Archive for the 'Art & Culture' Category
Art With A Message At Siam Mall

When elephants mix with monster speedboats, and Spiderman poses next to a red faced god, artistic creations can slip in nicely among shops, cafes, and restaurants. This was the setting for paintings and photos to form part of the Cuidado Con La Tierra (take care with the earth) season at the Siam Mall commercial centre in Adeje, Tenerife.

It had been a long time since my last visit, probably for the pre event gathering for the Walk For Life, so it was also an opportunity for a little scout around the two floors of big name, trendy stores and eateries. Four free bus routes converge on the centre, I took the Los Cristianos option and after a few pick up points, I was dropped at the main entrance where Spidey looked ready to sling his web over the collection of large speedboats on display in the car park, next to the main TF1 motorway. On the lower level the coffee bars were doing a brisk pre noon trade and in the shadow of the moving stairway I found the painting exposition from the pupils of Wingate School.

To be precise, the paintings were GCSE exam pieces submitted by 15 and 16 year olds, and all those on show had achieved between level 5 and 8, which translates to A Plus to B. They all showed vibrant use of colours and plenty of imagination. This was the second time in a few days I had got good vibes about Wingate, they sent a choir along to the Remembrance Sunday outdoor service at Costa del Silencio and made a big impression.

Around the other side of the entrance lobby, six pillars displayed photos from the Fototierra (Earth Photo) collection by Tenerife based photographers. These also explored the green theme, with snaps from places like Poris de Abona, and Playa de la Tejita, both have been fighting their own recent battles against threats to their immediate environment. The Cuidado Con La Tierra season runs from 10th to 30th November 2019 and includes several specialist events such as sculpting, and rapid painting.

The dancing fountains continually make their colourful contribution to the Siam Mall experience, and the big outdoor stage on the top floor includes live music, dance, and fashion among its attractions, but hopefully more art exhibitions will follow, the paintings and photos were drawing plenty of interest from the visiting shoppers.

Head Start For Virgen Del Carmen Fiesta In Los Cristianos

Music, fun, and dancing were the bait as the fishing community of Los Cristianos set sail for a weekend of celebration and tribute in honour of their patron, the Virgen del Carmen. Tenerife doesn’t need an excuse to party and I could hear the DJ pumping out the music as I approached the compact Plaza de la Alpispa, behind the old beach.

The Saturday afternoon Fiesta del Sombrero (hat party) has become a popular part of the weekends tide of joy, and is always inventive and creative. Tables were set out in informal rows laden with food and drink but not many people were sitting still. The sea and nature in general always inspires the head gear but they´re not immune to modern influences, a home made drone perched on one hat but it was light weight compared to a full sized plant pot sported by one smiling lady.

Beer had clearly gone to some heads, but only in the artistic way, and as Dorada is now the official shirt sponsor of CD Tenerife, it made me proud to see the foaming tributes. Subtlety was just as effective, a neat hat with a floral trimming was enough to catch the eye and maybe even win a prize. The DJ´s table was well laden with trophies for the best efforts, they all looked deserving to me.

Further round by the port, other preparations were taking place for the following days parade of the Virgen´s statue among a flotilla of fishing boats, after the main lady had been carried through the streets of the town. Just along from the hat party, the younger revellers were enjoying the inflatable water slides as various cartoon characters watched from the side lines.

Fireworks will be lighting up the sky as the celebrations come to a close. For the fishing folk the hard work of pitting their wits against the waves continues all year. If you find yourself feeling a little hungry, it´s a much easier task to seek out one of the many local restaurants that serve the best of the catch from the Atlantic waters that lap at the shores of the Canary Islands.

Tenerife Will Stand Firm For Admiral Nelson Reload

Mutual respect by the two sea faring nations was not diminished by a defeated British Navy attack on the Tenerife capital, Santa Cruz in 1797. Admiral Horatio Nelson lost most of his right arm to musket fire when coming ashore, several of his ships were forced off target by ill judged winds and tides, and the surrender treaty of 25 July confirmed three historic defences of the capital.

