Limited edition print of a street in Havanah, Cuba
48cm x 28cm image size not including the white boarder paper
First thoughts on Havana
Imagine taking the wonderful, captivating, exciting architecture of Fortnum and masons’ in London’s Mayfair, emptying it out, then leaving it to rot for 30 years and finally moving a pound shop in. That’s what almost the whole of Havana is like.
I admittedly this introduction reads as a disaster but there is something about this broken city that makes you fall in love with it.
My initial impression was wonder and fear in equal measure. Wonder because the standard of care in the architecture is very high and deliciously eccentric. Inexplicably mixing The Baroque, Gothic Revival and Art Nouveau in a single street. It should not work but somehow it just does. Whoever built Havana was clearly making a statement of civic pride, independence and prosperity as one sees in Seville or Barcelona.
And fear because although Havana is majestic it is also near derelict. You look down a dimly lit street, both sides littered with abandoned cars and abandoned dog’s. You can just pick out a gang of teenagers sitting on bins smoking and doing not a lot. Hmm do you go for a walk down here? Nope! You decide to try another street only to be greeted by more or less the same scene.
In the end you have to either stay inside or ‘risk it’. Once you do venture out however you realise you were viewing the world through Western European eyes. Clearly Havana has been neglected, though not by the people who live there.
You soon realise they are just doing their best to get by and making the best of what they have. So despite appearances you soon discover walking about is pretty safe. Havana has much to offer for a city and too much to go into here though you get the best of music, people, architecture and if you are into Ernest Hemmingway or the early history of the Italian Mafia then Havana is a must.
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