Postcards From Menorca - In Conversation With: Bettina Calderazzo

Situated on a winding street tucked behind the famous fish market of Ciutadella, a wind of change blows through the sleepy mediaeval city. An unexpected find in what was once Minorca's capital, the Etesian gallery stands out in a small city awash with little shops selling to tourists.

Walking past Ulysses, a favourite restaurant located at the edge of the fish market decorated in dark green and cream chequered tiles, it’s here you’ll find Etesian. A white paper lantern hanging outside denotes the gallery is open, an idea Bettina, Etesian’s Australian founder picked up on a recent trip to Japan. The lantern outside, albeit slightly different in size and shape, is a nifty creative link to the paper lanterns Bettina paints with jet black ink and sells from the gallery. Add to which the ceramics she makes by hand, and decorates with black organic shapes, there’s a handwriting to the gallery and the artists she chooses to exhibit. Take, for example, Etesian’s current exhibition by Majorcan based artist,Toni Salom.

Named ‘Primitive Revival’, Salom’s work feels to be a look at what is really necessary in life, a question Bettina herself asked when considering where she’d settle in life. A prolific traveller, with a five-year stint living in Paris after which she moved to London, it was whilst on holiday in Greece with her British born husband Matt, she came up with the name Etesian. ‘We were considering the idea of setting up a jewellery business together and after a quick Google, we found the name ‘Etesian’. A name given to the mediterranean wind that blows violently through the Cyclades, what blew her to the smallest of the Balearic islands?

‘Being Australian, and when it came to family life, London just didn’t seem that appealing. I needed to find my European Aussie spot - some sun, some sea. A friend told us, "if you really want to go where it’s good, you should go to Menorca”. ‘I’ll never forget, we landed at the airport, and we were out of the airport in under one minute. Blue skies, palm trees, no traffic, and we both thought, “this is it”.

Walking through Salom’s exhibition, a mix of sculpture and black and white paintings, the work lends itself to noticing the high arched ceiling. Built from Mares, a protected Menorcan sandstone which is very porous, the gallery’s white washed walls and floor plus clever lighting transform what would have once been a dark space.“I got the space without the intention to open a gallery: I got the space because it was so beautiful. Matt and I wanted to have a shop, but there are so many shops and it just didn’t feel right for me. I signed for this space, then three hours later, found out I was pregnant (with her daughter Coco). I went into an “interesting” space, where I was extremely sick but also trying to do something with the space”.

Bettina began selling ceramics, which she describes as “going really well”, but when she gave birth to Coco, her priorities changed. ‘I thought, I want to do something a little bit bigger, something more stimulating. I also wanted to offer something to Menorcans, not just sell things to tourists. What can I offer that’s a mutual exchange? In Ciutadella, there were no galleries of a certain level, certainly none bringing something new to the table.Sitting by the fire in our house having a glass of wine the other night, I said to Matt, the craziest part of all this, is I didn’t actually plan it. Never did I say, ‘it’s going to be like this’. It’s been this really beautiful organic, natural progression, and that’s been so touching. Motherhood has allowed me to go towards my truth and this space is my passion. From the mentor who teaches me how to make ceramics to the guy who hangs the paintings, it’s all about the people, the creatives, the energy”.

Thanks to:

Bettina Calderazzo - Etensian - @thisisetesian

Carrer del Castell Rupit, 12, 07760 Ciutadella de Menorca

Tony Salom -  / @toni.salom