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Artist date in Lanzarote

December 28, 2011
View through lava window

View through lava window

This is the view through the lava window at Cesar Manrique’s house in Lanzarote.  The visit to the island was like experiencing a week-long artist date as Cesar Manrique is responsible for designing most of the visitor attractions on the island.  It is impossible to escape from his influence as even the roundabouts are bedecked with his sculptures.  For me, his house is the epitomy of his art.  I believe that his skill was in bringing together the natural elements and features of the landscape to create a work of art.  The house itself is built around five volcano bubbles with trees growing through the ‘roof’ openings.  Manrique tunneled passageways between the bubbles in order to turn them into interconnecting rooms.  Walking through the tunnels is like entering another world.



For me inspiration came from the lava itself which is why I particularly like the view through the window of the lava fields and the volcano beyond.  The idea of the lava flowing through the window into the house is both frightening and delightful at the same time.

Whilst on the island I woke one morning to a purple sky left behind by a passing storm.  This unexpected spectacle was the trigger for me to collate thoughts which had been forming in my mind since visiting the lava fields.  The rainfall had transformed the basalt into what looked like freshly turned clods of earth and the following seeds were sown.

This morning I opened the door

to a purple sky

such as I had neer seen,

somewhere between lavender

and aubergine.  Marveled at

the electric storm that had passed

by unheard and unseen.


Water dripdripped

from the upper balcony,

pooled on the flat roofs below,

formed puddles in the pockmarked

roads that ploughed through

the lava fields.


The rare rain transformed lava

into loam, minus the smell

of freshly turned earth.

I wanted to pick up a piece,

turn it on a potter’s wheel

and mold it into drinking

vessels for the fire gods.


The leftovers, I would roll

into beads for the goddess,

white, black, red, green, yellow,

green, red, black, white, yellow,

until the string was long enough

to snake around her head, neck,

wrists and ankles, binding

her to the hidden earth


Here I have the makings of  a poem.  I now need to take the time to turn this loam into a piece of word art.

I believe that the idea of binding the goddess with beads made from the minerals thrown out in a volcanic explosion must have come from the reading material I took on holiday with me.  A few weeks before leaving I discovered The Griffin Mage by Rachel Neumeier, an author new to me.  It proved to be the ideal read to complement the landscape in which I found myself.  A wry smile escaped me when I came across a winery called El Grifo.  Under the guidance of Manrique, they had adopted the griffin as their logo some years ago.  The symbol now emblazons most of their bottles.  If you enjoy reading fantasy, this book is a must.  Not only does the story capture the imagination in a refreshing way, the book is well written.  The use of verbs in some of the sentences is exquisite.  I will attempt to pull off such feats of expression when I mold the above notes into a poem.


From → Poetry

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