Saturday, November 09, 2013

Muro vs. Pollensa: Light vs. dark

The remarkable weather that Mallorca has been enjoying just recently can lull one into a false sense of climate security. Oh, that it always was as remarkable. Oh, that it was as remarkable as it has been throughout the winter months. Unfortunately, it isn't. And with the real arrival of a Mallorcan autumn (not the earlier variety, circa 21 September), it is not untypical for the weather to be less than remarkable and for it to be a non-descript, cloudy-can't-make-its-mind-up, grey turns to blue and then back again sort of unremarkableness. It is the sort of weather that is normally the backdrop for the November fairs, ones to which few tourists venture because few tourists have ventured to Mallorca.

Were they to, however, then might they be enticed to visit one of these fairs? Probably they would be. But they need to be inspired, to be persuaded, to be invited in a glowing way. And not only tourists. Anyone.

Muro and Pollensa have their fairs this weekend. Two towns some twenty kilometres apart celebrate their fairs in different ways but both share something in common, an agricultural and rural heritage. Most Mallorcan fairs are celebrations of this heritage and they have mostly all looked to make their fairs more appealing to the current day. Muro has added a veneer of musical and gastronomic sophistication to its pumpkinfest. Pollensa, having solicited opinions which were deposited in suggestion boxes at last year's fair, has created a space at the craft fair for young designers.

Both fairs are, therefore, moving with the times. They have to in order to avoid being exercises in repetition year in, year out. Pollensa recognised this last year, which was why it asked for suggestions. It was a good initiative; people should be asked for suggestions and not just for fairs.

A further matter for which suggestions might be sought is the type of publicity material that is used to promote the fair and also the timeliness of this publicity. Pollensa has managed to outdo even its own normal slowness this year by failing to get its programme available to the public until Wednesday, the day before the fair's first event. Pretty impressive. Muro, on the other hand, had its publicity out some ten days before the fair kicked off. Very impressive, and I mean very impressive here in a complimentary fashion rather than in the sarcastic impressive manner reserved for Pollensa's snail-like approach.

Timeliness aside, the two towns have adopted very different approaches to the images of their fairs. At a time of year when the skies might be a shade of grey, Muro has sought to break through the clouds and let the sun shine in and let the colours glow. Pollensa has stuck firmly to a greyer shade of pale. More than this, it has adorned its poster with some bits of old scrap metal and ancient tools lifted from a museum.

Pollensa does have form when it comes to issuing publicity for the fair which is either bizarre or marked with items which have been taken from an instruction manual or from a collectors' catalogue of antique workers' implements. Take its 2006 effort, in the days before crisis when money could be spent willy-nilly and when its publicity brochure came in a plastic holder and contained a design that could have been attached to a willy. Was it a sex toy, a plumber's aid or the arm from a doll? Who knew?

More austere times have meant that the plastic covers have to be dispensed with, and so the fair settles for this year's hammer, saws and chisels. The poster's design, such as it is, comes replete with old typewriter typography. This is definitely "en vogue" at present, and though its retro style might seem in keeping with the photos of the tools, all it does is to emphasise an old image which is really not in keeping with the fair's moving forward that the town hall has sought. The whole thing lacks life and vibrancy. It lacks appeal.

Muro, by contrast, has opted for vivid colours. The typography is jokey art-deco while at the same time quite sophisticated, so matching the moves that the fair has made. But it is the vitality of the array of oranges, reds and browns together with the obligatory pumpkin set against a blue sky which gives the poster so much appeal. It also bucks a trend towards monochrome minimalism, an often unwelcome design trend for Mallorca which neglects the colours of the island.

Put these two designs side by side, and which one would entice the neutral visitor more? It's an unequal match. Muro, nine out of ten; Pollensa, must try harder.

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