November 2003


We think in England that things are leisurely and deadlines are not met. Well, in Barcelona one of their most famous landmarks, the Sagrada Familia, the brain-child of the eccentric and profoundly religious Antoni Gaudi, will be finished (hopefully) in 2023. The work was set in motion in 1882 (yes I did say 1882) by Francisco de Paula del Villar, then taken over by Gaudi in 1883. He personally undertook the work on the neo-gothic crypt, part of the apse and the facade of the Nativity (eastern side).

Those of you with calculators to hand, have already worked out, quick as a flash, that that is 121 years holy building time.

Architecture has always highly significant in Catalan culture, and in the late 19th century the breathtaking technology/arts expansion and the influence of art nouveau was in full swing over Europe. Along comes white-haired, long-bearded Gaudi, who was passionate about the arts, with his own off-beat theory, that by the construction of the cathedral Barcelona would be saved from the religious profanity of the modern era. After all, he did have the moniker "God’s architect" given by the conservative Catholics, and today some are crusading for him to be made a saint.

The elderly and frail Gaudi was a man obsessed and he was sticking zealously to his project like cement, to the point that he became a recluse, set-up in residence on the site and even sold his belongings. And in a twist to Bob Dylan’s song "Knocking on Heaven's Door" he went knocking door-to-door to raise money to complete his righteous vision. In June 1926 sadly in a senseless traffic accident, he was run over by a tram on the Gran Via. Gaudi was in a public hospital ward for several days before the doctors identified him. When he died Barcelona’s illustrious architect was given a funeral worthy of a great statesman.

After his death, a half-completed framework was all that was left to the city. And who could blame the community who were beginning to turn their backs on this perceived to be old-fashioned project?

And in 1936 Gaudi’s study and design notes were burned by Spanish Civil War shelling. The project recommenced ib 1952 after lying dormant for a long time, using drawings and maquettes as the basis although tension and wrangling was always not to far from the surface. In the 1980s the Japanese supplied the funds for a new working schedule, with a lot of hypothesis going on. The builders are hoping to add 10 spires to the eight already there - the tallest will be 170 metres - and the constructed parts are to be open to visitors to climb. The brave among you would be able to see that extraordinary views the city has to offer.

ARTY NEWSFLASH - it would seem that the tempo of the work has accelerated over the last few years (which is a relief as there was over two million visitors last year), and a realistic goal date is, 2023.

Gaudi originally wanted a cathedral for the 20th century, and now it seems that his visionary Gothic Basilica will now be a 21st-century monument and legacy to his architectural flair and genius.

46664 NEEDS YOU!

The beloved world statesman Nelson Mandela was incarcerated for over 18 years in Robben Island prison, and was referred to only as 46664. Last month in London he launched 46664:Give a Minute of Your Life to Aids,.

Mandela is amazingly turning his prison number into a fight against aids, raising aids awareness and raising funds at the same time. People from around the world can call in and listen to a celebrity message from Robert De Niro or a new song by Bono (lyrics by the late Joe Strummer of The Clash) and at the same time donate to the charity just by listening. No signature, no paperwork required, how brilliant and fantastic this philanthropic idea is (in Britain, it will be £1 per minute - see telephone number below).

This is a music industry first, as the recordings will only be accessible on the telephone lines and everybody will be urged to dial that number.

Bringing back memoirs of Live Aid in 1985, a gigantic world-wide three-hour multi-media concert is been planed at Greenpoint Stadium in Cape Town, South Africa on November 29, which will be broadcast free around the globe via, TV,webcaste and radio.

The tip-top acts include, Bono, Ex-Eurythmic Dave Stewart, Queen (Freddie Mercury lead singer of Queen died of Aids in 1991), Youssou N’Dour, Beyonce Knowles and many more artists to be announced. The forecast for the overall audience, is a mind-blowing two billion people.

All money raised goes to research on HIV and Aids and to the Nelson Mandela Foundation in South Africa. Nelson said ."In prison, I was just a number - people with aids are just numbers." So lets make that number count and and ring 46664:Give a Minute of Your Life to Aids . Enjoy the gig!

Donations, 09060 146664 (£1 per minute)

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