Articles / About Camagüey / Patrimony / The Newspaper Reader of the Carmelites Square
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
The Newspaper Reader of the Carmelites Square
By Yolanda Ferrera Sosa Translation: Gualveris Rosales Sánchez
It was in 2003 when Norberto Subirat Betancourt, 69, knew the mysteries of being an art model.
“I would have never imagined that”, said the old man as he waited in his beloved Plaza del Carmen (Carmelites Square) the visitors that everyday flow to this historic site, completely restored by the Office of the City Historian of Camagüey.
The human figure of Subirat – conceived by ceramist Marta Jiménez- stands out from the other life-size sculptures of this complex. The man is sitting cross-legged on a bench, absorbed in reading an edition of Adelante Newspaper.
The tourists who visit this beautiful place enjoy taking pictures of this lovely person, who sits next to the group of sculptures which perpetuates local personages and customs of this old city.
“Marta is my neighbor -he points out- we visit each other and have been good friends for years. She told me once that she was looking for an old man…no so old, as an art model. She had an idea in her mind that wanted to take it to completion with the project the Office of the City Historian had entrusted to her in order to liven up the Carmelites Square”.
Then Subirat, displaying his enviable loquacity and gift for socializing was chosen by the artist as her model.
“But Marta –he told her- I haven’t had much time to read newspapers on park benches, I’ve been a driver for all my life”; and the prestigious ceramist convinced her model by telling him: “It doesn’t matter, Subirat. Elderly people once they retire, they usually do not have much things to do, so they dedicate part of their leisure time to read newspapers on open spaces. This is the idea I want to convey in this case; the placidness of those who are living advanced adulthood so does our city”.
“I told her, okay, Marta. And we agreed to meet everyday at 9 am during a month. I would be the model of her sculpture: the Newspaper Reader of the Carmelites Square that she made of clay.
The Plaza del Carmen and the buildings around it were erected in the 19th century. The cobbled square, the old houses, the church and the convent of the Ursulines Mothers, which was totally remodeled in 1999 and now is the headquarter of the Office of the City Historian of Camagüey.
This attractive place has been enriched with the artistic work of ceramist Marta Jiménez, who created a series of painteresque figures easily recognizable such as: the old man “Matao” and his wheelbarrow; the chatty housewives and the newspaper reader.
“There are laws for safeguarding this heritage –assures Subirat- because social discipline must be observed. I spend much time here, at the square and appreciate the work of the security guards that constantly look after our architectonic treasure. And this square is one of our most beloved sites.