OK, we’re back in Almodovar exploring the Art Gallery part of the town’s Museum of Painting and Photography.
Remember, photos downstairs in the old jail part, paintings upstairs in the old Council HQ part.
Right, fine, I’m on an accompanied visit with Patricia, my contact at the Camara (town hall) and Rui Cortes, the Camara historian and archaeologist.
We headed out of the photographic display area towards reception and stairs up to the gallery when old Rui stopped us and pointed out a trapdoor in the TLH corner of the wooden ceiling, obviously originating from the floor above.
He didn’t say a great deal more about it until we were upstairs but then he hoisted back the hinged cover and bade me peer down.
Apparently it was the dropping off point for criminals brought before the council as and when they were found guilty. As the drop seemed to be about five metres, I hoped there was plenty straw, maybe even a mattress laid for a softish landing … or maybe a fat prisoner to cushion the fall.
Rui said these traps were common at the time but this was the only remaining example of the trapdoor drop for a long way in any direction – Paul Daniels please take note!
I had with me at this time a couple of old friends from Huddersfield (now in Elland, gone all posh) Malc and Joan.
The pic shows Malc peering into the void. Being a retired joiner, perhaps he’s picking up the idea for the committee meetings at his golf club to reject applicants like me!
Back with the art, the exhibition is work by Severo Portela who was originally from Lisboa. He ranged around the Camaras doing official works mainly as a sculptor. He then met and married a lass from Almodovar and her family had a bit of money (no fool this lad) so he was free to develop his not inconsiderable painting skills.
He became quite famous and won a number of awards for his work. After he died a number of these works were donated to Almodovar which led to the formation of the museum. Since then, the Camara have bought other examples of his works whenever possible.
His paintings also feature the ‘official’ line quite frequently – ships setting sail on notable voyages, religious scenes etc. but there is quite a variety of other works … one in particular of a naked woman and the studio must’ve been ooh so cold!
Again, as I mentioned previously, admission is free and the staff courteous and attentive. It seems a shame they are little seen or known by tourists outside the immediate district and part of my discussions with Patricia will be on how we can get some more exposure for the museums.
I did get a little maudlin about the gallery tour because it was my obsession with art that contributed to my first marriage failing. Yes, I was ’art Monday at darts, ’art Tuesday at tennis, ’art Wednesday at footy…
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