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Posts tagged ‘Gaudi’

Transforming the Gothic – colour sensation in the Cathedral of Palma de Mallorca

Some of architecture’s most stunning successes can be found in religious buildings. The eternal repetition of the forest of pink and white marble pillars in Cordoba’s La Mesquita is one of the most enthralling sights of the ancient Islamic world, while at the centre of the Catholic world, the sheer scale and magnificence of St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican makes it clear to all who come close that this place is the all powerful centre of Christianity. In Roman times, religion was the instigator of some of the most brilliant of all architectural creations, such as the ground-breaking single expanse dome of the ancient Pantheon temple in Rome, while in more modern times, it has inspired some of the most jaw-dropping creations ever made by man, such as the stunning realisation of a creative genius: Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.

Nevertheless, when you think about the religious treasures of the world, you will find that proportionately few of them are gothic. The reason for this is  clear:  the gothic style is largely synonymous with austerity, with its soaring naves and high-winged buttresses leading to vast expanses of cold space; gothic churches are more often places of fear, with their grim faced gargoyles and sinister dark angels, and even Paris’s Notre Dame, surely one of the most famous examples of gothic architecture, is better associated with the haunting tale of a hunchback living within the cathedral’s inhospitable bell towers than with any illusion that the church is in any aesthetic sense a thing of beauty. Yet while this idea of the gothic has long lingered in my mind, all of my pre-held conceptions about gothic architecture were challenged last weekend when in Palma de Mallorca, capital of Spain’s Balearic Islands, I realised just how stunning the gothic can be.

La Seu’s imposing gothic exterior

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Palma’s Cathedral, known locally as La Seu, is indeed a masterpiece of the catholic gothic style. Completed in 1601, it is a soaring vast temple to christianity, with a dominant position over the waterfront of Palma, and comprising the 7th highest nave in the world. But what makes this palace of gothic architecture different from all of the other churches of the genre, enabling it to dispel the associations of dark, dank solemnity which is inherent in the gothic style, is colour. Pure, dazzling, multi-coloured samplings from every stretch of the rainbow. For in Palma’s Cathedral, there is not a single clear pane of glass. Rather, its many windows are fitted with coloured stained glass so rich in its vivacity and complexity, that when the sun shines on the outside of the cathedral (which it invariably does in Mallorca), the result on the inside is to fill every gothic stone and structure, ever eave and buttress, every flag stone and pew with the most dazzling multi-coloured light.

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The effect is astounding, and dispels every known stereotype about gothic architecture, which is utterly transformed under the warming dazzle of a hundred shades of multi-coloured light. At times, when you are looking directly into the light as it shines through one of the cathedral’s impressive stained glass windows, a moment of epiphany overcomes you, as everywhere you look you see shards of colour bouncing across the vast space. If that was the intention of the architects, it is an objective universally achieved, so that you leave the cathedral if not religiously converted then certainly spiritually touched.

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2014 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Post 500: Norms at La Pedrera, Barcelona

I am celebrating the publication of my 500th post on The Daily Norm! It’s unbelievable to think that I have sat at my computer over the last 2 and a half years, and typed out such a mammoth number of posts for my Daily Norm readers. But writing this blog has become such a naturally occurring, integral accompaniment to my life that frankly, my surprise at seeing 500 posts notched up is on a level with my daily surprise when I realise how quickly a year is passing. Still, there can be no complacency about the achievement of reaching this very significant hallmark in my blogging history, and a huge thanks has to go out to all of my readers and followers – somethings I feel like I really struggle to give back as much thanks and support as you deserve, but your readership really is important to me. As for the blog – well what a life changer it has been. To have this platform to share my thoughts, my creativity, my sketches, prints, photos and paintings – well it has made so much of what I do in my own little world worth the effort. After all, doesn’t every creative always yearn for an audience?

So what better way to celebrate my blogging achievement than to share a brand new insight on the world of “the Norms”, the characters who were the whole reason I set up this blog in the first place. Today we join the Norms in the beautiful Spanish city of Barcelona, which is a coincidence, because of course I have only come back from the city myself. Here we see the Norms visiting one of the most famous buildings created by architect genius Antoni Gaudi, La Pedrera (otherwise known as the Casa Mila). Famed for its quarry like facade and its tiled chimneys which look more like whipped meringue nests, La Pedrera is a masterpiece of modernist architecture and a much loved tourist destination for the Norms, not least because one of the chimneys appears to bear a very striking resemblance to a Norm…

Norms at La Pedrera (2014 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen and ink on paper)

Norms at La Pedrera (2014 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen and ink on paper)

So from the Norms in Barcelona, to my own trip to the city, join me later this week on The Daily Norm as I make headway through the next 500 posts of my blog which I cannot wait to write, and share with you. See you then!

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. For more information on the work of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, head to his art website at

Barcelona | Day One: A tale of two cathedrals

Despite all of the travelling I have been lucky enough to do over the years, there is one city which has always topped the bill as far as I am concerned: Barcelona. From the stunning medieval squares and dark narrow streets of its gothic quarter, and the café culture and art vibe of La Ribera surrounding the Picasso museum; to the elegant grid of shopping streets and modernist palaces in the Eixample, and the expansive Port Vell and its white sandy beach, Barcelona is one of these cities which just about has everything a city could offer. If you were asked to sit down at a drawing board and design the perfect city, surely Barcelona would be it: It’s a cultural hot spot, a city bursting with sites of historical importance, a shopping mecca, a business centre, a bustling port and a beach resort rolled into one. Coupled with that is a predominant party spirit, a sense of cultural and political freedom and an exuberance of chic and style which is unrivalled, in my opinion, elsewhere in Spain.

So while a trip to this most incredible of cities last weekend may have been my 7th trip to the city, Barcelona’s multifaceted nature meant that there was still a huge amount to discover, and a pleasant opportunity to re-embrace sites and experiences otherwise more familiar to me. And most importantly of all it was an opportunity to properly inject my partner with the same enthusiasm I have always had for the city – after all, how else can I ever persuade him to move there? 😉

The atmospheric Barri Gotic

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Day One in Barcelona provided such a chance to discover the city afresh. After years of staying in the Eixample region, I switched allegiances, choosing instead the super-chic boutique haven: the Hotel Neri as my base – a hotel which sits at the beating heart of Barcelona’s gothic quarter, and which is but metres from the imposing gothic cathedral. This super central location meant that I could explore this most characterful of Barcelona neighbourhoods with the ease of breathing; a discovery which began on this first sunny morning with the old cathedral which is at its heart.

For all its incredibly imposing gothic structure, its lavish golden choir stalls and its equally elaborate gold-fringed side chapels, the thing I love about Barcelona’s cathedral is the little cloister bolted onto its side which, either by way of tradition or for some other more logical reason of which I remain ignorant, is the home of a lovely gabble of squawking, inquisitive and cheeky white geese. This lively bunch of orange-beaked beauties are just one feature of what has to be one of the most tranquil corners of this otherwise lively city; a space where everything seems perfectly in tune with each other, from the lush green plants which are grown in the cloister’s centre and through which sunlight dapples over the gothic stonework, to the orange trees which are seemingly reflected in the beaks of the geese, whether by design or coincidence. It’s a beautiful space, and easily one of my favourites in the city. But we could not linger – for we had the rest of the old town and the city to explore.

The Cathedral’s geese-filled cloisters…

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…and its imposing gothic interior

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