Barcelona offers a myriad of experiences for those seeking to immerse themselves in the vibrant arts scene. The SAI VIVA Experience at a historic ceramic workshop was a unique introduction to the world of pottery.
The day began with anticipation as we traveled to the barrio of L’Hospitalet de Llobregat. The colorful streets and crisp autumn air created a great atmosphere. We arrived at a rustic farmhouse and were greeted by Jordi Serra, a widely renowned ceramist with familial ties to the Catalan Modernisme movement. Jordi grew up around the workshop and has continued his family’s practice. He gave us a tour of the facilities, showing us the gallery spaces, studios, and the kiln. I was amazed by the caliber of the equipment and how the farmhouse has withstood the test of time. Witnessing various artworks dating back to the early 20th century and learning the history behind them was a moving experience. Jordi also gave valuable insight into his creative process, explaining his famed techniques and greatest inspirations. It was evident that Jordi invests a tremendous amount of care and attention to detail into his craft.
After completing our tour, Jordi and his assistant introduced us to the basics of pottery, from molding the clay to the intricacies of glazing. Jordi’s hands-on demonstrations, accompanied by detailed explanations, made it easy for us to follow his instructions with confidence. He was very friendly, answering questions and providing assistance whenever necessary. For our first task, we were given glazed plates and told to carve designs out of the negative space with a set of tools. I opted for an abstract wave pattern using a prong brush. This was such a unique souvenir and served as a tangible reminder of this fond memory. Next, we took turns on the pottery wheel with Jordi’s assistant. She guided us through the process while letting us take full creative freedom. My peers and I were all given a piece of clay, but it was so interesting to see what everyone came up with. Whether crafting a delicate bowl or experimenting with sculptural forms, the possibilities were endless.
We wrapped up the workshop just in time for lunch. We had the privilege of eating at the restaurant owned by Jordi’s son. It was a delicious three-course meal, and it was especially rejuvenating after a morning of hard work. Our last activity for the day was perusing Jordi’s shop, where we had the option to purchase more keepsakes. The shop featured an array of handcrafted ceramics, each piece telling a unique story of creativity and skill. From functional mugs adorned with intricate patterns to ornamental sculptures that captured the essence of Catalan artistry, the selection was a testament to the diversity of talent in Barcelona’s ceramics scene.
As the day drew to a close, I couldn’t help but reflect on my experience. It wasn’t just about creating art; it was about connecting with the rich artistic heritage of Barcelona and gaining insights into the intricate world of ceramics. Jordi Serra’s passion for his craft and his dedication to preserving the legacy of his family’s workshop added a profound layer to the entire experience. The workshop not only provided a hands-on introduction to pottery but also allowed us to become a part of a tradition that spans generations. The combination of history, craftsmanship, and personal creativity made this workshop an unforgettable highlight of my time in Barcelona.
Written by: Alejandra, Fall 2023 Barcelona student from Kansas State University