The Tapies foundation

Antoni Tàpies is one of Barcelona’s most celebrated artists. Tápies arrived on the International and Catalan art scenes in the 1950s, after some time living and working in Paris.

Influenced by the abstract impressionism of the time, Tàpies incorporated waste paper, mud and rags into his paintings, eventually arriving at the use of whole pieces of furniture, running water and girders.

Born and raised in Barcelona, his work and his identity were closely entwined with the city. A strong critic of Spain´s fascist regime under Franco, Tapiès was once arrested for attending a secret assembly that was pro democracy and freedom of speech. By the 1970s Tàpies began to introduce symbols of Catalan identity in his work and in 1974 he made a series of lithographs called Assassins, in memory of the Catalan freedom fighter Salvador Puig i Antich, who was executed, and displayed them in the Galerie Maeght in Paris.

After the death of Franco and return to democracy, he set up the Tàpies Foundation at its current location at Calle Aragon 255, the former Montaner i Simon publishing house, in 1984, and dedicated it to the study and appreciation of contemporary art. True to form, he crowned the building with an installation piece in the form of a tangle of ragged metal netting and aluminium entitled Núvol i Cadira, or ‘Cloud and Chair’. The building is now a cultural centre and museum dedicated to Tapiès’ work and life, and is the location of frequent exhibitions, symposiums, lectures and films related to Tàpies as well as contemporary art.

This is one of Barcelona´s most important cultural landmarks. Lovers of the artist, or of contemporary art should not miss it.

Aragó, 255
Eixample
Barcelona
08007

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Museum of World Cultures in Barcelona

The Museum of World Cultures is a fascinating and unique ethnological collection of artistic and cultural artefacts from Asia, Africa, America and Oceania. The collection is made up of nearly 529 pieces from the private Folch collection and is on loan to the city of Barcelona for the next 20 years. None of it has ever previously been on display to the general public until now.

The exhibition is on Calle Montcada in a medieval townhouse – the Nadal and Marquès de Llió house.

As well as the pieces from the Folch Collection, pieces from the Ethnological Museum of Barcelona, the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in Cambridge, the Clos Archaeological Foundation and the Duran Vall-llosera Archaeological Collection can be seen, making for a rich and unique cultural experience.

Interactive and audiovisual museum resources help to explain the background of the items on display. These make use of images, films and documentaries provided by the Ethnological Museum of Barcelona and the Folch Foundation, providing insight into different aspects of cultures and landscapes exhibited, and helping to place them in context, rather than just being shown as raw exhibits.
Free until Tuesday the 7th of April, Montcada, 14, Barcelona 08003.

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Pixar 25 years of animation at the CaixaForum

A wonderful exhibition has arrived at the CaixaForum, in the shape of ‘’. Pixar were the first studio to produce films entirely from CGI, beginning with Toy Story in 1995. Since then Pixar has earned 15 Academy Awards, seven Golden Globe Awards, and eleven Grammy Awards, and critical as well as commercial acclaim.

Some of their best loved characters get together at the CaixaForum to commemorate Pixar’s 25th anniversary. After touring many of the world’s finest museums including the MoMa in New York, characters such as Woody and Nemo will touch down in at this exhibition in Barcelona which examines the feature and short films made by the Pixar studios, giving you the opportunity getting to know the characters better, as well as the worlds created for them by their artists and story writers. Storyboards, layouts, hand drawings and much more await visitors big and small.

This is a great free weekend activity for film lovers both young and old. If you are taking your children, you can make us of Montjuic right next door – a wonderful place for them to explore and run around. Until the 3rd of May.

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Awwwards Conference & Prize Giving

Barcelona is one of the most important centres in Spain for technology and hi-tech business start ups. On the 24th and 25th of February, over 600 experts from tech giants such as Google, Microsoft and Spotify will meet at “Awwwards Conference & Prize Giving” at the Axa Convention Centre.

2015 will be the event’s second edition and will feature speakers from companies such as Adobe, Opera and Smashing Magazine, as well as renowned designers and developers such as Tobias van Schneider and Haraldur Thorleifsson.

During the celebration winners will be announced for the categories of best web agency, best freelance designer, best developer, best website (chosen by users) and best independent creative.

Participants will debate the current situation of the sector and discuss the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

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Barcelona boutique design stores – 5 of the best

Barcelona is synonymous with creativity and design. This is something that visitors will quickly come to realise as they stroll its ancient narrow streets, from the architecture, the way people dress, the small boutique stores, laid back cafes, not to mention the art nouveau. And small boutique style stores are something Barcelona does well, stores that express the true character and creativity of Barcelona and Catalan culture in a way that larger, better known chains such as Zara and mango cannot.

Lydia Delgado

Lydia Delgado is a fashion designer whose feminine, chic and somewhat Parisian designs have graced Catwalks in Madrid and Barcelona. With over two decades in the industry, Delgado sells her designs from a boutique store in Gracia, sophisticated designs, often in black, that she creates working alongside her daughter.