Now 222 years later the Amigos de 25 July are staging their annual reconstruction of key battle moments, but there are many places to visit all year round in the Tenerife capital that evoke two entwined histories.
On Friday 19 July 2019, the Castillo Negro, between the modern hook nosed Auditorium and the Parque Maritima outdoor swimming complex, will see the first landing boats met by the defending forces at 9 pm. That began and ended Nelson’s personal action, he was ferried back to a ship under protest, to have most of his arm cut off and the wounds sewn up. He had already lost the sight in the right eye from a previous wound. Not surprisingly, the invading effort had little chance after that.

On Saturday 20 July, small units of troops will be deployed near Plaza de España from noon. Some British troops had landed further north up the coast and tried to battle down through the city as commanded by Admiral Troubridge. From 9 pm skirmishes will be played out near Calle La Noria, just below the barranco bridge. The surrender treaty was signed initially by Admiral Troubridge, at Plaza Isla de Madera, and this will be re-enacted at 9 pm on Sunday 21 July. There will be a procession through the city on Thursday 25 July from 8 pm. Back in 1797, patched up Nelson was invited to dine with the Santa Cruz Governor, Juan Antonio Gutierrez. The British lost 250 men in the failed invasion but Nelson was full of praise for the humanity of Gutierrez, he arranged for injured men and provisions to be returned to their ships and presented barrels of malvasia wine and other gifts to the British. Nelson promised to forbid any future attacks on the Canary Islands, it was a strangely civilised surrender and the Admiral is even commemorated on a couple of street names. This years events are dedicated to Captain Diego Correa of La Laguna, who captured the British Flag from the ship, Emerald. It´s now displayed in a glass cabinet in the Military Museum of Almeyda, a short stroll north of the ferry port. Entry is free, Monday to Friday, from 10 am to 2 pm, and there are two floors of exhibits from many eras plus a range of vehicles in the yard.

All along the coast road of Santa Cruz, and inland, there are plaques describing key points in the Nelson conflict, in English and Spanish. Down on the port, by the small, metal lighthouse, there is the imprint of a canon ball from a British ship, a sculpted tribute to the surrender treaty had pride of place at the port and is expected to be replaced once the major makeover of the port entrance is completed.

For a dip back in time, try the ruins of the old Castillo San Cristobal, unearthed when the Plaza de España lake was updated a decade ago. Entrance is free from Monday to Friday 10 am to 6 pm, you can see part of the old city wall and also the Tigre canon that helped to repel Nelson and his men.

Bumper Sunday Crop In Valle San Lorenzo

Nature knows how to set out it’s stall, and Valle San Lorenzo, just 7 kms above the Los Cristianos coast, put on a wonderful spread for my Sunday morning trip to the Arona Farmers Market. Usually I am tempted up by a specific event like the chestnut night, but the time was ripe to enjoy the free market coach provided by Arona Council (Ayuntamiento) and to check out the delights of the town.

Bang on time, the 10.20 red coach whisked me from the Escuela Idiomas (language school) just above the Apolo Commercial Centre, and 20 minutes later I was dropped off in the main street near the market. It was already 24 degrees as I passed the statue of the Guanche native at the roundabout, a homage to the goat herds and other people who founded the town. The main street was dominated at the lower end by the craggy peak , and at the other by the modern Terrero, where Canarian Wrestling still thrives.

The Mercado del Agricultor de Arona has been open on Saturdays and Sundays from 8 am to 2 pm since its October 2017 inauguration. Flowers, vegetables, cakes, wines, biscuits, cheeses, and seasonal specials fill the stalls. It´s a home to culture too, on past visits I have enjoyed live music and dance, this time there was an exhibition of sculptures by Slovenian artist Jurij Jesovnik. Entrants from a recent painting competition hung outside near the entrance to the free car park, and posters invited entries for upcoming cake, and tortilla competitions.

Back outside, I strolled up the main street to see the impressive rise of the mountains and made a rough note of the Barranco del Chijas, an old ravine route that I intent to re-walk soon. Lower down in town the modern murals showed the pride in the agricultural past of the area. Colourful artistic brush strokes made their own impressions as I took a break for a coffee in one of the many well priced bars and cafes. There are some fine restaurants as well, popular with evening visitors due to their price and quality.

