Monday, October 11, 2010

La Sagrada Familia

We’ve just had a week’s break in Spain: finally some sunshine!! One of the highlights was a visit to La Sagrada Familia, the cathedral designed by Antoni Gaudi in 1883 and still being constructed. It is a most remarkable place; the level of detail and craftsmanship are second to none. There cannot be many opportunities in this day and age to walk around a cathedral whilst it’s still being built.

A couple of thoughts that struck me- our local cathedral, Ely, was built in the 11th century and took around 100 years to construct. During that time, building techniques and tastes probably didn’t change much. But today’s world is a very different place to Gaudi’s and there must be so many advancements in building technology that Gaudi could not have ever contemplated, never mind the questions of aesthetics.

Notice the different styles in these carvings from the two opposite ends of the cathedral.

In the crypt you can see much of the original design work including, 1:10 scale models of various parts of the cathedral beautifully constructed from plaster; nowadays they would just be images on a computer screen generated from a CAD drawing. If you read my blog then you must be interested in making stuff; go and stand inside one of the biggest craftsman made things that you’ll ever see being made!!

No CAD here!

We also had a good night listening to blues by the Reverend Richard John - maybe not traditional Spanish fare, but a jolly good night. Richard is based in Granada, so when you’re on your hols look out for him!

Holiday reading?

Well, I re-read “Stradivarius” by Toby Faber, it tells the story of a number of Strads, their players etc. It’s remarkable how all of his instruments have been so heavily modified over the years; the neck angle changed, bass bars replaced to withstand the extra tension of today’s higher tunings etc. Of course the construction of a violin allows it to be readily disassembled. To take the top off you only need to slide a hot knife between the top plate and the sides; a guitar is a different kettle of fish! You’d have to remove the portion of fingerboard which is glued to the soundboard, remove the bindings and then get the end of the braces out of the linings (12 joints to tackle in the case of one of my steel-strings!).

One last thought for you- there are six hundred instruments knocking about, known to be made by Stradivarius therefore an instrument made by Gary Nava is rarer than one made by Stradivarius!

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