Archive for the 'Art & Culture' Category
Salt And Seasonal Relish For Corpus Christi

Concrete canvases have been converted into spectacular flower carpets all over Tenerife for the Corpus Christi celebrations. The daddy of them all is in La Orotava in the north of the island, where it all started in 1647. The vast courtyard outside the Ayuntamiento building (town hall) is buzzing each year as sand, salt, and volcanic soil are added to the mix, which spreads out into the tight old streets. The big procession is on 6th June this year and must be almost heart breaking as a swarm of devotees walk the route around town as the patterns are slowly eroded.


Similar art outbreaks showed the their own pride and dedication. Santa Cruz left shoppers spellbound as school children and scouts laboured over their own versions spreading out from the Iglesia (church) de la Concepcion and across the main shopping street of Calle Castillo. Passing on the skills is very important to keep history alive, the young workers were surrounded by endless supplies of materials, including enough salt to flavour a banquet.

Back in the south, a lone carpet greeted Sunday morning church goers in Los Cristianos, but many smaller outposts around the island had produced their own versions large and small.

Florida Pascua Reflects The Easter Story

Not even the fresh wind blowing up from the west coast of Tenerife could  diminish the beauty of the flower and plant sculptures gathered in Guia de Isora for the annual Florida Pascua in Tenerife.

Over 20 artistic creations told the story of the cruzifiction in key points around the back streets over four days. Artists from across Spain, and locally from the association of flower carpet makers in La Orotava, poured out their view of this special time of year.

The church of Nuestra Sñora de la Luz (Our Lady of the Light) and the light green Ayuntamiento (council) were among the established back drops, adding to a stunning street gallery of emotions.

Musical and poetic performances added to the mix, and a good selection of cafes and bars provided points to relax and soak in the history of this more restful part of Tenerife. But the sculptures were the stars, and work was continuing to some of the bigger works even as visitors wafted through the streets.

It´s a unique contribution to the easter story, and a monumnet to the dedication of the artists who put in countless hours to make this event an annual favourite.

Arona Carnaval Breezes Into Los Cristianos

Feathers and sequins fluttered in the coastal wind as the coso parade headed down and along the main road up into Los Cristianos and the Carnaval show ground. It was time to wallow in the adulation of 25,000 people and to marvel at the home made costumes. Drum beats filled the air, dance moves added plenty of flair as last minute touches were added to the parade.

Sheila Rodriguez Alonso beamed brightly in the glow of here crowning as the main Carnaval queen, in a dazzling light blue explosion of energy called Frenesi (frenzy).

Most vantage points had been snapped up early in the day, with many claiming ringside seats outside bars along the route. The 80´s was the theme this year but it was more of a rough guide, plenty of recurring characters weaved between the slow cruising stretch of celebration. It´s like the tip of a colourful iceberg, many hours of preparation go into making these artistic dreams come true.

An array of honours had been bestowed in the preceeding week, with costumes in age groups from children to the more mature long term devotees of Carnaval. Finishing touches were added as the procession crawled up the hill, despite the wind cutting across from the ocean.

Celebrations, music, and fireworks carried on late into the night – but even at the height of the party, a few minds would be turning to even more ambitious plans for next year.

Easter Flower Power And Passion At Pascua Florida

Of the many ways to view the passion and resserection of Christ, Guia de Isora, above the west coast of Tenerife, offers a unique and innovative art trail.

The thirteenth year of the four day Pascua Florida spread of floral art threaded through the tight back streets, and reclined under the trees and in the shadow of the Nuestra Señora de La Luz church (our lady of the light). Local based and invited artists from further afield choose their materials well to evoke the story of blood, flesh, and spirit. Among the 22 works, circles and vines were a recurring theme of new hope.

A backward reaching wooden figure was a reminder of the spirit breaking free of the body. Floating figures in cubes also showed the struggle to break away from mortal ties. Blood made a strong image of suffering on the cross, in the church plaza the cross weeped red and a wooden matraca stood nearby. The machine was used in the past to produce dry, wooden, sour notes as a contrast to the normal peal of the bells.


Some works aroused instant connections but others were more obscure. Dice were the currency used by Roman centurian guards when they competed to see who would lay claim to the blood soaked robe of christ. Walls of old buildings dripped with larger plant based mosaics, and at every turn, new surprises awaited.

Over the four days of the display, musical interludes were performed in the streets and alleys. Some of the images take their place each year, with little tweaks and additions, but there are always new views to see and new interpretations to admire. Maybe not the most famous of Tenerife´s easter events, Pascua Florida always packs an artistic punch and shows true dedication.

El Medano Barquera Floats Everyones Boats

Waves of people poured downhill towards the sea with the statue of the Virgen de Las Mercedes de Roja held aloft. Cascades of drums, pipes, and guitars formed a musical undertow and barbecues sizzled with a meaty aroma that required beer and wine to soothe its digestion.