The market is just a weekend attraction but Valle San Lorenzo is worth visiting any time, the journey up and down from the coast offers great views. The green public buses of the TITSA company run frequently through Valle San Lorenzo, look for the 416 and 417. I didn´t have long to wait under the shade of a tree for the free bus back to Los Cristianos, bang on time again.

Microalgas Get The Brush Off As Harbour Wall Gets The Brush Up

With impeccable timing, two environmental projects set up camp at each end of Los Cristianos harbour. As a crane was winching in a new ocean cleaning boat to combat the annoying nemesis, microalgas , from the Canary Island seas, the top deck of the harbour wall was getting some new marine murals to update the big painting project of 2013.

Assurances of their harmlessness still left 2017 holiday makers a little wary as the photosynthetic algae discoloured the sea, particularly around Tenerife. The Canary Islands government (Gobierno) are taking no chances this time and have bought two boats from Cadiz based Ocean Cleaner to patrol the 29,000 kms of coast around he eight islands (including La Graciosa just north of Lanzarote). One will be based in Puerto Colon, Tenerife, and the other in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, and they come at a joint price of 1.2 million euros. They are versatile and as well as collecting any microalgas that are generated by extreme temperatures, they can also collect plastic residues.

We do tend to vote with our eyes, the last two makeovers of the harbour wall in Los Cristianos have been big winners but nature has faded, cracked, and flaked some of the upper areas so the experts from the University of La Laguna art department are back for a month to add new vibrancy to the artistic sea scape. Paula Calavera, an art teacher at ULL, and an accomplished artist in her own right, has two helpers with her for a month, working in the mornings before the sun unleashes its full power.
Working from a master plan, they have been drawing on the outlines before spraying and rolling the paint to create the full effect of the sea life that thrives around the local waters. Paula´s work already graces a special place in Santa Cruz, as head of the team that restored a reproduction Cesar Manrique mural. The Plaza San Juan Bautista is home to the flying fish (Pez Volador) that looks down on the fortnightly gathering of the Armada Sur as we lubricate our voices before cheering on CD Tenerife.

Tides may ebb and flow but the importance of the sea to Los Cristianos never fades. Walking the harbour wall is a daily pleasure of mine, so it´s nice to know that thought is being given to the welfare of the wall, and the local pride that surrounds it on dry land and out at sea.

Santa Cruz Says It With Flowers Crosses And History

If I had been a bee, I would have been in a buzzing frenzy. Even so the fragrant flowers that made the mighty crosses in La Rambla gave my senses a real treat on May 3rd, the Day of the Cross, the celebration of the founding of Tenerife capital Santa Cruz in 1494. There was plenty to see as I hopped off the tram at La Paz, the first part of the wide central pedestrian walkway featured 18 crosses made from recycled materials by local schools and colleges.

It was a great way to teach a history lesson to the younger generation, many of the works were influenced by very modern characters from cartoons and computer games but the hard work put into the colourful creations was reflected in parental pride as they were snapped in front of their art. I’m sure Sir Henry Moore of Manchester would have approved of the joyful character just in front of his reclining sculpture, Warrior of Goslar. La Rambla is full of history, from the street art exhibition of 1974 to the paint peeling bull ring that has been abandoned for decades.

Onto the main event as the sun burst through on the stretch just in front of Parque Garcia Sanabria. The orange and green cross with its suspended orchids in glass baubles set the standard high and the quality was continued through all 16 offerings. Some residents in the flats at the side of the road had planted there own smaller works on their balconies, and the violet blooms from the avenue and parks trees complimented the show nicely. It all reached a crescendo with the biggest piece, boasting apples and blooms.

I took the chance to catch up with a few favourite places around the capital, and spotted a poster for another celebration. Almáciga on the north east corner of Tenerife had its own history to mark. The Virgen of Begoña refers to an event 70 years ago when a group of pilgrims travelling from Bilbao to Santiago del Compostella dropped a bottle in the ocean containing five small portraits of the Virgen of Begoña. It washed up in Almáciga and a shrine was set up to mark the event.

