Blogs in this series

Life in Culebrón is a disconnected series of pieces about the banal and ordinary of everyday life in an inland Alicante village seen from my very British perspective.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

On being privileged

Sometimes it's surprising the things you don't know even close to home. A while ago we were watching the telly and there was a featurette about Murcia. The cameras visited the Ricote Valley which is some 65kms from Culebrón. One of the villages in the valley is Blanca. It's a small place of around 6,500 inhabitants. We didn't know, but we learned then, that it had an art gallery, the Pedro Cano Foundation. "We must go and have a look one day," I said to Maggie. Today was the day.

As we walked through the door the woman on the desk greeted us in English "We must look very English," I said, in Spanish. "No, but you're the person who phoned yesterday, aren't you?" Now that was true but my instant reaction was then that either they get so few visitors that they remember every phone call or we must look very, very English just like I'd said.

The gallery was really good. A nice light airy building. Interesting and well executed paintings with different themes well explained on each of three floors. On the third floor, the fourth exhibition space, there was a temporary exhibition of some perfectly nice water colours. Not as good, in my opinion, as the permanent stuff but interesting.

Somewhere as we went around I asked Maggie if she knew whether Pedro Cano were still alive. She said she hoped so as the woman on the desk had said he was coming to do a guided tour at midday. My Spanish is so good that I'd heard the bit about the guided tour but not understood who was doing it. To be honest I was for running away before he showed up. He might say something in Spanish, I would splutter and the whole of our Island race would be found wanting and stupid again.

Too late though. As we got to the front desk that guards the door he was there. We recognised him from a video. He held out a hand. He asked us simple things. He asked us if we painted. Other people arrived to divert the conversation. He turned out to be a lovely, lovely man. He radiated pleasantness. He was passionate about his work and about the foundation. He gave us a completely different perspective on the paintings. I often enjoy exhibitions but I haven't had as much fun in an art gallery since the late 70s when I was a member of Leeds City Art Gallery and bumped into Richard Long and Joseph Beuys under similar circumstances.

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