Thursday, 7 August 2014

The aesthetics of Santiago.

On Tuesday our friends. Steve and Jackie went off to Santiago de Compostela for the day. On their return, Steve asked me, "What's going on with all the naked men on the balconies in Santiago?" Well, as you can imagine, I was surprised. He went on to explain that these were not naked live men but statues of rather bulky naked men in various places on balconies around the monumental squares of the city. I was still surprised. There were no such statues the last time I went to Santiago last year. 

So yesterday, when I went there with our boys from the chess camp I had a good look. Indeed, there in the Obradoiro Square, not on the cathedral itself but on other buildings, there were statues of rather grotesque figures, almost caricatures. Our Spanish companions confirmed what I already suspected: this was an art exhibition of sorts. The artist had been given permission to display his art around the historic centre of the city but there had been a fair amount of controversy about it. A large number of people thought that such figures were inappropriate in a place where people came for religious reasons, more often than not having made a lengthy pilgrimage to get there. It was quite likely that they might be offended by the sight of such things so close to the place of worship. 

However, their opinion does not seem to have held sway. It was quite an interesting sort of exhibition, I suppose, but it didn't really add anything of great aesthetic value, not in my opinion anyway. 

The cathedral towers are swathed in scaffolding as restoration work is going on so it wasn't really possibly to see it in all its splendour. Mind you, in order to do that you need to see it against a blue sky or with trails of wispy cloud coming from behind the towers. Typically, although we had left blue sky and sunshine in Pontevedra, Santiago de Compostela was grey and gloomy. (Not for nothing do they call it the rain capital of Galicia.) Indeed, as we drove back we went through drizzle. 

While we were there though, it stayed fine enough for us to sit outside and have a little refresco. By then it was getting on for 7.30 and so our boys, always hungry, sat and tucked into tortilla and olives and peanuts, making themselves quite a home. I now have a request to give them the recipe for tortilla and possibly to take one along to the chess club when we're back in England. 

Later in the evening, when Phil and I went out for a drink and tapas, the air in Pontevedra was distinctly damp. 

This morning I woke to rain and decided against running along the river in the wet. 

So I stayed in bed a little longer. Even the most dedicated runners need a lie-in sometimes.

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