World of wonder

Christmas Eve has a special meal planned at the hotel but first there’s some boring admin to deal with. So after breakfast: Book a PCR test for Monday two days before flying home. Check 7 minutes walk from hotel, walk in service no appointment needed. Brilliant.

Christmas Day visit to Rosa and lunch out in the country will need a car. None available in the city but I can pick one up at the airport tomorrow and it’s on the way anyway. Check. So now to the real business of the day – a trip to the Fundacio Pilar i Joan Miro.

The location is out in the western suburbs of Palma in an area called Cala Major and it takes about fifteen minutes in a taxi from the hotel. One of the things I wanted after the grey of London was some blue sky. Not yet in Palma but today as I walk towards the entrance the cloud lifts and there is a good-sized patch of blue. And of course with Miro there will be more sun inside.

My visit was a little truncated as a large part of the building was closed for repairs and remodelling but both in the extensive gardens where big sculptures were displayed and in the studio where the stacked canvases there were ample testaments to the genius and prolixity of Joan Miro. He and his Mallorca wife Pilar, lived on Mallorca from 1956 until his death in 1983. He used a small building Finca San Boter while his friend Josep Sert was designing and building a purpose built studio, now known as the Sert Studio. Up in Boter it’s fun to see the remains of Miro’s sketching in charcoal directly onto the whitewashed walls and also to note the eclectic collection of everyday objects he took inspiration from.

The Sert Studio is a fine building from the outside with a fluted roof either echoing waves or clouds and slanted tiles to allow filtered light and air into the capacious balconied studio. I was utterly gobsmacked by the sheer number of canvases leaning against each other and the walls. While there are strong similarities in Miro’s basic mark selection and palette, each canvas has a different atmosphere and you wonder what the finished articles would have looked like. It’s always fascinating to see artists’ work in progress and there’s plenty of it here.

There was also a rather good fifteen minute video about his life and work on Mallorca which after climbing and descending the many steps to Boter studio I was happy to sit for a while and watch. I was very pleased I’d made the trip out here and as I left wondering where I’d get a taxi, I came upon a bus stop that said Route 46 went up the Passeig de Mallorca which is very close to the hotel. It also had a QR code that informed me that a bus was due in ten minutes so I decided to wait. Well worth it! It headed off in totally the wrong direction according to my understanding of where Palma lay, but eventually came to a terminus in Genova, waited for a while and then returned me through bustling suburbs including one that must have been close to the more infamous areas of Mallorca as there were adult only entertainment bars, sex shops which I found a bit surprising next to supermarkets and pharmacies. However it did pitch up where I wanted and I had a stroll back to the hotel with a few stops for liquid, but little food refreshment as a six course meal was planned for nochebuena in the hotel. This began at nine o’clock began with cava, a delicious fish soup, crispy octopus and fillet of sea bass accompanied by frequently poured Verdejo and after a short pause and change of glass, a Rioja went nicely with the lamb stuffed with foie gras (apologies vegans!). I declined the tiramisu with red fruits but did have some home made turron (nougat) with my coffee. By now I was chatting to my neighbours Carl and Cristina, Swedish fiancés who were here for Christmas before heading to Andorra for skiing where they had become engaged this time last year. Sampling a copa or two of Mallorcan brandy, we got on well and I have an invitation to their wedding in Stockholm in August. I may just be too busy with centenary celebrations at Watford to attend however. But what a lovely Christmas Eve and one that didn’t end up in hospital!

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