Everyone in the Empordà’s charming town of Cadaqués knows Tajadura.
As a child, Joan Manel Tajadura dreamed of one day becoming an archeologist and would always ask for “tools, tools, tools!” he remembers. Tools and books he tells me. “I would devour encyclopedias, looking for definitions of words. I wanted to know everything. And my university was rubbish” That’s right, rubbish. Objects that for many are a waste of space, but which so often contain treasures of collective history.
His collection of objects is kept in perfect order in a house which is more akin to a museum than a home. Beneath the stairway, for example, is a shipwright’s workshop containing all the tools, scalemodels and other objects of Manuel Berenguer (Cadaqués 1881- Guinea 1924), just one of many that Tajadura has documents for since 1735. He even has information on a “shipwright” from 1400! Tajadura has spent 40 years collecting, and has an archive today that contains information on Cadaqués dating back to 1228, and on the Country of Empuries, from 1229 to 1700. You can ask him about anything, he even has a few pieces from old shipwrecks, such as a lamp from the British steamer Llanishen (Newcastle), which went down in “es Caials”. His display cases also contain treasures from the sea, creatures that wash up dead on the beaches. “If they’re alive, I put them back” he asserts in a serious tone. He dissects them and classifies them, the result, a wonderfully educational collection of crabs, seahorses, molluscs, snails and even pipefish, among many other species. Many of the objects are fruit of exchanges, but there are also donations. If a house in Cadaqués is to be emptied, for example, family members will pass on to Tajadura all manner of items, which he then cleans up and researches to later put on display.
For the time being, he has not exhibited in Cadaqués, although part of his collection could be seen in Begur and, in 2008, in Figueres when the town was designated the Catalan Cultural Capital. His legacy is an impressive one, and is as invaluable for historians as it is for the many people who have fallen in love with this enchanting town and its history.
Text and photos: Rafael Camps