Archive for the 'Art & Culture' Category
Art Meets Magic In Santa Cruz

Sat in a dark room watching a 1902 fantasy film and chuckling like a drain. Not how I had expected to start my art and culture trip to Santa Cruz but I wasn’t moaning. My how I chortled as a space rocket landed in the eye of the man in the moon! Maybe I should rewind a little before you think I’ve lost my marbles.

Georges Melies was a true genius, illusionist, director, magician, and producer, the French impresario loved fantasy and fables and combined them with horror, humour and ground breaking special effects to mesmerize audiences in his glass sided Paris theatre. The free exhibition La Magia Del Cine (Magic Of The Cinema) is filling the two floors of the Espacio Cultural at the Caja Canarias bank HQ in Santa Cruz until 15 October. It reveals the passion and dedication of Georges Melies with the help of drawings, sculptures, props, and film clips. The great man embraced all the new delights of his age like stroboscopes, magic lanterns, and shadow puppets, all enhanced by painstaking cutting of photos and film. Several of his short films were being played around the exhibition with the tinkling piano soundtracks adding to the atmosphere of the well staged halls. A Trip To The Moon is his most famous work and is still visually stunning, try to pop in to the exhibition, Monday to Friday 11 to 2 pm and 5 to 8 pm, or Saturday from 10 am to 2 pm.

Next call for me was the Summer Art Exhibition at Ciculo De Bellas Artes in Calle Castillo, the main shopping street near the port. It’s more about modern, cutting edge art here and this seasonal show features bright summer images, they even have some deck chairs so you can sit and contemplate the exhibits. All the works here are for sale, some are very small and manageable, they open week days 10 am to 8 pm, apart from August when they close at 2 pm, and this show goes on until 24 September with a 3 euro entry price or free if you have a residencia. Back outside I had a stroll around the sale filled shopping area, a quick dive down a few side streets rewarded me with some interesting graffiti art, part of an urban project called Submergete En Santa Cruz. Most of the settings for these wall drawings were a bit neglected and were cheered up no end by some artistic intervention.

I’ve always had a liking for strange art and one place I can guarantee strangeness that goes off the scale is El Tanque, the former giant oil tank between the bus station and the Auditorium. The first time I went they had a series of large Rank Film style gongs hanging from the high iron rafters and large fluffy cod ball type sticks to hit them with. The acoustics in the cavernous tank are eerie and the almost total darkness makes it a good setting for light shows such as the current show, Irradiacion De La Energia by Milton Becerra from Venezuela.

The darkness also makes it a rather difficult place to move around in, UK health and safety would have a hairy fit. I could see a couple of the large lighting projections as I tried not to trip over anything. There were a few other people in there, I made a pinging noise like a submarine sonar but they never responded, it was also sweltering hot. The free exhibition is on until 26 August, open Tuesday to Friday 5 to 8 pm, and Saturday 11 to 2 pm. It was almost a relief to get back outside and onto my air conditioned Titsa bus back to Los Cristianos.

Pascua Florida Brings Flowers And The Glory To Easter In Guia De Isora

As the instrument of Jesus’s death, what beauty can there possibly be in the cross? The answer in Tenerife is a whole world of beauty, as The Passion was being played out down in Adeje, I joined a stream of fascinated visitors on a stroll through the back streets of Guia de Isora on the west coast to see the 17 Pascua Florida flower sculptures.

Now in it’s eighth year it’s an eagerly anticipated visual treat as creative artists from all over Spain pool their talents to depict the unfolding of the Easter story. It was a dull, cloudy, and slightly chilly Good Friday as I arrived in Guia de Isora but as I turned off the main road towards the church I could see plenty of people milling around the three crosses of Cavalry by Carlos Curbelo, a local artist and one of the driving forces behind the exhibition. To the right of Jesus’s cross was that of the good thief, and to the left, that of the bad thief, quite a gentle introduction but once near the church plaza the full scale of the work started to be revealed.

