The most volcanic of the seven Canary Islands possesses a rural, ecological and artistic identity between flowing fields of petrified lava. In December, the thermometer can rise to 28°C/82°F…
The Museo Atlántico, Europe’s first underwater museum, has recently opened its watery doors offshore of Lanzarote’s La Playa Blanca, in Las Coloradas Bay. At nearly 12m/39ft underwater, the scenery is nothing short of breath-taking: concrete figures lying at the bottom of the sea form a natural reef among which fish swim lazily.
"The 250 sculptures were modelled on the inhabitants of the island. The only criterion was to have big hands !”
says Anibal Vega, the museum’s curator, himself immortalised underwater as a businessman on a child’s swing.
All the sculptures are the work of British artist Jason deCaires Taylor, whose work can also be found on the island of Granada and in Mexico. They evoke not only the migration crisis, with a group of refugees stranded on a raft; but everyday life, with a couple taking a selfie… His works are rooted in topicality but embellished by the natural world that reasserts its rights and makes one think about the place of humans on the planet! They can be admired with diving gear, “discovery” dives available, or simply by snorkelling. A boat with a transparent flat base is in the pipeline.
The works of Cesar Manrique
Since the fall in tourism in North Africa, Lanzarote in the Canary Islands is enjoying an increase in tourism and this new site, which combines art with respect for the environment, is perfectly in tune with the island’s guidelines. It is but one more jewel on the island by the Atlantic Ocean that was immortalised by Cesar Manrique (1919-1992), the visionary artist responsible for maintaining its rural character in the 1970s. All the buildings are less than three storeys high, all the houses are painted white, and advertising is strictly regulated. UNESCO wasn’t wrong when it made the site, lulled by the trade winds that ensure a lovely 23°C/73°F all year long, a biosphere reserve in 1993.
The “arty” stamp is found in all its natural reserves, in the middle of lava fields, where vineyards are lined by beautiful beaches… The Cesar Manrique foundation in Taro de Tahíche is established in the artist’s house, built in 1968 on a lava flow that resulted the violent eruptions that shook the island in 1730 to 1736. Sitting rooms and even a pool were created inside volcanic bubbles; works by Picasso and Miró hang on the wall.
Among the sites valued by this friend of Andy Warhol and Rita Hayworth, is the Mirador del Río, commanding magnificent views over the sea from huge bay windows set into the rock itself. The decoration reminds us of an early James Bond movie and it is hard to resist the urge to dive into the blue lagoon at Jameos del Agua, near the Los Verdes grotto where a concert hall was amazingly built within the lava cave. Thousands of different species from the Guatiza Cacti Garden enchant the visitor. Meanwhile, in the extraordinary Timanfaya National Park, made up of craters and oceans of ash, lies the El Diablo restaurant, whose grill over a volcanic funnel was of course imagined by Cesar Manrique.