Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Flights of Fancy.

Tuesday 1st September: Piedrahita has two great claims to fame. Firstly it was one of the homes of Maria, thirteenth Duchess of Alba, a wayward eighteenth century aristocrat who occasionally dressed as a gypsy to have more fun than her respectable position would allow and counted Goya and many bullfighters amongst her lovers. She lived in a beautiful baroque palace - now the primary school - at the top of the village, where she invited the cream of bohemian Spanish society, and the odd rough neck, to come, paint and play.

The beautiful, but slightly run down, park at the back featured in many of Goya's cartoons and it's even thought by many in the village that Maria was the model for his controversial La Maja Desnuda. His pugnacious bust scowls up at the palace from the centre of the garden. It's here, under the shade of the trees, that Spiral will run workshops each evening.

Unrepentant Maria died at 40, officially from fever, although the village suspect she was murdered by Prime Minister Godoy, another intimate, on the demands of her jealous rival, Queen Maria Luisa.

Nowadays the jousting takes place in the air as Piedrahita is a world class centre for Paragliding. The 2011 World championships will take place here and a perpetual swarm of canopies fills the sky above the village as brave men and women, throw themselves off the mountains looming to the South.

We haven't sorted out a structure for the show yet, but Spiral performed a shadow puppet version of the Icarus myth in the church of Santa Maria Maggorie last Saturday and it seems this week's story may well begin where that original para glider crashed and burned.

The first workshops are due and in preparation Marta, Carlos and me spent the afternoon experimenting with creating paper planes. Carlos was superbly imaginative, quickly engineering loop the loopers, helicopters, stealth jets. Marta and I were more impatient and cack handed, realising that a scrunched ball of paper can travel a long way if you chuck it hard enough in frustration!!!! Undeterred by our petulance Carlos had found a way of turning a stone, some thread and a plastic bag into a lunar landing craft.

The day ended with a raucous meal back at home. Chris arriving with a bucket of fresh mussels and pints of creamy white wine sauce to drown them in.

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