Thursday was a preparation day as the works were installed, each with multi language posters of work and artist name, and a little background, plus a map of all the numbered works in their various streets. Voices floated through the air as people discussed the creations whilst enjoying the bars and cafes around the church. It wasn’t long since the Good Friday service had ended and I took advantage of the open doors to the Church of Our Lady of the Light, it was magnificent inside. The outside tower was shrouded in scaffolding for essential repairs but the collection boxes inside were not for that cause, they were for Caritas, the catholic charity that helps the poor and unfortunate with food and clothing needs.

Back outside I was faced with the circular Creator Of The Universe, as with the majority of works it was another Carlos Curbelo offering. Taking a right turn I picked up the trail, The Spear by Jordi Abello stopped most people in their tracks in time to admire the thorn lined windows of local houses. Angela Batista contributed St Mary’s Pain, an outpouring “waterfall of tears from a broken heart”. The tight back streets included plenty of occupied homes, they must have found it quite a squeeze to get by without disturbing the works. The Trial by Teresa Henriquez Arbelo took over a narrow alley with three question marks representing the three judges that presided over Jesus. Not everyone showed total reverence to the art works, a cheeky little pet dog from the bottom of the alley trotted up and down the steps loving the extra attention. Pilato drew me in for a close up look to check that the water pouring from the jug was indeed made of a very realistic flow of flowers

Just around another corner The Falls featured an overturned cross (top photo) with flowers sprouting along it. Pascua Florida gives a great excuse, as if you needed one, to explore the sedate but delightful town of Guia de Isora, small gaps in the streets give clear views down to the coast of Playa San Juan and outer stretches of Costa Adeje. Back on the trail The Last Supper from Jordi Abello led on to Judas by Cristina de Leon, the noose representing the suicide of Judas after his betrayal.

Feast Of The Cross from Zona Verde towered in front of another house as the route wound back into a more commercial area and pointed me back towards the church square. Agnus Dei provided a striking finish with its huge spider like hands. It was an amazing and satisfying tour, something unique in Spain, it seems cruel that the hard work will be removed after Easter Sunday but it will return bolder than ever next year.

 

 

Motors Mutts And Mourning As Los Cristianos Carnaval Bids Farewell

The mormons who tried to convert me on my way to the sardine funeral wouldn’t have seen the irony of their timing but it made me chuckle. The closing act of the 2016 Los Cristianos Carnaval is a time to mock the hypocrisy of religion and the mourners were dressed in a mix of black widows weeds and some very saucy under garments.

The previous morning had shown that Sunday is no day of rest for the carnaval organizers, the showground was spilling over with classic cars from all over Tenerife and dogs were being poured into their Sunday best for a pet competition. The odd dog bark struggled to be heard as the motors purred and the bodywork sang a nostalgic tune. The car show was bigger than ever with wheels occupying tarmac outside the cultural centre as well as in the main arena.

I’m no petrol head but proud names demanded my attention, Riley, Mini, Cadillac, Bedford, and even a little red Corvette caught my eye, there was even a small pang of home sickness at seeing a Morris truck, well I am a Cowley boy. I was waiting for an enterprising salesman to jump on a soap box and try a cheeky auction, I was also hoping for a few seductive young ladies to drape themselves over a bonnet or two – dream on. At the sidelines owners were brushing their dogs, dressing them, and posing them for passing cameras.

Fast forward to Monday night and the giant sardine was putting on a brave and cheeky face but it knew it had to perish in the flames to satisfy time honoured ritual. The history comes from lent when the catholic church told the poor people to fast while the clergy and their rich friends wined and dined in fine style. Sardines dredged from the sea were many peoples only illicit supplement to their enforced diet so it became a sign of rebellion and discontent. The sardine funeral always ridicules the church leaders, there was a shortage of popes and cardinals this year and the mourners were less wild than usual – heaven forbid we lose the subversive undercurrent.

