‘Dove at a Barcelona window’

It had exactly your eyes. What were you trying to tell me?

From: Homenatge a Walter Benjamin. Barcelona: Columna Edicions, 1989.

A poem by Marta Pessarrodona, who was recently honoured at her 80th birthday and praised for her poetic works.

Translation: Sam D. Abrams.

Footballer Alexia Putellas honoured

The footballer Alexia Putellas cannot stop winning awards: just a few hours after becoming the first Catalan player to win the Ballon d’Or (foto bottom right), she has been awarded the Creu de Sant Jordi, or Saint George’s Cross.

It is one of the most important civil honours given by the Catalan government that recognizes those that contribute to and enrich Catalonia’s identity, usually from a cultural and civic point of view.

Putellas’ leadership during FC Barcelona Femení’s historic 2020-2021 season has earned her a place on this year’s official list of recipients.

Source: Catalan News.

‘Lola Ruiz Picasso’, the sister of

Till 27 February 2022 the Picasso Museum in Barcelona boasts an exhibition dedicated to Lola Ruiz Picasso as a tribute to the painter’s sister and her zeal in preserving his work, as well as demonstrating the love they shared throughout their lives.

Maria Dolores Ruiz Picasso, known familiarly as Lola, was born in Malaga in 1884 and was a model par excellence of the artist’s early portraits. The first one dates from December 1st 1894.

Pablo Picasso. Lola with her doll. Sketchbook of Corunna, 1894. A Coruña, 1894. Graphite pencil
on paper.

Picasso was always very close to Lola, especially after the death of their little sister Conchita in 1895. She became one of his favourite models, remaining in the iconography of the artist until 1900. Then the Blue Period began and Lola lost her place among the artist’s symbolist subjects.

The first section of the exhibition is dedicated to these early portraits with works from the Museum’s collection and the family’s collections.

Continue reading “‘Lola Ruiz Picasso’, the sister of”

Women selling chestnuts


and now:

Parc de la Draga, Banyoles

‘Women of Ciutat Vella’ walk

The first woman to obtain a university degree, a variety artist, an art nouveau painter, one of the finest sopranos of the second half of the 20th century, the architect of the Catalan state education system, and many more women at one time lived in the Ciutat vella, Barcelona’s old quarter.

Some of them you probably know, like Montserrat Caballé, or maybe their name rings a bell (Isabel Güell?).

Taking the Women of Ciutat Vella Walk, organised by Barcelona Turisme, will introduce you to many women and the streets and squares they frequented, a nice way to get to know their hidden histories connected with this district and its architectonic beauties.

‘You have to be very strong inside, very strong.’

Lately she was in Barcelona for business reasons: Anna N. Schlegel (née Anna Navarro Descals), born in Olot (La Garrotxa) and named one of the most influential women in tech by the major magazine the AI sector, Analytics Insight.

After a long career that started in Silicon Valley in 1992, she now is vice president for Procore Technologies.

Catalan News interviewed her on subjects like gender disparities and Catalonia’s potential as a hub.

In the below video she comments on how she had to stick up for herself during her professional life. Read the whole conversation here.

Congratulations, Núria Feliu!

Today, 21 September, singer Núria Feliu is celebrating her 80th birthday. During her career of over 55 years she became widely liked not only for her performance of Catalan popular songs, boleros and music hall songs, but also for the popularization of American successes of country and jazz compositions.

Her popularity is largely due to the fact that she always sang in Catalan: ‘I wanted to prove that in Catalan you have and can sing all kinds of musical genres.’ Núria has always been very committed to Catalonia: ‘Singing was an excuse, actually. An excuse to be able to support the people and get to know my country.’

In this video she renders the Jacques Brel’s chanson El clar país (Le Plat Pays) during the concert on the occasion of her 70th birthday and a career of 50 years.

For more of her music go to her comprehensive website.

Gold medal for oceanographer

Recently the Catalan government announced the latest winners of the Gold Medal distinction, its highest award. One of them is Josefina Castellví (1935) who is recognized for her ‘outstanding career as an oceanographer, biologist, researcher, and a writer’ as well as the fact that with her example she has opened up the way for many scientific women.

Josefina Castellví spearheaded the Spanish Antarctic Program – indeed, Castellvi Peak on Antarctica’s Livingstone Island is named after her. Furthermore she has published over 70 scientific papers and participated in more than 30 oceanographic campaigns, among other activities.

In other words, she is a very prolific woman scientist working in an interesting field: marine bacteriology.

‘This has been a shitty year.’

Aida Domènech alias Dulceida is an entrepreneur, fashion blogger, and social media influencer from Badalona, with almost 3 million Instagram followers and over 2 million YouTube subscribers, who has been a constant presence on the tabloid scene for years.

