As I’ve been reading about the protests that are happening in Spain, I thought it would be interesting to post the drawings of the protest I found myself in the middle of while drawing in Barcelona last July.
I woke up early that morning and made my way over to La Pedrera, as I was planning to draw as many Gaudi buildings as I could during my stay. As I was drawing the building, below, I noticed a few people walking around with flags. I thought it was interesting, maybe some local holiday that I didn’t know about? I put a few of them into the drawing, as I thought it might be relevant.
Then suddenly, I was surrounded by about 1000 marching Catalonians! They were shouting something I didn’t understand, but I was able to get the jist of it all. It was a peaceful march for Catalan independence from Spain. Actually it felt more like a parade than a march. Families were out in droves, there were musician, dancers, and acrobats who climbed up on top of each other five men high. Confetti, singing, it was really like a big family party! The shouting continued and got louder as the crowd increased. And I kept drawing. One man yelled out (translated here), “We are not French, we are not Spanish, we are Catalan!” That got a giant collective cheer from the crowd.
As I was drawing, a woman came up to me and asked me to write something on her sign. I couldn’t understand what she wanted, so she pointed at a spot on her sign and wrote on my pad with pencil, “h”. I wrote it on the sign in ink, changing what it said in some way that I don’t know. She kissed me on the cheek and said,”Merci!” So I guess I contributed to the manifestacion in some way there. Then a group of men playing traditional Catalan horns came out and another group started doing a native Catalan dance. Felt very Irish, I guess maybe it’s Celtic in origin? but it involved a lot of hopping and clacking sticks together. At one point a group of people emerged ont o one of the balconies of La Pedrera waving a Catalan flag – the crowd went crazy!
I loved the old man in the traditional Catalan hat in the drawing above – he was totally aware that I was drawing him, but didn’t move a muscle, crack a smile, or even glance over at me. Classic. And great. After about three hours of drawing in the hot sun I was unbelievably thirsty, so I went looking for relief. Then I saw it, the flag of my country – the good old golden arches of mickey d’s! I went in for a bottle of water and came back out to continue drawing this unbelievable – and unplanned on by me – spectacle. This is what I love about reportage, you never know what you’ll end up in the middle of.
I found a new spot and continued my drawing. I think about 500 marchers photographed me and my drawings during the course of the demonstration. And then at 9 pm on the dot – - it ended. The streets cleared instantly. Dinner time. I have to say it, how very European of them! I acknowledged the enforced dinner time and went back to the hotel to clean the ink off my hands and go back out in search of food.
(To see some drawings of the recent protest in front of the Spanish embassy in Mauritania by Isabel Fiadeiro, a friend of mine, click HERE.)