The sardine drew a large crowd to the cultural centre and the Cuban influenced music encouraged feet to dance as final preparations were made for the long journey through the back streets and down to the beach. There are always a few holiday makers taken by surprise at the bizarre spectacle of the giant fish being trundled along with a large following of cheering, drinking, and singing enthusiasts. Avenida Suecia squeezed the parade slowly along, a few mourners wrung out their emotions but they weren’t throwing themselves to the floor like Premier League footballers so much this year.

It’s quite a logistical challenge threading the sardine through the car park at the bottom of the port road, imagine having to make an insurance claim for scratches to your car – hit by a giant fish! Eventually the crowds parted and the sardine was ushered into its enclosure on the beach, fireworks were inserted into its body and a flame started the crackling and popping as it dissolved into a ball of fire as fireworks tore through the sky. It was a fitting farewell for a big, brash, and visually stunning carnaval.

 

 

Coso Parade Sews A Seam Of Jollity And Colour Through The Heart Of Los Cristianos

Noses were pressed against the ropes dividing the Coso parade route from the pavements and bars for hours before the off. It’s the big showpiece spectacle that everyone flocks to on the final Sunday afternoon of carnaval celebrations and it always excels beyond expectations.

The back road below Guaza Mountain was throbbing with activity as all the groups and vehicles assembled. The infant and senior Carnaval Queen had been elected and the dance groups had strutted their stuff in the week so an end of term exuberance replaced the competitive edge. Vianney Casiana Garcia Chinea burnt brightly in her orange and black winning fantasy, and Nayara Plasencia Gonzalez was magnificent in her pink and gray Infant Queen winning design. All the runners up also got to shine, they may have been high up on lorries but they were all floating on the adulation of the 25,000 crowd.

Some of the parade entrants had already revealed the glories of their outfits during the weeks events but many had saved their big wow outfits for the Coso, others were making their first appearance, and plenty of the crowd that packed the route joined in with their own home made fancy dress contributions. Hotel and apartment roofs and balconies were well subscribed, bars and restaurants along the road side were run off their feet, and mums and dads dutifully lifted their offspring to new heights.

It’s a thirsty old business having fun on this scale, volunteer organizers made sure bottled water was plentiful but for those wanting something a bit more uplifting the floats and multi layered costumes became instant drinks cabinets. There’s always a lot of interaction along the route, everyone wants their photo taken with the joyous characters and they were always ready to oblige. The pulling power of Tenerife is never clearer than at these big set piece festivals, the mix of languages and home countries was as diverse as those taking part. Schools, youth, and dance groups are the driving force for much of the Carnaval celebrations, some of the youngest entrants had a bit of stage shyness but there’s always a helping hand and a few encouraging word.

Working its way up from Paloma Beach to the city centre and showground was the usual stop start affair, well who wants to hurry on a lazy Sunday afternoon. The brow of the hill is one of the popular vantage points, from there I could see the procession stretching back like a huge multi coloured serpent. Full marks to the drummers for keeping up the driving rhythm, and I’m sure there will be a few sore feet and legs after all that dancing. That wont stop the showground from rocking into the wee hours of the morning!

 

Los Cristianos Is Dressed To Thrill For Day Carnaval

A sizzling hot dog was thrust into one hand and a cold beer into the other and I was still just outside the showground in Los Cristianos, Tenerife, for the daytime carnaval celebrations. The parking area next to the Valdes Centre had been hosting the late night shows all week but now there was a youthful feel with a noon start and top acts from Spain’s top 40 pumping out infectious dance tunes.

Local supermarket shelves had been depleted as a multi coloured fancy dress army swept through like thirsty locusts and small groups gathered around clinking bags on the upper walkways of the commercial hub. The BBQ greeting was a tasty welcome and I even managed to eat and drink while clicking away at the sea of wonderful costumes that awaited me.

The previous weeks cabalgata opening parade was a bit more regimented, this afternoon revealed the hard work that had been going on in many homes to deck out entire families in original and amusing outfits. The bank of speakers ensured the music was heard and felt and the bars and food stalls inside the showground were also doing a roaring trade as inhibitions were loosened. Traffic was diverted from a couple of the main roads into the city centre and the crowd ebbed and flowed down towards the seafront as police and the fire brigade kept a discreet and watchful eye on the fun.

