2013, 11:50


Billed as a ‘Daddy Daughter’ trip we mixed art, architecture, shopping and food (with sunshine). My daughter is contemplating Fine Art at university. In just a few days we packed in hours, on foot, along streets, through galleries and museums and parks, into markets and up and down and through slick airconditioned Barcelona rapid transit system.


We took in Picasso and Joan Miro museums, through the National Museum of Catalonia El Greco to Dali, on the streets we found Gaudy while the Contemporary Museum of Art gave me Lawrence Werner. Where unable to use a camera (the iPhone, I left my digital SLR at home to keep us down to hand luggage) I bought a postcard, guidebook or did a sketch.


It left me hungry for more: the food from tapas bars, the architecture and history, the weather and the sea … it has left me full of ideas regarding learning, from seeing Picasso’s early efforts at drawing, through the work of Joan Miro from beginning to end. This 'pass' to six museums is one way to do it - I got around four of these and can return within three months in this ticket. With Gatwick up the road and travelling out of season I may get back later in June or in early July

As a visitor what more do we need than our eyes, feet and a sketch pad or notebook?

Does a digital camera make it too easy? Not permitted to use a camera at the Picasso or Miro what did we lose and the gallery gain? I bought books at the Picasso, Miro and Contemporary Art Museum, though not at the National Museum of Catalonia where I used my iPhone to grab images all the way around.


Meeting a friend who lives in 'Barca' was revealing - he learnt Spanish in a month. He could. He can focus. Two weeks on the grammar with the right book on a beach, then two weeks intensive studying by day with an hour of conversational Spanish in the evening which he got in exchange for an hour of English conversation. Immeservive and concentrated effort.

To what degree does e-learning remove the need to make an effort and dilute any immersiveness to just one or two senses (to what you see and hear)?

I like to pick up a language in context, through association, trial and error. Signs in multiple languages, like the Rosetta Stone, appear to offer a way into the language … or is this also a short cut ? You won’t learn anything so long as you are offered the translation. I wonder if this can be reverse engineered? Instead of seeing the Spanish world translated through English eyes, how about seeing the English world through Spanish Eyes? To wear glasses that use augmented technology to offer me the day to day in Spanish? What is already being done?

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Your portrait

Re; image number two - wonderful likeness!
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If I'm not mistaken that behind me is El Greco himself. Perhaps a relative sailed around from Catalonia in the 17th century and made his (or her way) to the North East of England .. or Ireland or Scotland. Which, come to think of it is feasible ... as part of the Spanish Armada that had planned to invade England and whose ships were largelly lost on the coasts of Ireland and Scotland. Perhaps some of the few that made it ashore were not immediately killed by the locals? Would a DNA test indicate a distant link to Spain? The mind boggles.
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Although, I now read that he was Greek - from Crete, but painting in Toledo in the late 18th and early 18th centuries. I'm not as bald or hollow cheeked though and all attempts to grew a beard produce fluff likfe the skin of a mangey rabbit.
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And that is his representation of St.Paul. I needed the day to myself at the museum and should have spent far longer on Wikipedia and such drawing in information. I would have had an audio guide but that would have slowed me down. I was given 75 minutes to get around the place by my daughter. I managed, at an impolite pace and missed one gallery as a result and of course skimmed through everything. El Greco made me stop as he left an impression as a boy and I remember him from the board game Masterpiece.

Saint Paul

I agree with you about the identity of the Saint. His appearance accords with that of Duccio di Buoninsegna's Maesta, (1311, Museo dell' Opera Duomo Siena), portrait of Paul.