January 12, 2024

Esteve Torrents Grau, La Cabana dels Nans / The Gnomes Hut

the cabin and the welcome sign
pictures are screenprints from the video in the documentation 

La  Garriga is a Spanish community with about 16,000 inhabitants in the region of Catalunya. 

Located about 42 km north of Barcelona, the little town is surrounded by a beautiful hilly and wooded area, where it is pleasant to make walks. Various routes can be found on the internet and the art environment La Cabana del Nans, reviewed here, is also located along such a route. .

a gnome still present

Life and works

The story begins with Enrico Giro, a resident of La Garrida, who owned the piece of forest where the Gnomes Hut now stands. He used the site as a place to relax, alone or with family members. To provide some shade, he stretched a cloth between some of the trees around..

One of his relatives was his son-in-law Esteve Torrents Grau, who in the 1950s would transform the place into an art environment.

Esteve was a construction worker by profession and he knew what bricklaying entailed, but above all he had a creative mind and was a dedicated person. 

He got the idea to turn the place into something special, discussed his ideas with his father-in-law, who agreed with the project that Esteve had in mind, namely a kind of sculpture park that would give the area its own artistic character and, above all, where the other family members and their children could enjoy themselves.

And so the creation of the art environment started, a project that was implemented by using no more used items and materials available in the area as much as possible.

a damaged sculpture

Esteve's first action involved the shade cloth. He envisioned that the shelter should become a real hut and starting with that, he first made a roof, as if it were a parasol, which led passing hikers to refer to the place in the forest as the mushroom.

Later, Esteve added walls to the roof and finished the rear part of the hut, for all parts using old and surplus materials. 

He then turned his attention to decorating the site. One of the first projects was to create a series of gnomes, including a scene from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, a choice that is understandable given the number of grandchildren in the family. This collection also led to a reference to gnomes in the name of the art environment.

 Nowadays there are not many gnomes left to be seen, because their manageable size made them easy to steal.

the gorilla
a totem pole

Esteve also made all kinds of creations that depicted animals, such as a variety of birds, a group of pigs, a frog, a deer, a lion, a huge gorilla, but also a fantasy creation of a huge dragon hugging trees.

In the spirit of imaginative creations, he also made an enormous structure based on a tree stump with the appearance of an angry person, with branches for arms and a face with eyes, a nose and a mouth in the bark.

And then there were special personalities on display, such as King Kong and a hunter with a bow and arrow.

The site also had two windmills, but these have now disappeared.

a lion

After Esteve Torrents Grau died at some moment (the date is not available on the internet), the art environment was less systematically maintained. The sculptures became neglected and some fell prey to vandalism and damage.

However, his family has now announced that they want to start a restoration project to revive the dart environment and restore it to how it was before. A website has been published in which this plan is explained in more detail and all kinds of information and photo material from the past are available (see below).

* Website The Gomes Hut by the family of the Esteve Torrents Grau, with info about the renovation; this website also has a series of some 50 photos that give an impression of the various sculptures that decorated the art environment
* Review of the site in Jo Farb Hernandez, Singular Spaces II(5 continents editions, 2023)
Weblog of photographer Marco Pachiega, with an article (November 2022) about the site and a series of photos 
* Tripadvisor, with a series of photos 

* Video El Bosque Encantado (YouTube, 5.45, July 2022) by Enric and Ani

Esteve Torrents Grau
The Gnomes Hut
In line with the Carrer Poatells
in the woods east of
La Garriga, dept Barcelona, region Catalunya, Spain
can be visited freely
the site on Google Maps, with a large series of photos

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