Wednesday 30 October 2013

Lanzarote - greenery?

Lanzarote gets virtually no rainfall and the volcano erupted only 300 years ago, so the landscape is very barren and moon-like. What a difference from green, wet, lush Ireland! We did see lots of cloud cover there and I am positive we heard thunder one night, but no rain to be seen. Palm trees and cacti thrive on the dryness and they are the main greenery to be seen on the island.

This is the poolside view from La Florida apartments, where we stayed. What looks like a figure, and what look like trees are in fact cacti! What my eye could see behind, a row of mean, white, marching frog soldiers...that's the apartment complex next door. :)

A walk along the Avenida de las Playas, by the ocean in the evening and palm trees lit by a crescent moon (well, photo is blurry, but it is the atmosphere that is important!).

When I saw these palms in the grounds of a tennis court, I thought they were a piece of artwork as they looked like they were made of concrete. The trunks are painted! The grass was real too, and probably this was the most grass in one place that I saw!

There were a few places where I saw beautiful purple flowering bougainvillea. It must be a very hardy plant, but I was surprised to realise I had no pictures of it! My little apartment had its own cactus garden on the balcony/porch.

The sunset proves there is at least one other type of tree besides palm on the island!

Wednesday 23 October 2013

Lanzarote - South Island Tour

The entrance sign to Timanfaya National Park was (of course) designed by Cesar Manrique. I like this image which gives you an idea that you are now landing on the moon...

The one way roads through the park are only the width of the tour bus, so even though people are not allowed to walk on the fragile lava fields, you get a very close view of the landscape.

There is so much variety in the way the lava has cooled. There were also some pretty hairy moments overlooking craters (I had my eyes closed and a tight grip on the arm of my seat, so no photos of craters!).

The bus tour took us past the salt flats - Las Salinas de Janubio - and the guide explained the process of collecting and drying sea salt.

In my last post I spoke of Los Hervideros (The Boiling Pots) and the viewing points designed by Cesar Manrique. Here is another view of the volcanic coastline there.

The lagoon at El Golfo is a beautiful green, separated from the ocean by a sandbar (and for preservation, a man-made wall). The green is caused by both olivine stone, which is plentiful in Lanzarote, and bacteria in the water.

We also had a stop at a local vineyard. I had been wondering about these horseshoe shaped walls all over the island (I was reminded of the abundant stone walls in the west of Ireland and thought it was a way of dealing with volcanic material). Apparently the walls are built as windbreakers but the farmer has to dig down below the volcanic ash to reach the soil to grow the grapevines! It is intensive labour but an interesting way of growing things in this year-round warm climate!

Wednesday 16 October 2013

Lanzarote - Cesar Manrique

I spent Oct 7 - 14 on Lanzarote, based in Puerto del Carmen, in the Canary Islands. Oh bliss! Everywhere on Lanzarote is the imprint of native artist-architect-environmentalist Cesar Manrique [1919-1992]. In the airport arrivals hall one is first greeted with the island's logo, designed by Manrique:

Aside from swimming with the fishes in the warm Atlantic, I did a few excursions including a South Island Tour to explore the volcano Timinfaya. The "fiery mountain" erupted 300 years ago for 6 years and completely devastated the island. Timinfaya National Park is a protected area so that the volcanic environment is seen and enjoyed in its purest possible form. Manrique also designed the logo for Timinfaya National Park which is seen on loads of tourist items. This is a metal piece on the wall of the restaurant on the volcano which he also designed.

This is the restaurant oven which uses the heat from the mountain depths (400 metres below) to cook food! It was hot in that room, but it smelled really good...

The tour bus traveled on a one-way route through Timinfaya with stunning (and often terrifying) views of craters, lava flows and volcanic debris. Outside of the national park, the tour continued to Las Salinas de Janubio (salt flats), El Golfo and Los Hervideros. The viewing points for Los Hervideros ("Boiling Pots") were designed by Manrique and are completely sympathetic with the landscape.

The boiling may refer to the ocean when the volcano erupted as the water certainly would have gotten very hot!

Or it may refer to the bubbling and crashing of the water against the shoreline and within hollow lava tubes.

Regardless of the origin of the name, it is something to see!

Wednesday 9 October 2013

Still working away!

I am happily working away on my triptych, tentatively called "Tree Kids". I thought I would post a couple of details to give a better view of the texture in the painting. The figures are almost life size. This is a closeup of the figure based on K.

This picture gives an idea of the leaves in the tree, and the Chinese paper that I glued on before I started painting.

Wednesday 2 October 2013

Tree Kids - in progress

I am happily working away on my triptych painting, which I have started referring to as "Tree Kids" though I don't know if this title will remain when finished.

I have lightened up the blue sky, added some more Chinese paper leaves and changed the horizon to a higher slope (the scene is based on a place in Prague -- a lovely park with freaky trees on Petrin Hill. Of course, I have reddened my tree as I saw it in my mind's eye.