Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Escaping the heat in a museum!

We thought it was hot in Sanxenxo when we left on Sunday but yesterday and today in Pontevedra have taken hot to greater heights. 

It was beautifully fresh when I walked down to the bakers for bread this morning before nine o' clock but by the time we headed into town later it was really getting rather unbearable. We were with our friend Colin and some relatives of his who are visiting. While the visitors went shopping and taking a look at old Pontevedra (before it got any hotter!) Colin took refuge in one of his favourite watering holes and we went to the Pontevedra museum. 

The building is relatively new. Light and airy and beautifully air conditioned, it's a lovely place to wander around on a hot day. The receptionist got into a bit of a fluster trying to explain things to us. Despite the fact that we spoke to him in Spanish, once he realised we are English he insisted on trying out his very poor English on us. A mistake but that's how it is. Finally he managed to pass us on to the information point where a young lady explained to us in beautiful Spanish where everything in the building is situated. 

Our main purpose in visiting the museum today, apart from escaping into a cool place, was to see the exhibition of the works of the Galician artist Castelao, who lived twenty years in Pontevedra from 1916 to 1936. As well as producing a prodigious amount of paintings, drawing, etchings and cartoons, he was also very active politically in Galicia, elected as a member of parliament for Cortes Constituíntes de Galicia in 1931. But then, in 1936, along came to Spanish Civil War and I believe he spent the rest of his life in exile. 

The amount of work on display in the museum is impressive. His cartoons and caricatures are very clever and very pleasing. There are the politically significant ones, like the one of a Galician father telling his children "A nosa terra no è a nosa" - "our land is not ours" - which was used as a poster to encourage voting in the referendum of the "Estatuto de Autonomía" in 1936. And then there are the sweetly funny ones like this one entitled "The man who always forgot his umbrella". 

Here are some more examples of his work:-

As I looked at his cartoons I suddenly put two and two together. In Sanxenxo we went almost every evening to a cafetería near our hotel. On the back wall of the hotel are huge reproductions cartoons in Galician, printed directly onto the wall. The cafetería is called "O Castelao" and although we have been there often during our last two visits to Sanxenxo, and although I was already slightly familiar with the work of the artist, I had never made the connection. 

Sometimes it takes a while for things to sink in!

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