If you're european, you probably know the Canary islands. For those of you guys overseas who might not know them, these islands are spanish, but are located further south in the Atlantic ocean, off the Maroccan coast.They're known for their great climate year around, and are popular winter destinations when the Mediterranean is too cold.
My mom and dad invited my family and my sister's to come celebrate my mom's 70th birthday in a house they rented in Lanzarote. I must admit my first thought was 'oh no, not the Canary islands...'
I'm kind of allergic to mass tourism, and to me these islands are quite stigmatised in that respect. But boy, did I have to eat my words, or thoughts, rather! I've been to a couple of the other Canary islands in my 20s, and remember them as something I would not be drawn to today, but Lanzarote was quite different! We stayed in a house in a small village and avoided mass tourism all together. I was quite impressed with the restricted policy towards tourism, and how they'd managed to preserve the landscape and local building traditions. The latter, we were told, was much due to local artist/ architect Caesar Manrique, who spent years abroad, but returned to his native Lanzarote and did a great job in using his connections in high places to persuade the authorities into preserving the island's unique qualities and resisting the pressure from the charter companies.
The Canary islands are all volcanic, but in Lanzarote, the numerous volcanoes had massive eruptions as late as the 17- and 1800s, which has given the island the most peculiar landscape. It's so dramatic, with great encounters between the ocean and the extremely rugged coast.
I want to show you some of Manrique's great art as well as the three buildings I found most interesting.They're all pretty amazing. The artworks he's most known for are his large- scale sculptures, that are scattered across the island. Many of them are kinetic, moved by the wind. The lava landscape combined with sculptures that really capture the elements and a great period, really got to me. I see a lot of both Picasso and Miro in his work. Although not a trained architect (he had an art education), Manrique had strong ideas about architecture, that he realised in collaboration with trained architects. His buildings are very sculptural and organic.
The following images are from his home and studio, containing amazing living spaces actually inside the lava. By looking at the lava landscape that surrounded him, it's not so hard to understand his obsession to live in it? The house was built in 1968 on top of a volcanic trail from an eruption in 1730-36. It uses, in the lower level, the natural formation of five volcanic "bubbles" to make an unusual living space within a natural space. It's unbelievably cool. That great 60s vibe, the artworks, the lava, what's not to like? The outside of the house and upper level is inspired by the traditional local architecture, and contains exibition spaces with great works of art, both by Manrique and others. The courtyard has an enormous Manrique mural, as well as several great sculptures. I'll be showing you two other amazing manrique buildings later- to be continued!