El Medano on the Granadilla coast of Tenerife savours its fishing founders whilst thanking nature for its continuing bounty. The precarious balance of nature meant the 2022 fiesta was put back a week as incoming storms licked at the Canary Islands The extra week allowed fine tuning on the 45 home made boats based on shopping trolleys and small trucks. White costumes dominated the days fashion, hats were welcome in the searing heat but dancing feet made light work of pavements and eventually the fine sand of Playa Grande.

Some held back to dance in the main plaza overlooking the sea, but a large invasion from the 15,000 or so revellers took the show to the gently sweeping waves. Guests like the Fanfarria band from La Orotava in the north, matched the music of the ocean. One of the biggest fishing boats was loaded with the statue of the virgen for the best seat in the house to watch the day flow on.

Tourists flying over to the nearby sourh airport would have been staggered if they could see the swirling mass of people below. Fishing is a tough way of life but this outpouring of joy and pride is generously shared with the wider community. The lines are already being baited for next years flotilla of home made boats.


Arona Day Of Traditions Returns To A Cautious Present

Hermano Pedro (the Canary Islands only saint) rested on his crook outside the Arona Town Hall,home of the Ayuntamiento (council) as stalls and memories of a proud agricultural past started to fill the back streets. It was three years on from the last Dia de Tradiciones as I stepped off the first of the free buses from Tenerife´s southern tourist resorts of Playa de Las Americas and Los Cristianos.

Wine, cigars, beer, and home made wool and textile products vied for attention on the sparse mix of stalls. There were only 12 people on my free bus, it was going to be a tough sell in the back streets. The centre of attention was the plaza del Santisimo Cristo de La Salud and around the church. Musicians tuned up and animals stirred in readiness to deliver that cute factor. It wasn´t just crafts and animals that caught the eye, a vintage local police car looked dainty and a large Ford Thames Transit lorry, made in Dagenham, added to the mechanical history.

The Casa de la Bodega looked majestic  on the rise above the town, and the wine press was a reminder of the outstanding reputation of local wines. A practical demonstration of Silbo, the whistling language still used on the neighbouring island of La Gomera, was dramatic and impressive. Regular live music through the day until late into the evening seemed certain to help build the crowds, but my visit was only to be a brief one.

It was great to see the event back but sad to see such a low early turnout. The Plaza de la Paz at the bus drop off point had been a big display area at previous shows but was empty this time. Pre publicity for the event was too late and too limited. Arona town promotes its history all year round with posters of former times and key figures on murals. A group of modern performers seemed to step out of the sepia wall print down by the bus stops. The Casa de la Bodega doubles up as a free exhibition centre and is open weekdays. It´s well worth a trip up to look at the heart of Arona, many keen walkers have alredy discovered its secrets on route to the magnificent Roque del Conde mountain that towers over the town.


Los Cristianos Ready For Virgen Del Carmen Celebrations

After three years starved of the Arona Carnaval, Virgen del Carmen is making a bigger show than ever of the celebration of the patrona of the local fishing community. Some new elements have been added and some tweaks to ensure a bigger splash than ever.

The main action takes place on the big stage outside the cultural centre,including food stalls and a mini fair, but the fishermens port will be ablaze with colour as they decorate their boats and take the statue of the virgen on a trip out to sea.

Thurs 1 September – FRom 8.30 pm to 9.30 pm the childrens festival takes place at the Plaza del Pescadora (by the statue of the fisherwoman). Then from 10 pm to midnight, Edwin Rivera will give a free concert at the big stage.

Fri 2 September – From 8 pm to 1 am, the White Party is a new addition to the agenda and takes place outside the Casa del Mar – the old town side of the tunnel between the beaches. Wear white to join in the fun and music. Meanwhile from 8.30 pm to 10.30 there is a concert from Las Cantadores at the main stage, followed by the Big Dance from 11 pm to 4 am.

Sat 3 September – From10 am to 1 pm, there is a display of classic and vintage cars near the old beach. From Noon to 8 pm, the Sombrero Fiesta takes centre stage at the Plaza La Alpispa – just off the old beach by the white house. Music, and crazy hat designs worn with pride.

Sun 4 September – From 10 am to 2 pm there´s more fun for the children with games and activities at the old beach. From 7 pm the statue of the Virgen will be taken out of the church and paraded down to the fishermens port with musical support from the municipal band of Arona. The Virgen is the spiritual inspiration and patrona of the local community, a small concrete shrine at the old beach is a scale model of a life size statue that is at the bottom of the bay so it can bless the fishing boats as they pass overhead.


