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LA REVISTA The BritishSpanish Society magazine | Issue 243 | Autumn-Winter 2016

BREXIT: A LEAP IN THE DARK Reactions to the EU Referendum result

CARMEN MACHI • TEATRO CERVANTES • VIRTUAL REALITY • JULEN LOPETEGUI


EDITORIAL

web britishspanishsociety.org facebook BritishSpanish Twitter @BritishSpanish @LaRevistaUK

FRONT COVER

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he UK’s vote to leave the EU came as a big shock to many of us, revealing tensions not only with Europe but within Britain’s own borders. Four months on from the result, we talk to people from different backgrounds to find out how it has affected them and the extent to which it will influence their plans for the future (pg.11). As always, and especially in these uncertain times, the goal of La Revista is to celebrate collaboration, and the creativity that comes from shared culture and experience. In this issue we talk to some of the up and coming Spanish stars bringing their artistic talent to the UK – and those already more established in their careers such as Andrés Velencoso and the wonderful Carmen Machi. I am delighted to welcome Laura Obiols to La Revista’s (tiny but dedicated) team as our new Arts Editor who will be bringing the best of the art world to you in these pages, starting in this issue. Read more about Laura on pg.30. We also speak to Jorge Juan, who is opening London’s first Spanish-language theatre, and discuss the exciting potential of virtual reality with Rafael Pavón. British writer Anna Nicholas and teacher Gordon Young tell us why they each chose to move to Spain years ago, while Greg Watts offers his highlights of where to find a taste of Spain in London’s ever-growing selection of quality tapas bars. The BritishSpanish Society now has over 800 members and La Revista’s reach is rising. Please tell us what you think of the magazine and what you want to read about by writing to:

Illustration by Jorge Martin Jorge is a Spanish illustrator and visualiser based in London. He has lived in San Francisco, Mexico City and Hamburg, and he studied at London’s Kingston University and Central Saint Martin’s College of Art. www.jorgemartin.org Instagram: yorsmartin

CONTRIBUTORS ISSUE 243

Laura Obiols Choreographer, dancer, film and theatre director. Arts Editor of La Revista.

Laura Gran Journalist, specialised in corporate communications, events and non-profit projects. Deputy Editor of La Revista.

Carolina González Delgado Journalist with a Master’s degree in Corporation Development.

Anna Nicholas Journalist and writer, based in Soller, Mallorca.

Dominic Begg

Jules Stewart Journalist and author. He specialises in military history, and lived in Madrid for 20 years.

Former President of TESOL-Spain and teacher. A former Spanish rugby champion. Dominic presents a twice-weekly radio programme.

Pepa Yepes Spanish documentary and artistic photographer based in London. Westminster University graduate. pepayepes.com

Alenka Slavinec Photographer, artist and film producer born in Slovenia. alenkaslavinec.com

Tomás Hill López-Menchero Student and sports writer.

Jimmy Burns Marañón Author, journalist and Chairman of the BritishSpanish Society.

Jenny Rivarola Writer and editor who has worked in corporate communications and was previously at the BBC.

The opinions expressed throughout this issue represent those of the authors and contributors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the BritishSpanish Society or those of their supporters. The BritishSpanish Society is a registered charity: 1080250

Greg Watts Author and journalist. Greg has recently started running pop-up kitchens in London.

Simon Courtauld Author and journalist. He lives in Wiltshire and has spent many years travelling in Spain.

Deborah Madden Doctoral researcher in Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Sheffield.

press@britishspanishsociety.org

Hasta la próxima!

Amy Bell

Richard Lowkes Deputy Director Specialist 19th Century European Paintings, Sotheby’s

Tonio Figueira Architectural visualisation artist, visual effects artist and photographer.

With special thanks also to: POPklik, Facundo Arrizabalaga, Miki Ávila, Jaime Menéndez, Isabel del Moral and Carmen Young

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CONTENTS and Events 4 News Find out the latest from

the BritishSpanish Society and hear about upcoming events of interest

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La Revista Executive Editor: Jimmy Burns Marañón Editor: Amy Bell Deputy Editor: Laura Gran Arts Editor: Laura Obiols Scholarships: Marian Jiménez-Riesco (Trustee) Corporate Supporters/Advertising: Patricia María Paya Cuenca Development Secretary: María Soriano Casado Events: Carmen Young (Trustee), David Hurst Membership, Finance, and Website Secretary: Virginia Cosano, Elisa Ramírez Pérez Secretariat: Alvaro Cepero Design: Amy Bell

COVER STORY: Brexit: A leap in the dark

We find out how people feel about the EU Referendum result 15 11

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Carmen Machi

tells us about her latest film, La puerta abierta

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Almudena Domenech

Published by the BritishSpanish Society Honorary President: H.E. Federico Trillo-Figueroa, Spanish Ambassador Honorary Vice-President: Simon Manley, British Ambassador to Spain Chairman: Jimmy Burns Marañón Vice-Chairman: Sir Stephen Wright Patrons: Lady Brennan, Duke of Wellington, Dame Denise Holt, Lady Parker, Lady Lindsay, Baroness Hooper, John Scanlan, Randolph Churchill, Carmen Araoz de Urquijo Trustees: Carmen Young, Christopher Nason, José Ivars (Corporates) Juan Reig Mascarell (Treasurer), Scott Young, Marian Riesco Other members of the Executive Council: Fernando Villalonga (ex-officio), Paul Pickering, Scott Young, Julio Crespo McLenan (ex-officio), Javier Fernández Hidalgo, Miguel Fernández-Longoria (Scholarships), Sarah Galea, Miles Johnson, Roberto WeedenSanz, Morlin Ellis (ex-officio), Eva Sierra, Silvia Montes, Eduardo Oliver www.britishspanishsociety.org

EFE news agency’s London bureau chief on the evolution of the media

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20 22

De tapeo in London

Julen Lopetegui

What to expect from Spain’s new football coach

Where to find some of the city’s best tapas

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Living nature Writing about war

Sorolla at Sotheby’s

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Were there more than Orwell?

Felicia Browne

and the Spanish Civil War

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El Corte Inglés A history

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A royal alliance

Princes Ena and King Alfonso XIII

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A Fringe Artist in London Laura Obiols

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On pointe

The Basque ballet dancer making Teatro Cervantes waves at the Royal Opera House London’s first Spanish-language theatre

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Theatre nights in Catalonia The future wears headsets

Dominic Begg’s highlights from over the years

Explore virtual reality with Rafael Pavón

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The sound of cinema Contact us: For all editorial contributions or to comment on an article you have read in La Revista, please write to us at: press@britishspanishsociety.org To enquire about advertising opportunities (including classified adverts) please contact: info@britishspanishsociety.org

We meet Nico Casal, the composer for the Oscar-winning film, Stutterer

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Great expectations for rural Mallorca British writer Anna Nicholas on why she made the move from London

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El profesor de Miramar Andrés Velencoso con alma de viajero

The model turned actor at home in London


NEWS

BEYOND BREXIT

UPCOMING EVENTS

A note from BritishSpanish Society Chairman, Jimmy Burns Marañon

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am aware that many of our members and supporters, not least Spaniards living in the UK and British living in Spain, are living through a period  of uncertainty as a result of the Brexit vote, including many  who have communicated with me personally expressing a heartfelt sadness and worry following the result. As a British/European passport holder, born in Madrid from a  Spanish mother and a British father,  I share personally and professionally in this  sadness,  while at the same time I retain hope in the future. I have an enduring belief that there is much more that unites our peoples, and we can learn from each other, and that a consensus will be forged that serves the best interests of both the UK and the rest of Europe. For now it is worth reminding ourselves that the BritishSpanish Society was formed in the midst of the First World War by British and Spanish people extending a hand of cultural, social  and commercial friendship to each other. The Society not only survived the war and subsequent periodical crises but  went on to develop its  charitable mission, with the core values   of its foundation remaining constant. Our successful Centenary programme this year led by our flagship  Royal Gala dinner has been marking a significant milestone in the Society’s history. It has demonstrated the huge affection and loyalty the Society generates among  British and Spanish of all ages and professions, with donations and a rise in membership a huge source of encouragement for the future. And for all the upset and uncertainty created by the referendum result, the current political and economic situation, while unsettling,  provides an opportunity and a challenge to heal division and misunderstanding  through strengthening the work we do in forging cultural and social bonds, and promoting creativity and learning. Meanwhile the Trustees and Executive Council of the BritishSpanish Society will use all their efforts through links with the British and Spanish ambassadors, and partnerships with other institutions and businesses, to explore further ways  to ensure that any damage to the enduring relationship between the peoples of our countries is minimised. Please continue to support us in every way you can so we can get through this challenging period together, for our identity and mission  remains as it has always been:  outward-looking, creative, and collaborative.

SOCIETY EVENTS

For tickets please purchase on britishspanishsociety.org or contact: info@britishspanishsociety.org

CENTENARY CONCERT: GRANADOS AND GOYA The BritishSpanish Society Centenary Concert with Guildhall School of Music: Granados & Goya Time and Date: 7.30pm, Wednesday 26 October Venue: Milton Court, 1 Milton Street, London EC2Y 9BH Tickets: BSS Members £10, Under 26 and Student Members £5, Non Members £15 Thanks to your purchase all proceeds will go towards the BritishSpanish Society Scholarship Programme, of which one of the very talented pianists is a British Spanish Society Scholarship Alumnus: Ms Maite Aguirre.

BRITISHSPANISH SOCIETY CHRISTMAS PARTY The society’s annual Christmas party, will take place in the Crypt of St. James’s Roman Catholic Church, featuring Villancicos/ Christmas Carols, delicious tapas, wine and beers, plus fabulous prizes to be won in the raffle. Time and Date: 7.00 - 9.30pm, Thursday 8 December Venue: Crypt of St. James’s RC Church, Spanish Place, 22 George St, Marylebone, London W1U 3QY Tickets: BSS Members £35, Non Members £45 Special thanks to The Reverend Christopher G. Colven (Rector) and St James’s Roman RC Church for offering their beautiful venue www.sjrcc.org.uk

BREXIT TERTULIA Concerned about what Brexit might mean for British-Spanish Relations? What are the challenges ahead and the opportunities? Enjoy some of the best tapas in London while joining a lively discussion with BSS Chairman, journalist and author Jimmy Burns Marañon and special guests drawn from the world of media, culture and business. Date and Time: TBC November Venue: Boqueria Tickets: TBC, please check our website: www.britishspanishsociety.org for more information.

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NEWS

OTHER EVENTS OF INTEREST

TOMORROW’S CITIES: BUILDING THE FUTURE

Felicia Browne, Through an Artist's Eye: Private View Until 29 October, All Saints Church, Esher An exhibition of paintings and poetry responding to the life and work of British artist Felicia Browne. See more on pg. 26

The INTBAU World Congress will gather professionals from around the world to promote traditional building, architecture, and urbanism. By Laura Obiols.

Manuel Valencia Flamenco Quartet at London Guitar Festival Until 29 October, Various venues, London London’s most prestigious guitar festival with a wonderful series of concerts including the Manuel Valencia Quartet. Concert: “Goyescas”, Music in the time of Goya 2 November, St John´s Smith Square Pre-eminent Spanish virtuoso pianist José Menor is joined by the Latin Classical Chamber Orchestra to mark the 2016 centenary of the great Spanish composer, Enrique Granados, with a unique multi-media programme inspired by the life and times of Granados´greatest muse, the Spanish painter Franciso de Goya, including Granados´masterwork, “Goyescas”.

Victor Erice's The South in UK cinemas Until 3 November Described by Pedro Almodóvar as "one of the best in Spanish cinema history", Victor Erice´s El sur returns to UK cinemas. Dance: Tamara Rojo and Akram Khan's Giselle Until 19 November, Various cities Choreographer Akram Khan creates a brand new version of the iconic romantic ballet Giselle for English National Ballet.  Exhibition: Picasso Portraits Until 5 February 2017, National Portrait Gallery Picasso´s portraits epitomise the astonishing variety and innovation of his art. This major exhibition of over 80 works focuses on the artist´s portrayal of family, friends and lovers and reveals his creative processes as he moved freely between drawing from life, humorous caricature and expressive painting from memory.  Courtesy of the Cultural Office of the Spanish Embassy in the UK

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he second edition of the INTBAU World Congress will take place at the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), in London on November 14 and 15.
 Harriet Wennberg, INTBAU General Manager and Marta Vélez, Architect from Artchitectours, the events management team, joined some of this year’s congress speakers to tell us more about the event. INTBAU is an international educational charity which works under the Patronage of HRH The Prince of Wales. The first congress was held in London in 2015. This year’s edition will focus on the impact of rapid urbanisation, highlighting global efforts at local, national, and international levels to respond to three questions: How can our cities grow sustainably; 
how does heritage evolve; and 
how can we build better homes? 
 Wennberg says this year’s congress covers themes that are relevant to everyone, regardless of where they live and what they do. Rapid urbanisation is one of the most pressing challenges facing the world today. She believes we should all be part of the discussion to find the best solutions. INTBAU is uniquely placed to bring together international experts in the fields of building, architecture, and urbanism. The congress will provide a platform for the sharing of knowledge and experience from around the world. The Congress organisers said they are delighted to be holding the event at RIBA, and thrilled to have their support. Keith Harrison-Broninski FRSA is one of the inspiring speakers lined up for the event, and will present Town Digital Hub (www.towndigitalhub.info), a nonprofit wellbeing solution sponsored by the Royal Society of Arts that unlocks local resources to help people connect with those around them holistically, build personal resilience, and reduce their reliance on ever dwindling public services. In the 21st century, shifting identities challenge people everywhere -

BritishSpanish Society

relationships are less stable, family structures are less traditional, extremism is growing, investment in long-term growth is falling, automation and globalisation are commoditising labour, governments are in deep debt and deficit, and even prosperous people often have a low quality of life.

“How can those responsible for the built environment help the people who live there become better able to handle such changes? Research shows that the critical factor in solving the wellbeing challenge is community.” – Keith Harrison-Broninski INTBAU is an international educational charity which works under the Patronage of HRH The Prince of Wales to promote traditional building, architecture, and urbanism. They are creating an active network of individuals and institutions who design, make, maintain, study, or enjoy traditional building, architecture, and places. By education and training in traditional architecture, urbanism, and the building crafts, INTBAU encourage people to maintain and restore traditional buildings, and to build new buildings and places that contribute to traditional environments and improve the quality of life in cities, towns, and villages around the world. Tickets and Registration: Early Bird: £145, Late Registration: £200, ICTP Members Discount: £100 
Group Discount (available to 4 people from the same practice/organisation): £500 Students: £50 Tickets and more information can be found at: www.intbau.org Or here: info@artchitectours.co.uk www.artchitectours-group.com

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NEWS

SOCIETY NEWS

SCHOLARSHIP AWARDS CEREMONY Seven post-graduate students were awarded with the BritishSpanish Society’s annual scholarships.

