Centre d’Art d’Escaldes- Engordany, the whole of the 2nd floor has been turned over to Coco Chanel AND HER FRIENDS



While the recently opened Museu Carmen Thyssen, regales us with paintings by artists such as Monet, Gauguin, Sisley and Matisse, a hundred metres down, on the other side of the road, at the Centre d’Art d’Escaldes- Engordany, the whole of the 2nd floor has been turned over to Coco Chanel AND HER FRIENDS.

Gabrielle Bonheur “Coco” Chanel was born in France in August 1883 to a washerwoman and a travelling peddler. Her mother died when she was 12 and, one of seven siblings, she was sent to a Catholic orphanage where the nuns taught her to sew – and to persevere.

Chanel was famous throughout her life for her determination, ambition, and energy which must surely have been combined with an impressively high IQ and acute emotional intelligence. For not only did she rise to become one of the iconic designers and business women of the 20th Century but she was also accepted, through her many connections and friends, into the French high society of the day. She is reported to have said, In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different.

So who were her friends? And which of them are represented in today’s exhibition? Here you will find lithographs, portraits and an engraving by her Spanish friend, Pablo Picasso, photos of her by Cecil Beaton. Her lover, the sculptor Apeles Fenosa, 15 years her junior, is represented by a bust and a drawing of her plus some interesting bronzes of musicians including one appearing in a Cecil Beaton photograph of Chanel in her living room with Fenosa’s La Flûtiste in the background. Photographs by such names as Horst P. Horst, Françoise Koller, Roger Schall and Pascal Heinous hang on the walls. There is also a famous Man Ray photograph of Salvador Dalí’s portrait. Chanel was to spend two weeks with Dalí in August 1939 and he was the only painter whose work she had displayed in her home.

Incidentally, there are also two framed bills of Fenosa’s from the Hotel Ritz and paid for by Coco. For Chanel was known to be very generous, lending support to such great names as Cocteau whose work is also to be seen here and whom she funded for many years. She was patron to Diaghilev and even paid for his funeral in Venice. At one time she said Diaghilev invented Russia for foreigners.

Finally there are display cases showing remarkably modern looking high-healed shoes, a bejewelled evening bag, and huge bottles of her  various fragrances including the iconic Chanel Nº 5.

Chanel is recognised for liberating women from the copious skirts and restrictive corsets of the late 19th century and for popularising the chic, free-flowing lines of her coulture, some examples of which are on display in the exhibition. Coco never called herself an artist. Dressmaking, she said, is a technique, a trade, a craft. She is also quoted as saying Fashion changes, style endures.

I’ll end with two more quotes from Coco Chanel: A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous. The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.

IRISH CELTIC: Tuesday, 21st March at 18.30 and 21.30, and Wednesday, 22nd March at 21.30 in the Sala de Prat del Roure, Escaldes-Engordany. (Tickets: rows 15-25 30€; rows 8-13 35€; rows 1-7 45€ from morabanc web page). In 2016 IRISH CELTIC brought together the best dancers from the Irish dance companies and drew more than 200,000 spectators to their tour of France. The show includes over 30 artists brimming with energy as they recreate scenes from Celtic history from the days of the Druids, through the great migrations, to the journey of the Titanic. From the Celtic Irish Pub, discover songs, legends, traditions and dances from a culture with a rich and ancient heritage.

CANTATE D’AIGUA (Water Cantata). Wednesday, 22nd March at 20.30 in the downstairs theatre/Sala d’Actes of the Comú of Escaldes-Engordany. (Free) ELS PETITS CANTORS D’ANDORRA will sing a Cantate d’Aigua. Organised by UNESCO Andorra in celebration of the International Day of Water.

at 37, Ave Carlemany, Escaldes-Engordany. (Entry 9€ or 5€ for seniors.) The first exhibition, on display until 14th January, 2018, is called SCENARIOS: FROM MONET TO ESTES. FROM TROUVILLE TO NEW YORK. There are 26 paintings in all, including works by French Impressionists such as Claude Monet, Paul Gauguin, Paul Signac, Henry le Sidaner and the American artists John Henry Twachtman and Theodore Robinson. Sisley is here as is Matisse. There is also a good selection of Catalan Modernists: Ramon Casas, Joaquin Mir Trinxet, Hermenegildo Anglada Camarasa and Eliseu Meifrèn. On entry there is a small shop carrying some attractive items and there is a stand of lockers on your right where you must leave your handbag or shopping.


THE POWER OF ESSENTIAL OILS. Wednesday, 22nd March at 3.30pm in the Hotel Coma, Ordino. (5€, includes afternoon tea and scones.) Learn about THE POWER OF ESSENTIAL OILS with the naturopath JANE LANDEL. Not only has JANE been trained in the use of essential oils and studied their properties but she has also given many talks on the subject. Come and hear what these oils can do for you. JANE will be bringing samples so you can experience the aromas for yourselves. Please book with Hotel reception on 736 100 by midday on Tuesday 21st.

DOUBLE BOOK LAUNCH and Power Point presentation: UNCONVENTIONAL MAN / UNCONVENTIONAL LIFE. Thursday, 23rd March at 3.30pm at the Hotel Coma, Ordino. (Free but please support the hotel by buying a drink at the bar.) A repeat (on request) of the presentation given last month. The talk draws on tales from Edward Allcard’s unusual 102-year life: first person to sail solo both ways across the Atlantic; discovery of beautiful stowaway aboard, leading to invitation to Desert Island Discs etc. Solo Around Cape Horn and Beyond ihas just been published and is Edward’s fourth book. Set in 1966, it describes a year spent sailing alone around South America’s Tierra del Fuego, wintering near Cape Horn and cruising Patagonia, scavenging for food and battling gales in which he almost lost both his boat and his life. Clare Allcard’s book, A Gypsy Life, describes their many adventures in the 70s travelling the world aboard an large old sailing boat: rammed and almost sunk in the Bay of Biscay, robbed by the Mafia, attacked by the Ethiopian Navy, and fired on, captured and jailed for spying by the South Yemeni Communists etc. (Signed copies will be available at 19€ each. Both books are also available on Amazon.)

Culturally yours,



Look for about the author of the blog Clare Allcard


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