30 Jun 2013

Lladró – a Language of the Heart

“Lladró has forged a language that goes beyond words. It is a celebration of the best moments of life. Inspired by dreams and fantasy, traditions, literature and art, nature or daily life, there is always a story behind each piece.” From Lladró brochure

Lladró was created in the mid 1950s in the small village of Almácera (near Valencia) but it was in the summer of 1973, while my family was spending a year in Madrid, that I first heard the word ‘Lladró’ – and fell in love.

In a small shop in Madrid, not far from where my mother was born, my parents took me to a special ‘tienda’ where Lladró figurines adorned the shelves. My young heart was filled with joy and knew at a glance there would be a figurine just right for me. I would easily fulfil my quest: to please my Spanish aunties who had given me money for my birthday expecting me to spend it wisely.

As soon as my father had helped me with the maths of what I could afford, my mother and I carefully picked our way through porcelain figurines. At the age of eleven, becoming a collector of Lladró porcelain made me feel very important.

But I was overwhelmed with the choices, figurines so exquisite in translucent tones, with features so realistic, even a novice collector like me understood the language of the heart – the language of beauty and craftsmanship. 

I tried to narrow down my selection, my small hands gliding over the glossy surfaces of the fine statuettes: a milkmaid shooing away a long-necked goose dipping its beak into her full pail of milk. An elegant Spanish dancer in flowing dress. Cheeky kittens and playful pups, yapping and biting in an exuberant game. A tall and slender girl with a white veil cradled a petite rabbit in her arms – I wanted them all!

I looked around for a blissful while longer and then...
Señorita Burrita – the cutest donkey, with a posy of flowers, spoke straight to my young heart. Each petal of the daisy had stamped in tiny black print the words Sí…no…sí…no…, meaning, he loves me…he loves me not... and I announced to my mother, “This one!”

Burrita enamorada (female donkey in love) was produced and sold in Spain between 1970 and 1985. My Lladró donkey has travelled the world and has survived the move to several homes since those childhood times. My little donkey has taken pride of place upon a piano, a bookshelf, a guest’s bedside table and, on some occasions, she has sat in the middle of a dinner table surrounded by white daisies with yellow centres, just like the ones she holds with her proud hoof.

Lladro 60th Anniversary Celebrations in Australia

Forty years after the purchase of my beautiful Burrita, I find myself among a group of Lladró admirers in the Hardy Brothers gallery in the heart of Melbourne. We are welcomed with a glass of wine to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the Lladró brothers who made their dream a reality – creating a huge world-class porcelain collection now sold all around the world.

Adela Oller sat quietly at a desk in the centre of the room showing us how she made the delicate flowers and decorated a basket with the soft porcelain paste. My father introduced us in fluent Spanish and Adela was quietly delighted to have someone who could translate the conversation to the small crowd clustering around us. We watched entranced by her professional artistry and her elegant Spanish manners.

We had a little laugh about my love affair as an eleven year old with my Lladró donkey and then Adela warmly said “Sí, tócalo” (Yes, touch it) as she gently placed a small lump of soft porcelain in my hand to feel its texture.

I beamed at my partner, Harry standing nearby and felt so very honoured to be touching the porcelain in its raw state while Adela and I conversed in Spanish, as she carefully cut out the flowers and placed them on the statuette in front of her that would return to Spain with her after this tour and be put in the kiln for its final firing. 

Hearing her speak and watching her work, I felt as if I was in the shop in Madrid again. The Lladró figurines on the sparkling shelves seemed to whisper, “Look, are we not beautiful?” 

Harry and I toured the cosy space, another glass of wine in our hands, giggling with delight to be sharing such a special event together. We circled the shelves commenting on each Lladró piece and then, spontaneously, he touched my arm and said,

“Would you like me to buy one for our anniversary?”      My eyes widened, bright with anticipation and as if I were plucking daisy petals just like Señorita Burrita. I replied, 

“Yes...no...yes...no...YES PLEASE! But you choose.”

His gift, ‘Bella Gloria’ now radiates memories of Spain from the mantlepiece of our home in Australia. Each time my hands gently glide over her elegant design, she rekindles the fondest of family memories and speaks straight to my heart through the unique language of Lladró. 


My thanks to John Biggs at Lladro Blog who warmly welcomed  my story and placed it under the category of Discovery of beauty & craftsmanship a collector’s experience

Note: Singer Michael Jackson, also fell in love with Lladró at the age of ten and over his lifetime, expanded his collection to around three hundred pieces...go Michael!

**Posted on Lladroblog.com


Amy Bovaird said...

Beautiful story, Maribel. Lovely photos!

Amanda Socci said...

I love this story! You speak with an extraordinary amount of elegance and grace. I love how you iron out each and every detail in its finest state.

Congratulations on getting this blog post shared to the Lladro site!

Robert Whitworth said...

I have spent a lot of the time in different blogs but this is really a unique blog for me. lladro figurines