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he Spanish Embassy in London hosted the BritishSpanish Society (BSS) Centenary Scholarship Awards Ceremony, where seven post-graduate students were awarded for their current projects in diverse areas, from music to data. In the latter field, Eduard Serrahima de Cambra received a grant funded by BBVA to develop and improve statistical analysis. Ferrovial Aeropuertos will sponsor Roberto Díez Pisonero´s postdoctoral research in geography and urban planning at Complutense University of Madrid in partnership with the University of Lancaster. Alfonso Timoneda Monfort is doing an MPhil in Biological Sciences which is funded by Mahou – San Miguel. At the ceremony, chaired by the Spanish Ambassador to the UK H.E. Federico Trillo-Figueroa and the BritishSpanish Society Patron Baroness Hooper, Antonio García Guerra and Marina Pérez de Arcos received Santander´s Medicine and Humanities scholarship respectively. Julia Gaytan was awarded with a scholarship funded by Telefónica for her research into the adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays in Spanish-speaking countries during the 20th Century and their cultural assimilation of the plays. Finally, the violinist Lucía Ventimilla Macián was recognised by the society for her musical project, which aims to bring innovative chamber music performances to children who are studying Spanish in London schools as well as those studying at Spanish Institutes in the city. During the ceremony three other scholarships were given in colaboration with ARTES, a registered charity dedicated to raising awareness and understanding of Iberian and Latin American Visual Culture. All the projects are focused in art history and will be conducted by: Pablo Ordás Díaz, PhD in Art History, who is interested in the ‘Artistic transfer in late Gothic Spain’; María Pandiello Fernández, PhD in Art History, who will examine several scientific manuscripts from the 13th and 14th centuries to determine the genealogy of the Crónica’s iconography; and Andrés Bustamante, MPhil in Archaeology, who will travel to Bogotá, Colombia, to study the development of the Banco de la República’s cultural initiatives and the popularisation of pre-Colombian art. ARTES is going to give the two last prizes. One is the Juan Facundo Riaño Essay Prize, sponsored by the Office for Cultural and Scientific Affairs of the Embassy of Spain. The prize goes to Leah McBride, a PhD candidate at Glasgow University, for her essay ‘The grave is only half full; who will help us fill it?: The Politics of Trauma in Alfredo Jaar’s Rwanda Project’. The runner-up prize goes to Annabel Rowntree, a PhD candidate at Oxford University, for her essay ‘Habsburg Hyperbole: Charles II and Luca Giordano’s La Gloria de la monarquía hispánica’.


NEWS

ROYAL CENTENARY GALA The BritishSpanish Society celebrated its centenary year with a gala dinner at the Dorchester Hotel in London.

Left: Queen Sofia of Spain with the Duke of York. Photos by Toni Figueira.

AWARDS

The BritishSpanish Society presented Centenary Awards to individuals and organisations in various fields. Lifetime Achievement Award: John Scanlan supported by Santander Cultural Award: Tamara Rojo CBE supported by Telefónica Music Award: Paco Peña supported by Mahou Science Award: Ginés Morata supported by BBVA Science Award: Dr Peter Lawrence FRS supported by BBVA Social Responsibility Award: Lady Maria Belen Parker supported by Ferrovial and Muir and Mercedes Sutherland supported by Ferrovial Social Responsibility Award: Father Ernesto Atanes supported by Santander Education Award: The British Council in Madrid and Cañada Blanch Foundation

BritishSpanish Society

Q

ueen Sofía of Spain and HRH the Duke of York were the honorary special guests at the BritishSpanish Society’s centenary gala dinner in April. The Queen praised the work of the Society of which she said “has become a spiritual bridge between our two peoples through the interaction of our intellectuals and artists in all areas of education and culture”. She noted that the first hundred-year anniversary coincides, happily, with a new celebration of our two most famous authors, revered all over the world: Shakespeare and Cervantes. The Duke of York highlighted the close ties between the UK and Spain and said that the two countries’ work together is only “the tip of the iceberg of what they can do together globally”. Society chairman Jimmy Burns Marañón recalled that the goal of the society since its founding in 1916 has been “to build bridges of culture friendship, to educate the people of the United Kingdom and Spain about each other and to forge mutual understanding between the peoples of both countries.” He noted that “at the core of the BritishSpanish Society is an underlying curiosity and love for Spanish culture – its history, its music, art and literature, its food, as well as for the exemplary traditions, cultural heritage and values of UK life. “We also seek to provide a creative space for the arts and for research, innovation and enterprise of benefit to both countries,” he said. Burns said that one of the most important achievements of the organisation has been the strengthening of the scholarship programme, which supports British and Spanish post graduate students studying in leading universities: “The popularity of our programme underlines the important role we are playing in countering the brain drain and promoting intercountry cooperation in research and development, filling an important gap at a time of youth unemployment and pressure on public finances.”

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NEWS

CHELSEA FLOWER SHOW BritishSpanish Society members were lucky to enjoy another sunny Chelsea Flower Show at the Royal Hospital, Chelsea in May. The 40 attendees gathered over some Pimms before enjoying the spectacular array of imaginative displays, beautiful flowers and stunning colours across the famous venue. This acclaimed event brings from around the world all lovers of flowers and gardens and each year sees new creations such as the fabulous carpet of knitted red poppies. The Society looks forward to its next Chelsea Flower Show May 2017 where we will convene again with BSS ‘veterans’ and new friends. Carmen Young

SUMMER PARTY Highlights from the annual party in June, which was held at the Spanish Embassy.

CENTENARIO EN MADRID

Images Top left of page: Carmen and Scott Young in the poppy field; above: BritishSociety members and friends at the summer party; left: Jimmy Burns with Sir Stephen Wright.

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a recepción celebrada el pasado 22 de septiembre en la residencia de Simón Manley, el embajador británico en España, para conmemorar el Centenario de la British Spanish Society tuvo gran acogida por parte del mundo empresarial, diplomático, mediático, protocolario y social. Bajo un cielo estrellado el evento reunió en el magnífico jardín de la residencia a más de 150 invitados, entre ellos ejecutivos   de grandes empresas internacionales con intereses

en el Reino Unido - ACS, Acciona, Ferrovial, Santander, BBVA, Telefónica, Banco Sabadell, Iberdrola y BP -, representantes de La Casa Real y el Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores. Entre otros muchos distinguidos VIPS circulaban los Marqueses de Tamarón, los Marqueses de Marañón, Francesc Guardans Cambo, Sonsoles Díez de Rivera, Sofía Palazuelos Barroso, los periodistas Juan Cruz y Ana Romero, el economista del PSOE Manuel de la Rocha Vázquez, el profesor Jaime de

Salas, de la Universidad Complutense, y representantes del Círculo de Economía, el IE Business School, el  London School of Economics, el British Council, y Runnymede School, además de los clubes de fútbol Real Madrid y Atlético de Madrid. Durante su bienvenida, el embajador británico subrayó la importancia de la relación bilateral británico-española en áreas como el turismo y otras grandes inversiones en ambos países. También hizo referencia al importante trabajo

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cultural, social y educativo promovido por la British Spanish Society, una ONG británica dedicada a desarrollar lazos de diálogo y colaboración entre el pueblo británico y el español, que cuenta con un programa de becas y otras actividades sin fines de lucro. A continuación el presidente de la British Spanish Society, Jimmy Burns  Marañón, reflexionó sobre la historia de gran trabajo voluntario de la organización que preside y las oportunidades que ofrece a los que apoyan su proyecto bicultural en medio de la incertidumbre causada por el voto del Brexit.   En este sentido señaló: “sabemos que son muchas más las cosas que unen a los británicos y españoles que las que les separan, que son un mutuo respeto cultural, además de  intereses comerciales y políticos dentro de un marco de entendimiento. Nuestra postura es la de extender este puente de amistad y calmar las aguas con un sentido esperanzador del bien común”. El evento en Madrid, que sigue a una cena celebrada en Toledo y a otra en Barcelona en 2015, fue esponsorizado por Allen & Overy, y contó con el apoyo adicional de Mahou, Bodegas Villarta, Pernod- Richard, Chivas, Beefeater y Hola, que donó ejemplares de su revista. Este evento forma parte del programa del Centenario de la British Spanish Society, cuya celebraciones en Londres ha incluido una cena de gala a la que asistieron La Reina Sofia y el Príncipe Andrew (Duque de York) entre más de 400 invitados. 

SIR STEPHEN WRIGHT APPOINTED PATRON OF THE SOCIETY

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ir Stephen Wright has been appointed a patron of the BritishSpanish Society's after announcing he is stepping down as trustee and member of the Executive Council. Sir Stephen, who retired from the Foreign Office after serving as British Ambassador in Madrid, was honoured at the Society's centenary reception at the British embassy residence in Madrid on September 22. Presenting him with a commemorative award, Jimmy Burns thanked Sir Stephen for his years of dedicated service and invaluable advice  as a former chairman, and more recently vice-chairman. Sir Stephen was accompanied by his wife Lady Wright, and Simon Manley, the current British Ambassador in Madrid, and honorary vice-president of the Society.


BREXIT: A LEAP O

n June 23 this year the UK made one of the biggest decisions in recent history: to leave the European Union. The real consequences for the future of the country are as yet unknown, but the result (51.9 per cent voted leave, 48.1 per cent voted remain) has had a major impact since it became public, not only for British citizens but for those born outside the country who, according to the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford, make up 13.1 per cent of the UK’s population. The morning after the referendum everyone had an opinion on what had happened. Brexit will change the current rules and affect the lives of many. Laura Gran talked to people from different backgrounds to understand their reactions to the result.

IN THE

DARK One decision, 64,6 million* consequences

*Office for National Statistics: UK population in 2014

Catherine Duggan Age: 48 Nationality: Irish Place of birth: Beckenham, Kent Occupation: Director of Professional Development at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society Location: Catherine has lived in London for 28 years “I was quite shocked to find that my family voted Brexit. I come from an Irish family, I have an Irish passport and am the child of immigrants, and very much a Remain voter, but I kind of understand it. The public in the UK is generally quite quiet and reserved but at the moment they are very angry with politicians. All the country feels that it is run too much from London, which is a very different place to anywhere else anyway. They feel unheard, they feel unlistened to, frightened about the world in general and about immigration specifically: the numbers of refugees and potential for more from places like Turkey. The translation of all of that into a referendum vote, which is a very simple ‘should we stay or should we go’, meant that those complex issues were not dealt with properly. So it is very insulting for many people BritishSpanish Society

to be called racist or ignorant or stupid if they voted to get out when they feel that they have reasons that are not racist, stupid or ignorant. We all have to have a think about that. My personal view is we are very very wrong to have voted that way. I feel we need to be part of Europe for all sort of reasons that include safety, security, the whole United Nations issues… We need to remember that Europe had wars before we ever had a European treaty. Did it affect me emotionally? Very much so. I was really shocked on that day and I am probably still angry. I have Irish citizenship, I have an Irish passport, I have an EU passport and do not want a British one because I am Irish/European, which doesn’t mean I am not proud of Britain. I was born in this country but now Ireland has such a complicated problem, with the border and the peace treaty and all of that. They are going to have to put the border back in, which a hundred years ago caused a civil war. Even for my own family who live in Ireland, this is going to be huge. That as a consequence of this vote is massive. Everywhere there is an impact. I understand from a Spanish, Italian or French perspective Brexit feels big but actually even within the closest countries, this is very traumatic”. Autumn-Winter 2016 • La Revista  11


BREXIT

María Jesús Rubio and Robert Tkaczyk Age: 33 and 35 Nationality: María Jesús is Spanish and Robert is British Place of birth: María Jesús in Ágreda, Soria (Spain) and Robert in London Occupation: María Jesús works for a PR agency and Robert works for a courier company Location: The couple married in 2014 and live in London

David John Sumpter Age: 72 Nationality: British Place of birth: Morden (London) Occupation: Retired Location: Almería. David moved to Spain in 1985. He worked as Academic Head of various schools and colleges “I do not think the result of the referendum will affect me personally in any way. I have been living here long enough to feel more Spanish than British. I cannot vote in general elections, but I have my pension, social security… I paid contributions for many years. I do not have dual nationality but I would apply for it if I felt it would be an advantage for me. Sometimes some of my British friends living here in Spain ask me for advice, or practical help when the language barrier presents difficulties. I know from conversations with them that they have some concerns, especially in the area of healthcare. If Brexit were to affect health-care agreements between the two countries, they say that it might well influence their decision to live in or even visit Spain. Many of my (Spanish) exstudents are now local businesspeople. One, for example, is an estate agent, and has commented that Brexit has affected sales to British nationals. And those who put down a deposit on property prior to Brexit insisted on an extra clause in the contract giving them the right to back out and recover their deposit if the vote were to leave the EU. There are others who work in the agricultural sector – the major business activity in Almería which, at certain times of the year, produces 70 per cent of the horticultural products consumed in the EU. The UK is a major customer. They are concerned that when the UK leaves the EU this may adversely affect these trade relations, which would have serious consequences on the area's economy”.

María Jesús: “Cameron went to the elections promising a referendum and I think it is fair he did it. I do not think the timing was right. The result was emotionally shocking. I was not forced to move to London; I came here because it was easier and quicker than going to the United States to improve my English. Some British people think all European immigrants come to the UK because they are forced to, and that is not true. Perhaps we have better opportunities

here in the way career paths go but we could also decide to move away and it would be a loss for the country. When British people go to Spain to live they call themselves ‘expatriates’, but they call Spanish people living here ‘immigrants’. That is arrogant to me.” Robert: "I found it strange that they were willing to put the country at such an economic risk, and at the risk of losing all the best talent. For me the result is terrible. I woke up to watch the results and could not go back to sleep after Brexit was declared. I think if they go ahead with it, this country will get weaker and will isolate itself away for Europe and the rest of the world. Brexit probably makes me more determined to move, I have seen a really unpleasant side to my own city: what people say, what people do, how they are treating each other… it is not somewhere to be happy right now. We have a problem with people who have a small island mentality.”

