Art School Trip to Madrid

Category: Trips, Art

Eliza Edwards (EL L6) and Charlotte Flatischler (NC L6) review the Art School trip to Madrid...

On arrival, our moods were immediately lifted, after an early start, by the bright, clear sky and the flamboyant friendliness of the locals. We only had to step out of our central hotel to visit the Atocha Train Station. Surprisingly, wild ferns stretched high above us within its interior. The botanical gardens organically contrasted the station’s angular architecture, redesigned after a fire in 1892, by Spanish architects Alberto de Palacio Elissagne and Gustav Eiffel. We spent the afternoon eagerly filling sketchbooks and taking photographs of glamorous Spaniards in cafés.

We explored the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia later that day. Starting at Picasso’s extensive monochromatic oil painting ‘Guernica’, we were provided with an insight into the story behind this icon of the Spanish Civil War. We drifted through further rooms of Picassos, Dalís, Mirós, with mounting excitement. The roof of the Reine Sofia also offered striking photography and sketching opportunities. That evening, we strolled to the Old Town and dined in Restaurant La Catedral. In the dim light of this beautifully traditional restaurant, we sketched and chatted excitedly over paella and fried seafood.

Our first morning in the city brought more blue skies, where we took a short walk in the sun to the Museo Thyssen-Bournemisza. We wondered at the superb paintings by Goya, van Gogh, Lautrec, Picasso and Titian, as well as the temporary Cézanne exhibition. After a few hours of manic sketching, we ventured through streets lined with cafés, old stamp shops and beautiful street art to make our first visit to Mercado de San Miguel. We were greeted with stall after stall of delicious tapas. Paella, bruschetta, sushi and seafood dishes lay sprawled before our eyes. As if we had not eaten enough at the market, we then made our way to the Chocolateria San Gines and gorged on plates piled high with churros dipped in mugs of melted chocolate.

The Caixa Forum, which combines an old abandoned electrical station with newly constructed floors encased in oxidized cast-iron, is inventively designed by Swiss architects Herzog and de Meuron. After an informative tour of the building and vertical garden, we absorbed the Forum’s Sebastiao Salgado’s temporary photography exhibition, ‘Genesis’. This striking collection of black and white photographs from around the world represented a seven year project for Salgado.

We enjoyed breakfast at Mercado de San Miguel, accompanied by the early sunshine and sketchbooks in hand, or cameras in focus. Once our breakfast and sketches had satisfied us, we continued through the Old Town to the Royal Palace of Madrid and were immediately impressed by one of the largest and most beautiful buildings we’d seen yet. The glistening white stone was complemented by the piercing blue sky, creating immense excitement for us. We distributed our time there, sketching in the sunlight and visiting 50 of the 2,000 luxuriously decorated rooms, in absolute awe.

After an inspirational yet calming morning, one of the biggest anticipations of the trip, the Museo del Prado, filled the afternoon. The building holds one of the largest art collections in the world, including works by Velásquez, Goya, Bosch and El Greco. We gathered in front of Bosch’s ‘The Haywain Triptych’ whilst Mr Allan gave a very passionate description of the subject matter depicted, which evidently touched his heart. Mr Parnham also discussed works by Velásquez and Goya, in particular, ‘Las Meninas’ and Goya’s 14 Black Paintings. Their incredible depth of passion for the works gripped us all and we left the museum feeling enlightened, by the true connections felt, in the hours we spent admiring such exceptional art.

Everyone had a particularly enjoyable night filled with chatting and laughter. We later walked back to a tapas bar conveniently neighbouring the hotel, giving us the opportunity to see several of Madrid’s beautifully lit buildings at night.

We requested a re-visit to the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza on our last day, to view further art works and were also fortunate to visit the Reina Sofia again, to encounter the temporary exhibitions; Elly Strik ‘Ghosts, Brides and other Companions’ and Chris Kelp ‘Post-War Photography’. A couple of hours were devoted to exploring Madrid for ourselves which included lunch, souvenir-searching, and of course, embracing the culture. After a busy four days, we had seen a vast amount of artwork, from several of the most spectacular museums. We also managed to visit the majority of Madrid’s key locations and adopt a breadth of the city and its stimulating culture.

Click here for a slideshow of images from the trip

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