Yesterday was one of those days that makes me glad I upped and left the sprawling streets of London town to head south to the winding calles of Sevilla. Living in London, I could fulfil every cultural whim that took my fancy, but somehow it took every ounce of energy for me to make it down past the end of my street never mind contemplate the traumas of a night bus home at 1am. But Sevilla is different. OK, so not every night of the week is rammed with up-to-the-minute, finger on-the-pulse, cutting edge trends, but scratch under the service and there´s a really interesting artistic, bohemian scene going on.
Never more so than in the network of Corralónes that litter the city´s historic centre. Buried in away in the deepest recesses of Sevilla´s backstreets, the corralónes are kind complex of artisan workshops dating back over a century and are a hotbed for creative talent such as artists, metal workers, sculptors, furniture makers, musicians, poets and flamenco dancers all trying to make a living from behind their unassuming garage fronted doors.
This weekend the Corralónes of Pelicano and Pasaje Mallol united under the name of ´Se Parte del Arte´ and opened their doors to anyone interested enough to poke their noses inside and see what masterpieces are being created.
I´m not a natural nosy parker, so as I tentatively tip toed into a mind boggling selection of artesans´ work spaces I worried I was going to get told off for trespassing, but everyone was delighted to explain what they were doing and why.
In Pasaje Mallol there was a party atmosphere with kids running around and mature gentlemen with rosy-hued cheeks telling me how ´guapa´ I was. I loved the metal work studio where sparks flew and Mad Max designs hung from the walls and was blown away by an dazzling painter´s studio that pulsated with vibrant colours housing a velour covered psychedelic construction that wouldn´t have looked out of place in the Magic Roundabout.
Just a hop and a skip down the road from Pasaje Mallol is Plaza Pelicano and its namesake Corralón. I´d been there once before and had heard about the community of artisans working there, but as on that day, the doors were firmly shut, so I had no idea as to flow of creative juices that pump through it´s cobbled streets. As I arrived a crowd had formed round a guy wielding what looked like a gun on a gas bottle, but turned out to be the props for a competition where kids who had designed space rockets saw them propelled into the stratosphere. There were lots of ‘oohs’ and ‘aaahs’ and a ‘shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit’ as one of the rockets came flying towards my head, but luckily missed me by a fraction. (You’ve gotta love how health and safety regulations are shunned in these parts).
Inside there were further artists´ spaces open to have a butchers round, plus live music from Sevilla favourites Miguelito Bueno, Dani Mata and Enrique Mengual, who took over a garage lock up belonging to some bearded poets and round the corner some circus performers who tore up a storm in the Espacio Vacio.
The Corralónes felt like a step back in time and yet somehow a forward looking to the future. These are people who are trying to live for and from their art. It felt hopeful somehow, and left me feeling reassured that this city’s cultural heartbeat continues to beat strongly, despite the grim realities of austerity España.