“I have seen a really unpleasant side to my own city: what people say, what people do, how they are treating each other… it is not somewhere to be happy right now”

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– Robert Tkacyzk

BritishSpanish Society


BREXIT

Raúl Cumplido Age: 33 Nationality: Spanish Place of birth: Barcelona Occupation: Founder of te.chie.la, an IT company he set up in London in 2015: https://te.chie.la/ Location: London, having moved with Telefónica in 2013 as a step forward in his career “Although I had an indefinite contract, I came to London thinking I would be here for one or two years, just to improve my English, and after that I would go back to Spain. Now, though, I will not leave unless they kick us out – I guess I am comfortable here. I decided to set up my own company in the UK and not in Spain because of the legal regulations for selfemployed workers. In the UK I don’t have to pay a cent if I do not have a turnover. I can also be an employee of the company and have my own salary as if I were a typical worker. In Spain I would have to pay my contribution, at least 300 euros a month, regardless of whether I earn money or not. I agree with the decision to call a referendum because people should voice and define what they want, but I do not agree with the result. It was shocking. I think the referendum was more focused on racist propaganda than on economic figures, I am not sure people were adequately informed. At the beginning I took it badly and considered going back to Spain because I felt that the UK does not want us here. Brexit also worries me because I will need to hire people in my company and it will be difficult to do it if the UK closes its doors. What opportunities will there be in my sector if we need trained people and are not able to find them?”

Cristina Requena and Manuel Saiz Age: 24 and 23 Nationality: Spanish Place of birth: Caudete, in Albacete, and Cuenca (Spain) Occupation: Both recently graduated in Environmental Sciences Status: They moved to London in March 2016 to improve their English

Cristina Requena: “Most foreign people who live in the UK get the jobs that British people do not want. If they wanted them, they would get the positions because they speak the language much better than us. I guess perhaps the British are tired of people who want to live here for the rest of their lives because they cannot earn a decent living in their birth countries. Perhaps they feel that we are an invasion… After the referendum I was BritishSpanish Society

scared of verbal abuse. I read on Twitter: ‘Europe rats, go back home’. One day on the bus the bus driver said to two girls: ‘If you are going to speak that shit language, go upstairs’. This kind of thing is shocking, but I hope things are calmer now.” Manuel Saiz: “I have always considered English to be important in order to travel and to get a better job. We lived in London from March until May this year and will go back to the UK in October but to a smaller city, probably Manchester, because London is very expensive. I worked that period of time in the kitchen of McDonalds and none of my workmates were English so we learnt very limited vocabulary. The other problem is that we did not have the chance to make English friends so all the English we learnt was at work, in the supermarket or in dealings with the bank. The current situation does not affect me much because I do not plan to stay in the UK longer than one year.” Autumn-Winter 2016 • La Revista  13


CARMEN MACHI

CARMEN MACHI 12th London Spanish Film Festival. Carmen Machi acude en los Cines Lumière de Londres a la presentación de la opera prima de Marina Seresesky, La puerta abierta, que protagoniza de forma magistral. Por Laura Gran. Fotos por POPklik.

La puerta abierta es una película tremendamente dura. ¿Cómo abordó su personaje, Rosa? Es curioso, cuando interpretas cualquier personaje muchas veces te basas en lo que dice, lo que dice te va llevando por la corriente del alma que tiene. En este caso ella dice poco, y creo que es más importante lo que no dice a lo que dice. La dureza de la película, que tiene que ver con que esté ambientada en el mundo de la prostitución, no habla de la prostitución. Habla de la prostituta cuando llega a casa y se pone la bata y las zapatillas. La dureza, la soledad, la incomprensión social, el machismo, la tremenda incapacidad social para aceptar cualquier condición humana va minando un poco al personaje. Fue muy duro porque el set de rodaje, exactamente igual que la película, era asfixiante, la película estaba hecha en el mismo lugar de pequeño, claustrofóbico, de íntimo pero a la vez no lo era, y la sensación de asfixia era brutal. En el caso de Rosa esta falta de futuro, de luz, esa desesperación en silencio de que la vida es una basura, que no hay salida, que la vida es monótona, eso me llegó a minar. La sensación de convivir con eso sí que mina. ¿Qué ha aprendido de ella? Nunca aprendes en el momento, aprendes a toro pasado, cuando la ves como espectadora, exactamente igual que la ves tú. También ves lo afortunado que uno es y, sobre todo, qué jorobado es ser mujer cuando la vida no te es fácil, cuando no tienes un sostén. La película también habla de la maternidad, que en principio era el leitmotiv de la directora, quería esa relación de madre hija no bien realizada, no bien llevada, frustrada, sin amor, porque es muy raro que se hable en una película, al menos en el cine español, de que no se quieran una madre y una hija, la falta de amor. Y es verdad, no tienen porque quererse por el hecho de que tengan un vínculo familiar y de sangre tan poderoso. Eso te va minando de tal manera que te conviertes un poco en esa persona, se te llega a poner hasta el mismo rictus de ella, de oscuridad. Pero, como te digo, se aprende a toro pasado, lo ves y dices: qué sórdido, qué desolador. BritishSpanish Society

¿Qué ha aprendido de sus compañeros de trabajo, grandes actores como Terele Pávez o Asier Etxeandía? A los dos los conozco, con los dos he trabajado. Te unes mucho, te necesitas mucho para rodar una película así, en cualquier rodaje ocurre, pero sí que te necesitas mucho para sostener los mimbres de esa sordidez. El personaje de Asier es justo lo opuesto de los otros dos, es la más madre de todas, es el personaje que más desarrollado tiene la necesidad de amar, de apoyar, de convivir. Le hubiese gustado trabajar con Marlon Brando. ¿Tiene inquietud por realizar proyectos fuera de España? No. Me gusta trabajar con compañeros diferentes porque las energías de los demás te alimentan muchísimo, aprendes muchísimo cada vez que cambias de equipo, pero es cierto que no tengo inquietud, una necesidad, de trabajar en otro país con otro idioma. Soy española, nací en España y me faltan muchas cosas por hacer allí. Ahora, si hubiese un proyecto fuera de España que me emocionase muchísimo, me ilusionaría, me daría el vértigo bueno, el de aprender una cosa más, por supuesto. Pero no ha sido una meta ni cuando empecé ni ahora. Dice que le quedan muchas cosas por hacer en España, ¿algo en particular? Todo lo que vaya pasando. Yo me considero muy afortunada, decidí hace mucho tiempo dedicarme a esto y me gusta lo que ofrece este oficio, que es una manera de vivir. Me quedan muchas cosas por hacer y espero que me vaya sorprendiendo. ¿Qué proyectos tiene a corto plazo? Ahora mismo tengo varios proyectos a punto de estrenarse. El tiempo de los monstruos, de Félix Sabroso, Las Furias, de Miguel del Arco, El Bar, de Álex de la Iglesia… son proyectos que están rodados y se estrenarán en breve. Ahora me voy un par de mesecitos con Patricia Ferreira a Vietnam a rodar en español una película muy interesante sobre la adopción. Autumn-Winter 2016 • La Revista  15


CARMEN MACHI Es muy reconocida dentro de la profesión y también por el gran público como una excelente actriz. Sus personajes rezuman una gran verdad, son muy creíbles. ¿Eso es talento natural o es algo que también se aprende? Yo creo que con el tiempo vas tratando de ser más económico, hacer menos para dar más. Muchas veces uno piensa que cuanto más empuje le ponga, más energía, más muestra lo que quiere contar. Y no, la madurez, el tiempo te va haciendo ver que menos es más, y la verdad también va en dosis pequeñas. Es más difícil mostrar verdad cuando haces algo grande, energías grandes, personajes que se manifiestan desde una energía más potente. Son maneras de trabajar, para mí es muy importante que exista sea comedia, drama, terror… todo tiene que ser creíble, para eso nos pagan. Yo te agradezco mucho el comentario, porque sí que las cosas deben partir de la verdad. Y muchas veces no tienes que sentir lo que haces, tienes que escuchar mucho al personaje y saber qué quiere contar él y no hacerle demasiadas preguntas, limitarte a observarle y a darle vida. Mi manera de trabajar, y creo que la de muchos compañeros, son energías, no un trabajo de investigación, de campo, desde mí. Me gusta observar de manera innata, todos los personajes que haces están en la vida. Me gusta trabajar de fuera para dentro, hay algo físico, estético que tu ves e imaginas la vida de ese per-

que quizá uno tiene un amigo o un familiar con sus mimbres y te avergüenzas de él, piensas “que no hable, que no diga”, pero no te puedes imaginar lo querido que es ese personaje en cualquier ámbito social, en cualquier perfil, desde gente aristócrata, ejecutivos, gente de la calle, yonkies… Y también he aprendido su honestidad, su dignidad a la hora de llevar a cabo todo lo que hace, es admirable, es a lo que yo aspiraría en la vida, a que todo fuera así, es una buena persona. ¿Qué no hacer? Aquello de lo que ella carece. Ella no tiene vanidad… para mi es el retrato de la persona que está llena de virtudes y de lo que carece es lo que no me gustaría tener. Desde que se hizo tan conocida por el gran público ya no puede viajar en metro y en algún momento hace tiempo le dio algún ataque de ansiedad. ¿Cómo lo maneja ahora? Eso tiene que ver con uno mismo, el problema no está en la gente, está en ti. En cómo tu gestionas eso, es muy complicado. No es fácil gestionar la popularidad porque no es algo a por lo que tu ibas en tu vida, no era un objetivo para mí, es una especie de daño colateral. La gente es tremendamente cariñosa, pero es muy apabullante, y a veces no estás preparado para todo eso. Pero todo eso está más calmado desde que yo tomé la decisión de apartarme del escaparate que produce la popularidad.

“Muchas veces no tienes que sentir al personaje, tienes que escucharle y saber qué quiere contar él”

sonaje. Yo creo que todos los personajes que he interpretado son energías que he visto en la calle. Dijo que de su personaje Aída ha aprendido qué hacer y qué no hacer en la vida, ¿a qué se refería? Aída es un personaje muy particular en el sentido de que es tremendamente dramático. Su vida es dura, al igual que es dura la película de hoy, pero está contada desde la comedia, y al contarse desde ahí uno cree que es más fácil, más frívola y no es cierto, es una manera que tiene el personaje de canalizar su dolor. Es una persona a la que todo se le da fatal, es una mujer maltratada, separada, con un hijo medio delincuente, con una hija que todo a lo que aspira es a estar en un show talent o algo similar. Ella limpia escaleras, no tiene pareja, no tiene el físico precisamente de una mujer que se lo vaya a comer todo… y tira para adelante de una manera impresionante. Es de esas personas que toca fondo, se produce el efecto rebote y revive. Eso es todo lo que he aprendido de Aída, que es muchísimo. También he aprendido

He leído que le gusta más interpretar drama que comedia, ¿es así? Tampoco es que me guste más, para mí es exactamente lo mismo, lo que ocurre es que el drama es mucho más divertido de hacer que la comedia. Parece una contradicción, pero el actor es así. Es muy edificante hacer drama, la comedia es bastante más trabajosa, es muy cansada. ¿Por qué acude a este tipo de festivales? Entre otras cosas porque me parece que apoyan mucho al cine, y hay una necesidad de apoyar al festival que apoya al cine. Son festivales que además acogen un tipo de película que a veces no tienen otro mercado fuera, y éste es un grandísimo mercado. Cuando ocurre un festival español en cualquier otro país está dando una cobertura asombrosa, que no tiene a lo mejor por la vía natural de la industria. Eso para empezar, y también acudo porque son muy emocionantes.

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www.haciendavillarta.com


EFE

HOT OFF THE WIRE

Almudena Domenech, the bureau chief of Agencia EFE in the UK talks to Laura Gran about working for the world’s major Spanish language news agency and the evolution of the media.

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lmudena Domenech (Madrid, 1973) was EFE´s head of Society area in Spain when she received a proposal she could not reject: being in charge of EFE´s international delegation in the United Kingdom. “This is one of those job positions you just have to accept because if you do not do it, you will regret it for the rest of your life”, she says. “All EFE departments are interested in what happens in this country: politics, economy, sports… everything is interesting for Spain and the whole world. That is a big challenge for a journalist, so if you have the opportunity to cover the news here, you just have to take up the challenge. This is one of EFE´s most important delegations”. What followed that decision is something she has called an “adventure” from which she is learning deeply in diverse areas. Although EFE journalists write in Spanish and are mainly interested in information linked to the Spanishspeaking world, UK correspondents need to speak English fluently to work in the country and cover the news that may catch the attention of their public. Despite already speaking English before accepting the job (Domenech spent almost a year studying the language at the University of California), she started to study English as soon as she arrived in London, because “the language used in UK media is especially difficult. Our work instrument is language so we have to understand it very well. Besides, we are very rigorous at EFE,” she says. Domenech also had to adapt herself to a new work dynamic, because the influence of EFE in Spain and South America

is bigger than in the UK. In fact, they are the major Spanish language news agency and the fourth largest wire service in world. This brings certain advantages. In Spain, for example, the Government, companies and different organisations call the agency directly to give them information. EFE also has direct access to multiple high level information sources. However, in the UK “major media, like the BBC, are prioritised and it is not that easy to get the press calls or to access sources. When an issue is very focused on the UK sometimes it is difficult. In these situations we just phone, insist, call again… when they know our relevance outside the country they call us more,” she says. A graduate in Communication Science from Complutense University in Madrid, Domenech finds that the agency’s work in the UK is “a little bit more indirect” than in her birth country. Generally speaking, in the 120 countries they work in EFE always tries to be the one leading the news, because it is an information source for other media. The agency gets quite a few exclusive news stories and very rarely has to quote other media as the origin of information. However, in Britain sometimes they need to. In all countries, including Spain and the UK, the role of news agencies has changed in the last few years. The internet and social networks have created a new picture of what journalism is and what it means to inform. Anyone can go online and talk about what just happened in front of him. For that reason, Twitter or Facebook are also interesting websites for EFE and are checked daily. Their duty then is to offer information with the same immediacy, but in a professional way, investigating, contrasting sources and in a neutral tone. “As a news agency we need to provide immediacy – that is what distinguises us from other media. Actually, we work for them, so we need to be the first ones, the quickest ones getting the news”, says Domenech. EFE is also modernising the different platforms they use to provide information (videos, images, digital support…) to move with the times. This interview took place at EFE´s office on Oxford Street. Domenech lives close to her workplace and her phone is switched on 24 hours a day. Her team, composed of five writers, two interns, one correspondent in Dublin, a secretary and a few external collaborators, like EPA, have covered very important topics of our recent history. One of them touches her personally: Brexit. “From a social point of view the result of the referendum is dramatic, very sad for people who have been living in the UK for

“The internet and social networks have created a new picture of what journalism is and what it means to inform”

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EFE years. It has split society and we cannot forget that half of British citizens want to be part of Europe,” she says, noting that as yet there have been no good consequences of the referendum result. Reflecting on the Queen’s ninetieth birthday she says “it was very interesting, beautiful. She is an admirable woman with a lot of history upon her shoulders. Information related to the Royal family is always consumed by readers”. The conversation also touches on the present state of journalism and its future. “Currently it is subject to politics, economic interests and the editorial policies of the media owners themselves. It would be great for the media to have more independence, although at EFE we enjoy great freedom,” says Domenech. She says that journalists at the agency uphold wholeheartedly the principles of free speech and information, because “it is a democratic duty and part of the ethos to maintain them”. She also believes it is very important to have a news agency where global issues are treated from a Spanish and Latin American cultural perspective. Regarding the future of journalism she thinks it will be probably focus on “absolute simplicity, giving priority to images instead of text, more show and less analysis, but I wish I would be proved wrong”. Photos of Almudena Domenech: Facundo Arrizabalaga

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SPORT

JULEN LOPETEGUI

Evolution, not revolution: Tomás Hill López-Menchero looks at what the Basque coach has in store for Spain’s national football team.

