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Insider: Catalina Gibert Nadal« BACK « TO BEGINNING


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Jewellery by Artists: From Picasso to Koons, an exhibition organised by the culture and art portal

Insider's view · Europe · spain · Mallorca

Insider: Catalina Gibert Nadal


Insider: Catalina Gibert Nadal

The peculiarities of island life

Catalina Gibert Nadal is a Spanish contemporary jewellery designer who was born in Palma and still lives there today. She studied architecture, but then realised that she can best express herself through jewellery. Her 2012 collection Llimona was inspired by Mallorca's legendary lemon trees, after which Nadal was instantly referred to as the Lemon Girl of the jewellery world. The people, nature and colours of Mallorca continue to serve as her main sources of inspiration. As she popularises the island through her jewellery, she gladly shares some of its secrets with

Why do you like living in Palma?
This is where I was born. And besides, when you're born in a place that's near the sea, you form such a close relationship with it that you simply require the presence of water. When I went to study in Barcelona, that was near the sea, too, but I wasn't able to see it so well every day. And also, Barcelona is very big. In Palma everything is easy to get a grasp of, and it's easy to get around on foot. If I want, I can take my camera and find a small, out-of-the-way street with no people on it. Or just the opposite, I can go enjoy the commotion of restaurants and cafés by the market. Palma is a wonderful place to live. The presence of light is also very important to me. I spent some time in a small city in Germany, where it was even colder than Frankfurt in the winter. When I opened the window to my room in the mornings, it was grey, cloudy and rainy outside. I couldn't stand the fact that not a single sliver of blue sky could be seen between the clouds.

Don't you sometimes feel too far from the continent and quite isolated while living on an island?
Yes, life on an island is different. I know quite a few people living on this island who have never been to the continent. They've never had the desire to leave, just like there are families living in small villages in the interior of the island who have never been to the sea. Those are mostly old people who have lived their entire lives in a single village, socialising with the neighbours and working on the farm and in the fields.

But even people who live in Palma think twice about whether to go to Pollença, which is located at the other end of the island, about an hour-and-a-half drive from Palma. It feels like an immense journey for them. An hour-and-a-half there, and then another hour-and-a-half back - that's a lot for a Mallorcan. A big waste of time. Because they're used to the dimensions of the island. And, the smaller the place where you live, the smaller it seems you yourself become; you tend to withdraw more into your own shell. I think people who have moved to Mallorca from the continent help the locals very much to become more open. I've lived on the outside for long periods of time, so it's not a problem for me anymore. But I remember the first time I went to Barcelona, I was shocked that, for example, I could climb on the train and be in Valencia in three hours' time. It seemed impossible for me, because here three hours is a very long time.

Does this mean that there's a completely different sense of time on the island?
Yes, both of time and of distance. It's as if we've adapted them to the dimensions of the island, however strange that may sound. Every once in a while, though, I feel the need to get away. Because if you're with one and the same people all of the time, it's very important to feel that there's also a world on the outside. Mallorcans are very introverted; they're not as open as, for example, the people of Barcelona.

Is that also a characteristic of people who live on islands?
Definitely, I think all people who live on islands have this in common. On the other hand, each society has its own specific characteristics. There are still very many high society people living in Mallorca, families descended from the contemporaries of the Medicis, who have always lived in their own closed circle, not mixing with other islanders. And it's still the same today. The class differences are very pronounced on Mallorca. Personally, I think it's a bunch of nonsense. Most of these people live in Palma, but almost every family has a house in the interior, their own finca (a Spanish term for a rural estate, property) in the middle of nowhere. To survive in today's climate, the younger generations have often turned these homes into hotels or restaurants, because it takes a lot of money to maintain a property like that. The heirs of high-born families often have a lot of properties, but not much cash. And they need to earn cash in order to continue the family traditions and hold on to their properties.

Five or ten years ago, Mallorca had the reputation of being a classic mass tourism destination, and it was not considered stylish to come here. But now things have changed. Why do you think people should come to Mallorca?
In Germany, when I told people I was from Mallorca, there was always someone who said his godmother lived there and he had been there to visit one time, and that our beaches are full of beer drinkers, etc. This stereotype still exists, but if you come here and avoid the mass tourism places, you'll see a completely different Mallorca. In addition, everything is together here if you wish, like beaches and discos. Very exclusive places and also completely rural areas in the interior of the island. You can be all by yourself at some remote spot on the island and at the next moment be in a crowd of people in the city. Palma isn't really that small, but it is nevertheless easy to grasp and take in.

What are your favourite places in Mallorca?
I was born into an artistic family. My grandfather was a painter, and as a child I often accompanied him when he went to paint. His favourite place was the Serra de Tramuntana area in Pollença. And still, every time I go there I can spend hours just gazing at the views. For me, the most beautiful is the road that leads from Andratx to Valldemossa and Deià. Port des Canonge is a wonderful place that is usually not crowded with people. Deià is the town I love the most. The panorama from the Sa Foradada cliffs is simply breathtaking. And so is Cap de Formentor - a serpentine road leads to the cliffs on the northern cape of the island. At the end there is a lighthouse.

What places would you suggest avoiding?
El Arenal, Palma Nova, Cala Major - those places are crowded with people. In addition, they're close to Palma and are favourites of the all-inclusive hotel tourists. Alcudia, too.

Where do the creative and artistic types go?
To Deià, Valldemossa, Soller and Artà.

And for those who like to search for "hidden beaches", where do you suggest they go?
Platja Formentor is a very beautiful beach, and you can combine it with a trip to the Cap de Formentor lighthouse. Cala Deià, Sa Calobra and Cala Tuent, where the great restaurant Es Vergeret is located. Cala Estellencs is also a small and very nice place.

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