I was looking for omens of a more personal celebration as it was the day before the Canarian football derby between CD Tenerife and UD Las Palmas. The Chicharro statue in the heart of the shopping district looked confident and it seemed appropriate that it was surrounded by more vibrant flowers. It turned out to be a good pointer for a victory.

Pull Up A Bench And A Smile In Los Cristianos

It´s not a sin to smile, and it can be quite infectious. So give a cheer for the Urban Art project from Arona Ayuntamiento (council) that has sponsored 59 reasons to be cheerful in Los Cristianos. You may have spotted the team of artists busy colouring up the benches on the old beach promenade and in Avenida de Suecia at the upper level of the old town. Now the works are complete, and completely lovely.

Artists from across the south have turned their ideas into mutli coloured murals depicting aspects of Canarian life, environmental pride, and downright cute illustrations to put a spring in your daily step. One of the biggest contributors is the Pintores del Llano based in San Miguel, but the works have attracted artists of many ages and several nationalities.

As someone who nearly reduced his school art teacher to a quivering wreck, and would still struggle to draw a conclusion, I have great admiration for those who are talented with the pencil and the brush. Watching the works evolve over the last few weeks has been fascinating and they have attracted a lot of admiring glances from passers by.

Los Cristianos is something of a trail blazing canvas for street art. The harbour wall, the tunnel archway between the two beaches, and the steps behind the church, have all benefited from artistic intervention to turn the daily drab into a brush with brilliance. Of course they are still popular places to sit and watch the world go by, and what wonderfully romantic reference points for a blind date.

Easter Story Blooms In The Streets Of Guia De Isora

From despair comes hope, and from death comes life. Easter is the time to celebrate these momentous swings, and what better way than through a combination of nature and art. Guia de Isora, above the west coast of Tenerife has established a four day exhibition of floral sculptures that wind around the narrow streets of this quiet Tenerife town. Pascua Florida attracted 21 designs for the 2019 edition and although the sun was shy, the quality of expression and design was bold and emotionally stunning.

One of the first exhibits to strike me was Transformation, designed by Carmen Barreña Moreno from the Spanish Association of Florists. Ropes, nails and thorns combined to show the transformation of the body to the spirit of Christ. Temptations Between Good And Evil from local artist Carlos Curbelo displayed the serpent from the Garden Of Eden on a bed of apples. Christ The Redeemer held a central position in the church square, invited artist Fernando Mena kept a classically simple image and its closeness to the church building added to the impact.

Breaking The Bread holds a special place in bible teachings and Carlos Curbelo revisited a previous theme to show the stark white ingredients in their basic form. This was in one of the back streets, La Vera, which featured some extra designs outside of the exhibition. The local council added their own inventive use of water piping coiled around flowers that are sustained by the water. In the background some classical choral music added to the affect. For a big splash of colour to underline the theme, Patricia Leon made Flowers Are Colours, providing a link to the Tenerife tradition of flower carpets.

The good people of Guia de Isora embrace the annual display, just as well as it makes use of many small spaces such as alleys and doorways. This was the case with Tears Of Christ, cascading around the entrance to a house. Juan Chamorro from Oviedo made the journey from the mainland to submit his design. Dismember, with its vibrant reds touched on sadness and violence, another fine work by Carlos Curbelo. The weekend had seen several re-enactments of The Passion around Tenerife, most notably the huge Adeje street theatre, True Image by Carlos Curbelo referred to a lady who wiped the blood from Christs face as he carried the cross, the image was preserved on her cloth.

Expiration captured the moment of crucifixion with hands outstretched to the heavens. This was also at a point near to the church plaza, and also came from Carlos Curbelo. The route around the town snaked through tight streets and walkways with many of the works only becoming visible at the last minute. 30 Coins was one piece that caught me off guard as I turned a corner. Montse Dominguez showed some of the 30 pieces of silver that Judas received for his betrayal.