From midnight to 1 am, firworks will rip through the sky, this is often bigger than the New Year display and lights up the old beach. Music and dancing will continue into the early hours.



Art By The Tin Full In Tenerife

Andy Warhol may well have given a laid back thumbs up to El Tanque art and music exhibition space in Tenerife capital Santa Cruz. The America icon of the 70´s. A tram ride up to La Laguna and a 50 year retrospective of pop art linked two shows of artistic expression, both free to view, and right on my wavelength.

You can bank on Caja Canarias Fundacion to put on some interesting displays at their cultural space near Plaza del Adelantado in the university town. This Is Pop spotlights 50 years of pop art and music, featuring 60 works that changed peoples perceptions and made art more relevant to the masses.

Damien Hurst, Banksy, and even The Beatles tapped into this well of free expression, all the works are presented in spanish but GR codes open a choice of English commentary. Paintings, videos, and music all benefitted from the pop revolution. UK and America led the way but Spain also picked up on the new media, this is shown via youth magazines that explored day to day themes in cartoon form. Two floors are dedicated to the exhibition. To unlock these key times in modern culture, the free exhibition runs to 30 June from 10 am to 1.30 pm and 5.30 pm to 8 pm weekdays, 10.30 am to 1.30 pm Saturdays, and closed Sundays.

Back down in Santa Cruz, it was a n appropriate time for me to renew my acquaintance with El Tanque, the former fuel storage tank that was first conveted to a venue in 1997. By chance, the nearby huge Cepsa refinery was just begining a long decomission and clean up process. A much smaller operation had just updated El Tanque using banana plants to soften the visual impact of the tank, and a new cafe will be added soon.

The current exhibition was called Uncertainty, by four local young architects. The high roof, subdued lighting, and display of proposals and ideas about how we can live together made an interesting comparison of how we make choices. The first time I called in many years ago, a large suspended J Arthur Rank type gong featured in a spotlight with a large fluffy cod ball drunstick to whack it with – that was suitable weird and satisfying for my tastes.

The acoustics get a fuller workout each year with the annual Keroxen music festival as a selection of bands send their musical offerings on a wall of death ride around the skin of El Tanque. Opening hours for this unusual and innovative venue are 5 pm to 8 pm weekdays and 11 am to 2 pm on Saturdays.


Breaching The Adeje Fortress Of Industry, Commerce, And Culture

Panting up hill from Adeje town centre has tweaked many hikers muscles ready for the plunge into Barranco del Invierno, one of the most trodden walks in Tenerife. The sturdy canon outside the battle weary walls of Casa Fuerte may have hinted at the strategic value of the “strong house” but now a full appreciation of this 500 year old home and fortress is open to visitors. A new Sunday initiative of an artesans market was in full swing with music and crafts on my visit.

Where pirates failed to destroy the Casa Fuerte, fire had more success in 1902, but on this clear morning the missing sections of roof showcased natures ingredients that had inspired the original sugar refinery on the same site. This sweet production process was the biggest of its kind in Tenerife.

The proud white tower of the country house still looks lout over the 7,200 square metres of courtyards, gardens, servant quarters, and industrial and agricultural work spaces. Boilers and other production stock gleamed as hand held tools clinged to walls. I felt a swell of pride to see that some items were made in England. Wooden barrels, now empty, would have lubricated many a social gathering. Wine, art, and needlework were among the many items for sale in the market area, harking back to the days when this was the social centre of Adeje.

Casa Fuerte is open Monday to Friday from 10 am to 1 pm, and the artesans market is expected to become a monthly treat. The website will keep you up with further developments.Views down to the coast show a very changed landscape, vut the fortress is regaining its modern relevance at the same time as shining a light on the past.

Waves Of Colour Transform Los Abrigos Harbour Wall

Fish restaurants on the sloping crescent of Los Abrigos now have an even better view for customers to feast on.Michael Diaz and Natalia Real have been adding  images of noted local figures to a 395  square  metre concrete canvas that extends its protective arm around the secluded bay on the Granadilla coast of Tenerife.

Four months on and the work is nearing completion as friendly faces from the fishing community share their stage with the reassuring prescence of the Virfen del Carmen, the patron of the fishermen. It´s not just people immortalised in paint, the ginger cat that pads the promenade looks like the cats whiskers on the big screen.

The framework of the mural was outlined first like a giant jugsaw before colour and details were added. Michel and Natalia are experienced with such large projects and favour artists brushes rather than sprays. Old school rules with mixing performed on a hand held palate, and a paint spotted gladstone bag that keeps the creative mixtures ready to apply.

It´s a tough call to reflect the charms of the port and shine up a natural jewel like Los Abrigos but the couple have achirved it with a sprinkling of humour and lots of pride. Now the fine flavours of the restaurants opposite are complimented by the respectful insight into tradition.