Dulceida (right) with fellow influencer Laura Escanes in 2018. Photo: Andrea Zamorano

Famous for her style tips and an LGBT icon since coming out as bisexual in 2015, she has not been one to shy away from the spotlight, laboriously sharing snippets of her life with legions of admirers. But the Catalan fashionista’s latest post caught everyone off guard.

“I’m taking a break,” it reads. “I feel lost and need to find my way back to happiness, to recognize myself, to be myself again, and to love myself again. This has been a shitty year.”

Dulceida thus joins the ranks of other celebrities who have recently opened up about their struggles with mental health from Simone Biles to Naomi Osaka or Catalan television presenter Mercedes Milà, who has spoken out about her bouts of depression. 

From: Catalan News

New York Times Books on ‘Solitude’ by Víctor Català

“Unfortunately, very little Catalan literature is available in English. This is a shame, since it’s a rich brew, as various as the region itself, where mountains tower over half-moon-shaped beaches and snow falls 20 minutes’ drive from the seaside.” De Solitud, at @nytimesbooks

Originally tweeted by Mònica Boixader (@MonicaBoixader) on June 10, 2021.

‘Catalonia in Venice’

Architect Olga Subirós is the curator of the exhibiton Catalonia in Venice – air/aria/aire, a Collateral Event of the Biennale Architettura 2021, that is held from May 22 to November 21, 2021.

‘The project reflects upon the central theme of the Biennale, How will we live together?, with an investigation into air as a common asset upon which our survival depends, as pollution as ‘the invisible killer’.

Olga Subirós, who also designed the architecture of the exhibition space, offers a large-format, immersive experience that brings visitors closer to three aspects of air pollution (…).’

You will find more information, some of it rather shocking, as well as illustrations (‘Cartographic Evidence’) on the website air / aria / aire.

Source and photo: Institut Ramon Llull, organizer and producer of the Catalan exhibition.

Exhibition ‘Ground and Underground’

From 11 June till 26 September Patrícia Dauder exhibits her latest project in the Palau de la Virreina (La Rambla, Barcelona) called Ground and Underground.

In June 2015 the artist buried a set of works in an empty plot of land in L’Hospitalet de Llobregat. The works had been produced in the studio but were left underground for weeks. A wide range of materials were deliberately exposed to degradation caused by the climate and soil corrosion.

This process outside the studio prolonged the time needed to complete the works. All the works unearthed later evoked the atmospheric conditions that had affected them of which their deteriorated appearance bears witness.

‘Insulana’ (2021)

The exhibition brings together four projects carried out after that summer:
Groundworks – Documents (2021) records the earthworks carried out at the Hospitalet de Llobregat site;
Weather Sticks (2018) is a series of ceramic works manufactured following a process open to the intervention of climatic factors;
Sections (2021) presents on the walls an installation with numerous lithographs;
– a set that prologues the film Insulana (2021), inspired by the volcanic eruption that affected the Azores between 1957 and 1958.

The result is a compendium of the work produced in the studio and the work produced in the open—a  duality that is a recurring feature in Patrícia Dauder’s most recent work.

Source: Ajuntament de Barcelona

A prioress’ throne

Recently the Lleida Museum finished the refurbishment of the Gothic gallery with a new permanent exhibition displaying some fresh showpieces.

One of them is the throne of Blanca of Aragon and Anjou, daughter of King James II and Blanca of Aragon, who was prioress of the monastery of Santa Maria de Sixena between 1321 and 1347.

It is a piece of simple lines that was located at the heart of the church. This is why it boasts paintings on all sides: tempera on wood. The iconography is of heraldic and religious content, linked to the promoter’s family.

The front side of the back of the chair shows the figures of three full-length nuns who are dressed in the habit of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem. The one in the centre has been identified as the prioress herself. The reverse back is a representation of the Virgin of the Milk flanked by two angels.

Several images of saints, female as well as male, appear in the rest of the piece, some of them related to the prayer book of of the house of Anjou.

The throne of Sixena was a symbol of the power and dignity of the Priory of the monastery before the community, at the same time influencing the concepts of motherhood and wisdom through its iconography.

This below video gives an impression of the Lleida Museum that is well worth a visit:

Source: Lleida Museum

Women & Archives

On the occasion of International Archives Week (7 – 11 June) the regional Catalan archives have made a compilation of their photos, videos, articles, etc. dedicated to women, called Women and Archives. Some of them are online for the first time.

One of the themes is ‘women and sports’ with photographs that you can see here. The above photo of girls practising gymnastics on the beach was taken in the 1920s (collection Ramon Godó i Franch).