Address:
Minerva, 21
Gràcia
Barcelona

Lurdes Bergada

Another family business, Lurdes Bergada and her son Syngman Cucala are a clothing brand with a very elegant, deconstructed, and very Catalan look. Lurdes Bergada designs the women’s clothing and Syngman Cucala the men’s. But both design the same style of unstructured pieces, with simple colour palettes and casual styles. The silhouettes of Syngman’s shirts, jackets, trousers and shorts show traces of his Asian heritage.

Their space in the Born opposite Santa Maria del Mar has a minimalist and refined interior that is reminiscent of their designs (Lurdes designs the interiors of their stores).

Address:
Pl. de Santa Maria, 2
Born-Ribera
Barcelona

Colmillo de Morsa

Designers Isabel Vallecillo and Javier Blanco are the creative force behind cult brand Colmillo de Morsa. Note their ascent – they’ve shown their work at Madrid Fashion Week, won a competition in the prestigious Parisian fair “Who’s Next”, and have recently opened stores in Moscow and Taipei.
Check out their studio cum showroom cum shop in Gràcia, where as well as Valecillo and Blanco’s own designs you will find work from a dazzling stunning pool of young designers who share a similar vision. As well as clothes you will find accessories, jewellery and shoes.

Address:
Vic, 15
Gràcia
Barcelona

Pinza’t

A bag is not just for Christmas a bag is for life could be the motto of Pinza’t. Their bags are made with recycled materials from lorries, including tarpaulins, seatbelts and buckles, and are then hand painted by artists with a custom made dye that never fades.

Virtually indestructible, these funky looking bags are waterproof and come with double stitching and sealed zips. Think Berlin meets Hoxton meets Barcelona, these are wacky post modern looking designs that will stand out from any crowd you can care to name. The shop’s catalogue is as pragmatic as its recycled bags are: three sizes of shoulder bags and backpacks that are perfect for cyclists – with pockets designed for bike locks and straps to attach safety lights for night riding.

Address:
Grunyí, 7
Born-Ribera
Barcelona

BD Barcelona

As well as clothes and fashion, furniture is another of Barcelona’s specialities, with brands such as Santa & Cole selling all over the world. BD Barcelona, formerly known as BD Ediciones de Diseño, was opened in the 1970s by architects and designers Pep Bonet, Lluís Clotet, Cristian Cirici, Mireia Riera, Oscar Tusquets and Oriol Regàs.

Happily this Barcelona institution is alive and kicking and still operating out of its Poblenou showroom. As well as selling pieces from contemporary designers such as Jaime Hayón and Martí Guixé, BD also sells classic designs pieces that have been reproduced from plans of well-known designers and artists, such as furniture by Gaudí and Dalí.

Address:
126
Ramon Turró
Barcelona
08005

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Norma at the Liceu

Bellini’s Norma is on the stage in Barcelona at the Liceu on Tuesday the 17th of Feb. Norma is an opera in two acts based on Norma, ossia L’infanticidio (Norma, or The Infanticide) by Alexandre Soumet was first produced at La Scala in Milan in 1831. Barcelona’s Liceu theatre on Las Ramblas dates from the same error and is thus the perfect setting for this production.

Apart from the setting, American soprano Sondra Radvanovsky in the title role as Norma is the other to name a few. The musical direction of the house orchestra and chorus is at the hands of Renato Palumbo, and Kevin Newbury provides stage direction.

If you are planning a night out at the opera to see Norma, remember that Las Ramblas is a great area for restaurants. Both the Barri Gotic and Raval are on the Liceu’s doorstep.

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Carnival 2015

Carnival is here once again! Barcelona celebrates carnival party from the 12th to the 18th of February, with dancing, music, costume parties, traditions and general merrymaking.

THURSDAY FEBRUARY 12

Traditionally the festival begins with ‘Fat Thursday’ when local high calorie foods including ‘botifarra d’ou’ (‘botifarra’ sausage made with egg), ‘tortillas’ (omelettes) and ‘cocas de chicharrones’ (a type of sweet bread made with pork rinds) are eaten – a way of fattening up before lent.

The festival officially kicks off at 6pm with a carnival parade featuring dancers, musicians, jugglers and acrobats. This starts in the Plaça de Sant Cugat and ends in the Born at the Cultural Centre. It is followed by a spectacular carnival fireworks show.

FRIDAY FEBRUARY 13

On Friday a new event will be introduced for Carnival 2015: El Baile del Rodolí: a new, boisterous masked dance, where participants will leave the choice of their dancing partner to chance via a pre-dance game. It takes place at 7pm, in the Born Cultural Centre.

