"Watchful from childhood of the world and events going on around him, Juan Brito grew up learning the secrets of things and the ancient names of the lands and its tools."
Juan Brito Martin is another ‘favourite son’ of the island of Lanzarote (awarded the title in 2013), along with César Manrique and Doctor Jose Molino Orosa. I wrote about the poet and founder of Arrecife hospital, Orosa in A Remarkable Man, and I have often written about the visionary César Manrique and his wonderful artistic and cultural legacy, but now it is the the turn of this master craftsman.
I took the above picture only a few days ago when we visited the Casa-Museo Monumento al Campesino . Here we found two rooms dedicated to the work of Martin. We learned that he was born in Tinajo in 1919 and the information board describes him in the quote above, as 'watchful from childhood', surely a necessary attribute for a future folklorist, artist, archaeologist and basket-weaver. For he has been all of those; working on major archaeological digs and surveys, participating in the restoration of buildings and streets, founding Arrecife Archaeological Museum and the folk group Los Campesinos, as well as creating a dance ‘Saranda’. Clearly a man of many talents.
The information board tells that his most prominent achievements in ceramics have been to ‘breathe new life into this activity on the island’ and to re-create island mythology with historical figures; shepherds and territorial chieftains, as in these examples titled, ‘Mythology of Princess Ico’. More about this myth and some of the stories concerning the earliest inhabitants of the island can be found here; Guanches and Majos, but beware it concerns tales of polygamy and some rather strange practices.
His interest in folk culture, so fruitfully channelled through his archaeological and artistic works, has contributed significantly to the knowledge and survival of our people’s customs and habits.
This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt is a picture of ceramic artists at work. Join us in the art gallery to see how other contributors have been inspired by the theme.