Ascension was one of the bigger works near the far end of the route. It marked the rise to heaven of Christ, and was designed by Cristina de Leon Sabina, a florist from Alde. All points led back to the church plaza, where music and dance performances added to the four day event. This is just a selection of the full 21 piece line up, there was even an entry from a Hong Kong School of Floral Art designer this year. Each year Pascua Florida adds to its reputation and encourages more artistic contributors to get involved. A big thanks to all who worked so hard on this years crop.

San Sebastian Is Not Only Foals And Horses

 

Who doesn’t like a dip in the sea, it’s refreshing, cleansing, and invigorating. Initially wary, the horses, ponies, and even the odd camel, were soon lapping up the waves at Playa de La Enramada beach in La Caleta, Tenerife. The San Sebastian fiesta is a highlight of the Adeje calendar and around 10,000 people swarmed to the church plaza and then the beach to enjoy the special day.

I arrived as the peel of the church bells floated through the clear blue sky,soon to be followed by the noon mass. Outside the church terrace was packed with tables full of guitar and timple players, and giant paellas washed down with beer and wine. Sheep and goats roamed in their pens, and horses were groomed and decorated in the paddock area. There were some magnificent looking steeds trotting through their paces on the road, there was an air of pride to them, they knew this was their big day.

The crowds drifted down to the beach as the mass reached its conclusion, good vantage points were soon snapped up, hotel balconies brimmed with people, and para gliders swooped down from the sky. Preparations were being fine tuned, life guards and safety boats kept watch over the beach as barriers held the eager crowds back. The first of the horses cantered onto the beach, a little unsure of the shifting shingle but the sea air and knowledgeable riders encouraged and coaxed them towards the shore. Once over their early reluctance the horses revelled in the water giving themselves and riders a good cool down. Several children either rode with adults on horses or dipped into the shallows with ponies. It was a beautiful sight, and an important cultural landmark that is lovingly preserved each year.

La Caleta has come a long way from being a small fishing village, the shore side restaurants are still a magnet for those wanting to taste the local catch but the newer five star hotels loom large on the landscape. There was plenty more celebrating to be done as riders steered their horses back to steadier ground and dismounted for some well deserved food and drink. Viva San Sebastian!

He Aint Heavy He’s San Antonio

Lifted aloft and carried around the heart of Arona town, San Antonio Abad had pride of place at the first Tenerife Romeria of 2019. It was a busy day with so many animals to bless, processions to watch, and music and dancing to behold.

There were plenty of takers for the free coaches organised by Arona council from Playa de Las Americas, and Los Cristianos, and the public bus service Titsa added extra buses to their route as well. The Plaza Cristo de la Salud was the focal point, I arrived as the tiny church was bursting at the seams with worshippers who were joined by musicians and dancers. The mayor, Jose Julian Mena was decked out in traditional Canarian dress and leant a shoulder to help carry the statue of the saint out of the church and into the bright sunlit plaza. Drummers, pipers, and dancers provided a joyous welcome to boost the happy mood.

To the side of the church stalls sold Canarian food and crafts while outlets in the plaza sold food and drink. Those taking part in the celebrations had plenty of small wine glasses strung around their costumes to toast the special day. Six carts stood tall on their giant wooden wheels with cattle ready to pull them along. Music was breaking out all the way up the road as finishing touches were put to clothes and overhead balconies. Slowly the procession fell into line and started its slow journey around the edges of the plaza before dipping down to the centre of town and returning up a side road. While this was going on, San Antonio was delivered to his stage ready to look over the blessing of the working animals and the many domestic pets brought along.

The animals were anointed with a sprinkling of holy water as singers sang the praises of the favoured saint. Some fancy footwork was called for as some creatures had left little presents behind. It wasn’t just live animals enjoying the day, there were several home made friends including a goat and a pig. The many children in the crowd were loving their taste of tradition, all ages are encouraged to join in the fun. After the blessings, San Antonio was carried back into the church, again accompanied by musicians and dancers. As the animals returned to their fields and pastures, the council workers were already power washing and cleaning the streets on the procession route.

The main stage came to life then with the first of several large groups which soon had people up and dancing. It was destined to be a late night for the hard core revellers, and who could deny them after all the hard work and dedication that goes into the Romeria.