The greatest bank of Mallorca, the Sa Nostra Caixa de Balears has a cultural center of its own in the heart of the old city, on the Carre Concepció, in a medieval building with an orange grove opened to the public, with exhibitions, concerts, courses, a café and an unexpensive canteen. And, apart from these last two, all that for free, for the sake of the inhabitants of the city. That’s why it is called Obra Social.
The present exhibition displays for the very first time some two hundred archive photos from the fifty thousand ones preserved in the Escalas Collection which is one of the several hidden treasures of Palma.
This collection is a family archive, increased for a century by a father and a son. Jaume Escalas Aldrover (1847-1929) and his son Jaume Escalas Real (1893-1979) were respected physicians of Palma, the directors of the General Hospital and of the Psychiatric Clinic, respectively, as well as enthusiastic amateur photographers who kept documenting almost with the precision of a scholarly research the landscapes, inhabitants, buildings and everyday life of Mallorca.
Unfortunately our photos also reflect the lights of the exhibition room and the pictures on the facing wall. But there was no catalog published. Perhaps Wang Wei will succeed in convincing the university to compile at least retrospectively an album of the photos on display.
The world immortalized on these pictures has gone for the most part. The fishing barrios were swept out, the seashore has been packed with hotels, the medieval city walls were demolished together with a couple of medieval buildings. But the sites still exist and can be identified. And the large-eyed, soft, oval Mallorcan faces have not changed either.
The Monastery of Saint Catherine of Siena was purchased and demolished by a building contractor in the 1960s. A supermarket was built on its place. The arches of the cloister were built into the building of the university.
The Born Promenade where the open air Rodin exhibition was organized recently