“Spain already seem to be a more reactive and tactically flexible side under their new boss, a sure sign of progress since Euro 2016”

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here was one moment in particular which summed up Spain’s performance in their 8-0 drubbing of Liechtenstein, Julen Lopetegui’s first competitive match in charge since replacing Vicente Del Bosque. With Spain already 7-0 up, David Silva and Koke exchanged a quick one-two before Silva slotted in, only to find his goal ruled offside. Play was restarted and seconds later, the ball was in the net again – this time there was no offside flag. The scorer? Silva, thrashing home a half-volley with his left foot. Lopetegui’s Spain are bound to face more challenging sides than 182nd-ranked Liechtenstein, but there was still cause for excitement in León and Brussels, where they were similarly ruthless against Belgium in a friendly despite only winning 2-0 (both goals, incidentally, scored by David Silva). Considering the collective gloom which followed La Roja’s Euros elimination in the round of 16 this summer, branded the “end of an era”, the former Porto boss has already succeeded in restoring some Spanish verve. And yet Lopetegui, jobless since January, was not the obvious choice for the appointment when Del Bosque retired in June. Aside from a handful of appearances for Spain’s big two, his playing career as a goalkeeper was undistinguished, and his managerial record at club level is equally mixed. After unremarkable stints managing Rayo Vallecano and Real Madrid Castilla, Lopetegui’s spell at Porto started brightly – he vowed to revolutionise the club’s style of play and took them to the quarter-finals of the Champions League in his first season, where an exciting line-up including the likes of Danilo, Alex Sandro, Casemiro and Jackson Martínez beat Bayern Munich 3-1 in the first leg – but it petered out in his second year. Star players (including all four of the above) left, Lopetegui’s possession-based game went stale and the fans turned on him, leading to his sacking. On the international stage, however, the Basque’s fortunes have been rather different. Lopetegui may not have the same credentials in club management as some of his challengers for the Spain job did, but from a holistic point of view he was Del Bosque’s natural successor. In the past six years, Lopetegui has coached Spain’s under-19, under-20 and under-21 sides, claimed the 2012 Under-19 European Championship and the Under-21 edition a year later, moulding a winning generation in the process. No other manager can

boast of such success and involvement with Spain’s youth teams in the past decade. Of his two trophy-winning sides, the one which stands out is the under-21 team who won the Euros in Israel, following in the seniors’ footsteps in Ukraine. Much like Del Bosque’s troupe in 2012, Lopetegui’s charges swept to the final unbeaten (albeit in a much smaller tournament format) where they too coolly dispatched Italy, though the 4-2 scoreline was not quite as emphatic as 4-0 a year earlier. The tournament was a stepping stone for players like David de Gea, Koke, Thiago and Morata, all of whom would make the transition to the senior team. It is easy to see, therefore, why the Spanish football federation decided to place their trust in Lopetegui, though it is far from a case of just picking up where he left off. The game has changed since the golden generation of Andres Iniesta and co. won three international tournaments in a row and Lopetegui’s under-21s won the Euros, as demonstrated by Spain’s misfortunes in Brazil and France. Other countries got wise to the style which brought Del Bosque’s team so much success and countered it with more pressing, pace and aggression in their play, as well as greater tactical flexibility.

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At club level, some teams reacted to the success of Pep Guardiola’s style at Barcelona by playing more directly, leading to a resurgence in counterattacking football. Atlético Madrid and Leicester City are just two teams who have reaped the rewards, but there are plenty of other examples. It is clear, then, that Spain need to move with the times if they are to keep up. Lopetegui admitted as much at his presentation. “There won’t be a revolution, there will be an evolution,” he insisted. “Football doesn’t stop. We are very proud of the past, but we are looking toward the present and the future”. While some might dismiss these words as mere filler, so far Lopetegui seems to be fulfilling his promise. Instead of dumping Iker Casillas unceremoniously, for instance, he met with the goalkeeper informally before he announced his first squad to inform him that he would not be making the cut. Fabregas, Pedro and Juanfran, all veterans of the Del Bosque era, were also left out, suggesting that Lopetegui will not simply choose players based on their reputations, a criticism often levelled at the former Spain manager. Another accusation made of Del Bosque was that he was too tactically rigid, as shown by his refusal to adapt his system to integrate Diego Costa after his naturalisation. Lopetegui, however, quietly assimilated Costa back into the team for the matches against Belgium and Liechtenstein, with the Chelsea striker scoring a brace in the World Cup qualifier. Spain already seem to be a more reactive and tactically flexible side under their new boss, a sure sign of progress since Euro 2016. Finally, of course, there is a fresh batch of players coming through, many of whom Lopetegui has worked with previously. Of the starting eleven against Liechtenstein, five were members of that under-21 Eurowinning squad (De Gea, Carvajal, Thiago, Koke and Morata). While the cohort of Casillas, Puyol, Xavi and Iniesta will probably never be matched, the current crop holds great potential, having risen through the ranks together. Players from different clubs seldom have the time to form meaningful connections on the pitch when they are with their national teams, and so having a group who have already played together under the same manager is invaluable. The foundations are in place for Lopetegui to restore Spain to their best, but while it would be foolish to disregard these, it would be just as nonsensical to stick to the same, outdated approach. A remarkable period for Spanish football has come to an end, but a new one could be on the horizon.

MUSEO DE MADRID

HISTORY

The magestic Museo de la Historia de Madrid is a monument to the city’s fascinating history, finds Jules Stewart.

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ne of Madrid’s unsung gems is the Museo de la Historia de Madrid, which houses the city’s history within the walls of a Spanish Baroque masterpiece, built in the early 18th century during the reign of Philip IV. It beggars belief that this architectural tour de force came perilously close to being demolished as late as the 20th century. Madrid is a relatively recent European capital that can ill afford to lose any of its monumental buildings. Happily, it was spared this travesty of the developers thanks to the intervention of the Real Academia de San Fernando and the Sociedad Española de Amigos del Arte. In 1926, these two venerable institutions assembled the Old Madrid exhibition, which marked the origin of the future museum. The exhibits on view today depict the history of the city and how it evolved from a small medieval village in the Kingdom of Castile to the capital of the Spanish Empire in 1561 in the reign of Philip II. Among the most iconic exhibits are Francisco de Goya’s painting Alegoría de la Villa de Madrid and the indisputable show-stopper, the giant 1830 scale model of the city that occupies nearly the entire lower ground floor room. “The history of the museum largely reflects that of its exhibitions,” says curator Eduardo Salas, who singles out four ‘must-see’ milestone markers in the city’s life. These took place over nearly 90 years, between 1926 and 2014, starting with Old Madrid, organised by the Sociedad Española de Amigos del Arte. The others were staged in contemporary times, firstly with Madrid to 1875, inaugurated in 1979 by Mayor Enrique Tierno-Galván, followed by another on Madrid through its paintings, to the most recent in 2014, on occasion of the opening of the museum’s permanent collection. “The museum’s collection now numbers more than 60,000 exhibits,” says Salas. “All of the city’s cultural institutions have offered their support to help establish the new museum. We have also received a number of donations that have enabled us to acquire new works of art.” Salas singles out two exhibits for special mention. The first is the aforementioned painting by Goya, which was commissioned in 1810 by the Ayuntamiento de Madrid. The second is the city mock-up: “The 1830 León Gil de Palacio replica is a surprisingly accurate point of reference for any student of Madrid’s 19th century history. It’s one of the bestpreserved models of a city to be found in the world.” El Museo de Historia de Madrid Calle de Fuencarral, 78, Metro Tribunal. Free entry www.madrid.es/museo de historia

Jules Stewart is the author of Madrid: the History, published by I.B. Tauris

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GASTRONOMY

“DE TAPEO” IN LONDON Greg Watts, author of Ole! Ole! Passion on a Plate: The Rise of Spanish Cuisine in London, explains what’s behind the popularity of Spanish food in the capital.

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hen I moved to London 30 years ago Spanish food had a poor reputation amongst the British. What attracted most of the Brits flying out to Spain each summer were the beaches, sunshine, and cheap jugs of Sangria. Many viewed Spain as being like a Polo mint. In other words, they didn’t think there was anything interesting in the middle. The situation couldn’t be more different today. Over the last decade or so it seems like new Spanish restaurants have been opening almost every month in London, especially in the West End and areas going through gentrification. And the quality of food is often outstanding. Ametsa with Arzak Instruction in Belgravia and Barrafina in Soho have both won Michelin stars. Barrafina also took the top spot in the 2015 National Restaurant Awards. Elsewhere, Michelin bib gourmands, a kind of runners-up prize to the star, have been awarded to Barrica in Fitzrovia, Jose in Bermondsey, and Morito in Clerkenwell.

Monika Linton, founder of Brindisa

It’s not just Spanish food that has taken off. There has been an awakening of interest in Spanish wine. While Rioja still dominates the shelves of the supermarkets, they are increasingly offering more wines from other regions, such as Rias Biaxas in Galicia and Jumilla in Murcia. One of the things I discovered writing my book was that when it comes to good quality food and wine there are few people as passionate as the Spanish. The chefs and restaurant owners I met often talked about what they were doing with a fervor bordering on the religious. I found this inspiring. At one time, France was considered to be the king of European gastronomy. Not any more. Innovative chefs such as Juan Marie Arzak in the Basque Country and Ferran Adria, whose restaurant elBulli in Catalonia was widely regarded as the best in the world, have not only put Spanish gastronomy on the map but also inspired chefs from Spain and other countries. Here in London, arguably the person who first made Spanish food both popular and accessible was an English woman, Monika Linton, the founder of Brindisa. In the mid-1990s, when Borough Market was still a wholesale fruit and vegetable market, she rented a stall and began selling chorizo, Iberico ham, extra virgin olive oil, cheeses, and other Spanish produce to the public. A shop on the edge of the market followed and then a tapas bar. Since then, Brindisa has gone on to open outlets in Piccadilly, Soho, South Kensington, Brixton, and Shoreditch. The Spanish gastronomy scene in London today is one of the most dynamic anywhere, and the popularity of Spanish food is here to stay. Londoners have the opportunity to discover the incredible variety of food Spain has to offer.

“when it comes to good quality food and wine there are few people as passionate as the Spanish”

BARRICA 62 Goodge St, Fitzrovia, W1 A vibrant West End sherry bar also serving tapas ON THE MENU Black ink rice; king prawns a la plancha; chickpea salad with manchego cheese; chargrilled Iberico chorizo with sweet potato. “We wanted to bring a flavour of the bodega, the winery that produces the wine. This is the only place outside Spain that does sherry the right way, from barrels.” Tim Luther, owner 22  La Revista • Autumn-Winter 2016

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GASTRONOMY

MISS TAPAS 46 Choumert Rd, Peckham, SE15 A Seville-inspired neighbourhood tapas bar. ON THE MENU Mushroom and truffle croquetas; Jamón Iberico bellota; asparagus with eggs; patatas bravas “I don’t like to tell people that they have to leave. It’s not Spanish. When you are enjoying yourself you can spend the whole evening in the bar. I don’t mind – so long as you are not drinking water.” Blanca Rowe, owner

TAPAS REVOLUTION 58 Bethnal Green Rd, Shoreditch, E1 A stylish tapas bar opened by a charismatic Madrid chef ON THE MENU Pan-fried cod cheeks, brown shrimps, samphire and garlic; steamed octopus with potatoes and pimento; gazpacho with a watermelon twist; deep-fried Iberico ham and béchamel croquetas. “When you share food it connects. I think the world needs a lot of connection. That’s why tapas has become big. It’s no longer about small plates of Spanish food. It’s about small plates of food. People want this everywhere. You share your stories, you share your life.” Omar Allibhoy, owner

AMETSA

WITH ARZAK INSTRUCTION

The Halkin Hotel, Halkin St Belgravia, SW1 An outpost of legendary Basque chef Juan Marie Arzak ON THE MENU Suckling pig on carob crumbs; sea bass with celery illusion; black ink squid; orange toast and spinach “Food doesn’t need to be boring. And I want to show this on the plate. I want the customers to see that the chefs behind the plate are having fun and are proud of what they are doing.” Sergi Sanz, executive chef BritishSpanish Society

Autumn-Winter 2016 • La Revista  23


ART

Niños bañándose entre las rocas, Jávea, Joaquín Sorolla

“It would be impossible for me to paint slowly out of doors, even if I wanted to...One must paint quickly” – Joaquín Sorolla

LIVING NATURE

A special selection of Spanish paintings will feature at Sotheby’s in December. By Richard Lowkes.