SATURDAY FEBRUARY 14

On Saturday the Barcelona Carnival spreads out to all of the city’s neighbourhoods, with parades taking place in each city district involving giant floats, actors, extravagant costumes, and choreographed dance routines starring people from the barrio.

SUNDAY FEBRUARY 15

La Taronjada takes place on Sunday. This is one of the main events in Barcelona’s Carnival festival, and includes four different activities.

4.30pm: Popular Culture and Traditional Catalan Carnival Dances at Plaça Comercial. Enjoy traditional dances from around Catalonia.

5.15pm: Parade of the King of the Carnival. This starts off at the Mercat de Santa Caterina and ends in Plaça Comercial. As the name suggests, the main feature is His Majesty of the Carnival, though the parade also features ambassadors from the seven former independent towns now incorporated into Barcelona’s city limits, as well as horse-drawn carriages, musicians and fancy dress.

6.15pm: The Battle of La Taronjada. Not a fierce battle, and set in Plaça Comercial, which will be the festooned with orange balloons and confetti, followed by a collective flash mob!

6.30pm: Topping off a great day, it’s time for the traditional Masquerade Dance.

WEDNESDAY FEBRUARY 18

The traditional end to any Barcelona carnival is marked by the rather surreal burial of the Sardine. This takes place in the Parc de la Ciutadella, where a party with live music, a chocolate feast, concerts and cartoons for children takes place, starting at 11am.

Don’t be expect to see any sardines buried as this is purely a symbolic event at the end of Carnival representing rebirth.

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Chinese New Year Lantern Festival

Barcelona is a cosmopolitan, international city with many ethnic communities. In the last decade the Chinese population has increased dramatically, bringing many new restaurants, festivals, shops and welcome new faces to a city that has always thrived on immigration.

The Chinese calendar is significantly different to Europe’s, and Chinese New Year, this year the year of the Goat, begins on February the 19th. The Year of the Goat is a year in which Chinese custom emphasises families reuniting and reconciling any difficulties.

This year you can join in the New Year festivities of the Chinese New Year at the wonderful Chinese Lantern Festival taking place in the Parc del Fòrum. The Lantern Festival has been a part of Chinese New Year since the first century AD (western calendar).

Here it is given a modern twist, with some 500 illuminated figures occupying an area of 9,000 square metres, and divided into eight thematic areas. These areas blend of Chinese and Catalan culture in a unique way, with these including traditional Chinese culture and tradition, Oriental lanterns, Catalan Art Nouveau, the seasons, the Nativity story, and Gaudí, Miró and Picasso and their cultural legacy in Catalunya.

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Correfocs

A Catalan correfoc is a stunning visual extravaganza. The name translates as “fire run” so as the name suggests, health and safety are not on the menu, medieval style pyrotechnics are. Basically a street level, hand-held firework display, the correfoc offers convincing evidence that Spain is not a nanny state. In a correfoc, participants dress up as devils and light fireworks, dance to the loud and raucous drumming provided by a traditional gralla, and run amok among the crowds of spectators with sparks flying! Dressed in red and black, wearing horns and masks, ‘colles de diables’ (groups of ‘devils’) dance amongst the crowds accompanied by loud music, waving sparklers, firecrackers, and roman candles, spitting fire into the crowd.

Some major correfocs are run during the Festival of La Mercè and Sant Antoni in Barcelona and the Festival of Santa Tecla in Tarragona. In Sitges, a crowd lines the street while participants run through a tunnel of fireworks – not for the fainthearted.

This is the classic formula of a correfoc though they can come in the more sedate form of a simple parade using fireworks and effigies of the devil.
The origins of a correfoc clearly lie in the medieval Catalunya (witnessed also in their existence in the Balearic Islands which at the time were under the control of the courts of Barcelona). The festival represents the fight of good against evil and originates in a form of medieval street theatre called ‘Ball de Diables’.

Another fine example of a correfoc takes place in L’Arboç in the province of Tarragona where the highlight of the village’s festival is the Carretillada, in which the town square is made to look like hell and ‘devils’ burn their carretilles (carts), jumping around while a large ‘sceptre of Lucifer’ and ‘pitchfork of the Diablessa (she-devil)’ spouts jets of fire and other pyrotechnics.

So long as you wear suitable protective clothing and some goggles then there is no reason why you should not participate in a correfoc during your visit to Barcelona and Catalunya.

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Festa Major de Sant Antoni 2015

If you are coming to Barcelona experiencing a case of the January blues, be prepared to shake them off at the Festa Major de Sant Antoni.

Sant Antoni is a cosmopolitan neighbourhood nestled between the raval on the edge of the old town, the Raval the Eixample. Its focus is the beautiful art nouveau Sant Antoni Market.

From January 17th, a 10-day festival fills the trendy Eixample barrio with correfocs, geants, concerts, competitions, workshops, exhibitions, and many more festivities to shake off the lethargy of winter. So get ready to party and enjoy some Catalan style festivities!

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