Monday, April 20, 2009

Spain - Lanzarote and its own garden persona

An extraordinary aspect of Spain are its volcanoes. For a strange natural beauty they can be breathtaking finds. Well I have always had a surprising interest and love of semi arid places.

Mount Teide, the highest Spanish mountain on Tenerife, was my first find in this part of Europe and truly left a major impact on me for its botanical jewels set against volcanic rock.

Right: A photo from the days of Tenerife when they had bananas not apartments

And of course the Botanical Gardens at Santa Cruz way back in the early 1800s were set up to establish and harden off finds brought back by Spanish botanists as they went on expeditions to new territories of the world.

Over lunch one day recently I found out about Caesar Manrique,1919-1992, a famous abstract artist of Lanzarote, one of the other Canary Islands. This conversation gave me a taster of the man and I started to look at his career. From his own writing this quote -

For the bareness of my landscape, and for my friends (...) My last conclusion is that MAN in N.Y. is like a rat. Man was not created for this artificiality. There is an imperative need to go back to the soil. Feel it, smell it. That's what I feel."

He began to feel nostalgia for Lanzarote.

" When I returned from New York, I came with the intention of turning my native island into one of the more beautiful places in the planet, due to the endless possibilities that Lanzarote had to offer. ".

Sculptor, painter, architect, landscaper, urbanist, environmentalist... C├ęsar Manrique was each of these things and he mastered them all. However he said " Before anything I consider myself a painter. “ His old studio has become an art gallery with his works alongside Juan Miro and Henri Picasso.

However it strikes me that his contribution to Lanzarote clearly owes an enormous debt to him as his hand was felt on so many of the beautiful aspects and buildings of present day Lanzarote and of course the National Park of Timanfaya.

Some things to look out for or research:

The Garden of Cactus or El Jardin de Cactus was designed and laid out in a disused quarry – definitely my kind of man. More than 10,000 cacti.

His own house Taro de Tahiche is designed around volcanic flues.

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