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panish painting will be once again to the fore in Sotheby’s next auction of 19th Century European Paintings in London, on December 14. Focused on quality and pan-European in approach, the biannual sale presents the most soughtafter Spanish artists of the period, from Dario de Regoyos, the Catalan Impressionists, to market-leader Joaquín Sorolla, alongside their international contemporaries. Among the highlights of the sale is Sorolla’s Niños bañándose entre las rocas, Jávea, painted in the summer of 1905, and estimated at £800,000-1,200,000. While he typically returned to his native Valencia each summer, in that year Sorolla then travelled down the coast to Jávea, painting exceptionally luminous and free works of the clear water and rocky coves there. A number of these views would come to define his career, and several are currently showing in the Sorolla exhibition at the Musée des impressionnismes in Giverny until early November, which will subsequently travel to the Museo Sorolla in Madrid. Of his own art, Sorolla said: “It would be impossible for me to paint slowly out of doors, even if I wanted to…One must paint quickly, because so much is lost, in an instant, and you never find it again!” This describes the work in our sale particularly well, in which water, reflections and bathers are all in movement. Another Spanish highlight is Paisaje enmarcado por grandes árboles by Joaquim Mir. Painted circa 1909-1914, the work was one of the decorative panels from the small dining room of the Casa Trinxet, a jewel of Barcelona Modernism built for Mir’s uncle at the turn of the 20th century. Together the decorative cycle is dazzling in its bold palette and use of almost abstracted forms, nevertheless inspired by Mir’s close study of nature, notably around Barcelona. Measuring nearly 2.5m across, this immersive work was saved ahead of the muchlamented demolition of the building, and comes to market with an estimate of £120,000-180,000. Both Mir and fellow Catalan artist Rusiñol’s international profiles were boosted by their inclusion in the Painting the Modern Garden at the Royal

Academy earlier this year, where Sorolla’s portrait of Louis Comfort Tiffany was another highlight. Among the non-Spanish highlights also in the sale is Harald Sohlberg’s From Værvågen, The Fisherman's Cottage, of 1921 (estimate £600,000-800,000). A rare artist whose most famous work Winter Night in the Mountains is an icon of Norwegian culture, it is seventeen years since the last important painting by Sohlberg was seen at auction, at Sotheby’s in 1999. Both the Sohlberg and Sorolla will be shown at Sotheby’s New York in early November, ahead of the exhibition in London where the sale will also be on view alongside sales of 19th Sculpture, British Art, and English Literature.

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From Værvågen, The Fisherman’s Cottage, Harald Sohlberg

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WRITING ABOUT WAR

HISTORY

Deborah Madden investigates the full breadth of the response of world literature to the Spanish Civil War.

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ere there more than Orwell? This was the predictable question I was asked whenever I mentioned to colleagues and friends that I was co-organising ‘The Spanish Civil War and World Literatures’ conference with Professor Catherine Davies at the Institute of Modern Languages Research (IMLR). The reference to George Orwell, the British writer who documented his experiences during the Spanish Civil War, is certainly justified; Orwell personifies international literary responses to the Spanish Civil War. The two-day conference, supported by the Spanish Embassy, was held at the IMLR, School of Advanced Study, University of London, in July, in commemoration of the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). The event also hosted the launch of Dr Niall Binns’ (Complutense Univeristy of Madrid) latest publication on Latin America and the Spanish Civil War, Uruguay y la guerra civil española (Calumbur, 2016). Open to both the public and the academic community, the conference was centred on a historical conflict that still garners interest from scholars, researchers and enthusiasts alike. Few battles have been so embittered, bloody and divisive in Spanish, or international, history, whilst the lasting scars of the war permeate Spanish society to this day. The aim of this conference was to critically review the worldwide literary response to the Spanish Civil War between 1936 and 2016, exploring the war’s impact on literary creativity. Bringing together specialists from several countries, including Britain, Spain, Canada, the USA and Israel, the conference redefined our understanding of war and literature and surpassed expectations of how profoundly the Spanish conflict impacted on writers across the world. The event included six distinguished plenary speakers, including a talk from Professor Cary Nelson (University of Illinois, USA) on the poetic legacy of the war, and a lecture on foreign journalists who travelled to Spain to report on the conflict by Professor Paul Preston (London School of Economics). Panels explored a diverse range of literary production, including prose, poetry, journalism, memoirs and travel writing, and highlighted the far-reaching impact of the Civil War, with responses from across Europe, Latin America, Canada, the USA, and even China and Iraq. Topics such as the poetic responses of Yiddish and Gaelic writers and translations of Lorca in Iraq and Shanghai exemplify the all-encompassing approach. The varied range of perspectives was illustrated by author Lydia Syson’s discussion of A World Between Us (2012), her fictional narrative

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about the Spanish Civil War aimed at a young adult readership, and the talk by Adam Feinstein, author of Pablo Neruda’s biography, which explored the Chilean poet’s friendship with Federico García Lorca, a hero of the Spanish left killed during the war. The war in Spain inspired impassioned declarations of support from both sides of the political spectrum. From British women’s writers support for the Republic, anti-fascist novels written in German following the airstrikes on Guernica and republican poets in Canada to right-wing Spanish women writers advocating a return to conservative, patriarchal roles for women, the conflict galvanised the left and the right. The presentations illustrated that literature can be a conducive means of recording and interpreting the intense political divergence the war represented. Such an eclectic mix of themes bridged the gap between literary, historical and political research, and highlighted the continued need to investigate the literary legacy of this period in Spanish history. The Institute of Modern Languages Research organised a conference which substantially added to our understanding of the impact of the Spanish Civil War. The Institute continues in its mission to bridge the gaps between history and the present, Great Britain, Spain and the rest of the world, and the academic community and the general public. Upcoming events include an evening on ‘Catalan Flavours: Ramon Llull, Landscapes and Medieval Cooking’ on October 28 and the conference ‘Poesía y Crisis/Poetry and Crisis’ November 3, sessions which seek to develop and promote cultural knowledge of Spain and Catalonia. At the Spanish Civil War conference, the answer to “Were there more than Orwell?” was more revealing than I had initially expected. Not only did the conference retrieve the work of little known and unknown authors, papers also shed new light on works by the main-players of Spanish Civil War literature, including Federico García Lorca and George Orwell, the latter the focus of Professor Patricia Rae’s (Queen’s University, Canada) opening address. There was, it transpired, most certainly more than, and more to, Orwell. Queries about the Institute of Modern Languages Research can be directed to Professor Catherine Davies: (Catherine.Davies@sas.ac.uk), Director of the Institute.

Images Top left: George Orwell, and above: Federico Lorca

Autumn-Winter 2016 • La Revista  25


HISTORY

PORTRAITS OF CONFLICT: FELICIA BROWNE Two Anglo-Spanish friends, visual artist Sonia Boué and poet Jenny Rivarola, produced a creative response to the short life of the artist Felicia Browne, the first Briton to die in the Spanish Civil War. French concentration camps, and both were lucky to escape to England to begin a new life. Sonia Boué's father, José García Lora, became a lecturer and academic at Birmingham University, amassing an extensive collection of exile literature and arranging for Camilo José Cela to receive an honorary doctorate there. José Rivarola, father of Jenny, joined the BBC World Service and, under his broadcasting name Ruiz Medina, became the voice welcomed by Spaniards who turned to the Corporation for unbiased news during Franco's regime. Who was Felicia Browne? This emotional connection to the Spanish Civil War has been an important influence in the project on Felicia Browne. The British artist was born in 1904 in the London suburb of Thames Ditton. After studying at the Slade School of Fine Art and in Berlin just before the Nazis came to power, she became politically active and dedicated much of her time to encouraging working women to fight for better conditions. In summer 1936 she set off with a friend on a road trip to Spain. The exact purpose of their journey is not known. Browne certainly intended to paint and draw. And both were interested in the People's Olympiad in Barcelona, planned as a counterpoint to the official Olympics in Hitler's Berlin. Neither knew that on their arrival in Barcelona in July, the Civil War would begin. Browne volunteered to support the Republican cause and was shot by fascists during her first mission, while trying to help an injured comrade.

A

rtist Sonia Boué first discovered the work of Felicia Browne at the Conscience and Conflict exhibition at the Pallant House Gallery in 2014, which focused on British artists' response to the Spanish Civil War. She was immediately taken by her remarkable and unsentimental portraits of men and women innocently caught up in the brutality of war. Her own work on the theme of the Civil War prompted Tate Britain to invite her to take part in a video to accompany their archive of Browne's drawings. Now, Boué’s fascination with her artistic output and life story has grown into a creative project for which she recruited poet and friend Jenny Rivarola. Together they have produced a sequence of paintings and poems that respond to Felicia Browne's life and act as a tribute on the 80th anniversary of her death and of the outbreak of the Civil War. Daughters of Spanish exiles Boué and Rivarola's commitment to the project has much to do with their own family backgrounds. Both are daughters of Spanish fathers who as Republicans were exiled from their homeland at the end of the war. Both young men endured hardship in the

About the exhibition The exhibition Through An Artist's Eye runs until October 29. It will lead visitors through seven key stages of Felicia's life, from her origins in England to her tragic death near the Aragon front. Each stage is represented through a painting by Boué and a poem by Rivarola. Exhibited alongside will be some of Felicia Browne's own work and excerpts from the extraordinary letters that charted her fateful journey. The exhibition will include a video about the project.

Images Top left: Felicia Browne’s drawing of a Spanish militia woman. Above: Sonia Boué (left) and Jenny Rivarola

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HISTORY

EL CORTE INGLÉS

75 years after Spain’s iconic department store was founded by Asturian businessman Ramón Areces, Jules Stewart discovers how it grew from a small tailor’s shop to be the commercial empire that it is today.

Images Top left: An early El Corte Inglés Below: Ramón Areces Rodríguez

I

n 1941, Spain lay in ruins in the aftermath of three years of a civil war that brought widespread destruction to much of the country. Ramón Areces, a businessman from Asturias, had acquired his retailing skills as an emigrant working in Cuba’s Almacenes El Encanto department store. On his return to Spain Areces harboured optimism about his country’s gradual return to prosperity and in that year, he founded El Corte Inglés, which took its name from his small tailor’s shop, located adjacent to Madrid’s Puerta del Sol. This year Spain’s largest department store chain celebrates its 75th anniversary, having grown its business from 17 workers in 1935 to more than 91,000 today, with a turnover of more than €15 billion. The Corte Inglés flag flies over 87 department stores in Spain and two in Portugal. Few Spaniards live more than an hour’s drive from their nearest Corte Inglés, hence the inevitable question arises of where this retail colossus goes from here. Before the 2008 financial meltdown, El Corte Inglés was looking at adding another store to its Portuguese chain. There was also a plan to open a department store in Italy. “When the crash hit, we decided to put this idea on hold, but we still have ambitions outside the home market,” says Ester Uriol, the group’s director of communications. “We maintain a presence outside Spain through some of our outlets. For instance, of our nearly 600 travel agency offices, 92 are located in other countries”. There are also hints of Sfera, the Corte Inglés fashion boutique chain, being launched in selected markets abroad.

Ramón Areces Rodríguez (1904 – 1989) Born in La Mata, Asturias, Ramón Areces emigrated to La Habana in 1920, where he began working with his uncle César Rodríguez González in the El Encanto warehouses. In 1935, after some time in the US, he returned to Madrid, where he bought a clothing workshop called El Corte Inglés. In 1940, he began to bring all sorts of products to the market. In 1960s the company expanded, opening new branches in Barcelona, Madrid and other provinces. In 1976, he established the Ramón Areces Foundation to promote research. He died in Madrid in 1989.

Uriol says El Corte Inglés has always been focused on innovation. “We offered Spain’s first gift voucher in 1955 and in 1967 we introduced the store charge card,” she says. “This was revolutionary for its day. It was not easy to persuade customers that they could take their purchases home and pay for them a month later. We now have 11 million card holders, nearly a quarter of the country’s population.”

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The presence of El Corte Inglés is evident in most sectors of Spanish consumer life. The group’s travel agency chain has been operating since 1969. In 2000 the new chain Supermercados Supercor was launched, to be followed the following year by Hipercor’s takeover of five Carrefour hypermarkets. The two-year period between 2004 and 2006 saw the acquisition of seven Champion supermarkets from Carrefour and the opening of the first Bricor DIY store, in Alcalá de Henares, as well as the purchase of property builder Ason Inmobiliaria. “All this activity has been carried out within the framework of our basic principles,” says Uriol. “We have always been dedicated to ethical business practices, social responsibility, a close link with everyone connected to the business, including customers, respect for the environment, a high standard of quality and excellence of service.” The company’s programme of activities to celebrate its 75th anniversary kicked off in March under the slogan “Tu historia es nuestra historia”. Customers were invited to share their experiences through audiovisual formats, such as webcams and mobile devices. The company’s history was on display to the public, starting in Madrid’s Calle Preciados, where El Corte Inglés opened its first department store. The exhibition will be shown in several other cities, and will reflect the evolution of taste and style in fashion and gastronomy over the past three quarters of a century.

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HISTORY

A ROYAL ALLIANCE

The King of Spain Alfonso XIII and Princess Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg married in 1906. Simon Courtauld tells the story behind the marriage.

