We had watched a holiday program about Valencia and were keen to experience the city. On arriving at the San Lorenzo Boutique hotel, we picked our rooms. Our daughter chose a nice one with a balcony, whilst ours was on the side of the building. It was equally as nice but without the balcony. The only problem was that it was situated next to a church bell tower which rang at 8am every morning! Still, the hotel was ideally placed and we couldn't fault it.
Leaving the hotel, and a five minute walk led us to the nearby central square, which had a fountain and the main cathedral. As we explored the city over the next few days, we were impressed with how well preserved and clean it was. The town council seemed to appreciate their heritage, preserving it and not destroying it like some of our councils. Considering we are supposed to be a wealthy country, many of our buildings are left to fall apart. In our local park there is an example of this; the Buile Hill mansion, which was once a museum and has over the past twenty years been left to deteriorate. Also, within the city, we saw a police presence in a lot of areas and even security guards had truncheons and handcuffs. We certainly felt safe and even though there were a few people begging, there was no evidence of homeless people sleeping everywhere like in the centre of Manchester.
Valencia at one time had a river running through the centre of the town, unfortunately this flooded at times, so they decided to divert the river out of town. They were then left with a long stretch of riverbed. In this country they would probably have just built houses on this but here they turned it into a park acting as a green lung for the city.
At one end of this were a group of modern buildings in an area known as the City of Arts and Sciences. These futuristic building were impressive and show what can be done with a little imagination. Walking around these you couldn't help but admire the architecture. Our daughter had bought tickets to return the next day to see the exhibitions but we were content to just enjoy the sights.
I was even inspired to sketch two views of one of them.
Walking back through the park to the hotel,there was a wide range of sports facilities and recreational areas for the locals to use. We saw people running and the area was perfect for exploring by bike. We only managed to walk half of it and further on there were other areas to explore. There was even a large sculpture of Gulliver that had numerous slides on it for people to try, although it was a little hot on the way down.
An enjoyable experience of the city's highlights, showing how the old and new can be incorporated when planned properly.
When visiting a new city we always like to visit at least one major art gallery, and in this case it was the gallery of modern art. The building was impressive with exhibition on four floors and on this occasion we decided to start on the top floor and work our way down. This featured the work of Susana Solano and was a retrospective of work she has been developing since 2000.
Some of the large metal pieces were quite interesting but I wasn't keen on the basket weave sculptures. Some of the smaller models reminded me of when a class was given scrap metal to play with and the resulting sculptures didn't always work. Some had resulted in commissions and had been more successful.
Later, we entered Gallery 2 and here as a contrast we saw the sculptures of Julio Gonzalez with several works from the 1930's. This was easier to relate to as you could see the exploration of ideas; many of which had highly successful outcomes. These impressive sculptures made me wonder that in some areas sculpture had not really progressed over the following years.
On the third floor was our most unusual find. Here the artist, Paco Roca, had done a series of paintings of a story board all around the gallery. As he painted a picture in a series of paintings, the people living in the work interacted with the images he drew. This was a fresh approach for me and reflected the links on the area above of a range of comic strips on show.
The best known artist was Fernand Leger. His paintings were in the last gallery we visited on the bottom floor. This was the highlight of the visit; seeing these impressive works in the flesh. There was a superb range of work and themes and we all had our personal favourites.
Several other works on show were from the IVAM collection and some, were not always to my taste. Some worked, others needed an explanation to be understood. But like all work, it is up to the individual to interpret them. One of my favourite finds were the two small metal figures showing where the toilets were (The male one seen in the last picture below) a nice idea for an art gallery.
An enjoyable couple of hours and some interesting discussions resulted from our visit.