There was another focus for the party, Plaza del Pescadora near the old beach had it’s own smaller stage and was featuring zumba and dance. I felt quite exhausted just watching the energetic exertions of the dance groups but plenty of holiday makes were drawn in to shake a leg. A fancy dress competition was lined up for late in the afternoon and each new batch that arrived brought more admiring glances, the Ghostbusters, and The Bee Gees complete with a mass of chew sets, were among my favourites. They were all winners in my book and more music and dance followed their spell in the spotlight.

I headed back up through the showground and the crowd still had plenty of energy. The big stage featured late night into early morning music and dance each night of carnaval and the fun fair next door was enticing screams of enjoyment as super heroes and cartoon characters crammed into gravity defying seats. The day carnaval is a fairly recent addition for Arona but it has proved to be a roaring success, and there’s still plenty more to be squeezed out.

 

 

Cabalgata Parade Welcomes Cuba To Los Cristianos Carnaval

Feathers, glitter, high heels, face paint, and hours of dedication are the basic recipes for a good carnaval parade but it’s the people who make it come to life. The 2016 theme for Los Cristianos Carnaval was Old Havana so there were plenty of Cuban influences as the opening cabalgata parade assembled outside Veronicas in Playa de Las Americas.

The carnaval is the pride of Arona and the big introduction linked the two big resorts in the municipality. As afternoon beach time merged into evening food time a stream of enthusiasts of all ages slipped into their costumes, and found their chalked off areas outside the nightclub capital of Tenerife south. Many holiday makers, including a couple of large stag parties soon caught the bug and memorable poses were struck with dancing girls, drummers, and famous characters such as Popeye, and Harpo Marx.

Crisp, loud drum beats brought everyone to attention and off the parade set in a cacophony of noise and colour as it worked its way past hotels with bulging balconies. Even on a slightly cool march evening the performers must have felt very hot under all their trimmings but the energy levels never dropped as the long stretch of revelers moved slowly towards Los Cristianos. Husbands and wives found themselves being snatched and enveloped into the heart of the parade much to the amusement of their camera totting other half’s.

Maybe it was a response to the surge in Tenerife visitors or maybe the ever more resourceful creations of the entrants but it seemed to attract even bigger crowds than in recent years. Vantage points were as always at a premium and even delicious dinners and intoxicating cocktails were temporarily ignored as cafe and restaurant guests rose to enjoy the spectacle. By the time the leaders had disrobed at the CC Oasis shopping centre a good two hours had passed and people were slowly melting away to enjoy the further temptations of the showground set up next to the Valdes Centre.

After adjourning for a cheeky beer I popped into the showground to see how the new addition of a wig party was being received. Despite combing the area I found the headgear a little thin on top but there were plenty of dancers up and swaying as music belted out from the main stage. It had all the makings of a classic carnaval, I will have further reports and photos, there’s always plenty of fun to go around.

Cherubs Candles Pink Poodles And Art By The Box Full

Whatever happened to paper chains and home made calendars, we even made little card baskets at infant school and were rewarded with a chocolate Santa as a passenger. A bit of imagination can go a long way to making special festive decorations so I was in my element at the Artbelen in the Centro de Arte La Recova in Santa Cruz. A big hall full of recycled winter treats including sweet wrapper bells was one of the highlights of my pre Christmas tour of La Laguna and Santa Cruz.

Rewinding to the La Laguna start point, a pair of coloured poodles on guard outside a shop reminded me that the day wasn’t just going to be about cribs and wise men. The psychedelic canines nearly sidetracked me from my meeting with the ducks in Parque de la Constitucion. Last years final touches to the fire damaged cathedral saw the removal of the ancient duck pond and the eviction of the waddling inhabitants, the feathers really flew as locals protested furiously. Eventually a new pond was built in the park at a cost of 100,000 euros and the ducks had recently been resettled. They looked well fed and happy, they weren’t even phased by me waving a box of Paxo stuffing at them.