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n the BritishSpanish Society’s centenary year it is timely to recall another British-Spanish partnership which came into being 10 years before the society was founded. In 1906 the King of Spain Alfonso XIII married Queen Victoria’s youngest granddaughter, Princess Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg. Alfonso had been king since birth, but his mother, Queen Maria Cristina of Austria, reigned as regent until his 16th birthday. Three years later, he paid an official visit to England and met Victoria Eugenie (always known as Ena) at a Buckingham Palace dinner given by Edward VII. Letters were exchanged when Alfonso returned to Spain and within a few weeks an engagement was being discussed. There were, however, three problems: Ena was not a Catholic, there was haemophilia in her family, and some Spaniards, in particular Alfonso’s mother, considered that Ena was not royal enough since her father was the son of a morganatic marriage. Ena agreed to convert to the Catholic faith, and Alfonso was willing to take the risk that their children might be haemophiliac (two of them were). Maria Cristina dropped her objections to the marriage, and Ena, having taken instruction in Versailles, was received into the Catholic church in March 1906 at a ceremony at the Palacio de Miramar in San Sebastian. The wedding, which took place at the Monasterio de San Jeronimo el Real in Madrid on May 31, was most notable for an attempt by a Catalan anarchist to assassinate the royal couple as they returned to the Palacio Real. A bomb exploded, narrowly missing them and killing several bystanders. The King and Queen spent much of their time at San Sebastian, living in the somewhat grotesque Miramar Palace, designed by an English architect in mock-Tudor style, which overlooks the beautiful crescent bay of La Concha. Having been born at Balmoral and spent her early years at Windsor and Osborne House on the Isle of Wight, Ena must have been relieved to escape the oppressive atmosphere of her grandmother’s court. She took easily to summer life in San Sebastian, playing tennis, riding and participating in the thés dansants popular at the time. Her Habsburg mother-in-law who, like Queen Victoria, insisted on rigid protocol, did not approve of the young queen smoking cigarettes, bathing off the beach and strolling past the tamarisk trees along the Paseo de la Concha. In the carefree days before the First World War, Alfonso and Ena were in the habit of driving with their entourage across the

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border to Biarritz for polo matches. A Russian grand duchess commented that “the majority of the San Sebastian colony spent their days, and especially their nights, in their automobiles, tearing madly backwards and forwards between San Sebastian and Biarritz, making the roads a menace to the rest of humanity”. The happiness of the marriage, however, was not to last. The son and heir to whom Ena gave birth in 1907 was diagnosed a haemophiliac at an early age. During the First World War, in which Spain remained neutral, San Sebastian’s casino continued to flourish, while gambling was prohibited in France. But when General Primo de Rivera made himself dictator in 1923 and banned casino gambling, Alfonso, now king only in name, gave up spending his summers in San Sebastian. His relationship with Ena deteriorated, he conducted numerous affairs and fathered five illegitimate children between 1914 and 1931, when he abdicated the throne. He died in Rome 10 years later. His widow lived on in exile until 1969, having returned to Spain the previous year for the christening of her great grandson, Felipe, the present king of Spain. Ena is remembered in Spain through the Victoria Eugenia theatre in San Sebastian, opened in 1912. A statue of her in nurse’s uniform, in recognition of her work for the Red Cross in Spain, was erected in Barcelona in 1929, but destroyed during the Civil War. In the 1920s her mother, Princess Beatrice, enjoyed winter visits to Ena in Malaga, where she encouraged the building of a golf course. A plaque commemorates her in the Anglican church of Malaga’s English cemetery. Princess Beatrice once accompanied her mother, Queen Victoria, to San Sebastian on a day’s outing from Biarritz. This took place in 1889, and they only stayed for lunch with Maria Cristina before returning by train to Biarritz. But it was the first time a reigning British monarch had set foot on Spanish soil. King Alfonso was then not quite three-years-old, and it is not recorded whether Queen Victoria set eyes on the boy who, five years after her death, would marry her granddaughter.

Simon Courtauld’s latest book, Footprints in Spain, was published by Quartet Books in October.

Autumn-Winter 2016 • La Revista  29


DANCE

A FRINGE ARTIST IN LONDON

Laura Gran meets Laura Obiols, choreographer and director – and arts editor of La Revista.

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t is a Thursday evening in September but it still feels like summer in London. Choreographer, dancer and director of film and theatre, Laura Obiols (Lleida, 1980), is having coffee with her friends at the Institute of Contemporary Arts. She is laidback, smiling and makes you feel part of her world very quickly. Obiols made her debut as a theatre director with the premiere of Hourglass last February. The performance sold out and was met with a standing ovation; she remembers feeling that her smile that night was as huge as her nerves. Reviews in the press the following day noted her potential – her work was defined as “a well delivered and edgy poem” by The Guardian – and after years of training and hard work everything started to fall into place. The concept behind Hourglass is to pursue what you want in life, rather than submitting to social pressure. “It tells the story of an eight-year-old girl and what she is supposed to do as she grows up – how certain things are required from her by society and the world she lives in. The play finishes when the

woman re-encounters her younger self and rediscovers her essence”, she says. Obiols moved to London at the age of 22 after studying pharmacy and was granted a scholarship to dance. After that she trained as a performer, studied (Fine Art, a Master’s in Art Direction, a PhD in Pharmacy – having already graduated as a Pharmacist from the University of Navarra in Spain) and created her own dance theatre company in 2012, À La Carte, a collaboration between different artists. The co-existance of the worlds of pharmacy and the arts has made her artistic career different from usual. “I would describe my life as full, quick and sometimes stressful, but without it, I would not be me,” she explains. As a performer, Obiols has worked in venues such as Sadler’s Wells, the National Theatre, Barbican, Battersea Arts Centre, Haymarket Theatre and the V&A Museum amongst others. She has been been a key part of projects shown at 69th Cannes Film Festival, Tate Modern and the BBC. “I am passionate about all the new projects that are in the pipeline but also a little bit scared because everything is happening very quickly,” she says. Obiols has had multidisciplinary training and sees dance, theatre, music and film as “different ways to express what is inside”. She studied piano for 10 years and more recently has started composing. She has directed plays and taken part in international dance theatre projects and music videos, and is now writing a script for her first feature film. She speaks with admiration of the work of Dante or Die, Gecko, DV8, Wayne McGregor, Ohad Naharin, Hofesh Shechter, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, & Wim Vandekeybus and has been fortunate to have worked with – or taken part in workshops with – all of them at some point in her career. “That is what living in London offers you,” she says with excitement. “The opportunity to grow having references such as these people – that is a luxury”. She enjoys working with other artists and learning from people she admires: “I really believe in collaboration; due to the nature of my work I always work closely with composers, directors of photography and other artists”. In a conversation with Obiols you can end up discussing a new molecule being developed in her research job, the latest indie band at a music festival or the impact of YouTube on the world of dance. After 14 years in London she feels that she has roots here but misses her family and friends back home: “Ideally I would like to live in both places,” she says. See more about Laura’s work at alacarte.uk.com

Images Top left: Laura in the studio, by Pepa Yepes. Below from left: Hourglass technical rehearsal with Betty Sayers. by Danilo Moroni, Laura photographed by Maciek Wojciechowski.

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DANCE Itziar Mendizabal (Hondarribia 1981) is a First Soloist of the Royal Ballet since 2010. She joined Leipzig Ballet in 2006 as a soloist and was promoted to principal dancer in 2008. She also danced for three years with the Zurich Ballet and she started her career in Madrid with Víctor Ullate Ballet de la Comunidad de Madrid. Mendizabal has also being invited to perform the leading roles with companies including Karlsruhe Ballet, Opéra National de Bordeaux and has performed in many Galas all over the world. She was nominated for the 2009 Benois de la danse and that year was named Best New Artist by the Asociación de Profesionales de Danza de Guipúzcoa.

ON POINTE

Images Left, Itziar in the studio, by Pepa Yepes; Below, by Alenka Slavinec. 2016.

Basque dancer Itziar Mendizabal, First Soloist at the Royal Ballet, talks to Laura Gran and Laura Obiols.

I

t’s not every day that you have the chance to enter through the stage door at the Royal Opera House and meet one of their First Soloists. Basque dancer Itziar Mendizabal comes down in her rehearsal attire, smiling and fixing her ponytail, after her Saturday class. A lovely studio with big windows and views of the Piazza and the London Eye is the setting for our photo shoot and interview. Mendizabal’s day starts at 8am, at her flat near Holborn, eating breakfast as she watches the news. “I have been living in the same flat for six years, 15 minutes away from work, which is a luxury in London,” she says. On a typical day she arrives at the opera house at 9.45am to get ready before the class starts at 10.30am. Usually classes are split into two groups: men and women, and sometimes also divided by rank. “We work on technique, warm up and get our bodies going for the day of rehearsals ahead”. After short break at noon they rehearse again until 6.30pm, with an hour for lunch in-between. “We usually rehearse more than one ballet. There has been time where we have been rehearsing up to 6 different ones which means that we can be wearing a tutu and pointe shoes in one studio and then run to another one and rehearse very contemporary choreography”. On show days, rehearsals finish at 5.30pm, which leaves you two hours to get ready for the show at 7.30pm. Shows finish at around 10.30pm. “Some weeks can get quite exhausting!” she laughs. December is one of the harder months of the season, with double shows of The Nutcracker. “It gets very busy especially for the corps de ballet (the group of dancers) which performs in every show. As higher ranks, we often get the most press exposure but we should highlight the incredible work that the corps de ballet does,” says Mendizabal. No one in Mendizabal’s family had a ballet background, although her father did traditional Basque dance in his youth. “I still do not know where my passion for ballet came from but as a little girl, every time there was dance on TV, I would stare in amazement,” she says. Aged four she asked her mother to take her to ballet classes and at 14 she moved to Madrid to join Víctor Ullate’s ballet school: “I cannot believe I went to Madrid on my own at that age, 14 seems so young and yet I felt so ready and so mature,” she says, laughing. Only two years later she started to perform with the company. In 2002, Mendizabal moved to Switzerland to join the Zurich Ballet as a Demi-soloist where she stayed for three years. She then joined Leipzig Ballet in Germany as a Soloist and was given the lead role in Swan Lake straight away. “Moving to Leipzig was the best career choice that I have made in my life,” she says. She speaks fondly of her former director Paul Chalmer: “He believed in me and invested the time in the studio to help me become the ballerina I am today”. She danced most of the lead roles from the classical repertoire, including Firebird for which she was nominated for the Benois de la Danse award.

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After four happy seasons in Leipzig, a change in the management prompted her decision to move somewhere else. A teacher whom she was working with at the time asked her if she had ever thought of joining the Royal Ballet “I just laughed, I never thought I could become part of such an amazing institution”. After the teacher insisted, Mendizabal sent footage of her performing to take to the then Royal Ballet director Dame Monica Mason. Mendizabal got a call straight away and flew to London to audition. She was offered a First Soloist contract the next day and her first class there was with several ballet stars, including Marianela Nuñez and Tamara Rojo. Her favourite role at the company has been Tatiana (Onegin) from Cranko which she performed two years ago: “This is the role I really wanted to dance before I end my career and it came at a very difficult time in my personal life, which only gave more meaning to the role”. Mendizabal recalls the Brexit result as a sad moment for many and believes it will affect the arts in a negative way. “We are quite protected at the Royal Ballet but smaller companies are not as supported as we are and it is going to affect dancers in the future and the arts in general”. She flies home to her family in Hondarribia when she can, and says that is where she is the happiest. A regular at Columbia Flower Market on Sundays, where she meets friends over a pizza and coffee, she also enjoys cooking at home with a good glass of wine. Despite being part of a hard-playing world Mendizabal says that dancers are no different from anyone else: “When we want to have a night out we have a night out”. She feels it is important to be surrounded by people who have other careers, other dreams, and work as hard as she does to achieve their goals: “This world can become a bubble sometimes and my friends outside the ballet world keep me grounded”.

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THEATRE

CERVANTES THEATRE LONDON London’s first Spanish language theatre opens its doors in November, coinciding with the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare and Cervantes. Laura Obiols spoke to the director Jorge de Juan (Cartagena, 1961), the man behind this novel theatre, which will present plays in both Spanish and English.

H

ow did everything start? I studied in London in 1982 (Direction and Production at the British Theatre Association) and I always wanted to create a company in London where Spanish and Latin American authors, writers and dramatists had a home. I went back to Spain and what was going to be a holiday ended up being a lifetime and I developed my professional career in Spain. I started as an actor and after that produced and directed. Three years ago, I came back to London and decided to create the Spanish Theatre Company (STC) with Paula Paz (Associate Director). We realised that there were festivals and companies but a reference place for Spanish and Latin American artists to work together with British artists did not exist. I always had this vision that what was needed was a physical space to really connect Spanish and British culture. That was how the idea for the Cervantes Theatre project was born. What was your trajectory with the Spanish Theatre Company (STC) before starting the Cervantes Theatre? The STC started two and a half ago as a collaboration between actors, musicians, sound and lighting designers, and other artists. We have been doing dramatised readings of plays such as Eloísa está debajo de un almendro (Jardiel Poncela) and Nina (José Ramón Fernández), amongst others. The STC was the seed that helped us grow into what we are now. It is impossible nowadays, due to economical reasons, to make a repertory theatre company sustainable but I wanted to create a strong nucleus of people to work with here in London. The Cervantes Theatre is a space where these artists can work, host British artists and those from other countries, and also develop work to be toured. We are not only thinking about theatre but also to use the space as a music venue, [where we can] host small dance pieces and even exhibitions and events. After rising £14,577 through a crowdfunding campaign, with the help of Network Rail (who owns the space) and the Southwark Council, the 90-seat Cervantes Theatre will open at the Union Yard in Southwark in November.

How does it feel to turn a dream into reality? Do you feel a weight has been lifted after all these years of fighting for it? Now that I know that we have an opening date, I will be extremely happy to go on holiday after three years non-stop! (laughs). I will feel very proud to have contributed to making this happen. It is a charity so I hope to bring opportunities and open possibilities to grants and funding schemes, and foster young artists to come to Britain and show their talent. You wanted to give an educational dimension to the project. Could you please expand on that? That is absolutely key to the project. Spanish is the first choice language in British schools, before French and German. We have already received expressions of interest from schools and universities and we plan to do matinee sessions so students can attend. We are currently developing the working material for our educational programme, starting with Bodas de Sangre and looking at developing it at schools while running workshops. I can imagine the funding process for this project will not have been easy. It has always been very hard; at the very beginning we counted with the help of SGAE and the Spanish Embassy in London and some private companies such as Porcelanosa, Maferman building company, Figueras International Seating, Mar i Terra restaurant, JLCA and As lawyers, and the architectural firm Allies and Morrison. A crowdfunding campaign we ran in the summer (even though we did not raise as much as initially planned) was crucial for us to share our vision with the community. Then an event hosted at the Spanish Embassy made a great communication channel. I think I know the answer to the next question… but what do you think the UK, and specifically London, brings to artists in comparison to Spain? I am going to quote Peter Brook here (the most influential British director of the 20th century): “If the world was a city, London

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THEATRE would be the theatre of that city”. Last year, 22 million theatregoers attended London shows, both commercial and fringe, and that is amazing. London is, undoubtedly, one of the most dynamic, open and challenging theatre cultures in the world. Where do you see the company going in the future? In theatres like ours – small and not pretentious – big things happen. Many shows at the West End started in small venues. We would like to open doors to all talented Spanish and Latin American-speaking actors who are established in London and cannot find the same opportunities as English-speaking actors for obvious reasons. The key thing for us is the texts and the creations of Spanish authors, not only classical but also contemporary. It is going to be a twofold mission: to open doors to our talented actors and to present our authors to a well-read British audience. The idea of starting a company and theatre in Spanish in London is very brave in the current times. Could you tell me who is behind the project? First of all I would like to mention our ambassadors: Mario Vargas Llosa (Nobel Prize), Aitana Sánchez Gijón (actress), Tamara Rojo (English National Ballet Artistic Director) and José María Cano (artist). Our trustees Andrew Dyson, Mayca Estévez and Gloria Gómez and a great team of actors, directors, authors, musicians, set designers and technicians, many of them very well-known, loved and respected by all of us that have helped massively for this project to see the light. I keep fighting for this thanks to the talented young people I am surrounded with.

