Stroll along the Cambrils harbor, and you’ll soon find metal fisherman carting around colorful fish before two enormous mermaids. Though these sculptures may look whimsical, they actually commemorate a local tragedy.
On the night of January 31, 1911, a great storm killed 140 fishermen and mariners who were out at sea along the coast between Barcelona and Valencia. Many of the victims were from Cambrils. The tragic event was the first of many fishermen deaths that year; a year which later became known as the “year of misfortunes.”
This sculpture was completed in 2011 by David Callau Gené to mark the 100-year anniversary of the disaster. The work is made of corten steel, ceramic, and stainless steel. There are six components: two mermaids, three fishermen carrying baskets of fish, and a small, seated young fisherman named Adrian. The fishermen represent the lost souls of those killed. One of the mermaids represents the storm while the other represents humanity. Little Adrian stands for hope for the future.
This work sits alongside the harbor, and people are free to walk between the individual components. Remarkably, many seem to give them little or no attention, which is a pity because this really is a fine work. There’s also a surprising lack of on-site information about the artwork itself and the event it honors.