How to get world exclusive photos of the Beatles

Imagine it is the 1960s and you are Joana Biarnés, a woman photojournalist passionate about your work, but it is a man’s world and you are not taken seriously. So no newspaper director is considering to offer you a contract, although they say they appreciate your work. Like Emilio Romero of the mythical daily Pueblo, one of the leading publications of the Franco era.

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But she is a fighter and is aiming high. When in July 1965 the Beatles visit Madrid and Barcelona for a short tour, she grabs this opportunity to prove all the directors wrong. The Beatlemania is at its very peak, also in Spain, and photos of the band are in great demand. The musicians had announced they only want to do a press conference in Madrid and no photo session afterwards.

Joana’s father has always encouraged her to try to capture the photo of all photos, that one photo to stand out from the crowd. This standard press conference obviously does not yield unique pictures and she has to resort to another scheme. Thanks to her good relationship with the PR man of Iberia she gets a seat in the plane that transports the Beatles to Barcelona. Once inside she sets up her gear in the toilet and takes a series of pictures through the crack of the half-opened folding door where she is caught red-handed. Below you see some of the photos.

And then…

Elisava and the mystery of the banner

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ELISAVA ME FECIT: these three Latin words embroidered on a beautiful ancient banner, acquired by the Design Museum (Museu del Disseny) in Barcelona some hundred years ago, posed an interesting challenge for historians.

‘Elisava made me’ said the text, while as a rule Medieval artists did not sign their work. So the experts wondered who ‘wrote’ it and which other secrets did the standard hide? Here is what they discovered.

The banner was found in a box placed in the niche of the Altar of Saint Ot at the cathedral of Santa Maria d’Urgell, La Seu d’Urgell. Ot of Urgell (now the town’s patron saint) was a bishop of Urgell from a noble family whose members were counts of the region Pallars Sobirà. He presided his diocese between 1095 and 1122 and the standard could very well date from those years, also considering its material and style characteristics.

But who was Elisava? The name was rather common in the Middle Ages, so that does not give us any indication, although it was frequently used by the family of counts over a large period. Continue reading “Elisava and the mystery of the banner”

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