“I always had this vision of creating a physical space to really connect Spanish and British culture”

This is an historical moment for our culture, the first Spanish-speaking stage in London. It is huge. Is there any project in the pipeline that you would like to share with us? The next step is to open a new space (500 seats) in Elephant and Castle in six years’ time that will hopefully allow to host as many companies as possible, conduct research, facilitate training, allow work-sharing and make Spanish and Latin American culture accessible to a wide British audience. That would be the zenith of this dream. Once that happens (laughs) I will happily go back home and spend the rest of my days writing and reading.

The Spanish Theatre Company is a registered charity. www.spanishtheatrecompany.org.uk

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Images Top right: Jorge Juan, by Isabel del Moral. Left and opposite page: The new theatre, by Jaime Menéndez.

Autumn-Winter 2016 • La Revista  33


THEATRE

THEATRE NIGHTS IN CATALONIA From satirical comedy to spoof opera to French gypsy tales, Sitges resident Dominic Begg looks back on the best productions he has seen in Spain over the years.

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n the mid-1960s the Cambridge University Spanish Society used to stage an annual classical Spanish play, produced by J.T.Boorman and featuring undergraduate actors. Schools in the vicinity with Spanish departments were encouraged to attend, so it was performances of Los Milagros del Desprecio and Las Mocedades del Cid that provided my first experience of Spanish theatre. Within a couple of years I was attending Spanish Literature tutorials with Boorman in his medieval rooms at Corpus Christi college. Meanwhile, in the spring of 1967, I ventured into the venerable Teatro Eslava in Madrid for my first taste of professional Spanish theatre, Labiche’s El Viaje del Señor Perrichon. Paco Martinez Soria, veteran of many comedy films, starred and directed. Next came Los Arboles Mueren de Pie by Casona at the Teatro Reina Victoria, starring Milagros Leal and Julieta Serrano. The standard of acting in both productions seemed to me comparable with that of London’s West End. Returning to Madrid a few years later, I remember plays by Buero Vallejo, including Historia de una Escalera, but it was only when my wife and I settled in Barcelona in the late-1970s that we became regular theatre-goers. Here are some of our highlights from Catalonia:

formed in Sitges. Their satirical 1989 comedy Cómeme el Coco Negro put them on the national map, to be followed by hits like the ground-breaking Cegada de Amor, the spoof opera Una Nit d’Opera and Campanades de Boda, which involved much audience participation, their marca de la casa. La Cubana’s latest production Gente Bien is pulling in the crowds this autumn. Cristina Hoyos brought her Ballet Flamenco de Andalucía to the Teatre Tívoli to perform Lorca’s Yerma with panache. The Sitges International Theatre Festival flourished in the ’90s for a few years, before giving way definitively to the town’s International Film Festival. For 10 days in early June, around 35 events were staged. Amid much dross, a few excellent productions persist in the memory, including Kalo, a brilliant 1995 French play about the history and myths of the gypsy peoples by Maurice Durozier. Adaptations in Catalan or Spanish of plays by Shaw, Priestley, De Filippo, Hare, Jane Bowles, Frayn, Mamet, Ben Elton, etc. Dagoll Dagom is a veteran Catalan theatre company that regularly plays to full houses. Guimerà’s Mar I Cel features opera-style singing throughout, while the cast move athletically

Nuria Espert’s performance in her production of Lorca’s Doña Rosita La Soltera was magnificent, as was the set. Sadly, the theatre on the corner of Plaza Catalunya was demolished soon after this 1981 production, to make way for a bank. An outstanding production of Lope de Vega’s El Caballero de Olmedo in the early ’90s, courtesy of the Compañía Nacional de Teatro Clásico, on tour from Madrid. Sinister and atmospheric. José Sacristán starred in La Guerra de Nuestros Antepasados by Miguel Delibes at the Teatro Villarroel. A pleasure to see such a consistent Spanish film actor on stage. Fernando Fernán Gómez directed his adaptation of Lazarillo de Tormes, resulting in a one-man tour de force by the actor Rafael Álvarez ‘El Brujo’, who took it on tour for several years. The comic actor and musician, Moncho Borrajo, was an early exponent of the semi-spontaneous satirical monologue, a variation on stand-up comedy. His show Aquí no hay crisis was extremely funny and inventive. La Cubana is a long-established theatre company originally

around a replica galleon, which steals the show. As a Concha Velazquez fan from back when she was Conchita, I’m grateful that she retains the enthusiasm to keep returning to Barcelona’s Teatre Goya to perform so brilliantly, usually under the direction of Josep María Pou. Her autobiographical Yo lo que quiero es bailar showcased her enduring talents. Finally, after so much enjoyment, I have two regrets in connection with theatre in Catalonia. Sadly, fewer Spanish theatre companies include Barcelona on their touring schedules nowadays, given that the Generalitat favours texts in Catalan. Another more general regret concerns intrusive mobile phonecalls and disrespectful behaviour in theatres. Apparently modern audiences have such short attention-spans that they are unable to sit quietly and concentrate on a play for 90 minutes. 21st century stage actors will either have to follow La Cubana’s way of involving the audience or simply aguantar.

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VIRTUAL REALITY

Virtual reality in action. Photos by Miki Ávila

THE FUTURE WEARS HEADSETS

Einstein said reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one. Laura Obiols talked to Rafael Pavón (Madrid, 1980), filmmaker and creative director of Future Lighthouse, who is creating some of the first films shot using virtual reality technology.

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an you explain what virtual reality (VR) is about? Virtual reality is a technology that combines many elements (presence, impact, freedom and interactivity) to allow people to immerse themselves in a space to experience a story in a way they have not experienced before. The technology is still in its infancy but future developments such as ultrasound, haptic technology, augmented reality and artificial intelligence will enhance the immersion to the point that virtual reality will probably end up being indistinguishable from reality in about 20 years.

“Virtual reality is not just a new technology but a complete new language”

Wow, that is unbelievable and somewhat scary. Do you think these technologies will distract us from the real world? Some may think that all this technology is blinding us and distracting us from reality, but we could go into a real philosophical wormhole about that. Simulation is as much a part of the human condition as breathing.

experiences for third-parties and brands. Hopefully, the original content we are about to release will allow us to grow further next year.

Is virtual reality going to be consumed by the mainstream? That is a hard question to answer at this point in time but I guess the question here is not if it is going to happen but how. I strongly believe VR/AR is not only going to grow in the following years but it is going to absorb everything else. There is not a single industry that is not going to be overhauled by it. As a director, what does it mean to direct these type of films? Virtual reality is not just a new technology but a complete new language. It is different from cinema, videogames or literature, although it uses many elements from all these worlds. Ironically, as digital as it may seem, I believe it is closer to theatre, immersive theatre in particular. I had to research theatre design, pace and immersive drama to be able to start telling stories through VR. Directing a VR film, especially if you try things that have not been tested before, is a long amazing process of continuous discovery and that feeling is indescribable. What challenges do you face while directing or in general about VR? There are still many questions with no answers yet: is it possible to create close ups? How will the new developments in cameras and 3D capture affect the stories? How are people going to use VR when it becomes mainstream? How do you get the funding you need to create these pieces? We rely on creating original content and the funding comes from lots of different sources, mainly private. We also have co-productions with film studios with whom we develop and narrate BritishSpanish Society

And how did you decide to throw yourself into this magical adventure? I started telling stories almost 15 years ago while I was working at advertising agencies. I did not feel it was the context where I would be able to tell the stories I had in mind so I left everything behind and moved to London to start a Master’s in Communication Design at Central Saint Martins College of Art, specialising in moving image and digital media. This, combined with a computer science background, was an incredible opportunity to experiment with ideas and techniques as well as exposing them to some of the most talented creatives in the world. That helped me develop an innate drive to use technology to create meaning. I spent seven years directing music videos and short films with the collective Watergun and after that stage finished naturally I found myself lost for some time. I could not find anything that combined everything I loved, storytelling, technology and design, whilst keeping me excited and challenged. In autumn of 2015, my friend Nico asked me to try a VR headset he had just got. The experience blew my mind, not just as an ephemeral toy and not just the experience of seeing the Avengers destroying things in super slow motion, but because of the questions it raised, the challenges, the potential, the dangers... I have not stopped thinking about it since that day. What did London give you that you could not have found in Spain? At a personal level, London has given me the opportunity to look further into my own boundaries and my own little world. Regardless of what you do, this is the best lesson you can learn from this city. To confront your ideas with other people, to question everything and the need to work hard to get where you want in a very competitive environment. As a director, it also helped me to understand the ups and downs of being in the creative industry, Autumn-Winter 2016 • La Revista  35


THE SOUND OF CINEMA Nico Casal is a pianist and film composer based in London, who created the music for Stutterer, this year's Oscar Winner for Best Short Film. He recently composed the score for Maria (y los demás), directed by Nely Reguera, which premiered at the San Sebastian Film Festival in September. By Laura Obiols.

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to be able to understand that you are not miserable when you are losing or infallible when you are winning. What happens on a normal day at your studio? It's hard to describe a day at Future Lighthouse, as the processes are completely different from one experience to another. We might be rewriting a script to check it is qualified for VR, swimming with blue whales inside a headset, writing scripts and throwing them in the bin or even debating if reality is already a simulation! What do people who have never been in touch with VR think when they come to the studio? I remember my first time there… desks full of cool toys from the ’80s, dinosaurs, unicorns, people wearing VR glasses crawling on the floors or fighting with the air… and then you sat us on the floor to watch Henry (Emmy Winner 2016) and I could not stop smiling. Well, there you go! Noone understands anything until they try the headset!

o you come from a family of musicians? Both my parents like music but my dad especially is extremely talented; he can pick up any instrument and figure out how to play it in two seconds. Apparently I had a little keyboard I used to play when I was about five or six-years-old and my parents enrolled me at Santiago’s Conservatoire in Galicia. What they could never imagine is that 20 years later both my brother and I would be making a living from music. Xabi is one of the best saxophone players in Europe (and I just don’t say that because he is my brother!). What about the fascinating world of film? Tell us how it all began... I was 17 and completely focused on classical piano. I used to play in a pop-rock band with some friends from school at that time. One of them, Jairo, made his first short film and he asked me to compose the music for it. My first reaction was “Sorry, I can’t. I’m a pianist, I have no idea about composition for film”. I was lucky enough that he was very persistent so after a few weeks I gave it a go. [After that] I composed music for many shorts and documentaries. A few years later, when I finished my Classical Piano degree at Conservatorio Superior de Vigo, I decided to focus entirely on film music.

What is it like to write music for a movie? It depends a lot on the project. Deadlines in TV music are usually crazy, sometimes just one or two days. You get music references, a long briefing and then you have to compose something according to all that by, usually, the following morning. I work well under pressure so I am quite used to that by now. On the other hand, music for films is usually a two or three month process, which involves lots of meetings with the director. How do you know when a piece is finished? That is a really good question. Sometimes a piece is finished because there is no time to keep making changes. I tend to be

What projects are in the Future Lighthouse pipeline at the moment? We are working on the final stages of our last project RAY, a VR fairy tale combining 360º stereoscopic video, visual effects and music, and also producing Melita, the story of a sensitive human-like AI built to help her creator Anaaya find a new home for humankind. This is along with some more projects that are still in the early stages of development and include animation, series, horror and some others I cannot reveal just yet!

Top left: Rafael Pavón

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“We were a bunch of friends making a short film for fun and we ended up on the red carpet”

quite meticulous so it is not easy to “let a piece go”. You know it could always be a bit better. One of the things I enjoy the most about my job is that I learn massively with every single project.

best city I can be in right now, but extremely expensive. The first years in London, while I was studying for a Master’s in Film Music I worked in cafés, bars, clothing stores... to improve my English, to pay the rent and university fees.

What was the case in Stutterer? I was very lucky because I met Ben Cleary, the writer and director, when he was finishing the script. That is something very rare to experience as a composer; we usually work with the final, or “almost final”, cut. So here, in Stutterer, considering it is quite a quiet film (it is the story of a guy with a stutter so he barely speaks), music has an important role. Thus, the process was very long, difficult and intense but it is certainly one of the most beautiful and rewarding projects I have worked on so far.

In your opinion, will anything change after Brexit? I guess we will have to wait for a couple of years to see the consequences, but it was a big shock for all my friends in London and for me as well. Nobody was expecting that. Considering London must be one the most multicultural cities in the world, I think it is quite clear we live in a bubble here: the rest of the country feels a different way. I feel it is a real shame but let’s be a bit cautious and see how everything goes.

What was your experience of being part of an Oscar-winning team? It is still hard to believe I was part of that! We were a bunch of friends living in the same area in east London making a short film for fun with no big expectations at all, and we ended up walking on the red carpet and hearing our name at the ceremony. The journey has been incredible. Being there at the ceremony, surrounded by so many famous people – people you grew up with like Spielberg, DiCaprio, Morricone – was surreal. I had the chance to talk to Eddie Redmayne, Matt Damon, Colin Farrell. I think the one I enjoyed the most was Thomas Newman, one of my favourite music composers, and he was one of the Oscars nominees that night. We had quite a long chat and it was great. I was very excited for Morricone finally winning the Oscar – a well-deserved award. Was winning an Oscar an inflexion point in your trajectory? Absolutely. It is a very exciting moment in my career and I am trying to make the most of it. Music industry people here in London have heard of the short film, so it has opened many doors and given the chance to access more and better projects. Step by step – this is a long distance race – but everything is going well at the moment. Is it easy to survive as a composer in London? I can only talk from my experience and, to be honest, I wouldn’t say it has been very easy! It is an amazing city, probably the BritishSpanish Society

Who is Nico Casal, what do you do when you are not sitting in front of your beloved piano / computer? I guess I am a lucky 31-year-old guy living in London trying to enjoy life, music, films, friends and family as much as I can. When I am not sitting in front of my piano or computer… well, there is not much time left but I like reading, going to the gym and spending time with friends. What are you working on at the moment? I am currently composing the music for a documentary filmed in Pakistan by Iker Elorrieta, working on a Virtual Reality short directed by Rafa Pavón, starting another short in LA, and finishing a TV campaign here in the UK. What would you tell a young composer? That is a tricky question... I would probably recommend listening to all different genres of music, to watch loads of films, to keep your mind open all the time, work hard every day, be pro-active... and try to enjoy it all the time to make it feel more like a passion and not a “proper job”. Images Top of page: Nico Casal, by Pepa Yepes. Opposite page: On the way to the Oscars

Autumn-Winter 2016 • La Revista  37


MY LIFE IN SPAIN

GREAT EXPECTATIONS IN RURAL MALLORCA British journalist and writer Anna Nicholas on why she moved from central London to Soller in Mallorca.

