Barcelona Cultura

Illustrator Clara Nubiola exhibits "Reading a square", a collective work done together with adolescents

Artist Clara Nubiola, together with 3rd ESO students from the Salvador Espriu High School at el Clot, will be exhibiting from October 13th the work "Reading a square" in the Design Hub Barcelona lobby. Nubiola has developed this work within the framework of the "In Residence" program, promoted by the Barcelona Institute of Culture (ICUB) and the Barcelona Education Consortium, which introduces contemporary creation in public secondary schools through the direct and continuous contact of a creator with the students.

For Nubiola, participating in the "In Residence" program has been "a fantastic experience", since it has given her "the challenge of forgetting her own authorship –to which we people who do artistic projects are used to– in order to think collectively, and putting the work of the students first.

The dynamics with the adolescents of the Salvador Espriu High School has been the following: on a weekly basis and during a year, the artist appeared at school on Tuesday mornings, at Social Sciences time –since the project was developed during class hours– and took the boys and girls out on the street, to discover the environment and draw it, to become aware of their self in the neighborhood and the city they inhabit: "we have left the classroom to step on ground, because that’s what social sciences are about: going out to explore".

Clara Nubiola's projects are always built on a critical point of view regarding the environment: "What moves me is to claim awareness of the territory, as an individual and as a society. I like to promote responsibility about the space we inhabit, because we often live with it passively, without thinking that the square that we walk on every day which we think ugly will influence how we are and how we move around the city. It is important to educate in the critical spirit of the environment, or at least that is what I have been trying for years".

And what does this teach to young people? According to Nubiola, "that there are other, much more experiential ways of approaching knowledge". The artist, who has led numerous workshops in Architecture schools where, she says, "everyone thinks about drawing plans and being serious", claims a different, more spontaneous way of doing: "when I appear in these contexts I promote the opposite: to grab some brushes, go out on the streets, let ourselves be carried away, and explore urbanism from a much less theoretical perspective".

The initial difficulty with the adolescents of Salvador Espriu was to overcome the shame of "I can’t draw" which, according to her, "is a beautiful barrier to break, because once it’s crossed you see how people get empowered with their drawings." From the first day she forbade them to carry the eraser: "it doesn’t matter how you draw: what matters is the fact that you are drawing, that you are narrating and communicating something."

During the long weeks of lockdown, the project didn’t stop: the illustrator, who recognizes that she "missed" the boys and girls, reinvented the dynamic through a WhatsApp group and decided to promote the "inner journey", from home: "One day we built imaginary cities with household objects: a perfume bottle, a pen, a pencil case turned into towers, traffic lights, roads and buses; another day they drew a city inside their own room, because it really doesn't matter where you are but your desire to narrate, draw and communicate".

With the same intention of creating a story based on free drawing, on October 25th, Clara Nubiola will lead a workshop at the Design Museum within the framework of "Barcelona Dibuixa". Open to everyone, the workshop "will appeal to individual freedom" and will claim the individual perception of the environment and the daily life of each.


Ajuntament de Barcelona