Welcome to my blog, where I take pleasure in words and pictures, be they my own or those of others. I'm a creative individual, and the crafty side I explore on my 'other blog', Picking Up The Threads, which I hope you'll visit too. I'm sure you understand that I have sole copyright of my original work and any of my contributions, so please ask if you want to use them. A polite request is rarely refused. So, as they used to say on the BBC's 'Listen With Mother' radio programme, many years ago: "Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin."

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Breathing New Life

"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.


   

13 comments:

  1. His work is certainly striking, and his figures manage to combine some humour with a degree of menace.

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  2. His figures are really something! I can see there is a lot of detail one could miss in a casual glance. The photographs manage to show quite a lot and a magnifying glass helps, but I'm sure seeing them in person provides a much more complete image.

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  3. Remarkable figures here...I love the shepherd; there's much more to each one than you first think -- if you keep looking, you keep finding more and more interesting things: rope, animals, etc.

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  4. Very interesting art. I imagine that pottery was a very old craft on the islands. The figures resemble ancient folk sculpture of Asia and Africa.

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  5. What a wonderful imagination he has as well as the skill with his hands.

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  6. Of course Manrique is well known to me (because of your recommendation) and Juan Martin seems well worth further investigation.

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  7. Amazing how those figures don't look like were created recently, which I suppose is the artist's intention really. Is that a leather pouffe or footstool he is working on in your first photograph?

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  8. Love the statues, they remind me of Easter Island. I didn't know there were that many natives before the Iberians arrived.

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  9. I am not sure if I like them or dislike them? I respect the artwork and creativity but cannot make up my mind if I like them!

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  10. Fascinating post. Enjoyed Martin's work as well as the history and archeology. Also read all of the links. Sepians always open a world new to this landlocked lady in the USsPacific Northwest. Thanks for all.

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  11. I agree with Rob about similarity to the Easter Island statues.
    I had to look up Lanzarote to find out where it was - I always learn so much on Sepia Saturday.

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  12. Juan Brito sounds like a remarkable man -he's certainly having a very interesting life.

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  13. Interesting that others mentioned Easter Island -- that's what I thought of too.

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