In 2015, the members of WABA (World Association of Brick Artists) were invited to exhibit at the Nau Gaudi Art Museum in Mataro, Spain. Founding members include: Ulla Viotti (Sweden), Jacques Kaufmann (France/Switzerland), Gwen Heeney (Wales, UK), Fritz Vehring (Germany) and myself (Robert Harrison (USA/Canada) with recently added member Andrew Burton (UK).
The Nau Gaudi has the distinction of being housed in Antonio Gaudi’s first commission as a young architect. Originally designed as a warehouse for the textiles industry the building has at its core a series of beautiful wooden catenary arches. Now an art museum named after its benefactor, the hand made brick exterior with a wonderful plaza space was a perfect location for a WABA exhibition.
The WABA group met in the fall of 2015 in Barcelona to look for appropriate sculptural materials for our outdoor works. I was fortunate to not only find hand made brick, similar to the brick used in the Nau Gaudi, but was also extremely fortunate to make a connection with a Barcelona tile maker (who runs a small factory that reproduces tiles that are used to restore buildings from the 19th C.) to save seconds along with broken tiles from his production.
I late August of 2016 the group reconvened to begin constructing their works.
We met with the curator of the museum to sort out where our individual projects would be sited. My work, titled Mataro Houses was to be placed at the entry to the museum. In looking for a welder to help fabricate the galvanized steel mesh house containers I was introduced to a very famous family of wrought iron artisans. They welded the houses together under my instruction and figured out the appropriate device to secure the houses to the brick paving of the Nau Gaudi plaza.
WABA members worked for 2 weeks on site with the assistance of local tradesmen. Once the hand made brick and glazed tiles were delivered I set about filling the house containers making sure to highlight the variety of brick and tile. Mataro Houses honors Antonio Gaudi and how his groundbreaking use of earth-based construction materials including clay brick and ceramic tiles has influenced my work for over thirty years.
The exhibition opened on September 16th and was acquired by the City of Mataro for permanent display in the Nau Gaudi plaza.