Sculpture Award for Stella Rahola

CO(NH2)2 by Stella Rahola (Photo: Fundació Vila Casas)

The Sculpture Award, granted by the Fundació Vila Casas, has just been awarded to Stella Rahola for her creation called CO(NH2)2. This work is composed of glass elements similar to those used for the production of chemical laboratory components, like borosilicate glass remnants, fertilizer crystals, stainless steel and 9 fluorescent tubes.

The sculpture, which is one and a half meter high and long, for 65 centimeters wide, invites questions about the production and knowledge of manual work, but also about the reuse and useful life of objects.

The second prize has gone to Anna III for her Desaparèixer cap endins (Disappearing inwards), in which she reflects upon vulnerability and loss.

‘Libertad’ to Cannes Film Festival

Libertad, the first feature film directed by Clara Roquet, known for her short films and screen plays, has just been selected for the ‘International Critics’ Week’ of the Cannes Film Festival, to be held from 7 to 15 July. The film has been shot entirely in Catalonia.

The film’s argument is about Nora (15) whose life ‘will change when Libertad (15), the daughter of the Colombian maid that takes care of her grandmother, arrives at her family’s summer home. The new and intense friendship between the two girls from different backgrounds will mark her awakening to adolescence.’ (Catalan Films)

The Critics’ Week was born in 1962 and its goal is to showcase first and second works by directors from all over the world who do not succumb to commercial tendencies.

Lyrical Abstraction

This year Catalonia is celebrating the 100th birthday of poetess and visual artist Felícia Fuster. As her Fundació remarks, the artist ‘developed a strong desire for freedom in all areas of her life’.

Below an example of her work, in this case an oil painting on wood of the series ‘Lyrical Abstraction’.

About her artwork the philosopher and art critic Arnau Puig is quite clear: “Fuster’s creative actions deserve attention because they always show an aim to elaborate unknown worlds and realities, which is Art’s main pursuit”.

Poetry set to music

Recently the website ‘Música de poetes‘ launched a Spotify playing list dedicated to Catalan female voices. Listen to the music of Judit Nedderman, Meritxell Gené, Gemma Humet, Anaïs Vila, Mirna Vilasís and other women who, all in their own style, interpret work of several Catalan poets.

Click here to listen to the playing list or first get a taste for what these artists have in store for you watching this video in which jazz singer Celeste Alías performs ‘Sovint diem’ (‘We often say’), a poem by Montserrat Abelló set to music by Celeste herself.

Museu de les Trementinaires

Today, 18 May, we celebrate International Museum Day, so we put the spotlight on the Museu de les Trementinaires in Tuixent, municipality of Josa i Tuixén, at the foot of the mountain range of the Serra del Cadí.

A charming museum that tells the story of women of this mountainous area who from mid-19C onwards gathered remedial herbs and essential oils, prepared and sold them among farms and villages in Catalonia walking hundreds of miles for months once or twice a year.

During the visit to this museum you will learn who the trementinaires were, what herbs and remedies they were marketing and how they organized their routes from the valley of La Vansa and Tuixent to the plains of the interior and the coast of Catalonia. Sofia Ossera was the one who made the last trip as trementinaire in 1982.

In the nearby Botanical Garden you can see and get to know the main features and uses of the plants they handled.

The woman of the photo is Maria Majoral who started working as a trementinaire in 1889 and kept going until 1956.

Victory in Champions League for women’s football team

They had already won the Spanish Women’s Super League, but last night (16 May) Barça’s women’s team also beat Chelsea with a goal blitz in the first half not answered by the English team, so that they could take the Champions League Cup back to Barcelona with them.

During the first minute of the game the first goal was made laying the foundation of the historic success in a thrilling two hours.

Note: later the team would also win the Spanish Copa de la Reina (the Queen’s Cup), turning the end of the season into a triple winning streak.

Photo: Europa Press

Typewriting as an art

View of the Cathedral of Barcelona

It may not be your cup of tea, but Montserrat Alberich‘s art undeniably is striking. Using the typewriter as a paint-brush she created a large number of realistic paintings of landscapes, monuments, rural scenes as well as portraits. Her work won admiration among a broad national, and international public and museums and libraries acquired some significant pieces.

Professional typist
When Montserrat was born in 1912, typewriters were already common in offices for some thirty years. At that time more and more women began to enter the field of typists, thus playing a major role in liberating them from the domestic role that had been assigned to them.

At the beginning of the 20C being a typist gradually became the right choice for a “good girl”, meaning women who present themselves as being chaste and having good conduct. So schools, like the Acadèmia Cots of Barcelona, had to adapt their politics and open up their curriculums for young girls.

As early as 1879 Ramon Cots had foreseen future demands of typing and secretarial courses and had grasped the opportunity. His school at the Portal de l’Àngel, 38 offered education from general culture to specialized classes, such as bookkeeping in accordance with tax laws. The advertising poster emphasizes the ‘different classrooms for separation of both sexes’, the target group being ‘selected classes’.

