|Seen at Toro - the Cesar Manrique house|
Cesar Manrique was born on Lanzarote in 1919 and died here in a car accident in 1992. He was many things. He was an artist, an architect, a hell-raiser, a fighter, a sculptor, a photographer, an orator, a leader and a visionary. Long before others were beating the environmentalist drum, Manrique was warning of the dire consequences of unrestrained development and fearful about where our planet was going. He wanted us to live a different, kinder way, cherishing Nature and actively caring for our world.
In the late sixties he was exploring the lava fields south of Arrecife, the island's capital,. He noticed a tree growing from what he called a "bubble" in the sun-baked black rock. As he explored further he discovered other solidified bubbles. They were like little caves. He had always been fascinated by Lanzarote's volcanic heritage and after making his discovery decided that that was where he would make his home. He called in Toro.
It took years to complete. Above the subterranean lava bubbles he designed upper buildings in the simple Lanzarote style and began to forge a different kind of home, driven by his artistic and ecological principles. It was also his workplace and here he painted many abstract canvases - increasingly influenced by his observations of the island's volcanic geology.
Toro is now the epicentre of the Cesar Manrique Foundation. We visited it yesterday before driving to another of Manrique's architectural masterpieces - Mirador del Rio which was carved into a lofty clifftop and looks out to the much smaller island of Graciosa. The view was quite breathtaking and even the windows in the clifftop cafe were stunning.
After a simple late lunch by the harbour in Orzola we headed back through a coastal plain of rugged lava fields towards Arrecife then home to Puerto del Carmen which is a rather tacky kind of town. Thank heavens our apartment complex is away from the main drag. The Aqua Suites make a pleasant sanctuary, just to the east of of Calle Cesar Manrique. I am not at all sure what the artist would have thought about having a street named after him in such a sprawling tourist town that appears to shun so many of his guiding principles.
|At Mirador del Rio|