Back down in La Laguna I found a familiar side street that always has some entertaining figures up high on the buildings. This year they had been embellished a little with nice capsules to sit in and little penguins for company. It was nice to see the smiles on peoples faces as they glanced up and clocked the colourful characters. It was all very whimsical and in keeping with the charming character of the interlocking streets. La Laguna seems to have side stepped the more vulgar and commercial trappings of Christmas, the indoor market in Plaza del Cristo was bustling and a giant stage was taking shape ready for the big fiesta nights ahead.

The best was yet to come in Santa Cruz, I had seen the Artbelen last year and was eager to see what they would make this time around. There were several big set pieces like a sprawling nativity scene made from pressed and twisted polythene but the overall theme was of presents bursting forth from boxes. Discarded day to day packaging had been transformed into fun creations full of colour and character. The material used included 2,500 plastic bottles, 60 carton tubes, 500 drink cans, and 300 square metres of wrapping paper. The hall is next to the Teatro Guimera and the exhibition is open until 5 January from 6pm to 10pm and free to go in.


There was only one thing that could top, or bottom, that and the tour of the traditional nativity belens, a Caganer. This Catalan tradition features a peasant in the nativity scene doing his own recycling by adding some home made fertilizer to the earth. I spotted one in the belen at CC Tres de Mayo taking a subtle dump in the shop window. I was chuckling all the way back to Los Cristianos.

Away In A Manger In La Laguna And Santa Cruz

Whether you call him Santa Claus or Papa Noel, the big jolly chap in the red suit is everywhere but there are more traditional figures to look out for as my pre Christmas tour of La Laguna and Santa Cruz revealed.


I’m not the most religious person and should be almost grown up by now but I still enjoy all the build up to the festive season. The enchanted faces and tuneful singing of a school party at Casa de Las Capitanes in La Laguna made a great first stop in my annual tour of the nativity based belens. It was rock solid old school in the central courtyard of the old building with the wise men, Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus joined by a few assorted farm animals. There were even more gasps of delight as the party moved into the display hall to walk around a large model depicting all the elements of the Christmas tale.


Up at the top end of town there was a display of art and relics at the Instituto de Canarias which fitted in nicely with the religious mood. Herencia unites paintings, statues, and artifacts from the long gone Iglesias de Los Remedios. Most of the items were from the 1,500 and 1,600’s including a striking wooden sculpture of Our Lady of the Remedios and an imposing study of San Miguel Arcangel about to smite the devil with his sword. This free exhibition goes on until 1 March 2015 with opening from Tuesday to Friday 11 to 2 and 5 to 8pm and just the early session on Saturdays and Sundays.


Not a bad haul for the first leg of my visit, the tram soon had me down in Santa Cruz with the Cabildo (Tenerife government) building on my list. This was the 26th year of their belen and as always it was a tasteful mix of the Christmas story with very detailed models of basic farming life in biblical times. A collection for charity is the price of admission, this year it is for UNICEF to help children. Basic opening hours are 9 to 3 and 4 to 9.30 pm, the exceptions are for 24 & 31 December when it’s just 9 to 3, and 25 December, and 1 & 6 January when it’s 4 to 9.30 pm.


A quick snack and some holy water (Dorada in my case) and I was back on the case just off Calle Castillo in the Caja Canarias bank HQ near Plaza del Principe. This is another regular stop and had been given a bit of a new look this season. Instead of being around the walls the scenes were grouped together in a central block depicting the shepherds in the hills, village life with moving models, and thee long trek of the three kings. What makes it special is the stream that trickles through the landscape and the lighting that dims and brightens to recreate the cycle of the day every few minutes. If you want to be captivated pop in until 5 January from 11.30 to 1.30 pm, and 5 to 8.30 pm, on Sundays 10 to 1.30 pm but closed on public holidays. On the way out I found some local mature musicians playing timple and belting out some cheery yuletide folk songs.