Contests, technique, recognition and media coverage

Nurse turned into war correspondent

‘Peoples who are called civilised use their admirable science and long years of persevering studies to look for barbarian and efficient procedures to destroy other peoples, because these have (…) more extensive industrial markets (…)’

When voluntary Red Cross nurse Àngela Graupera went to work in Serbia and Greece and there witnessed the horrors of WWI, she felt compelled to describe her experiences and send her chronicles (104) to the Barcelona newspaper Las Noticias: analytic with pondered criticism using precise prose with a visual impact.

The above quotation is from her book El gran crimen. Lo que yo he visto en la guerra (The Great Crime. What I saw during the war) (1935).

This portrait of Àngela is a drawing by Robert Pérez after a photograph, the only known image.

On the occasion of International Nurses Day 2021 (12 May).

Washing at the ‘safareig’

Before the introduction of running water to houses, Catalan villages and towns used to have a public washing place called safareig where the local women came to do their laundry.

Generally they were sited on a spring or set over or beside a river or stream; some of them were even provided with roofs for shelter. Many of these safaretjos still exist.

Usually groups of women got together and socialized and talked while they were washing the family’s clothes and bedding. No wonder the expression fer safareig arose which means ‘to gossip’.

Above you see some washing places in the Alt and Baix Empordà:
Verges. Unidentified photographer, 1910/1925
Torroella de Montgrí. By Valentí Fargnoli Iannetta, 1911/1936
Castell de Púbol (now the Gala Dalí Castle House-Museum), La Pera. By Pablo García Cortés, 1968
Darnius. By Narcís Sans Prats, 1971

These photos are part of the Europeana Collections and are under license of Creative Commons.


Like the verse not written
that sharpens the senses
the poem bites

October 1982

Original text:
Com el vers no escrit
que aviva els sentits
mossega el poema
la desesperança.

From: Cel rebel (Rebellious Sky), Proa, 2001 By: Tònia Passola, born on this day in 1952.
Translation: Marga Demmers

Listen to Tònia reciting some poems from this collection on ‘Fonoteca de Poesia’:

Flowers and Maria Cobarsí

Last year the flower exhibition ‘Girona Temps de flors’ (‘Girona Flower Season’) was cancelled, but this time the show is on from 8 to 16 May! You can read all about it on the website (click here), where you can find out details about its history, old and new photos and the latest news.

This show began in 1954 with a small, informal display organized by a group of friends. Over the years it has developed into an event that has been recognized all over the world, for example by the prestigious magazine National Geographic.

One of the driving forces behind it was Maria Cobarsí (d. 2013). She grew up on a farm, surrounded by nature. In an interview she once confessed that she intensely lived every season, especially spring. Each year she marveled when the flowers appeared and she smelled their aroma.

Years later this experience leads her to take the initiative for an exhibition that would turn into one of the jewels on Girona’s crown.

Edition 2021

When athletics is your passion

In the 1920s two young men and a little girl get up every day at 4.00 a.m., leave their home in Badalona and travel to the Montjuïc stadium of Barcelona. The men do their daily training, while the girl is watching them. Little do they know that in later years the men’s sportive successes will be eclipsed by the girl. This is the story of track and field athlete Anna Maria Tugas i Masachs (1911-2015).

When Anna was about one year old, her father died. In retrospect, this tragedy determined the course of her life. Anna was left in the care of her brothers Felip and Josep who were dedicated athletes training and competing with flying colours at home and abroad in the four most prominent throwing for distance sports in track and field: discus throw, hammer throw, javelin throw and shot put. As they did not want to leave their little sister at home, they took her with them in order to keep an eye on her.

She did not have a very strong constitution, so when she was about 17 the brothers encouraged her to train with them to build up her strength. Watching them in the stadium, Anna had become very enthousiastic about athletics and eagerly put on her espardenyes and began developing her sporting skills. Although she tried out almost every discipline, like her brothers she favoured above all the throwing sports.

But Anna was not satisfied with training alone…

Two jazzy women

On the occasion of International Jazz Day 2021 we put the spotlight on two jazz musicians.

Aurora Bertrana (1892-1974) wanted to be a writer, but her father opposed her plans and sent her to study the cello in Girona. Later she moved to Barcelona where she made a living playing the cello in a women’s trio in night clubs. In 1923 she continued her music studies in Geneva, played in a trio at the Hotel Chamonix and shortly founded there her own ensemble Jazz Women, the first jazz band made up entirely of women. Some six years later Aurora finally published her first book, but that is another story.

A present-day performer is the versatile jazz singer Laura Simó. For a taste of her musical talent listen to ‘Down Here on the Ground’, composed by Lalo Schifrin from the prison drama film ‘Cool Hand Luke‘. Enjoy!

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