Award for Welcome to El Cabanyal

Dear friends of the Art Books, we have good news: the book Welcome to El Cabanyal, published by Media Vaca, has received the third prize in the category Libros de Arte (Art Books) in the Best Edited Books Awards for 2011, organised by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport. According to the press release issued by the Ministry, this year a total 251 works have been reviewed, divided into five themes. In the Art Book category, the first prize has gone to the book Grabadores Extranjeros en la Corte Española del Barroco (Foreign Engravers at the Spanish Baroque Court), by Javier Blas, María Cruz de Carlos and Jose Manuel Matilla, and the second prize for La habitación imaginaria (The Imaginary Room), by Juan Eduardo Cirlot. The third prize won by Welcome to El Cabanyal has given us great joy and made us feel the urge to run out of the house to announce to the world such a wise decision. The Baroque, what a great time to be a foreign engraver!; Cirlot, what a great poet and art critic!; El Cabanyal, what a great place to live an artistic and happy life! We ended up running out of the house into the street (our house is in the centre of Valencia) and, fortunately, we soon realised that we are surrounded by neighbours who are involved in corrupt schemes and running wild; that our books hardly sell in this city; and, also, that the last times we have won an award, almost no one paid attention to our press releases.

In this case, the occasion deserved the effort, so we have come back home to write a brief note.

We believe it is important to celebrate this collective project which has involved more than a hundred people for two entire years and has had such a warm welcome: in only six days more than a thousand copies were sold in El Cabanyal, and the exhibition of the works included in the book (organised by the Plataforma Salvem el Cabanyal) was a huge success. Likewise, we would like to reaffirm our commitment to the individuals and groups of El Cabanyal who fight every day to defend the neighbourhood from the bad guys, the fools, and the opportunists who we met long ago in children’s stories and who (unbelievably) still frighten, entangle and deceive us even though we have grown up. We would like, of course, to thank, for their enthusiasm and generosity, all those who have collaborated in the project or supported it; and also all those friends —known and unknown— who have sent us their congratulations, first for the book and now for the award. We are unable to reply to everyone personally, but please know that your messages fill us with encouragement and give us strength; first, for making us look into Valencia’s wormhole, and secondly, to continue making books. Thank you! See you in El Cabanyal!

Vicente Ferrer and Begoña Lobo

(Below, we will now reproduce, in English, the introductory text from Welcome to El Cabanyal. Those who are not familiar with the book and would like more information, you can find it in the Miscellaneous section of this website, in the Last Readings collection.)


At first, we titled this project ‘Book of Votive Offerings’ because magic and poetry are not exactly abundant in our lives and it is best to keep them by our side. Also because there are always good reasons to be grateful. Although the term ‘votive offering’ (which refers to religious offerings, although there are also secular ones) no longer feature in the title, we can say that this is the spirit in which all of us who have participated in this book have approached the work.

We are grateful for El Cabanyal: a beautiful place we must take care of together so we can enjoy it and so those who come after us can enjoy it too. This beautiful place has produced many beautiful people; or rather, the other way round: it is the people of El Cabanyal, who have endured fires, bombings, shipwrecks and floods, who have built this small country where it is so pleasant to live. Because although geography and climate shape us, it is undoubtedly people who ultimately shape places. We thank the people of El Cabanyal; for their resilience, for their courage, and for their wisdom. Together they have fought enemies as terrible as the insidious cholera bacteria that takes our health and life away, and the tiresome tyrants of every time period, including the ones of today, who also aim to kill us with their machinations… just a moment after taking our joy away.

For this book, which aims to draw attention to this extraordinary place, one of the few in the world which is made on the scale of children, we have used interviews with neighbours who currently reside in El Cabanyal (or who no longer do, but keep fresh memories), written testimonies also provided by neighbours, excerpts of literary works, historical or informative works published in books, and news and articles found in press.

We use the name El Cabanyal since this was the neighbourhood’s oldest name (the old town of Poble Nou de la Mar) formed by the villages of Canyamelar, El Cabanyal, and Cap de França, and also because it is the most famous one: El Cabanyal is where Vicente Blasco Ibañez wrote his books and where Joaquín Sorolla painted his paintings.

Welcome to El Cabanyal, an extraordinary place where people still say ‘good morning’ (bon dia) and ‘good night’ (bona nit).

Image: Portraits and self-portraits drawn by friends and collaborators of the book Welcome to El Cabanyal on 18 and 30 November 2011, at the bookshop-café Slaughterhouse and the Color Elefante room. As it happens in every group photo, some people appear twice. We are moved to see the self-portrait drawn by Marià Ferrer, a dear friend whom we miss.