Creative Visionary - César Manrique

We are all looking for inspirational figures, icons or role models, people who we either aspire to be or want to emulate. Some of us squeak with excitement at the release of a new JK Rowling book or others gaze into the goal mouth on a Sunday afternoon football pitch thinking he could be Wayne Rooney or David Beckham. Whatever your desires you should always keep an open mind as you never know what you will find around the next corner.

I have just returned from a break with my family in Lanzarote, one of the Canary Islands. Some of you may know it as a popular holiday destination for the British and Germans alike because of its consistent climate being near the equator. It’s a volcanic island, a barren moonscape; quite different from the lush Devon countryside I am used to. A most unlikely place to get any form of inspiration, you would think and so did I.

We based ourselves in a quiet little village called Arietta north of the capital city of Arrecife, which has a lovely café right on the beautiful beach where you can sit and watch the waves crash, but I digress as this is not about my holiday. I personally wanted to have a relaxing time beach time, but as we had hired a car for the 9 days of our stay we thought we would explore the little island too.

Our first expedition was to a place called Jameos del Agua, a popular tourist destination with coach loads of German, British and Spanish tourists. With this in mind my prejudiced barrier had dropped down. We got to the entrance paid our fee and walked into what can be only described as a hole in the ground. Before I describe in more detail what I saw it would only be fair to give you the background to this hole in the ground or should I say volcanic bubble. The bubble was created when the main volcano Monte Corona erupted 3000 years ago.

Before its transformation, this hole was used as a dumping ground or landfill site for rubbish. One man saw this hole and many others around Lanzarote as a beautiful possibility. César Manrique was a local artist brought up in Lanzarote although he studied in Madrid and the USA. When he returned in 1966 to an island on the brink of transition through tourism he saw how the other Canary Islands including Tenerife and Gran Canaria had given planning to creating huge high rise developments for hotels and apartment blocks. Manrique became a major influence within planning the future of Lanzarote and he encouraged sympathetic development of tourism.