Nativity figures should be part of humanistic and sentimental heritage of a family.

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The sculptress Montserrat Ribes has more than 30 years modeling figures that gives big load of tenderness. His works are in private collections of nativity scenes and collectors around the world.

Montserrat Ribes has a predilection for scenes with children, in which he displays his art to endow the figures with a great load of tenderness. It is more than 30 years ago that he began to immerse himself in "this world" of nativity scene, after some friends from the Castellar Nativity Scene Association asked him for some figures for his nativity scenes. Ribes had studied Fine Arts and was engaged in decorative sculpture, but that commission redirected his career.

"What attracts me the most about making nativity scenes is that you can create with a lot of imagination, they are figures that tell a beautiful story and can carry a great load of tenderness," this sculptor born in Sabadell, who since 1973 resides in Castellar del Vallés, where he has his sculpture studio and permanent exhibition of his work.

It inspires me to think how to tell the same story in different ways. The people who lived in Bethlehem at that time had the same dreams, the same problems and the same feelings that we can have now, "he says.

Ribes does not believe he has a specialty - "I find myself very well with any figure I make," he says, although he admits that "scenes with children are my favorites." For her, "the nativity scenes can reflect many feelings" and it is precisely the way of expressing these feelings, together with technique, that distinguishes one creator from another.

A woman and sculptor like La Roldana, she assures that she has never been compared to this Sevillian artist from the end of the 17th century for whom she has great respect and admiration. "Our jobs are completely different," he says. "In addition La Roldana is at the level of great sculptors, I am still making my way."

"Today's" Salzillos "will be recognized tomorrow. At the moment of Salzillo and Roldana there has only been one », adds this« artisan teacher », who has been recognized by the Generalitat de Catalunya since 2003.

Although "surely there is some difference in the figures created by a man or a woman, I think the expression of feelings is the same," says this artist who last year made for the Madrid Crib Association the two figures that appear in El Greco's painting "The Annunciation to Maria" and that were installed in the Monumental Nativity Scene of the Community of Madrid.


Montserrat Ribes is proud of that work that cost her a special effort. He carries out orders for unique figures, in addition to increasing his collections of different sizes each year with new pieces. "This represents 18 to 20 original pieces" by toothpick "(name given to the unique and original figures made in clay only with the hands and toothpicks used to work the clay), of which later reproductions will be made," he explains. These figures can be found on their website, in many of the Christmas fairs that take place in Spain, and in some specialized stores.

From the pieces in his workshop, each year his family chooses one to grow the popular nativity scene they assemble at home with natural elements. It is part of his legacy. For Ribes, "if the figures are of a certain quality, they must be part of the humanistic and sentimental heritage of a family" because "they are filled with good memories".

MÓNICA ARRIZABALAGA article for the online newspaper ABC section Conocer - Armar el Belén

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