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funny thing happened when I told friends and colleagues in London that my husband, Alan, and I had decided to relocate to rural Mallorca: we were showered with plaudits for our bravery. Indeed, had we announced plans to circumnavigate the moon in a motorised wheelbarrow, or climb Mount Everest blindfolded with a recalcitrant emu strapped to our backs, I might have forgiven the tremulous reaction. But moving to a veritable Mediterranean Eden? Tsk! Swapping central London for Soller in the rugged northwest of Mallorca was an exciting proposition and it never really occurred to me that there might be the odd teething problem. True, we had rather recklessly chosen to purchase a dilapidated finca with an absence of roof, bathrooms, water and electricity supply but, what the heck, it was going to be an adventure. British expats often speak of the honeymoon period, that glowing window of opportunity when everything in a new destination looks, smells and seems wholly different from life back home in Blighty. For us it was a little different. We arrived to find the finca still in an unfinished state with piles of rubble littering the grounds, a faltering electricity supply, and cheery Mallorcan builders chomping chorizo bocadillos around the half-finished pool. Meanwhile I was commuting back and forth to London each week on the recently introduced easyJet service from Palma to London. Our son, Oliver, aged four, was the family member least affected by the move in the early days. In fact he took to life in our golden valley like a pato to agua. Within a few weeks he had joined the town’s football and tennis teams, was enjoying play dates, making Mallorcan chums in the plaça and delighting in the sunshine and our extensive gardens brimming with oranges and lemons. Meanwhile we were struggling with the Mallorquí dialect, Spanish lessons, reserved neighbours, and frantically trying to juggle Oliver’s needs with those of the builders, work and, in my case, regular commutes to London. Unlike many Britons relocating to a new country, we were fortunate in having a Mallorcan family on side. Some years previously, my sister had hired an au pair from nearby village Fornalutx, and Sari had become a dear friend. She was already back in Mallorca at the time of our move, and within months, helped us take charge of our lives. She introduced us to locals and involved us in every fiesta so that we soon became part of the community. All the same, there were every day frustrations such as the mañana attitude of workmen and being unable to procure certain beloved products. In time we became blasé, expressing delight whenever a builder or electrician pitched up within a few hours of the appointed time. When our curtain maker turned up nearly six months later with our completed order, I was nonplussed, having totally forgotten that I’d ever recruited her for the task. Ironically, in the first few years of life in Mallorca, we hardly knew a fellow Brit. All our contacts were Mallorcans. Soon our house began to resemble a real home, Alan created a wonderful garden of vegetables, fruit trees and beautiful Mediterranean

BritishSpanish Society

plants, and I became more confident in the Spanish language. I merged my communications agency back in London, leaving me free to explore the island, and to concentrate on journalism and writing books. In fact it was on one of those regular easyJet flights that I had the idea of writing about commuting between two countries, and my first book, A Lizard in my Luggage was born. Six books in the series later, life in Soller is blissful though busy. We have many Mallorcan and international friends, and get involved in a host of local activities as well as tending to a menagerie of 40 hens and other creatures. As committed members of our wonderful natural history museum, we attend fascinating lectures and events (in Mallorquí dialect!) and belong to an eco vegetable group where we buy and exchange produce. As a writer whose main subject matter is Mallorca, I have the enviable – and indulgent – task of visiting every nook and cranny of the island and meeting the most inspiring people. Despite living in a tranquil and glorious environment, my husband and I are always busy and cannot imagine how in London we ever had time to watch television! Our son, Oliver, is now studying modern languages at an English university and speaks fluent Spanish, good Catalan, French and Italian. The majority of his friends are Spanish although thanks to living in such a cosmopolitan island he has friends of all nationalities. Now, when friends ask me whether we’d ever relocate back to the UK, I shake my head. Heaven knows, neither of us is brave enough to contemplate such a feat.

As a freelance journalist, Anna Nicholas has contributed to titles including the Daily Telegraph, Financial Times, Independent, Daily Mail, Daily Express, Evening Standard, Tatler and UltraTravel. She contributes regularly to the Telegraph and has a weekly column in expat newspaper, Majorca Daily Bulletin. She is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and has been an international adjudicator for the Guinness Book of Records. Together with explorer Colonel John Blashford-Snell, OBE, she once organised an expedition to carry a grand piano to the remote Wai Wai tribe in Guyana which was the subject of a BBC2 TV documentary. Her website is: www.anna-nicholas.com and she can be found tweeting @MajorcanPearls

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MI VIDA EN ESPAÑA

EL PROFESOR DE MIRAMAR CON ALMA DE VIAJERO Carolina González Delgado conversa con Gordon Young, un profesor de Inglés originario de Australia que vivió más de una década en Inglaterra antes de mudarse a España.

“Si pretendes que una persona quiera aprender, tienes que hacer una clase divertida” – Gordon Young “A decir verdad yo soy un viajero. Cuando tenía tres años mi familia emigró a Australia. Volvimos cuando tenía quince en un barco italiano por Sudáfrica. Luego cruzamos Europa, fue increíble. Ahí cogí el virus de viajar”, dice Gordon Young, sentado con las piernas cruzadas de espaldas al tablero.Tiene los ojos azules, cejas y pestañas tan rubias que parece que no tuviera y unos pelos cortos en la parte de la coronilla que se levantan disimuladamente hacia arriba, como atraídos por energía estática. “Cuando llegué a Inglaterra, por 1970, no me gustó, era completamente diferente a Australia… Inglaterra es muy marchoso y en aquel entonces un poco violento”, continúa con un español casi perfecto, aunque con marcado acento inglés. Estuvo cuatro años estudiando para electricista. Después viajó otra vez alrededor de Europa con dos amigos, y al volver a Inglaterra conoció a Meg Barker, su mujer. “Finalmente la situación con la señora (Margaret) Thatcher no nos gustó y la persuadí para irnos. Los dos sitios que más me gustaban eran España y Grecia, por el estilo de vida y la gente. La mentalidad de España ahora es: <<Alemania bajo el sol>>, son europeos; pero en ese entonces era diferente, sin estrés”. Llegaron a Valencia un sábado por la noche en el verano de 1984 cuando España todavía no era parte de la Unión Europea. En su ruta por academias de idiomas para buscar trabajo les enviaron a Gandía. Esa misma semana consiguieron empleo. “Yo nunca había sido profesor. Mi mujer sí, es maestra. No sabía muy bien de qué quería trabajar, pero soy viajero, todo sale”, afirma con tono risueño. “Mi primera clase fue con un grupo de secretarias, estaba un poco nervioso. Tuve que tomar una cerveza antes”, confiesa soltando una carcajada que hace que sus ojos parezcan una delgada línea azul. “Meg fue un gran apoyo dándome consejos”. Empezó viviendo en la playa de Gandía y luego en Gandía pueblo, “bueno, ciudad, porque un rey en el pasado dijo que Gandía era una ciudad”, aclara bajando la voz. La academia en la que trabajó, como muchas de la Comunidad Valenciana, tenía un dueño español aunque Young cree que afirmó que era francés “por un poco de imagen”. Mientras trabajó allí y a pesar de que “era un futuro incierto”, estudió castellano. Tenían que ir a la policía para renovar papeles cada tres meses, luego cada seis, cada año y luego cada cinco.

“Ahora tengo un papel verde que no tiene ni foto ni nada que es mi pasaporte. Estoy registrado como residente”, explica con cierto aire triunfal en la voz. A sus clases de español tuvo que sumarle después más formación porque, como explica, “una cosa es empezar y otra es seguir adelante”. Por eso, poco tiempo después de llegar hicieron el TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) en Aston University, seis meses a distancia y uno en Ávila. Más tarde se fue a Denia, donde durante tres años siguió en otra academia de inglés mientras Meg trabajaba en el British School. Allí conoció un profesor que le inspiró. “Era un británico que no tenía experiencia y se pasaba todas las clases ¡jugando! ¡Ahí comprendí cuál es el secreto!: si pretendes que una persona quiera aprender, tienes que hacer una clase divertida”. Con esa intención y decidido a trabajar de forma independiente llegó a Miramar, un pequeño municipio de Valencia que “está a medio kilómetro del mar y cerca de las montañas”, apunta con nostalgia, porque así era Adelaida, donde vivía en Australia. Compró una casa y justo en la entrada, en una habitación luminosa y de paredes blancas, está la academia. Desde entonces es autónomo. “Aquí llevamos… ¡bueno, 25 años!”exclama sorprendido, como intentando evadir lo rápido que pasa el tiempo entre estaciones, clases y familia. Los señores Young fueron los primeros británicos en asentarse en el pueblo. La integración fue gradual y agradable. “Nos apuntábamos a todo, íbamos a todas las fiestas del pueblo y ahora conocemos a todo el mundo. Estamos muy bien aquí”. Tanto, que asevera que a Inglaterra volvería “sólo para visitar familia”. “Tengo licencia de apertura, doy clases a un máximo de cinco alumnos y no hago publicidad, la gente se entera por la gente. Está muy bien, no puedo quejarme”, dice antes de levantarse por primera vez de la silla. Da dos pasos, observa un certificado encuadrado que está colgado en la pared izquierda y añade: “Desde 2005 la academia es legal. El proceso de legalización fue bastante fácil”. En su propia casa lleva más de una década dando clases grupales y personalizadas a adultos y, en menor cantidad, también a niños. Los primeros, según él, tienen “menos problemas de motivación” y muchos lo que necesitan es preparar el Cambridge, Trinity o Pearson – todos certificados aceptados – o tener clases sólo de conversación. De todo lo que más le satisface es la variedad. “No es un trabajo en el que se haga la misma cosa siempre. Además, se habla mucho con la gente, es muy interesante, me gusta lo que hago”. Y eso se nota. Lo dicen sus ojos.  

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Not just a law firm A global creative force

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ANDRÉS VELENCOSO

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Tell us about your present and future projects The episode for I live with models will premiere in November and the Joan Collins film Times of our lives will premiere next year, as it is currently in post-production. In November 100 Metros will be released too, directed by Marcel Barrena. I will also start shooting Álvaro Díaz Lorenzo’s new film Señor dame paciencia at the end of this month.

n the world of international modelling, Velencoso (Tossa de Mar, 1978) is in the top league and has been for more than 15 years. He is best known for his campaigns with Chanel, Cerruti and Louis Vuitton. But it takes a rare talent to make a successful transition into acting while maintaining a modelling career. How did you start as a model in Barcelona and when did you make it on the international scene? It started almost in parallel. I was working as a model in Barcelona whilst studying for my degree in Tourism. I attended some castings for big New York and Milan agencies that were based in Barcelona and that summer, after finishing my first year and having started working with my dad (at the restaurant, Casa Andrés), I decided not to continue with the degree and went to Milan. Then Paris, some months in Barcelona… and then, after having worked with my dad for another month and having properly thought about continuing or quitting my degree, I told my dad I was moving to New York. What does it mean to you to be an international reference? It is very fulfilling to be there for younger generations. They ask for tips, comment on your work on social media and that is an incredible feeling, it is really an honour.

How did you make the jump into acting and why? I started in 2012 with the feature film Fin, directed by Jorge Torregrossa (Clara Lago, Maribel Verdú, Daniel Grau, Carmen Ruiz, Miguel Fernandez and Blanca Romero). It was one of my first castings as an actor. I was in Madrid when my agent called me and told me one of the biggest casting agencies in Spain was interested in seeing me. I went there, did a first improv, a second one, another casting and I got the role. I had no idea where I was going with all this. After that, I did a television show, B&B (2014) and another film, Summer Camp (2015).

ANDRÉS VELENCOSO

The Spanish model and actor opens the doors of his London home to Laura Obiols to talk about fashion, film, politics and culture. And how is the film industry treating you? I sometimes regret not having started this before! Some of my close friends don’t understand why am I doing this but to be honest I always had acting in the back of my mind as I always liked it. It is certainly a challenge. I do not have an agent in the UK yet and I am aware it is harder for Spanish actors to have the same opportunities as British ones (it is easier to get roles in US as accent is not such a barrier there) but I have to say it has been a very enriching experience so far. I have been to two castings, one with Comedy Central for a series called I live with models and another one for a movie with Joan Collins and I am really excited to share that I got both roles. The most important thing is to keep active and doing projects – it all counts, even the smallest one. Are you comfortable in this world? We have read nice reviews of your work from both directors and actors you have worked with I am far more comfortable modelling than acting for obvious reasons but I am really enjoying each acting experience life brings me; the other day I was shooting a scene with David Bueno, Salva Reina and Eduardo Casanova and it was an incredible high.

Left: Filming with Belén Rueda, image courtesy of Telecinco.

Why did you move to London and not Paris, Milan or New York? I lived in Madrid for the past two years, trying to develop my career as an actor but things were not going as fast as I imagined. There were many changes at a personal level too. I decided to move to London as it is the capital of men’s fashion and to give myself the opportunity to give my acting career a push. It is easier to be based here if I want to do castings. I lived in London in the past [three years ago] and I always had the feeling I wanted to be back. I lived in New York for 10 years and I wanted to be closer to my family in Spain. My life is not as frantic these days as it was back then. There were times I did not know where I was. My schedule was managed by agencies, who do not normally think about you as a person but rather as a work product that does not need to stop. Now I manage my own agenda and it is a different story. I can afford to travel to Tossa, where my family is, every time I am in Spain. How do you see Spain from London? I have always been living abroad. In my opinion, Spain’s quality of life is not comparable to any other place in the world. But then, what is happening politically in our country is quite embarrassing and frustrating. Nobody seems to agree on basic important stuff. All politicians work in their own interest. I am not sure if you have heard but it has been suggested that the third elections are on Christmas day… and people are buying into that, it is ridiculous! What do you think about Brexit? I was quite surprised with the result but then, as I was talking to British friends, I realised that many people did not want to be attached to EU laws. I would like to know what is going to happen in the future but I have no idea. I guess it will be a very organic process. I have heard that housing prices are going to drop but I do not think anyone knows how this will affect us.

42  La Revista • Autumn-Winter 2016

BritishSpanish Society


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