Just when I thought it was a wrap I found a new and unexpected late call, this time in the CC Tres de Mayo shopping centre just up from the bus station. Hiperdino supermarket have provided this one and it has a strong Canarian theme with several Tenerife landmarks on the skyline. A nice antidote to the commercial attractions of the centre and a pleasing sign off for my trip.

Candle Lights And Spot Lights In Los Cristianos

Bubbling up nicely, that’s the Tenerife run in to the festive season, and on Saturday night it was all sweetness and light in Los Cristianos. Inflatable Santa’s were swaying in the breeze, small versions of the Three Kings were scaling walls and window ledges, and music wafted through the air.


My first call was the church for the Scandinavian service of Santa Lucia, there’s a strong Scandinavian community in Los Cristianos as the tourism boom was started over 50 years ago by elderly and ill Scandinavians coming over for the healthy properties of our climate. Santa Lucia marks the longest night of the year in Scandinavia and the gleaming white costumes and candles of the choir make it a beautiful sight to see. The church was packed to overflowing and the singing was angelic, even to this little devil.


Feeling uplifted I moved onto the large marquee at the old beach side of the tunnel, it’s the venue for weekend events through thee festive season and this time it was health, beauty, and fashion. One half was stalls from Arona based shops and the other half was a stage and catwalk for models to strut their stuff, I was drawn like a moth to a flame. All the clothes on display were from business’s in Arona and the intention was to promote sales.


The young amateur models were very good, it must have been quite nerve wracking to be watched by a decent sized crowd but they showed poise and elegance. Unfortunately most of the audience were “mature” and the clothes were aimed at a younger market, I couldn’t really imagine most of the crowd popping down the supermarket or to church in the glamorous outfits being twirled. The music too was very much modern pop stuff – not really my cup of tea, but then I am an old fogey.

It was a good show, better publicity may have attracted a wider mix of audience, including those looking to spend a bit of money. So that left me with a bit of a thirst and the night still fairly young, a few bars on the way home and I was ready to catwalk up the hill in my designer trainers, jeans, and non football shirt – well someone must have designed them.

Eating Up The Advent Season With Tastes Of Arona

Hold the sprouts, I’m not quite ready yet but I could be tempted by sweet treats – especially if they are free. Arona Ayuntamiento (council) has arranged a bulging programme of attractions for Christmas and the arrival of a large marquee in Los Cristianos got my taste buds dancing in anticipation.


Saturday evening was the Fiesta of the Chefs White Hat and when I arrived just after the 7pm opening there was a steady tide of visitors making their way into the marquee. It was split into two halves, on one side the wine was flowing, all produced from local bodegas, being a beer man I just had a small sip of red. On the other side the tables were groaning under the weight of 100 metres of hojaldre, a pastry delight filled with gofio and banana cream. The massive pastry had been cut into 2,000 small blocks and many were cruising past for a second time to take a slice.


The pastry was delicious and the filling oozed out of the sides as I bit into one, and then several others. The tasty spread was made and presented by ACYRE Canarias, the association of cooks and bakers, and I noticed top chef Juan Carlos Clemente playing a leading role. The last time I saw Juan Carlos he was up to his gills in tuna at a show cooking event in Los Abrigos, my tummy purred with joy at the memory of the fishy samples.

The evening outside was a little cool but we were all warm as toast under the bustling canvas. It was a nice mix of older locals and curious tourists, many of them were wearing the tribute tall white hats that were being handed out. Apart from stoking up festive cheer, the idea was to promote local food and drink and it did a good job of that. The next night it was the turn of Tastes of Arona, I was only able to make the last knockings of this after heading back from Santa Cruz. CD Tenerife had win so I was in a jolly Dorada fuelled mood and the sight of the delicately crafted cakes and biscuits added a glow to my night.


Most of the stalls were getting ready to pack away, I loitered by a large display of Trucos, small pasties containing spicy meat. Canarian music had been performed earlier on a small outside stage and several people told me how much they enjoyed it. The last of the trucos were being handed out to grateful visitors so I took a bundle for a late supper, so much better than the stale, rock hard pies that haunted my old football days back home.